As an independent school, Westside is driven by its own unique philosophy, values, and approach to teaching. Unlike public or parochial schools, independent schools, including Westside, rely solely on tuition and charitable contributions to support our educational program and curriculum.
At Westside, our teachers have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs, without state mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing. This allows Westside School to be rigorous in developing the broadest possible range of skills and attributes in students to best prepare them for the world.
- Project-Based Learning
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Curriculum
- School-wide focus on arts, world languages, and experiential learning
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Staying up to date on current information and best practices
Whether virtual or in-person, examples of this can be found almost every day at Westside.
MAKING SURE EVERY VOTE COUNTS
Addressing and reflecting on current events can be seen in every classroom at Westside School. Our teachers are skilled in guiding the conversations in developmentally appropriate ways for the age they teach and have wonderful resources to help guide the conversations in politics, civics, human rights, and more. As the 2020 presidential election nears, our students are being increasingly exposed to the important topic of voting and elections.
For a Kindergartener, votes may not count towards the national election, but they will count in their election for a class pet! To better understand how elections work, students are participating in an election that will lead to the adoption of an animal from WWF. Students have listened to books about how voting works, as well as the history and importance of voting. While this is a big topic, it is important for them to understand their place in the world, and how they can help make it a better place. Each cohort voted on a list of animals to put forward as their candidate and they are now in the process of learning about each animal. The Kindergarten election will take place Nov. 3!
LEARNING TO BE A LEADER
At Westside, being a 4th grader comes with some fun perks such as the annual donut eating contest. It also comes with the responsibility of being a leader of Lower School. One way teachers instill leadership with 4th grade students is by hosting Wolfest each fall. The idea is to create a one-day event that is joyful and appropriate for students of all ages.
After being split into committees and creating mission statements for their group, students participate in a panel of experts where they explain and get feedback on their plans. They are encouraged to look at the whole picture from 1000 ft above to the smallest detail. After Wolfest had ended students created a portfolio of all their Wolfest work. They wrote reflection letters to think about how they grew over the project, their favorite parts, and the hardships
This year’s fourth graders had the extra challenge of hosting a community event virtually. What they came up with was a fun morning of activities, dance parties, and goodie bags for students to take home. We are so proud of how much our 4th grade class rose to this year’s challenges and created a successful Wolfest!
REFLECTING ON AND MEMORIALIZING OUR CURRENT TIMESCurrent events and historical times like these have an impact on everyone, adults and kids alike. Though sometimes difficult to discuss in class, Westside “intentionally cover these topics in order to equip your children to take in and process the positives and negatives, help them mold their own personal identities and where they will feel the need to use their voice, their vote, and their agency to participate and listen to the world around them”, says Eric Claesson, Westside’s ⅞ Social Studies Teacher.
To process the current state of the world and reflect on these sometimes difficult times, Middle School students have been working on a large collaborative mural: Fall 2020, This Moment in History.
During the course of our last few in-person experiential days, advisory groups participated in conversations about what makes this particular moment in time unique. From the global pandemic to the upcoming elections, remote classes to the Black Lives Matter movement, students talked about their feelings, their experiences, their hopes, and their concerns.
Each student was given a tile on which they created a visual representation of what this historic time means to them. Advisory groups then combined their tiles to create collaborative panels that will be hung together as a large installment. When discussing the artistic merits of creating a visually cohesive panel vs. creating a disjointed collaboration, one 7th grader noted "I like that we're not trying to make it look one big picture because we're all having different experiences, so we all have different looking tiles.
As a final step in creating their mural panel, advisories created short videos explaining the process, intent, and messages behind their tiles. If you are the parent of a middle schooler, keep an eye out for an email from your student's advisor - these videos will be shared home!
Community Development Officer
October 26-30 is Westside's annual Week of Giving. Please consider making a gift today to the Westside School Fund to support Westside's Program & Curriculum.