December 21 Event: Talking to Children about Race

Dear Families and Community,

I’m excited to share that We Stories, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting conversations about race and racism through children’s literature, is hosting Dr. Ali Michael at Steger Sixth Grade Center on December 21 at 7:00 p.m.  The event is free to all who attend.

Dr. Michael, co-founder and director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators, and the author of Raising Race Questions: Whiteness, Inquiry and Education, is recognized as a leader in how parents and educators should engage white children with issues of race.

If you plan to attend, please click here to RSVP.

Hope to see you there!

John

 

WGSD Students Care!

Our Story

Dear Families,

In my role as superintendent, I have the pleasure of interacting with children, young and old, across our district on a regular basis.  I can’t tell you how much joy this brings me as I truly do love being in the company of young people and miss these daily interactions from my days as a teacher and building administrator.  I’m thankful for the care and compassion they demonstrate for one another and those beyond their schools!

Today I had the opportunity to join high school students who spent a tremendous amount of time and effort (with their teacher, Ms. Stromberg) to make today’s Statesmen Preschool Parent Luncheon an extraordinarily special time for the preschool students, their parents and/or special friends.  The Family and Consumer Science kitchen area was transformed into a rainforest with student art and food throughout.  In speaking with the preschool students and their guests, each was most appreciative for all the time and effort dedicated to this event.

The following picture shows a special welcome that one high school student spent several hours making with a little help from her grandfather!

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A couple hours later, I spent some time in Mr. Melanson’s class at the Computer School, where his students were sharing their 6-week passion projects with special adults and one another.

One student developed some fun games to help students learn a variety of key concepts in science, social studies, and writing, while another student designed a bird feeder from recycled materials!

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Last but not least, I wanted to share a video featuring WGHS freshman Zoe Reese.  Zoe was recently featured by the University City Children’s Center for her volunteer work there.  I’m so incredibly grateful for and inspired by Zoe and her care for the children at the UCCC!  Please take a moment to watch this video.  You’ll be glad you did!

Each child, Each day…John

Our Celebrations

  • Hixson 7th Grade English Language Arts teacher Katie Kraushaar recently presented at the National Council for Teachers of English Conference.

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  • Congratulations to the Bionic Bulldogs, four eighth grade girls from Hixson Middle School, who took top honors recently in a First Lego League Qualifier in Wentzville. Emily Goben, Emma Rohrs, Mallory Stewart and Abby Woodfin competed in core values, robot design, project and robot performance. They won their division for project and robot performance, successfully programming their robot and scoring points. They also received the Global Innovation Award, which qualifies them to enter the next level of First competition. The team will also advance to the state competition in January.
  • Congratulations to High School student Sarah Morgenthaler for winning Best of Show at the Lindenwood University High School Art Contest. Chloe Bischoff won first place in the ceramics category and Nicolette Schnoettgoeke won third place in ceramics. Their work will be on display until Dec. 6 at Lindenwood.
  • Lauren Forsyth and Heather Nichols of the Walter Ambrose Family Center Preschool presented to a standing room only crowd of educators at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Atlanta. Attendees who were inspired by what they learned have said that they want to come visit Ambrose to learn more.

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  • Congratulations to Gwen Ellsworth and Aja Trachtova for having their Illustrations selected in the top 40 of over 300 entries in the 100 Neediest High School Art Contest sponsored by the United Way and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Their work will be published in the newspaper and displayed from Nov. 12 through Nov. 30 at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. Way to go art students!

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  • “Two thumbs up” to Milagro Modern Mexican for winning the WG-Kirkwood Chilifest Competition this year and to all the parents, faculty, students, and community members who made all the Turkey Day festivities special!  Dr. Clark and I enjoyed celebrating the victory!

Our News

  • The Webster Groves School District succeeded in its lawsuit against the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to recover funding for full-day kindergarten tuition paid in 2015-16. A Cole County Circuit Court judge has ordered the state to pay the district the funding aid it had denied, plus interest. This amounts to about $1.1 million.
  • If you haven’t downloaded the Webster Groves SD app yet, head to the app store and do so now!

 

  • An orientation session for people interested in running for the Board of Education in April will be held Thursday, Nov. 30, 6-7:30 p.m., in the board room of the district office at 400 E. Lockwood Ave.

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Our Story

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of listening to or being in conversations with district students as they shared thoughts about their experiences relating to equity both inside and outside our school system.  While they’ve frequently noted feelings of progress, some of our children have experienced images, words, actions, and sometimes the absence of such that distress, challenge, and often times hurt.

However, each of these students remains steadfast in commitment to creating a world in which our differences are seen as just that, differences, and where people are valued because they’re people.  From each of these students, I find inspiration, challenge, and great hope in our shared commitment for a better future.

As a school district we are continuing to work with intention and purpose in support of justice for all!  What follows is a sampling of some of our shared efforts:

  • The district’s Equity in Education Team continues to meet on a regular basis.  Any high school student, staff member, or adult is welcome to join this group at any time!  The next meeting is scheduled for November 14 at 5:30 pm in the library at WGHS.
  • The district partnered with the Anti-Defamation League in support of bringing a “World of Difference Institute” to Webster Groves High School.  While the training involved professional development for a select group of staff, the ADL worked with 22 students for 3 days to help develop them as peer trainers in support of facilitating open and courageous dialogue among student and adults alike.  The students continue to meet with one another and staff members on a weekly basis in support of their development as leaders.  KSDK featured our students and this program last month: https://goo.gl/qvvhv2.
  • District staff in their 2nd year in the school district continue to participate in yearlong social justice training.
  • Both this week and next, “equity walks” are taking place in each district school for the purpose of examining each environment.  What is learned from the walks is shared with building-level administrators and a summation of the information will be shared with the district’s Equity in Education Team.
  • District hiring and retention practices as well as course requirements/prerequisites are in the process of being vetted for fairness.
  • Children’s literature is being looked at with a critical eye to help ensure our students are seeing images and stories which have relevance to both them and the world.
  • We’ve begun re-examining curriculum for cultural relevance.

I look forward to seeing the positive effect our shared commitment and work will have on all of our students in the weeks, months, and years ahead!

Each child, Each day…John

Our Celebrations

  • Congratulations to Mary Katherine Townsend on finishing 3rd at districts in tennis!
  • Way to go, WGHS STAR community service club! The group, with help from soccer players at the High School, made more than 1,000 sandwiches yesterday for the St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry.

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  • Congratulations to High School senior Elliot Williams, who has been named a National Merit Commended Student. Commended students rank among the top three percent of students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  Also, congratulations to our National Merit Scholarship semifinalists who rank in the top 1% of all students who took the assessment. They are Andrew Downey, Brendan Gillow, Keilyn Johnson, Jack Snelling and Ethan Whitaker.
  • Congratulations to WGHS senior, Benjamin Krasnoff who earned a perfect 36 on the ACT exam!
  • Distinguished alumnus and basketball coach to many NBA stars, Drew Hanlen, speaks to WGHS students about his business and a fundraiser to benefit Haiti.

Our News

  • The WGSDF is proud to host The Ivory Crockett Run for Webster TOMORROW!  Bring the whole family for this super fun family event! Sign up for the 5k or 1 mile fun run, have the little kids run in the 100 yard dash, visit with Fredbird and enjoy a Pancake Breakfast! Registration and more information can be found at www.wgsdfoundation.org or show up tomorrow morning!  The HS band will also be hosting its mattress fundraiser in Roberts Gym from 9 – 5 pm.

 

  • Check out this video that highlights “Restorative Circles” taking place with students at Hixson Middle School along with Dr. Grace Lee and her staff!

  • “Beyond Measure” will be shown in the Hixson auditorium at 7 p.m. Oct. 25. The movie is free and open to the public.  Reserve your admission ticket here https://goo.gl/takznR.  Watch the trailer here!

  • Following a public hearing in advance of the September 25 meeting, the board approved residential, commercial, personal property and debt service tax rates for 2017-18. The rates (exclusive of the debt service levy) are as follows: residential, $4.7554; commercial, $4.8806 and personal property, $5.9000. The debt service levy is an additional $0.5699.  It’s important to note that the WGSD tax rate is now near the middle of all St. Louis County School Districts! 

 

  • Here’s the full-length video from Tuesday night’s State of the District Event:

 

  • Check out this great, resource-rich parental involvement toolbox produced by  the organization of distinguished alumnus, Kevin Walker: https://goo.gl/47yLfP

 

Happy New Year!

Our Story

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Dear Families,

Let me begin by saying the school year has started off wonderfully!  One of the most joyful aspects of my job is to regularly spend time with children and staff in each building, and without exception, the positive energy in each of our settings has been observable, heard, and felt.  I’m thankful you trust and support us to work with your children, and thankful for the tremendous faculty and staff who care for your children each and every day!

With each school year, comes an opportunity for each of us to refresh and renew.  This year, I’m very excited that the same can be said for Knight Auditorium at WGHS!  After not being “touched” for almost 90 years, the auditorium has undergone extensive renovations and is being re-introduced on September 9 at a special event.

Distinguished alumnus Joseph Sohm will present a multimedia program, “Visions of America,” at the grand opening of the renovated High School auditorium, 7 p.m. Sept. 9. Tickets are $10, $8 for students, and available at the High School office.  To view a short video regarding Mr. Sohm’s work on this program, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91TFvA_sNXY.  To learn more about Mr. Sohm’s contributions to many presidents, national publications, books, etc., click here: http://www.visionsofamerica.com/about.html.  You may surprised by often you have viewed and appreciated his work!

While we’re very grateful the school year has started so strong and for the re-opening of Knight Auditiorium, our hearts cannot help but be with those to our south affected, and in many cases devastated, by Hurricane Harvey. While the stories of heroism and helpfulness inspire and bring me optimism, I’m saddened by the stories of loss.  As a caring and supportive community, the children and adults across our school system are once again organizing efforts to provide aid and support to those affected by Harvey. (You can read more about the High School’s effort a little farther down in this post.) If you’d like to contribute to any of the fund-raising efforts taking place, please contact our main office (314) 961-123 and we’ll let you know how you may help.

Each child, Each day…John

 

Our Celebrations

  • WGSD staff, students, and families enjoyed the solar eclipse together at all our sites.  Here’s a time-lapse video of the event captured at Edgar Road.

 

  • Steger Sixth Grade Center students partnered with professors at Webster University to see how bees reacted to the solar eclipse: https://goo.gl/R7YbD9.
  • Brian Keller (Edgar Road), Kristin Fagin (Hudson), Tom Havrilka (Hudson), and Melissa Murphy (Hudson) recently presented on Project-based Learning for over 80 teachers from local Catholic schools.IMG_9479
  • WGPD’s Sgt. Joshua Weber & WGHS Student Resource Officer Drew Baker received the John J. McAtee Award from Mental Health of America of Eastern Missouri!
  • Congratulations to the High School Echo, which received a First Place International in the Quill and Scroll International Honor Society’s 2017 Multiple Platforms News Media Evaluation.

     

Our News

  • The High School’s History Club will coordinate a fund drive for victims of Hurricane Harvey next Wednesday and Thursday at the beginning of all social studies classes. Members of the public who would like to donate can drop off contributions next week (Tuesday September 5 – 8) in the High School’s main office. You can donate cash or checks made payable to WGHS – History Club with a note ‘Harvey’ in the memo line. All donations will be combined and one check from WGHS will go to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Fund.
  • The community is invited to meet with some Board of Education members  Sunday, September 3 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the St. Louis Bread Co. in Webster Groves and meet with me on Wednesday, September 6 at Einstein’s from 7:30 – 9:00 am. Bring your questions and comments.
  • Parents and guardians: The online payment system for school lunches is now open. You can make payments through the Parent Portal.
  • On September 20, the district will host a screening of “Screenagers” at Hixson Auditorium at 7:00 pm.
  • This month, the Webster Groves School District began using BoardDocs, a cloud-based management technology, to better serve the needs of the Board of Education and provide the public better access to board information and documents. You can view the Board documents here: https://www.boarddocs.com/mo/webster/Board.nsf/Public

Our Story

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Dear Families,

Please mark your calendars for August 12 (11 – 1 pm) and our Back 2 School BBQ at Ivory Crockett Park!

Each year hundreds of district residents, not just students or families of students, converge at this great park to enjoy some delicious food, play games, and build or deepen relationships.  The purpose of the event is to build community and celebrate the start of another school year!  This event is a favorite of the Simpson family and we hope to see you there!

Each child, Each day…John

 

Our News

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  • Save the date Sept. 9 for the grand opening of the newly renovated Webster Groves High School auditorium, featuring a multimedia program “Visions of America” with alumnus Joseph Sohm and narrated by Clint Eastwood.  Tickets for this special program are $10 in advance from the High School office or $15 at the door. All proceeds benefit the High School auditorium renovation.

    Sohm, class of 1966, is an award-winning photographer who’s spent his career capturing the spirit of America in his pictures, which include United States presidents, sports, small towns, events and more.  The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report and many other publications have used his photos.  His multimedia presentations include “Concert for America” at the Kennedy Center and touring multimedia shows for the United States Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution.

    We hope to see you on the 9th! For additional information, please call 918-4548.

  • Prior to the start date of the school year we will be launching Tyler SIS Student 360 Mobile.  This is a mobile phone app version of the Tyler SIS Student 360 Parent Portal available on both iOS and Android. It can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes iOS App Store and the Google Play App Store now.  We’ve set August 11th as our date to go live.  For more information and tutorials please visit our district webpage.
  • The community is invited to meet with some Board of Education members of the Webster Groves School District Sunday, Aug. 6 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the St. Louis Bread Co. in Webster Groves. Bring your questions and comments.

 

  • Ambrose Family Center Preschool, where your child will make new friends, learn more than you imagined, and find their joy! One 3 yr old and two 4 yr old openings for families seeking exceptional full day opportunities. Half day morning and afternoon spaces available too. Please share!

 

  • To view the results from the Communications Survey shared in May, please go to the following site: https://goo.gl/z3wgkG.

 

 

Our Celebrations

  • Congratulations to Webster Groves High School student Benjamin Krasnoff, who earned a 36 on the ACT, the highest possible composite score. Fewer than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT earn the top score.

 

  • Here are some photos from the updates to Knight Auditorium:

 

 

 

  • JaNekka Hutchinson was our featured staff member for the latest In Focus video.  Please learn more about Ms. Hutchinson and her students’ experience during summer school by clicking here: https://goo.gl/q6gNZB.

Graduation!

Our Story

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On May 19, I had the pleasure of taking in graduation from a new vantage point up on the stage.  That night, I discovered that I had the best seat “in the house.” Not only did I have a great view of our graduates as they proudly walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, I also got to see the joyful expressions on the faces of parents, families, and loved ones who supported them along the way.  Needless to say, it was quite a treat!

While every student traversed the same stage that night, each took a different path to get to that special moment.  I’d like to highlight a bit about the path of the Class of 2017’s Eagle Award Winner, Duyen-Anh Vo.  As I listened to Steve Leftridge read the nomination he wrote for Duyen-Anh, I was not only blown away by her personal contributions to and care for this world, but was reminded of all this great class has brought to the world already and what lies ahead thanks to them.  If reading this doesn’t give you hope in the future, I don’t know what will.

As written by Steve Leftridge:

I’m honored to present this year’s Eagle Award to a student with a remarkable range of talent, discipline, heart, and character.

Throughout her high school career, she has been fiercely committed to personal excellence. She has a 3.9 GPA. She’s the senior class student council president. She’s the captain of the cheerleading squad. She is a highly gifted dancer–we’ve seen her become a viral sensation and win regional and national competitions; she recently appeared in the finals of the Teen Talent competition for the second straight year.

It’s all a result of the work–the blood, the sweat, the tears, that she has shed practicing and pushing herself as a dancer for many years. And she’s channeled most of that hard work back into our school–she’s choreographed everything here at the high school, from the cheerleading routines to the senior line dance to the Mr. Webster contest to her amazing performances at the All Write Festival. She’s also a terrific painter–she has produced beautiful art for our guests during each of our last All Write Festivals, for which she was our most valuable intern; she did as much as anyone to run the All Write Festival this year.

As artistic as she is, and I know her as a great English student, her first academic love is science, and next year at the University of Kentucky she’s majoring not only in dance but also pre-med. She wants to be a doctor. Because what really drives her is not only constant self-improvement but also making other people better.

And this is the side of her that she doesn’t make visible, that isn’t on stage. Not only has she spent her entire life working in her family’s restaurants, she has, since 6th grade, volunteered several hours a week at a local Medical Clinic. She has, for years, made care packages–full of stuffed animals, handmade crafts, and treats–for children battling cancer and she has taken those to local hospitals every Sunday, which she continues to do today. She volunteers at St. Cecilia’s, the Spanish school downtown, as a math tutor. Since grade school, she has, by her own initiative, made and delivered lunches to the homeless around town on the weekends. She also teaches dance–for no pay–to special needs classes at studios around St. Louis.

And she does all of these things with a smile on her face. She never complains. She is unfailingly nice to everyone and continually puts out the best kinds of vibes and lifts everyone around her.

She has sacrificed a great deal and worked literally around the clock to maximize her talents, to help others in need, to achieve personal excellence, to improve her community, and to make Webster Groves High School a more outstanding school.

So it is with great pleasure that I present the 2017 Webster Groves High School Eagle Award to Duyen Anh Vo.

Each child, Each day…John

Our Celebrations

  • Please join us in celebrating and thanking the 2017 Class of WGSD Retirees!  They are Nancy Zitzmann, principal of Bristol; Barb Davidson, Clark’s nurse; Susan Delanty, aide at Edgar Road; Beverly DePung, Edgar Road counselor; Karen Holden, Edgar Road aide; Nancy Hansbrough, Hixson teacher; Herman Townsend, custodial supervisor at Hixson; Don Knobbe, Steger teacher; Susan O’Brien, data specialist in Human Resources; Katie Burks, High School custodian; Chester Kennedy, High School custodian; Ken Manwarring, High School teacher; Margaret Skouby, High School teacher; Kim Baker, Hudson teacher; Debbie Grubbs, Hudson teacher; Jabetha Temming, Hudson teacher and James Wymore, Hudson librarian.
  • Congratulations to Hixson student Isabella LaMantia, who was recently chosen for Princeton University’s Summer Institute for the Gifted. Students can choose from courses in the humanities, math, science, technology, visual and performing arts, fitness and recreation on the campus of the university.
  • The WGSD School Board was one of only 24 (out of 518) public school districts to earn the 2017 Governance Team Award for “outstanding commitment to ongoing professional development, to regional and statewide leadership, and to active participation in legislative advocacy for public schools by the school board and superintendent.”

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  • Congrats to the WGHS Girls Track Team for placing 3rd at State!  Also, special congratulations to WGHS 10th grader Nia Lyles who won the state championship in shot put and took 2nd in the discus(broke 37 year record)!
  • Congratulations to High School teacher Jeanette Hencken, who was honored as Educator Associate with the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics at a banquet for her work in aerospace leadership.

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Our News

  • The WGSD Girls Soccer Team will travel to Kansas City, MO this Friday to play in the Class 3 Soccer Final 4!  Good luck!
  • In order to better support and partner with our community, we’d like you to take a brief communication survey: https://goo.gl/AMdkhL.  Please submit your completed survey by Friday, June 16.
  • Summer youth sports camps at Webster Groves High School can be found at the following link: https://goo.gl/oPgfT0 If you need more information please call the WGHS Activities Office at 314-918-4176.
  • Interim Chief Financial Officer Bruce Ellerman will continue in that position for another year.
  • WGSD Central Office summer hours are 7:00 am – 3:00 pm.  Please call with any questions: 961-1233.

Flooding in Our Region

Dear Community,

As you know, our region is once again experiencing catastrophic flooding affecting many.  Our hearts go out to all affected in small and life-altering ways.  While fortunate that we don’t have to close like a number of nearby districts, we do have staff affected by the loss of roadways.  The district’s human resources department is working with building administrators to support staff directly affected by the flooding.  At this point, staff members and their dwellings are safe, and we will continue to place a priority on their safety.

I did want to share one uplifting story close to home.  Our high school boys lacrosse (@WGboyslaxteam decided to take one of their practice times to go and fill sandbags in support of their neighbors to the south.  The picture below shows the team with residents whose homes they worked to protect.  As you can imagine, the residents were overcome with emotion by the goodness of these young men and their coaches.  When I heard about their care for others and saw the picture below, I was emotional as well.

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Each child, Each day…John