The Westfield Public School District values its partnership with the entire school community as we continue our longstanding Tradition of Excellence. We never lose sight of our mission to meet both the academic and the social and emotional needs of our students, to educate them to become productive, well-balanced, responsible citizens who respect individual differences and diversity.
Nothing is more important, however, than the safety of our students and staff. I would like to address some changes we have made to our security procedures to ensure a consistent, districtwide effort that involves the entire school community. Thank you for your understanding and adherence to these updated security measures. They are as follows:
- Any person wishing to visit a school must make an appointment. It is strongly encouraged that appointments be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance, except in cases of emergency. Anyone without an appointment will not be allowed into the building.
- Every visitor should be prepared to show proof of a government-issued identification before entering a building.
- Each visitor who is given access to a building must report to the main office to sign a visitor log and be issued a visitor identification badge. The visitor will be monitored on school security cameras to ensure he or she reports to the office.
- Each school will provide a drop box outside of the building to collect items dropped off for students.
As always, the exterior doors of all buildings will remain locked during school hours. While all of our ten schools will follow the same security protocols during school hours, the after school procedures may look slightly different at each school due to their unique needs. Doors will remain locked for the YMCA aftercare program and parents will need to call a Y designee when they arrive to pick up their child. The principals and I have reviewed security protocols with our aftercare providers and other organizations that use our facilities and grounds after school hours. We appreciate the cooperation of these groups that will allow us to maintain security after school hours. For large scale events (for example, back-to-school meet-and-greets, concerts, and graduations), we will continue to work to strike a balance between welcoming our parents and other members of the school community and providing a secure environment. Our principals have considered the best way to manage access to these events and have communicated the changes in procedure to their school communities.
The district has invested in new alarms, internal and external cameras, shatterproof windows, door replacements, and other security upgrades in recent years. Additional scheduled upgrades are ongoing and others are being discussed. Our staff receives regular security training, including a review in August for our office staff of the updated security procedures. We greatly appreciate our cooperative relationship with the Westfield Police Department which provides a daily presence in each of our schools. Together, as a community, we are committed to keeping Westfield schools safe.
We remain committed as well to the social and emotional development of our students. In a world that often prioritizes and focuses on academic skills, social and emotional well-being can be overlooked. I encourage you to visit the Family Resources page on the district website at www.westfieldnjk12.org to understand what Social and Emotional Learning is and what it looks like in our classrooms.
Our website is a wonderful resource to learn more about our district. Please visit often for the latest news, important announcements, school-specific initiatives, engaging stories about the district’s many successes, grade level curriculum by department, and much more. For those of you who are on social media, our Facebook page and Twitter feeds also are a good way to keep up with what’s happening in Westfield Public Schools. For those of you not on social media, you can also view these posts on the home page of the district website.
While the number of creative ideas and initiatives in our district is too great to detail here, I will highlight a few that are new for 2019-2020:
- The district has transitioned to a Standards-Based Report Card for Grades Kindergarten through Fifth which will allow classroom teachers to better identify student strengths and areas for growth while fostering a more informed approach to individual student instruction.
- Technology upgrades include additional interactive classroom projectors and Chromebooks; Web-Ex video and audio conferencing for all staff; and the installation of building generators to power our data network, keeping phones, WiFi, lights, intercoms and clocks operational in case of a power outage.
- The television studio at Westfield High School is receiving a complete makeover that includes three new studio cameras, an updated lighting grid, new editing workstations, a professional control room, and movable furniture to create diverse, quick set changes.
- Kehler Stadium looks fantastic as our contractor worked all summer to replace the turf field, track, blacktop, bleachers and to renovate the bathrooms in time for the Blue Devil fall season.
- This year, I’ll be introducing a quarterly newsletter that addresses current issues affecting the Westfield Public Schools community while sharing information about the many wonderful examples of student-driven learning, community service efforts, and other initiatives taking place in our classrooms and around our district.
The late Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison once said: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Her words provide a perfect example of how we should all adopt an “I can” approach to life’s many challenges. I look forward to our continued partnership with families, staff, and the entire Westfield community and I wish you and your children a successful and rewarding school year.