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From the District Sept. 18, 2020

 

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Message from Superintendent

Dear WGSD Family,

As promised, every two weeks we’re going to communicate with you important matters related to our status as a school district, including online learning. With that prior correspondence, we asked for feedback regarding the first two weeks of online learning. To view data from the first survey sent to families, click here. We will again survey families, students and staff next week, and then every six weeks thereafter.  While we know this is survey overload, it’s important for us to monitor the effectiveness of our educational programming and continue to learn and grow based on a variety of factors including what we hear from parents/caregivers, staff and students.

From all that’s been learned, we’ll be working to problem-solve or continue problem-solving on the following topics and will present the result of our efforts to the Board of Education on September 29: daily and weekly schedules (ex: balance of synchronous and asynchronous), communication, student and staff connections and relationships, and supporting those having a more difficult time than most with virtual learning. 

As articulated in prior communications, at this time we are also exploring a possible return to in-person learning for students currently participating in the WGSD Responsive Learning Plan. From the onset, we have expressed a desire to have our students return to school as soon as we feel it is safe to do so based on data and information. While we had originally planned to present on this subject at the October 8 board meeting, and still may, we will present on this topic at the September 29 meeting.  

On a related note, a few people have reached out to me regarding the decision other districts have made to return to in-person learning for some or all of their students. While there is consistency across districts with the regional COVID-19 data we’re monitoring to make decisions, that’s not the only data and information local districts are using to make decisions.  Some examples of other factors contributing to decisions on re-entry for districts include local COVID-19 data, effects of extended student and teacher absences (ex: quarantine), local resources - financial, technology and human, building and facility limitations, and the effect of what is and/or might be of programming and/or changes of programming on stakeholders.  For example, a number of school districts who recently announced they’re returning to in-person learning for some students have not had early childhood students in their physical schools nor have they allowed fall sports and activities to occur - both of which have been occurring in the WGSD. Do those superintendents, boards of education and other staff care less or more for the well-being of their youngest learners, student-athletes or the adults working with them?  No.  Do they know the benefits of early childhood education and students participating in athletics and activities? Yes.  Did all of the districts consider regional COVID-19 data when making their decision? Yes.  I share this to articulate that local districts, absent clear guidelines from other authorities, are making the best decisions they can considering local contexts, data and information, regional and local COVID-19 data, current research and guidance from experts, and what they feel is best for the safety and well-being of their children, families and staff. 

Speaking of the local data, we have created a data dashboard that you can view to see the key regional data we see to help inform our decision-making.  Please check out that page at the following link: https://mo02202299.schoolwires.net/Page/23484.  When we do return to in-person learning, we will have a site that communicates the overall number of staff and students in isolation (tested positive) or quarantine (close contact/possible exposure).

Our planning efforts in support of our students, including their re-entry into our schools, has never ceased and is very much a part of our daily work.  We recognize the extraordinary challenges a number of our students and families are facing at this time and must continue working to address the inequities that exist. In turn, we also recognize and celebrate the exemplary work of district teachers and the extraordinary burden and sacrifice that is on them, in addition to our administrators and staff. For many of us fortunate enough to keep our jobs over the past 6 months, COVID-19 only altered where we did our work.  For our teachers, the changes have been quite drastic! Like the many of you who completed the survey and those who have sent me emails, I’m so grateful for our amazing teachers and staff and how their care for our children is showing up in really thoughtful and intentional ways at this time. While children must remain at the center of our decision-making and our care for our families must only get better, the needs of our teachers and staff as custodians of care for each of our kids and families, must be cared for as well.

With care,

John

 

Assistant Principal John E. Thomas Honored

Congratulations to High School Assistant Principal John E. Thomas, chosen for a 2020 Excellence in Education Thomas Award by the St. Louis American Foundation in recognition of his “dedication to education and leadership in the classroom and community.” He will be honored at the foundation's 33rd Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship & Awards Virtual Gala. This virtual event, dedicated to recognizing outstanding achievement in education, will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. on the St. Louis American’s homepage, Facebook and YouTube channel. There will be eight Excellence in Education awardees, who will receive an educator grant for $500.

 

District Hires Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director 

The Webster Groves School District has hired Dr. Shane Y. Williamson as its first director of Williamson diversity, equity and inclusion, effective Oct. 5. Dr. Williamson is currently associate vice president of student life & diversity, dean of students and chief diversity officer at Lindenwood University, where she has worked since 2007. She holds a doctoral degree in social and philosophical foundations in education from Rutgers University, a master’s in business administration from Lindenwood, a master’s in counseling from Shippensburg University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing, also from Shippensburg.

Dr. Williamson is the first person to hold her current position at Lindenwood and she designed its responsibilities, policies, strategies and budget. In recommending that the Board of Education hire Dr. Williamson, Superintendent John Simpson said that she holds the skills and strengths that will benefit the school district. “She will be successful in the varied roles and responsibilities she’ll have here,” he said, “ including supporting district stakeholders in creating more equitable structures and systems.” Dr. Williamson “is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion work and excited about a position designed just around that work.”

 

Jessica Haskins Receives Presidential Award

Jessica Haskins, who teaches mathematics at the High Haskins School, has been chosen for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching! Congratulations, Jessica!
 

 

WGSD Food Drive Sept. 19

The Webster Groves School District, in response to Covid-19, is establishing a food pantry for community families, to be operated by members of the Adventure Food drive Club staff. On Saturday, Sept. 19, the pantry will hold a drive-through food drive,  from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the district service center, 3232 S. Brentwood Blvd. The pantry needs non-perishable food, infant care and hygiene products. You can place your donations in your trunk and allow a pantry representative to retrieve them. Please mark any boxes or bags with the word “Donation.”  You can find additional information about the pantry here https://mo02202299.schoolwires.net/Page/23454

 

Bond Issue Progress

Construction work continues at Hixson Middle School, made possible through passage of the Proposition E bond issue. The addition will open at the beginning of the 20221-22 school year.

Improvements include addition of a two-story academic wing, a new entrance on Elm Avenue, a new library, expansion of the cafeteria and a new gymnasium that can also be used as a safe room. The video below shows construction work on the walls for the new gym.

 

 

Three Named National Merit Semifinalists

Congratulations to High School seniors Justin Barker, Caitlin Noel and Fiona Smith, who have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship scholarship competition. They are among 16,000 students this year named semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. More than 1.5 million juniors entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

 

Steger Legacy Memories and Photos

In honor of this last year of Steger Sixth Grade Center, former students, families and educators are invited to Steger star send memories about Steger through a form here  shorturl.at/bmuxP

Send photos to cox.christine@wgcloud.org

 Next year, sixth grade students will move to Hixson Middle School and the entire Steger campus will become the Dr. Henry Givens Jr. Elementary School.

High School Echo Takes First Place

The High School Echo newspaper received a First Place International rating with a Superior for General Practices, from Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists.

The judge said, "Your staff puts significant time and effort into producing a publication that spans multiple platforms as a means to keep students informed and engaged. You tackle a range of stories and ideas that are all geared toward student learning and understanding. Readers gain a clear sense of what’s happening in your school and its impact on the broader community." 

 
Meal Service Update

The Webster Groves School District will have free meal pick up at Steger/Givens and Webster lunch Groves High School this semester.  Meals are available for any child 0 – 18 years of age. Meals can be picked up Monday-Friday from 10:45 to 12:00pm.  All meals will include that day’s lunch and breakfast for the next day.           

           Steger/Givens pick up will be by the covered awning next to the doors by the cafeteria

           High School pick up will be by Roberts Gym

In addition to meal pick up, you can opt for free meal delivery, where you will receive that day’s lunch and breakfast for the next day.  If you opt for delivery of your meals, you will be registered to receive meals Monday thru Friday until you contact the Food and Nutrition office to cancel your deliveries.  

Please complete the survey only if you plan on picking up or registering for delivery of a meal.  The survey results help us to plan accordingly for meal preparation and in order to reduce any possible food waste.  You have the option on the form to select certain days for pick up or delivery based upon your students’ meal choices.    You can find the survey form here https://forms.gle/D8jwiM8dKfLDSVGS7

Menus will still be posted in Nutrislice under the summer breakfast and summer lunch tabs on the Nutrislice website. 

We ask for the safety of our staff and students that a face mask be worn during meal pick up. 

We look forward to serving your students their breakfast and lunch while they continue to learn online.  For any questions, please call Nancy Pelant at 314.918.4156 or email at pelant.nancy@wgmail.org.