by Natasha L. Adams
The 2019-20 school year has officially come to an end and we can now all breathe a collective sigh of relief – we did it! The parent-staff partnership has always been important, but never more significant than this spring. Thank you for teaming with us to help your child continue to learn and grow in new ways! We appreciate your patience, understanding, and support while navigating uncharted territories.
This has been a banner year in the West Clermont School District.
We began the school year with attendance boundary changes across all our elementary schools and with the opening of two brand new schools – Summerside and Willowville Elementary. Community business partners provided every elementary student and staff member with an “Every Learner, Every Day, Every Way” t-shirt to help create a sense of togetherness. It was a great way to start the year.
The West Clermont Middle School team welcomed a new principal and dedicated the year to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the middle school program. This hard work has resulted in a newly designed experience for 6th graders starting next school year that will be academically challenging and developmentally responsive to better serve our students.
The high school and middle school teams started a 6th and 9th-grade transition program to support students in their academic and social shifts to new schools. These programs helped develop leadership skills in our older students while helping to support younger students through the challenging times of entering a new school learning environment.
Our Striving Readers Literacy Grant work continued in elementary, middle school and expanded to high school. This grant helps us build on West Clermont’s commitment to ensuring all students have the reading skills needed to succeed in education and life. It has provided new resources, tools, and high-quality professional development for our students and staff.
Health Source of Ohio launched a new dentistry program within the Wolves Wellness Center that provided mobile dentistry to our students. Some students throughout our school system received dental care for the first time in their lives.
We continued to elevate the communication system in our district to include three monthly newsletters #WCconnects, #WCcares, and #WCcommunity. We also made it a priority to keep our website updated with any critical information that our community might seek. My favorite addition was the Wolfpack Hub, which we developed to share information regarding COVID-19 Remote Learning plans and resources. We also continued to expand our tools – such as social media, videos, and podcasts – to share our district story.
Another priority this school year was to foster an engagement process that created opportunities for an updated understanding of district finances, student needs in a 21st-century learning environment, and gaps in resources. Being one of the largest school districts in Ohio with one of the smallest per-student spending rates continues to make West Clermont a school district that does more with less. Thank you for engaging with us, supporting us, and passing a levy so that we did not have to make additional cuts to the student experience we provide.
A highlight of the year was the For the Love of West Clermont State of the District week dedicated to celebrating our success and rolling out a video series to bring our strategic vision into focus. All of our schools participated in a week-long spirit week celebration – #LOVEWC was everywhere! We also revealed our Portrait of a Graduate, which serves as our North Star as it clearly identifies the skills, qualities, and attributes we strive to develop in all students.
In March we abruptly pivoted as a school district community to transition to a COVID-19 Remote Learning Plan. This huge undertaking took collaboration from students, staff, parents, and our community partners in big ways! This crisis pulled us all together to support student learning in new ways. We learned a lot through our journey about how the world is changing and how technology can keep us all connected and progressing for anytime, anywhere learning. It also highlighted significant resource gaps in our district and in our community that must be addressed, regardless of what direction this pandemic takes us.
And speaking of the future, we are already working on possible reopening scenarios for the 2020-21 school year. I want to take this time to thank the over 2,000 students, staff, and parents who participated in the Thoughtexchange to share their thoughts and ideas about remote learning and next school year. The information is invaluable and will be used to help build a responsive plan.
Across the country, It is clear that the opening of school in August will be different from anything any of us have known; but in West Clermont, we will move forward as we always do – together! In the coming weeks, stakeholder teams will work through all the details with a focus on school district operations, student safety and wellness, academics, and social-emotional learning. The action steps we create will be guided by the advice from our public health officials, the Ohio Department of Education, and orders from the Governor’s office, and driven by our commitment to provide a safe teaching and learning environment that promotes student success.
I’m sure we have as many questions as you do. How many students can be on a bus at a time? What will lunch in the cafeteria look like? What happens if we are required to do remote learning for an extended amount of time? Will students and staff have to wear face coverings? Will there be a football season? What happens if a student arrives at school with a fever? What will recess look like? How will my child get the learning supports s/he needs?
These questions are important to answer, yet we all have to remember there is no manual for this – we have to be flexible and courageous in answering these questions and serving our students to the best of our ability. And this will look different for each school district. Our goal is to make decisions that make the most sense for West Clermont. We commit to excellence with every learner, every day and every way; therefore, our approach will be student-centered, flexible, and adaptable to meet the diverse needs of our students.
Finally, please join us to celebrate the Class of 2020 in the virtual graduation ceremony on June 5, 2020. Our video is set to go live at 7:00 PM. In addition, I hope that you will tune in at 8:00 AM on June 6th for the WCHS Class of 2020 “Single Family In-Person” Graduation on YouTube Live: https://youtu.be/RmHAwmyYgEg. The ceremony will continue throughout the day as each graduate receives their diploma and the entire ceremony will last until approximately 9:00 PM. Following this virtual ceremony, we will turn on the lights in the stadium for 20 minutes and 20 seconds beginning at 9:00 PM. As part of this WCHS SENIOR WAVE, we ask every family member to turn on their outside lights or any light at 9:00 PM in celebration of the Class of 2020.
Throughout the summer months, I encourage you to stay connected via social media. We will continue to provide you with information and we may also reach out to you for input as well. Thank you for your support throughout this very unique school year and have a great summer!