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...
From the Head of School
WELCOME TO THE 2020-2021 YEAR AT WESTSIDE SCHOOL
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
These are challenging times and I applaud all the tremendous efforts that students, teachers, and parents everywhere are making to balance it all. It is not easy.
Balance is something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week. We probably all feel out of balance to some degree as we try to develop a new normalcy while staying home...
In times of uncertainty and fear, it is our human connections that uplift us. It is our routines that keep us grounded. It is our knowledge that our children are in school all day with caring and inspiring professional educators that bring us a sense of security.
In these trying times of a worldwide public health crisis, these safety nets are being taken from us, and we are left to navigate these unchartered waters more isolated and more uncertain than before.
I imagine there are a lot of feelings among us all about this turn of events - apprehension, overwhelm, confusion, fear, concern, wonder about how the heck we’re going to do this? And these feelings are mixed in with all kinds of other worries about coronavirus in general: your health, your family and loved ones at higher risk, the economy, and whether you have enough essential supplies. If you’re feeling anxious, you’re not alone. It’s normal, it’s ok, and we are all here for each other...