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headshot of Executive Director, Sharon Collins

Executive Director's Corner

Dear Parents & Caregivers – 
 
For many families, it may not come as a surprise that an annual Back-to-School Survey by PARENT magazine revealed,”…that despite academic challenges last year, the top priority for American parents' is supporting their kids' social-emotional health.”
 
Westgate has been practicing Whole Child Education for over ten years and we have always believed that social/emotional/mental health is the foundation upon which learning and academic achievement are built.
 
To strengthen our own foundation, we added a second counselor, Ms. Alexa Kinslow, to our staff.  Ms. Kinslow’s main efforts will be working with students in grades K-6 and Ms. Autumn Washington will primarily support students in grades 7-12.  We also are looking forward to Pete, our facility dog, returning to duty.  Pete stayed home last year and is easing his way back into the workforce.
 
Over the summer, Ms. Amanda Novak and Mr. David Chermak developed a school-wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program specific to Westgate and our culture.  This program is R.I.S.E which stands for Respect, Integrity, Safety and Empathy.  PBIS establishes a social culture and behavior supports needed to improve social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes for all students.  At Westgate, RISE reaches into every aspect of the school from classrooms, to the pods, at recess, on field trips and in clubs.  Teachers and students acknowledge and celebrate others who exemplify RISE values and behavioral expectations.
 
In addition to the above listed supports, we used data to inform our advocacy theme for September which is, “I Am Strong.”  In the school’s Whole Child survey last year, we asked, “I know what makes me unique and special as a learner and as a person.”  35% of responses ranged from neutral to strongly disagree.  Advocacy in September will teach students to use self-compassion to reflect on their own strengths and what makes them special and unique. They’ll also practice identifying their emotions and leveraging their strengths to overcome challenges.  Valuable skills at any age!
 
We’re so glad to have students back in the classroom this year.  We’re going to face some adversity but we’re also building resilience and social/emotional competency. 
 
We are strong!
 
In Service, 
Sharon Collins 
Executive Director, Westgate Community School 
A small school with BIG ideas!

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