Dual Enrollment

When the Georgia legislature passed the bill commonly referred to as Move On When Ready, we immediately noticed the potential for dual enrollment programs to become a force for change in Georgia’s secondary school systems.  Today, high school students comprise a significant portion of the total enrollment at many of Georgia’s two year colleges and schools (25%-50%).  The overall purpose of the program is to allow qualifying high school students the ability to take a college class and to allow the credit from that college class to also count as a high school credit.  The program is funded through the Georgia Student Finance Commission, and

Dual enrollment takes on many forms as some students leave their high school each day and drive to the college campus to take classes on the college campus.  Other students are taking online college classes.  Other high schools work with their university partners to bring in college professors who teach the dual enrollment classes on the high school campus.

The growth of dual enrollment programs has prompted great discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of both AP and dual enrollment programs.  AP classes offer a standardized curriculum and test that is recognized nationwide.  A qualifying score which can be very difficult for some students to attain, may or may not result in a student being awarded college credit depending upon the policies of the universities and their various departments.  Highly selective colleges and universities acknowledge the validity of the tests and know what material has been covered.  A student who successfully passes a dual enrollment class are guaranteed college credit which can be transferred to Georgia colleges and universities, most large state universities throughout the nation, and some private colleges.

Westfield decided to launch a pilot program with one dual enrollment class several years ago.  We have been continually evaluating the efficacy and role of such classes.  We believe that a small offering of dual enrollment classes is a great fit for the community that we serve.  However, we also believe that the AP program has great merits because of the rigor, the difficulty of the exams, and the nationwide recognition of the program.  As such, we are striking a healthy balance between the AP and dual enrollment programs.  We currently offer four dual enrollment classes and hope to add two more.  We plan to maintain five AP classes.  We will continue to monitor the changing landscape of dual enrollment and AP programs.  Our guiding philosophy when making changes is being true to our mission statement, and our desire to give exceptional value to the families that we serve.

W. Carroll

a few updates

Our fall semester is coming to a close, and I want to update you on several projects and topics.

 

Campus Safety Enhancements

A safe campus is our top priority, and we will be installing new security gates at the entrance to our campus. The gates will be used from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help improve perimeter control of our campus.  Having the gates in use will require all visitors to park and check in at the Administration building.  Please watch for more details and instructions after the break about the security gate and our new visitor check-in procedures. Additionally, we are installing upgrades to our campus intercom system which will extend coverage to our playground, practice fields, and athletic fields.  This fall, we installed signs on buildings throughout campus which is designed to help law enforcement and public safety officials quickly identify locations on our campus in an emergency situation.

Our faculty and staff have participated in three safety related training programs over the past two years, and we believe that such training needs to be ongoing.  Safety training conducted by the Perry Police Department has been scheduled for our faculty and staff during their January 4th Professional Development Day.  Also, we will have planned and unplanned visits by local law enforcement.

 

Fundraising

          Thank you so much for the generosity that you have shown by donating to the Annual Fund.  We are delighted to report that the school has now surpassed its participation goal and currently has 90 percent of families participating.  The Fund helps make the Safety and Facilities improvements possible.  We have a long-term vision for the school in which gifts are solicited professionally and appropriately and in which the gifts are used to enhance the school.  I also want to thank those who continue to support the school through the tax credit program which we refer to as Georgia GOAL, and I encourage you to call  me if you want to know more about any of our giving programs.

Facility Improvements

During the break, the men’s and ladies’ restrooms in the gymnatorium will be renovated to include new sinks, counter tops, ceilings, paint, lighting, and flooring.  We look forward to completing this project to upgrade these restrooms not only for student use, but also for visitors to our gymnatorium for events such as graduation, Grandparents’ Day, and other school assemblies, events, and programs.  We plan to replace the flooring in the Lower School Media Center over the summer.

 

I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas,

 

W. Carroll

Head of School

School Safety and Security

I honestly feel like I have not taken in a full and complete breath after seeing, hearing, and reading about the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  How do we even discuss, much less ascribe meaning, to this event and the many random shootings that have occurred, especially those on campuses, in recent times?  I vividly remember when a student was shot on campus during the school day during my very first year of teaching.  Fortunately, the victim survived, but many of us carried deep scars.  I remember the regular drills that ensued for the next two years.  Yet, this senseless tragedy was rooted in an attempted robbery, providing a sense of context and meaning to the event.  Today’s world with its recent school massacres is much more disturbing, unsettling, and scary.  Such tragedies test the faith of the faithful, and nothing is more tragic than seeing such young lives end prematurely and unnaturally.  And though God is still God, my grief is real, and I know that yours is too.

Grief and heartbreak over recent events have begun to transition to anger, frustration, and resentment, as well as a sharp series of questions beginning with what can and what should we (nationally, locally, and right here) actually do about the mass shootings, especially the school shootings.  

Our administrative team has been discussing safety and security issues for several years.  We have conducted severe weather, fire, and lockdown drills each year.  Three years ago we began keeping the exterior doors locked to the Early Childhood and Lower School buildings.  We reviewed and revised our safety plans.  We also reviewed and redesigned car line with the input of officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation and City of Perry Police.  Division Directors have regularly reviewed safety protocols with faculty.  Our school counselor and the faculty have been vigilant about looking for, and addressing concerns about student mental health and any other issue that might cause a potential threat to safety.  However, what can be done to further secure the campus?

I have heard many ideas about further improving the safety of our campus.  Some of the ideas are fairly simple and relatively inexpensive, while other ideas are far more costly.  Everyone that I talk to about this important issue can come up with a variety of ideas, and what I want to know is, which ideas are best and what are the priorities?  The Board of Trustees and I take the safety and security of our campus very seriously.  After much discussion, we have agreed that a consultation with a respected security agency specializing in school safety would be helpful in terms of setting safety and security priorities in both the short and long term.  We are actively seeking proposals for such a consult.  In the meantime, we will continue working with faculty, staff, students, and local law enforcement to refine and follow current safety protocols.     

I ask that you continue to join us in praying for God’s wisdom and God’s protection for Westfield and for schools throughout our community and nation.

W. Carroll

Parenting

I am always amazed at how the summer disappears into winter while I am left wondering, what happened to fall?  As parents, we all get so busy (overscheduled) that it is easy to miss!

Westfield recently hosted a workshop that was geared towards high school counseling and college advising.  I learned that while we have been creating the most academically gifted students that have ever been seen in higher education in the U.S., college dropouts rates are higher than ever.  Today’s college students are lacking soft skills like coping with setbacks, self-discipline, insufficient social skills, and a lack of perseverance.  Too often the students have not learned to manage setbacks and have not learned to manage free time (we all overschedule the children).  How can we as a school and we as parents help our children with the soft skills?

Raising children is the most challenging, frustrating, rewarding, and meaningful experience in all of humanity.  Really, nothing compares to parenting children.  Westfield aspires to be a partner and a voice of reason in your parenting journey.  Many of our faculty members are parents, and many of us have spent years working with children and youth.  We are available to hear your concerns and offer suggestions.  We also hope to facilitate thoughtful dialogue grounded in our mission to provide a college prep education within a Christian environment.  As such, I encourage you to attend one of the parenting programs that we are hosting next week with John Rosemond.  I first heard John Rosemond about 15 years ago and found his ideas to be accessible, concrete, and consistent with a Christian worldview.

My personal goal is to facilitate a parent program in each of the following two years as well.  My early thought, subject to change, is that next year’s program will be focused on technology and screen time.  I hope to facilitate a dialogue regarding current research on screen time, healthy use of social media, and the effects of 24/7 cell phones.  Then, the following year, I would like to facilitate a dialogue on student wellness including sleep, stress, emotional health, and nutrition.  I would love to get some feedback on these topics and want to know how we can help you through the parenting journey.

W. Carroll

Travel: Unmet Expectations

Bonjour, hi!– the greeting I received often in Quebec, where I took some students earlier this month. The group was much smaller than the whopping twenty of us that traveled to France last year. I had doubted whether this trip would be worth it with so few participants.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I could elaborate on historical facts associated with various monuments, including Notre-Dame Basilica, Château Frontenac, and Montmorency Falls (which are taller than Niagara).

But I prefer to focus on what made this trip so memorable.

Montreal made me think of an American French-speaking city: as if Trudeau and Trump agreed on a temporary culture blend just North of Vermont. Montreal was charming and also full of dark stories of conflict involving the British, French, Iroquois Indians and Americans. However, it has allowed its American neighbors to infiltrate the culture considerably. In contrast to the small Parisian hotels and tiny bathrooms in France, accommodations in Canada felt much more like the Holiday Inn.

At the “Park Olympique” (hosting site for the 1976 Olympic games), we saw photos of famous athletes. We also had the opportunity to see a Junior Team practicing synchronized swimming in the Olympic diving pool, right next to the Olympic lap pool.

We tasted “poutine” (a local specialty consisting of fries, gravy, and cheese curds—delicious! — contrary to what you might think).

Each of my students impressed me in his or her own way. Before our transfer to Quebec City, they helped me figured out how to navigate the metro system. They knew answers to history questions that I frankly did not know. They looked out for each other and became like family to one another, despite personality and age differences. I was struck by their maturity and how they reacted in the face of various challenges. They blended very well with the other group that was merged with ours through the ACIS agency. Our Westfield students were very gracious and friendly to them. I was truly honored to be their teacher.

The guide in Quebec City reminded us all of a French Jim Carrey. He made our time a ball of fun and put smiles on all of our face, even when we were tired from walking up and down the hills inside the citadel walls. Our last night was marked by a cruise on the St. Lawrence River, from where we saw the Château Frontenac lit up and watched the sunset.

We fell in love with the pastries, the friendliness of the locals that we came in contact with, and the beautiful weather.

Travel teaches much. In the words of one of my student travelers: “I feel like I am learning so much more than in the classroom. No offense Mrs. Caulley.” She is so right. There is nothing like putting into practice what you are learning within an appropriate context. It was so rewarding to see those “a ha” moments, where knowledge “clicks” and becomes not just knowledge but a useful part of life. This is the best way to etch information into the brain.

Would we go again? Oui oui! Do we recommend the trip! Oui encore! It was a wonderful trip, fairly low impact compared to some of the European Tours. I would say that the Canada trip is a perfect way to “get your feet wet” if you are still a little unsure about crossing the Atlantic. This could serve as a stepping stone to more intense trips to Europe and beyond. To quote the ACIS slogan: “learn, inspire, travel, repeat”. Until next time! Bon voyage and happy learning!

Anna Caulley

Upper/Middle School French Teacher

 

Education Should Change, Graduation Stay the Same

Traditional education reflects the changing of the seasons.  I have always loved that the academic year mirrors a growing season.  While a growing season culminates in a harvest, our season culminates in graduation.  Graduation is beautiful and stressful, a beginning and an end, a time for mourning, a time for reflection, a time for celebration.  The ceremony connects the present to the past, which is why it should rarely be changed.

We all can agree that any change is difficult.  A definition of stress related to natural science could be the bending of a material under conditions of change.  Our human endeavors and attitudes bend, uncomfortably so, upon conditions of change.  Yet, change is also healthy and refreshing; change revitalizes our endeavors.  And many of our educational endeavors need constant refinement, improvement, and yes, CHANGE.  If I could just waive the magic wand, I would make the curriculum more relevant and meaningful, and make the instruction more engaging and effective.  But graduation should remain the same.

When alumni attend graduation in support of a relative or friend, I want the ceremony to elicit the same emotions that they experienced upon their own graduation.  Of course, the salutatorian and valedictorian speeches change and names change, but a common rope should connect all alumni.  You have been a part of The Westfield School, and you are part of the Westfield family.

W. Carroll

College Admissions

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Westfield esteems our high college acceptance success rate of 100%, a rate which has remained constant through the years.  Not only are we providing a premier education, we are by your side in navigating the college admissions process.  The landscape of college admissions has become increasingly complex and inevitably creates stress on students and families.  The financial challenges alone are enough to give me a slight nervous tick.  In addition, our children want and need to have serious input regarding their college placement, and some of them have not had much experience making big decisions.

Westfield has a college advising office designed to help families navigate the daunting but exciting process of choosing where to go to college.  We begin talking with students during their ninth grade year as they take their first practice college entrance exams, the PSAT and PACT.  We discuss academics and their transcript, and we also discuss the importance of extracurricular involvement, leadership, and service.  This guidance continues with students throughout their Upper School years.  I have found that the guidance programs at large high schools tend to focus on the students at the very top and very bottoms of their classes.  However, at Westfield we help ALL of our students and their families generate options regarding college placement, and we help generate discussion and feedback regarding such options.

On the topic of college placement, I encourage you to be mindful of the economic, technological and societal changes that have taken place in more recent times.  Many of you have heard or read that the future prospects for members of this generation will be less connected to the name on their degree and more connected to their skills.  I often borrow a colleague’s summary of this idea and say, “It’s not where you go to college, it’s what you do while you are there, and what you can do when you graduate.”

Recently a parent and I discussed decisions regarding extracurricular activities for our children.  And everywhere we turn, we see that the youth need to do more and achieve more in order to have a competitive college application.  Even prior to high school we feel pressure to have them do more in order to be prepared to be in a position to generate a competitive college application.  Thus following such thinking leads us to believe that the children need to be in highly competitive athletics, competitive arts, and leadership programs.  They also need to learn computer coding, become a math whiz, and volunteer in the community.  And while we should and do aspire to have children who can do it all, we need the balance and perspective of living in each moment.  Our students have a life to live right now and can do amazing things today.  Of course if I could unlock the secrets of striking such a balance, then perhaps I could be a famous writer instead of a Headmaster!

W. Carroll