From the Head of School

WELCOME TO THE 2020-2021 YEAR AT WESTSIDE SCHOOL

Westside's Head of School Steve de Beer smiling

This is a school that provides children from preschool-8th grade with strong foundational skills and equips them to become flexible, creative thinkers and engaged citizens. Our mission to challenge students to achieve academic success, and to connect their human spirit and imagination to learning, is so essential in today’s world.

The current global pandemic has challenged our structures, our thinking, and our creativity, and yet we are emerging resolute in a shared belief that we can do more than we ever thought possible. Staying true to our mission, we know that our collective human spirit and imagination has been challenged to rise to a new level and, for this school year, we have designed a student experience that will continue to deliver on our mission, one that can be achieved in diverse ways.

The pandemic has given us an opportunity to experience community and connection and to think about how we do school in new ways. It has highlighted for us the essential role that schools play in our communities. We are seeing just how interconnected we are, and that community is a broader term than we may have thought of before. We are sharing the experience of living through one of the more vulnerable times in history. Yet in that vulnerability, I feel confident that Westside School remains steady as a safe and caring community for all our students, families, and staff.

39 years ago, Westside began with just a handful of students in preschool. Today, we are situated in a state-of-the-art building in the Arbor Heights neighborhood of West Seattle, with almost 320 students from preschool to 8th grade.

Now in my third year as head of school, I am proud to be a part this unique school community. Our teachers are skillful, impassioned, and hard-working. Our parents are committed and supportive. Our students are delightful and exceptional. It is our people who make the difference. We are a community school.

This school is a special place, a place where children are known and honored, where they are encouraged to grow cognitively, socially, emotionally, creatively and physically, a place where joyful and integrated learning is at the forefront of our philosophy of education. With an outstanding trips program, strong athletics, fantastic arts experiences for all, and a world language program that is second to none, Westside students receive an extraordinary education.

Here at Westside, we are proud of the way we challenge kids to stretch and learn. Alumni families consistently share stories with us of how our graduates are thriving in the best Seattle high schools and beyond. They are confident, thoughtful, accomplished, creative, articulate, respectful, and kind.

Thank you for visiting our website – and please make sure you review our detailed reopening and remote learning hub that outlines all of our planning for the current school year. Once visitors are allowed on campus, I warmly encourage you to visit us in person to experience the unique programs, imagination, and spirit of our school. In the meantime, I encourage you to book a virtual tour with our admissions department.

I look forward to meeting you.

Steve de Beer
Head of School

Steve's Column

Three people talking and standing in a triangle 6ft apart with face masks on.

I have been thinking a lot this past week about community: how hard it is to maintain our human connections during the pandemic; in particular, how hard it is for families. Your kids are in school at least some of the time (depending on their grade). How are you, our students’ parents, doing?

Psychologists have shown us that social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and improve our immune systems...

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Two preschool boys creating a "potion" of leaves and dirt in a small cement basin full of water

As we approach the 2020 election and as the 24-hour news cycle spits out more and more evidence of a nation divided, it seems a good time for a few healthy reminders.

The upcoming election and the issues on which it will be won and lost are coming up in class discussions, particularly in the middle school. Our teachers are skilled in guiding the conversations in developmentally appropriate ways for the age they teach. They are also working hard to help our students separate reality from fiction and fact from opinion...

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A Message From The Head Of School

In my nine years as a head of school, there have been very few moments when I have felt compelled to write to my school community to offer thoughts on a political or current event. Sadly, every week the news is filled with atrocities somewhere in our country and our world. This past week however, with the killing of George Floyd and other race-charged acts, and the protests that have followed in Seattle and elsewhere, I feel compelled to connect. These are the moments when mission-driven organizations have a choice to lean in or to sit back to wait and see what happens. This is not the time to sit back...

Read More about A Message From The Head Of School