In order to ensure that our students are ready for the day after graduation and beyond, we are developing and teaching student skills in three major areas: Academic, Career, and Wellness. Westfield has long been outstanding at developing an academic skillset within our students that prepares them for their future and we recently have made great strides within the Career and Wellness Initiatives we have in place.
Our focus in the Academic Leaf is to continue to raise the achievement levels of ALL students. We believe all staff and students are learners and that growth is paramount. We want to help each individual to love learning and to champion a growth mindset. We believe that when we are stretched and challenged, we not only perform better but we become the best versions of ourselves. We want all students to graduate with the necessary skills for future success. Future success means that they are equipped to go and do and be whatever it is they want to go and do and be and thrive while doing it. The three main skills we want to grow in our students are literacy, critical thinking, and innovation.
In our classrooms, we are working on giving each student foundational literacy skills with reading and writing, then helping them to think critically and express themselves creatively and think outside of the box. When our students are able to teach others, create original work, and make a product that inspires others, we know they have reached the highest academic skill levels. Through our staff professional learning communities and best practice workshops, our use of CORE time four days a week, and within each classroom, the skills of literacy, critical thinking, and innovation are an emphasis in staff and student learning. We know if we are building skills and engage our students at high levels, we will see test scores rise, AP access and success will increase, in addition to more academic honors diplomas and higher graduation rates. It is our goal to meet each individual where they are at, differentiate the learning and work with each to achieve more than they ever thought they could. Our professional development yearly theme is #allaboutthelearning and we are #ALLin, so we can’t wait to see all the growth that takes place in 2019-2020.
Our focus with respect to our Wellness component is to improve the physical and mental wellness of each student now and for the future. Research shows that the more connected students are, the less likely they are to experience risky behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, dropping out, teen pregnancy, etc. Our goal is to develop a web of support thick enough to set our students up for success and to prevent them from slipping through the cracks. We will connect all students to their passions and purpose in life, teaching them to separate their identity from their performance. We will connect students to caring adults, peer mentors, extra-curriculars, clubs, and community involvement. As we connect, we will also grow our students in SEL (Social Emotional Learning) based principles rooted in Self-Awareness, Self-Management, and Relationship Skills. These principles will help students overcome stress, anxiety, depression, and fear of failure while living out their purpose now and in the future.
One important avenue of connection implemented last year is our Freshmen Mentoring Program, a bi-weekly program during CORE time, where senior mentors facilitate growth in the wellness areas and foster relationships with their younger peers. Throughout the year, freshmen will have the chance to explore their passions, goals, and purpose, as well as serving within the school to make a difference. Ultimately, we want to provide freshmen the support they need to transition well and make the most of their four years here at WHS.
Over the past two years, WHS has further aligned efforts to prepare students for the day after graduation. WHS has continued expanding services to students that include Career Awareness, Career Exploration, and Career Pathways. This direction has been guided by many partnerships formed with local businesses such as IMMI and organizations including Hamilton County Tourism, BAGI (Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis), Nextech, Conexus Indiana, AgriNovus Indiana and Westfield Chamber of Commerce.
The Career Exploration Internship course allows students to work in a public or private sector workplace working side-by-side with professionals while learning about the activities and skill sets that are necessary for the specific career, as well as practicing and understanding the importance of the soft skills necessary in today’s workforce. Because student interest has continued to grow in the Health Science Career Cluster over the past three years, WHS is offering a new Emergency Medical Sciences (EMS) course taught by Heartland Ambulance Services. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to take the state licensing tests. In addition, many students have been a part of our Hospitality and Tourism program. These WHS students have been learning about the real world of hospitality management and earning up to 18 college credits through Hamilton County’s Hospitality Immersion Certificate Program. This has allowed students to gain valuable paid field experience and a chance to work alongside one of the most vibrant tourism markets in the Midwest. This program, which is currently ONLY open to Westfield High School students, is a partnership between Westfield-Washington Schools, Ivy Tech Community College, IUPUI’s Department of Tourism, Conventions & Event Management (TCEM) and Hamilton County Tourism, Inc.
These partnerships between high schools and community businesses benefit all parties involved. The businesses help future workers understand the education and skills they need to secure jobs. The growth and success of WHS’s programs can be attributed to the great partnerships developed within the business community. At WHS, we prepare students for the day after graduation by helping them create a road map to a successful career and be Life Ready.