Dear Westside Family,
Welcome to the 2015 – 2016 school year! I trust that you and your family have had a safe and relaxing summer. We are very excited to start the school year, and trust that you are ready for your children to start as well. I look forward to working in collaboration with the entire Westside community in order for our students to reach their highest academic potential. The first day of school is Monday, August 31st. As we look ahead to the new school year, I just want to highlight some important areas I believe our school will need to focus on.
• Chronically Absent Students, Attendance and Lateness
• Student Intellectual Engagement
• Common Core State Curriculum
• Parental Involvement
Attendance is a major concern for our school community. Last school year, we had 133 students who missed 15 or more days of school. Many of those students were also late to school 30 or 40 days out of the school year. Some kids were late everyday if they came to school. We have to do better than this. Students who come late to school are missing reading activities in the morning, or math drills and warm up activities. So students are missing critical instruction that is essential to learning how to read. Arriving late to school creates a pattern of tardiness that may continue in your child’s life.
We have to work together to improve our students’ attendance and we cannot do this without your help. Many students are not old enough to go to school by themselves, so as parents we must take responsibility. If you are moving out of the area, please ask for a transfer so that you can get your child to school. If you would like to keep your child at Westside, please make sure that you can commit to bringing your children on time. We have to break this pattern of missing school and coming to school late. If you need assistance, please call the office and as for Mr. Simmons. We have resources here at school to assist with relocating, homelessness, GED classes, food and nutrition, and job placement.
Once a student misses more than 10 days of school, parents may be referred to Truancy Court. Students that are ill or have chronic health conditions like asthma or other health related illnesses can register for the CHIP program. In the CHIP program, students can have a teacher come to their home so that they are not marked absent from school. Please visit the health suite to receive information on the program.
Parents, we need your assistance with making sure that your children are coming to school ready to learn. Students should be in uniform and have the proper supplies, such as a notebook, pencils, book bag and homework. When teachers call for your support with your child misbehaving in school, we need your support so that these problems can be resolved early in the year.
Our students are currently preparing to take the PARCC assessment that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS requires our students to read more complex text and to think critically. Overall, what our students are doing in school is more challenging and takes intellectual engagement. Intellectual engagement refers to the process of thinking and solving complex problems while being engaged in learning. That is why being in school and being engaged in learning is so important. The first step is being in school every day and on time. I am asking for your commitment in this task. I am also asking that your children come to school ready to learn, in uniform and on time. Lastly, please talk to your children about being intellectually engaged in learning while in school. When students disrupt the classroom environment, not only is your child not learning, but this causes other students to miss instruction.
Our vision for Westside Elementary is for all of our children to attend an academically advanced middle school of their choice, in order to have a great educational experience. This will prepare our students for a select high school and eventually college and career. In order to achieve this, parents and school administration, along with teachers and staff, have to commit to the vision of the school. The phrase, “Average is Officially Over”, embodies the vision of our school. It is no longer enough to do the bare minimum, or just to try and accomplish this goal or vision. We have to give this all that we have inside. We have to commit to providing our children the educational opportunities they deserve, so that they can have a bright future. A future where they will be prepared for the jobs and careers of their dreams! This challenge requires that we drop all the excuses of the past. We cannot fail them. Again, welcome back and I will see you on August 25th. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Brian Pluim, Principal