by Natasha L. Adams, Superintendent and CEO
West Clermont Schools
Driving a New Student Experience
How do we become a high-performing learning organization that truly puts students at the center of our work? How do we better listen to our students, understand their needs, and use their input to transform the student experience? How do we make their journey the best it can possibly be?
Students at the center of a school system’s plans may seem like an obvious way to do business, but it is not how it has been traditionally done around the country. Allowing students to take the wheel or co-lead their learning alongside teachers and adult mentors can be overwhelming, and feel uncomfortable to all of us who grew up in a different structured school system.
At West Clermont, we know students are clamoring for something more out of their school day. They want to be fully engaged so they can have a meaningful school experience and find their purpose. We care deeply about inspiring our students and preparing them now and for their future. That’s why we are working to create risk-free learning environments where teachers and students can design experiences that grow our Portrait of a Graduate learning attributes (communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation and adaptability, etc…) while using real-life problem-solving and authentic learning opportunities to better engage the modern learner.
We are striving to fully understand and provide the right level of resources and support to make this happen. These efforts will help us take the best of what we know works well for our students and expand our repertoire of tactics and tools. What we do know currently is that to become an educational model of excellence, we need a culture that includes the following:
- Shared Vision: It’s one thing to recite the vision: Together as one community, we learn. Lead. Succeed. It’s something entirely different to fully understand what this looks like and how it plays out on a daily basis. That’s why we created the Portrait of a Graduate — to more clearly define what is most important in the educational experience according to our community.
- Collaboration: Relationships are a top value at West Clermont. That’s one reason why we are expanding family and community engagement opportunities through teams like the Business Advisory Council, West Clermont Education Foundation, PTO/A, Boosters. We recently introduced new teams, including About FACE (Family & Community Engagement), Student Services Network, and Citizens Advisory Council (CAC).
It’s imperative that we shift away from individual classroom practice to a district-wide understanding of what a student-centered learning experience should entail, so we are making structural changes to prioritize collaboration. At West Clermont, this is a foundational component that is vital to our success. We continue to find ways to expand our quantity and quality of staff collaboration. This includes the District Leadership Team, Building Leadership Teams, Teacher-Based Grade-Level/Subject Teams, WCEA and HOPE (our associations) and “Design Teams” for research and development of innovative programming and practices (examples: Math Course of Study, Positive Behavioral Interventions Support program).
- Infrastructure, i.e., Student-Centered Learning Ecosystem: Student-Centered Learning is another top value at West Clermont. The development of an ecosystem represents our shift from an outdated factory model of education to a student-centered model of learning designed to better engage our students, better meet their needs, and give them a competitive advantage. Four components of the infrastructure include:
- Modern Instructional Practices: A fusion of proven instructional practices and emerging innovative practices designed to elevate the learning experience.
- Family & Community Partnerships: A shift in how relationships between students, family and the community are formed and structured to help each student develop a network.
- Learning Environments: A shift beyond the four walls of the classroom to create a climate and culture for learning that includes school, home, our community, libraries, and virtual and global environments.
- Data & Technology: A greater shift to use data and embed digital technology into classroom practice to accelerate, amplify and add value to learning.
Our 2022 State of the Schools e-newsletter and blog series themed A Story Worth Telling: A New Chapter Unfolding will tell the story of how West Clermont is driving a new student experience through living out our values of Relationships and Student-Centered Learning. Stay tuned to learn how you can be a part of our story!