Friday, January 27, 2017

Thriving in Westonka!

Today's post is from parent and Secondary Technology Integrationist Kristin Wallace

I began my career in Westonka over 20 years ago as a member of the MWHS English Department. During the past two decades, the school has been my second home and both of us have experienced tremendous change and growth since the late 90s. So if you had asked me last year if there was anything I didn’t know about the school or the staff, I would have confidently chuckled feeling I have done and seen it all. Until this fall happened!

In September, I entered into a new and unfamiliar role at MWHS, one of parent to an incoming 8th grader. This past semester, I gained new insight and appreciation for the students and the staff at the high school. And I noticed one theme has woven through this experience. Mound Westonka doesn’t just want its 8th graders to survive the transition to the high school; it wants them to thrive.

This commitment to student success was evident in August when my baby and 200 other new students were welcomed to the high school by their Link Crew leaders. These students compassion, enthusiasm and school pride were contagious and set the stage for our year. In September, I attended Curriculum Night and beamed with pride as I watched the passion ooze from the faculty while they discussed both their content and their approach to students and learning. I walked away with tips and ideas about how to help my own student blossom.

In October, I watched my daughter continue to grow through strategic mentorship as a member of the pep band and the Swim Team. Both programs strategically positioning older students as mentors to help incoming students feel welcomed and be successful. I also watched my daughter have the opportunity to develop independence as a learner using the flexible learning spaces in Global Studies, Advisory and English.

November meant conference time and my turn to be on the other side of the table. There were no academic surprises at conferences since teacher use technology to post grades and course materials, but again I was impressed at how each seemed to have some insight into my student, her strengths and her areas for improvements.

In December, I helped plan the student celebration assembly which focused on the heroes among us at MWHS. This was the first time 8th graders were recognized for their academic improvement and success. I was struck by the young students beaming with pride when recognized for their perfect attendance, honor roll and contributions to the heartbeat of the classroom. I am confident this is laying the groundwork for future success.

In it is now the end of January and my 8th grader is confidently diving into semester two bolstered by the support of her teachers, the staff at MWHS and a bevy of student mentors. Over lunch last weekend, she discussed with anticipation the classes she wants to take next year and the activities she may want to try as a Freshman.

Being able to experience MWHS through the eyes of a parent and through my own daughter’s experiences has given me a new appreciation and pride for the students, staff and programs at MWHS. I cannot wait to see what discoveries I have yet to make about MWHS over the next four years and to watch the ways it continues to help my child thrive rather than just survive.

New 8th grader!

The Wallace Family
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