Welcome, Dr. Lee!

Our Story

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The Webster Groves School District has hired Grace Lee, currently an assistant principal at Parkway Northeast Middle School, as the principal of Hixson Middle School effective July 1.

Dr. Lee has been assistant principal at Northeast for five years. Before that, she taught English language arts in Parkway and was a school social worker in Jennings. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree in educational administration, both from Lindenwood University, as well as a master’s in social work from Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in middle school education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dr. Lee’s genuine care for both children and adults is central to who she is as a person and as a leader.  While described by one Parkway administrator as the “Pied Piper” of students at Northeast Middle School, she also is very outspoken about and known for the high expectations she has for all students.  It is clear that she will go to any length to ensure children “know they (children) are seen and know their worth.”

At Northeast Middle School and in the Parkway School District, Dr. Lee has initiated and/or led a number of efforts which have had a positive influence on students and staff.  For example, she has led the restorative practices training and work at Northeast Middle.  In addition to training staff, which she believes must be prepared in order to provide real-time, in-class support for students, Dr. Lee had a group of approximately thirty children participate in the same restorative professional development as the adults, through a student leadership program she created.  Since being trained, some of those students have facilitated restorative circles for children and adults across the St. Louis region.  Next, Dr. Lee facilitated a re-write of the 6-8th grade English Language Arts Curricula to make it socially just and aligned across all grade levels.  Also, she was co-leader and principal writer for a process that resulted in Parkway Northeast being recognized as a state and national School of Character.  Furthermore, this year she initiated an all-school poetry slam in support of students’ creative expression.

We’re very excited for Dr. Lee’s official arrival on July 1!

Each child, Each day…John

Our Celebrations

  • Last week, a beautiful bench and Japanese maple tree were dedicated to Bristol School on behalf of its beloved principal, Nancy Zitzmann, retiring at the end of this school year.

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  • For the first time ever, WGHS students won first place in the Mechanics division at an area physics competition taking place at Washington University.  Students also won second place in the Comprehensive division.  Special congratulations to junior Ben Gossow who brought home first place in the individual portion of the Mechanics competition!
  • Kudos to Hixson Middle School counselors Linda Peterson and Sarah Bodi, who were recently acknowledged by the St. Louis Suburban School Counselor Association for their presentation on Mindfulness and Yoga at a regional meeting.
  • Last Monday, the School Board awarded an honorary diploma to Ralph Naslund of Webster Groves, a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific, then later in Korea as a member of the 40th division, 143rd field artillery battalion and the 160th infantry regiment. Mr. Naslund was drafted six months before he graduated from Roosevelt High School in St. Louis. Board member Arnold Stricker (at left in photo) presented the diploma to Mr. Naslund (at right).After the war, Mr. Naslund returned to St. Louis where he established his own company, Commercial Electric.Congratulations, Mr. Naslund and thank you for your service!

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  • Check out the interesting art projects taking place during the Art Club at Steger Sixth Grade Center and the Computer School.

Our News

  • The district will hold a sale of the old High School auditorium seats for interested members of the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20. The price will be $10 a seat. Buyers can come in and choose a seat. Once the contractor has removed the seats, we will hold them for pick up in June.
  • The annual Jim Schoemehl 5 K Run is May 6. The run, organized by marketing students at Webster Groves High School, benefits ALS research and awareness. Register today! For information and to register, go to the web site http://jims5k.org/
  • Last Monday night, Interim Chief Financial Officer Mr. Ellerman shared the long-range budget outlook with the Board of Education.  To view the 3 year projection, click here: https://goo.gl/iEikLV
  • In support of ensuring “student voice” is central to our work and operations, High School Principal Jon Clark and I are meeting with sophomore students regarding the opportunity they have to apply to be a “student advisor” to the board.  Click here for more information: https://goo.gl/JOLz16
  • Please mark your calendar for the WGSD Foundation’s Webster On Wheels Event. Check out the information below and click on this link to register: https://goo.gl/3ejGNkWOW_2017_Event_Flyer_900x1165 (1)

Welcome, Mr. Senti!

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Mr. Bill Senti, 2017-18 Principal of Bristol Elementary School

Our Story

Dear Families,

I’m excited to share that the district recently hired Bill Senti, currently principal of Craig School in the Parkway School District, as principal of Bristol School, effective July 1.

Mr. Senti has been principal of Craig for five years. Before that, he was an assistant principal at Northeast Middle School in Parkway and a teacher in the Rockwood School District. He holds a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Lindenwood University and a bachelor in fine arts degree in graphic design from Maryville University. He was a nominee for Teacher of the Year in Rockwood, has received the Francis & Elizabeth Huss Graduate Award in Education from Lindenwood and received the Pillar of Parkway Award from his current school district.

I’m confident Mr. Senti is the leader best prepared to take Bristol forward in the years to come. He’s shown that he values working together with children, staff, parents and the school community to create an inclusive environment where the social, emotional and academic needs of children are met.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Bill Senti to the Webster Groves School District!

Each child, Each day…John

 

Our Celebrations

  • At the St. Louis Symphony’s Picture the Music Awards, Steger student Holly Travers won the highest honor – the Maestro Award.  Holly’s piece of art, which will travel the region, was one of two selected from over 13,000 entrants!
  • Congratulations to the 2017 Class 5 State Boys Basketball Champs!

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  • WGHS junior Ben Linehan was recently honored with the Excellence in Science Award at UMSL and senior Kelly Komotos received honorable mention for the Aspirations in Computing award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) at SLU.  Also honored by NCWIT was WGHS teacher, Jeanette Hencken, who was the only teacher in the region to receive the Educator Award for supporting and encouraging female students in aspirations in computing!
  • Congratulations to the Steger Chess Team — Andrew Voelker, Dominic Lee, Marcus Budde and Eric Miranda — which won fourth place in the 2017 Missouri State Championship! Andrew also won a sixth place individual trophy. More than 500 students participated in all sections.
  • Thanks to the efforts of the WGSD Foundation, the Big River Running Company named the Ivory Crockett Run for Webster, Best Neighborhood Support Run!
  • Edgar Road second graders partnered with shoemakers in Uganda to help produce 100 pairs of shoes for children in that country.

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Our News

  • Don’t forget that a forum for candidates running for the School Board in the April 4 election is tonight, March 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Hixson Middle School,630 S. Elm Ave. The League of Women Voters will moderate the session.The candidates, in order of filing, are Amy Clendennen (incumbent), Jo Beth Doll, Thomas (Tom) Newport, David Addison (incumbent) and Michael J. Rose. Board terms are for three years; three seats will be decided in the election.
  • April 11 is the WGSD Foundation’s Spring for Schools Event.  Please click here to check out the local restaurants which will contribute a percent of their sales from that day to our school district.
  • The entire school district community is invited and encouraged to attend this special upcoming event hosted by the Bristol Equity Parents and the Bristol PTO!  Amy Hunter flyer
  • The board revised the teacher salary schedule and approved a one-year agreement recommended by the Certified Staff Salary Committee that will provide more competitive starting salaries and eventually cost less than the former salary structure.The estimated increase in net cost from the new schedule is 2.115 percent. The committee developed the new schedule with a focus on making it competitive, equitable, sustainable and something the community would support.
  • The district is currently in the process of selecting the next principal of Hixson Middle School.  It is my intent to recommend a candidate to the Board of Education at the April 10 board meeting.

Welcome, Mr. Fields! – January

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Mr. Howard Fields, 2017-18 Principal of Steger Sixth Grade Center and the Elementary Computer School

Our Story

Dear Families and Community,

I’m excited to share that on January 23, the Webster Groves School District Board of Education approved the hiring of Howard E. Fields as the new principal of Steger Sixth Grade Center and the Elementary Computer School. Mr. Fields is currently principal of Koch Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens School District.

Throughout the search process, Mr. Fields demonstrated that he would be a thoughtful leader, an empathetic and caring colleague, and someone who would work together with children, staff, parents, the communities of both schools, and others to move with purpose in a direction consistent with our vision for innovation and personalized learning.  His leadership work in the Riverview Gardens School District demonstrates his ability to work with a school community to address real needs in creative ways.

He holds graduate degrees from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and will earn a doctorate from UMSL in the spring. Before becoming principal at Koch, he was assistant principal at Westview Middle School, also in Riverview.

Mr. Fields was cited as an Exemplary New Principal in 2015 by the St. Louis Suburban Elementary Principals Association and the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals as well as one of North County Incorporated’s 30 Leaders in their Thirties in 2016.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Howard Fields to the Webster Groves School District!

Each child, Each day…John

 

Our Celebrations

  • Today Avery Elementary was recognized as an Exemplary PLC (Professional Learning Community) School by the state of Missouri!  This has been a five-year journey for the team at Avery and they’re very deserving of this special recognition!
  • Thanks to your generosity, the WGSD Foundation today announced that the FUNDing Innovation Campaign raised approximately $12,000!  Each school will receive $1,200 to initiate or further develop a makerspace.
  • Last Friday, the WGHS Wind Symphony and Concert Choir performed for large audiences during the annual conference of the Missouri Music Educators Association. Special congratulations to the choir for being the top choir recognized in Class 6 in the state!
  • Three fifth graders at Hudson received grants from the Innovation Technology Education Fund in support of products they’re making.
    • George Lock received $250 to create hoodies with Bluetooth speakers in them.
    • Preston Dorris and Drew Gerst received $400 for a Lego Mindstorm EV3.  They had created a Lego vending machine, and the Mindstorm will make the machine bigger and include a touch button dispensing system.
  • The Walter Ambrose Family Center’s early childhood program was recently awarded a $20,000 Child Care Development Fund Grant.

Our News

  • Audio recordings of board meetings may now be found on the Board web site.  To listen to the first recorded board meeting on January 23, click here.
  • The 2018-19 district calendar has been approved.  Please click here to view it.
  • The WGSD’s summer elementary program will offer exciting project-based courses for all interested children.  Applications are now available at schools and are due March 3.
  • Our virtual “Family Enrichment Fair” will be coming soon.  Stay tuned for further information!
  • If you live in the Avery (only) attendance area and need to enroll a child in kindergarten for the 2017-18 school year, please contact Hollie Henderson (918-4003) at the district offices to make an appointment.

 

Connecting and Contributing – December

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Students at Hixson Middle School yesterday honored Herman Townsend, custodial supervisor at the school, who is retiring Jan. 1. He joined the Webster Groves School District in 1980.  He will be greatly missed!

OUR STORY

‘Tis the season for connecting and contributing.  While many of us including myself will demonstrate love and care for others via store-bought goods, I trust that most of us would agree the gifts that endure beyond the moment they’re “opened” are those that can’t be found in stores.  They’re gifts that demonstrate one’s affection for another, shared in a way that’s personal and filled with care and meaning.

It’s my belief that schools should be places where these types of personal gifts are regularly shared in new and different ways both within the school itself as well as in the local and global communities.  It’s important that we as educators continue to do our part to lower the divide that exists between schools and community so that our children are regularly demonstrating care for their community and our community is regularly contributing to the learning of our children.  Below are a small sample of ways I’ve seen this type of sharing take place in the past two weeks.

I wish each of you the best this holiday season!

Each child, Each day…John

Omar shares a musical gift with the entire Steger student body last Friday as part of their weekly Music Friday.

As part of a science study, 4th grade students at Avery connect with a team from the University of Wisconsin studying neutrinos (very high-energy particles with neither a positive nor negative charge) at the South Pole.  They were very excited to talk to former Avery student, Christopher Weaver, who is a member of the team!

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After collecting multiple wagons full of goods, this 4th grade class at Bristol walked to Old Community Baptist Church to make the delivery and learn more about the church’s efforts and those being served by them.

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After one student shared what he learned regarding the effect of WWII on Missouri history, 4th and some 5th grade students at Clark wanted to learn more about WWII so they Skyped with an expert on the USS Missouri stationed at Pearl Harbor.

This afternoon, students at Hudson were treated to this video of the most recent 3rd-5th grade music concert.

OUR CELEBRATIONS

  • There are no longer any waiting lists at any of our Adventure Club programs!
  •  WGHS students Emma Austin and Jared Brown organized and raised over $1,000 for the Little Bit Foundation during the recent Mr. Webster Competition.
  • Congratulations to two WGHS students:
    • Chris Kuse was chosen as one of three students in the United States to fly to San Francisco for the Berlin and Beyond Film Festival in February.  At the festival, Chris will connect with and learn from a variety of German filmmakers, actors and industry professionals.
    • Jack Kincaid has been named one of only 25 students in the country for the Reischauer Scholars Program at Stanford University, an intensive online study of Japan.  Ambassadors, top scholars, and experts throughout the United States and Japan will provide online lectures and engage students in live discussion sessions.
  • Lauren Forsyth, Heather Nichols, Susie Jonn and Deedee Sheehan, teachers from the Walter Ambrose Family Center, presented at the Missouri Early Learning Conference at Tan-Tar-A. The topics were “Passionate About the Outdoors?” and “Not Just About Materials.”
  • The Bionic Bulldogs Robotics Team from Hixson participated in the State FFL competition and brought home the Inspiration Award!

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OUR NEWS

  • Are you looking for summer opportunities for your child this year? The Webster Groves School District’s Summer Elementary Program will be offering an all-new array of exciting experiential and project-based courses for children, at no cost to parents. Stay tuned for details! The program runs from June 1 – July 7.
  • In our continued efforts to improve two-way dialogue with the community, following winter break we will open Facebook comments on our district Facebook page.
  • Assistant Superintendent Dr. Denbow recently shared additions to the 17-18 course offerings at WGHS including: AP Environmental Science, AP Statistics, Game Design 2 and C# Programming, and Android Application Development and Programming.
  • The results of the resident enrollment study conducted by Dr. Charles Kofron were presented to the Board of Education this past Monday night.  While the data projects resident enrollment in some schools such as Avery to decrease, it also projects district resident enrollment to continue increasing over the next five years.
  • Prior to Thanksgiving break, I sent the following note to families of district students regarding our continued efforts to create and maintain the best educational and environment possible for our students, staff, and families.

Gyroscopes – November

Video created and submitted by WGHS senior Emily Rapp, as part of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

Our Story

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Emily Rapp, a WGHS senior who is completing a marketing internship this semester in our district’s central office.  In addition to being a true delight, we are continually impressed by Emily’s contributions to our district work.

One day about a month ago, Emily shared the above video with me and told me about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.  Needless to say, I was quite impressed.  Winning this competition would award her a $250,000 scholarship, her science teacher a $50,000 prize, and the school $100,000 toward a science lab.   I told her that I was going to feature her in my next blog post and asked her if she would mind sending me some information.  Here is an excerpt from what she wrote:

“I found gyroscopes interesting because when reading about complicated physics topics, I read that most professors gloss over gyroscopes because they do not want to go into the lengthy mathematical reasons for their occurrences. This fact motivated me to learn why gyroscopes work and to be able to explain the concept concisely to people without need for mathematics, although I do love math. Also, I was incredibly intrigued by the spinning bike wheel and desperately wanted to find out why it did what it did. Personally, my worst conceptual understanding in physics was rotational motion, specifically moment of inertia. This video not only allowed me to learn about mind-boggling actions that take place in rotating bodies, but also it made me confident in my understanding of moment of inertia and rotational motion.

I would like to pursue biochemistry or chemical engineering in the future because I find the elements and the reactions they have simply mesmerizing. To think that the entire world is made up of 118 elements blows me away. 

Dr. David Schuster, my AP Physics I and AP Physics II teacher, has consistently fueled my learning of physics. His class is extremely intense, and it pushes me past my limits. I learn things I never expected to understand, and I am a better student because of it. He is extremely excited about physics and being in his presence inspires me to continue my study of physics outside of the classroom. He is kind, generous, extraordinarily intelligent, and a fantastic teacher. My goal in life is to be as passionate about my future career as he is about his current one.”

While Emily has already made it to one of the later stages of the competition, moving to the next phase was dependent on the number of Facebook “likes” and comments her video received.

If you “liked” or commented on Emily’s behalf, thank you for supporting her and all those, including Dr. Schuster, who have supported her along the way!

Each child, Each day…John

 

OUR CELEBRATIONS

  • Over 525 community members participated in the 2016 Ivory Crockett Run for Webster!  Thanks to the WGSD Foundation, PE teachers, and everyone else for helping make this the largest Run turnout on record!
  • Avery School hosted a “Pajamas for Police” day that raised $1,345.66 for BackStoppers in support of Police Officer Blake Synder’s Family.
  • The district’s YouTube channel and home page will feature videos about staff members this year, called In Focus. The first person in this series is High School math teacher Eric Dunn. You can see the video here:
  • Congratulations to WGHS Girls Volleyball Coach Molly Dean, on being named coach of the year in the Suburban South Conference.
  • Congratulations to Jeanette Hencken, Margaret Skouby, Nicholas Kirschman, and the Statesbots for hosting the US FIRST FTC Robotics competition on Saturday.  As a result of their scores in this meet, the Statesbots Teams are now ranked 2nd and 6th in the state out of an estimated 250 teams in Missouri.  The teams will host a second meet on November 19th.

 

OUR NEWS

  • To promote digital citizenship and Internet safety, the district has deployed desktop backgrounds (some student-created) to every K-8 student computer.  The images and accompanying suggestions for use with children are part of the district’s effort to promote positive and safe use of technology.

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  • The WGSD Foundation has launched a campaign to support Funding Innovation in the Classroom through support of Makerspaces.  To learn more, please go to: www.wgsdfoundation.org.
  • Dr. Denbow, assistant superintendent for learning, shared the “Student Success” report with the board of education at the last board meeting.  To view the report, click here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwkHTH94TYh5NUVleXJKanpXM1k/view?usp=sharing
  • Curious about the Science Fair? Wondering what’s required? Get your questions answered at the Science Fair How To Night on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Edgar Road Elementary library.
  • Prior to the Turkey Day Game at noon on Thanksgiving Day at Moss Field, the district is hosting the annual Chili Fest Competition on Wednesday, November 23 from 5-7 pm at WGHS.  Come and sample chili from local restaurants and non-professional entrants such as graduating classes!  Click here for more information and to buy tickets online: http://wghsparentsclub.org/pages/chilifest.

Nurturing Leaders: October 2016

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Avery students Isaac G, Dominic B, and Olivia F presented on student leadership at last weekend’s Missouri School Boards’ Association Annual Conference along with Avery principal, Dr. Tony Arnold.

OUR STORY

In order for children to grow and thrive as learners, ready to meet the challenges they’ll encounter as adults, it’s important for systems of education to do their part in helping develop them as leaders.  While leadership is often, and rightfully, associated with a position of power over others, we believe it’s important for each of our students to be able to lead from within, that is, to be able to take charge of their own learning, show initiative and set good examples for others.  Across our school system, caring adults work to nurture the development of our children as leaders.  One example of our district’s commitment to developing leaders can be found at Avery Elementary.

Following a study of Steven Covey’s book, “The Leader in Me,” the staff at Avery created a student leadership program that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Each student at Avery is provided with a variety of learning opportunities and support to develop as a leader from within.  To date over 330 students serve in an explicit leadership role in the building for which they had to apply and interview.  Dr. Tony Arnold shared, “We want to foster leadership skills in our students in as many ways as possible.  If every student at Avery is in a leadership role, we will be helping cultivate confident, caring, high-achieving, and capable leaders for Avery and the future.”

This past weekend, the students pictured above facilitated a workshop on Avery’s leadership program for approximately 35 Missouri superintendents and school board members.  To see Dr. Arnold step aside and allow the three students to conduct the presentation made for an occasion that neither they nor others would soon forget!  In fact, a superintendent standing next to me commented on the children’s remarkable courage and confidence that day.  I heartily agreed!

Each child, Each day…John

 

OUR CELEBRATIONS

  • Seventeen WGHS students have been honored in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship competition. This is the greatest number of students recognized in at least  the past 20 years!
  • There are no longer any waiting lists for the morning session at any of our Adventure Club programs.  Hudson and Steger no longer have waiting lists after school, and we will continue our efforts to eliminate the waiting lists at each of the other schools.
  • Assistant Superintendent Dr. Wiley recently shared with the board that 85% of district teachers and administrators have a master’s degree or higher.  In addition, she said that district teachers average over 15 years of experience.
  • Alyson Goggin, who recently was featured in the WK Times for creating Pars for Patriots to make a difference in the lives of military families, qualified for state in golf.  Aly is the first female golfer from WGHS to qualify for state since  Kate Grumke in 2009.
  • The WGHS History Club provided an opportunity for high school students to register to vote in the upcoming elections.

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OUR NEWS

  • The Webster Groves Recreation Center is hosting an early morning “Hixson RecFest Club.”  The program will meet from 7:15 – 8:20 am each day, and helps to provide assistance for families with middle school children needing before-school care.
  • The WGSD will host a showing of Most Likely to Succeed on October 25 at 7 p.m. at Hixson Middle School.  Everyone, including students, is welcome to attend this free public screening.  To view the trailer, click here: https://vimeo.com/122502930
  • While we have yet to receive the results back from water tests conducted by the St. Louis County Health Department at WGHS and Hixson, the results from each of our other buildings have been returned and yielded no concerns.  The district has tested all buildings in the past and found no problems.
  • Our doors are always open for alumni to return just for a visit, to help our children and staff learn, or support the school community in any way.  The following is a picture Dr. Joe Hays, Clark principal, and some members of the Clark Class of 1958 who stopped by for a tour of their elementary school!

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Happy New Year!

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Dr. Jon Clark and Mr. John E Thomas welcome high school students on the first day of school.

 

Our Story

Happy New Year!

The 2016-17 school year has started smoothly for children and adults in the Webster Groves School District.  As superintendent, I have the wonderful opportunity to visit schools and classrooms across our district on a regular basis.

This year, I’ve watched our young people being welcomed to school each day by caring and capable adults who are providing a variety of learning opportunities that are designed to help each one of them establish a sense of belonging with peers and teachers.  The diligent work of our maintenance and facilities departments has played an important role too, in creating outstanding environments for learning.  Their attention to detail meant our buildings shined, an accomplishment we applaud.

As a school district, we’re committed to providing the children of our community with the best education possible.  To do this, we will work thoughtfully and with intention to ensure students are engaged in relevant, challenging and rewarding learning.  Please know that we are committed to doing a better job each day!

Have a wonderful 2016-17!

Each child, Each day…John

Our Celebrations

  • In addition to amassing a total of $28.7 million in scholarships, the 2016 graduates of WGHS had an average ACT score of 23.4 (including all 11th graders testing).
  • Over 190 teachers, administrators, and support staff spent some of their summer engaged in professional development in support of their work with children.
  • Dr. Pam Washington from Clark was appointed by the Missouri House of Representatives to serve on the University of Missouri System Review Commission.  She will be,“working on the Diversity and Title IX components of the University System and strategies to attract and maintain a diverse student body and faculty as well as funding and scholarships at campuses.”
  • The WGSD has provided social justice training to employees for the last 13 years.

 

Our News

  • Our prek-12th grade enrollment is up over 4% this year including 292 students participating in free, full-day kindergarten.
  • With the news about lead contamination in the water in several public schools in St. Louis, we wanted to let you know that the district has periodically tested the water quality in our schools in recent years and ran tests again the week of August 15.  These tests have shown no lead in the drinking water.  In addition, the St. Louis County Health Department has tested the water in some of our schools and we’ve been told the results will be available in about a month.
  • If you’d like to personalize how you receive voice, email and text messages from your child’s school or the district, please click on the following link for guidance: http://goo.gl/W9G5cX.
  • The 2016-17 tax rate hearing for the WGSD will be held on September 12 at 6:30 pm in the board room at central office (400 E Lockwood Ave).
  • On September 14 at 7pm at the WGSD Service Center (3232 Brentwood Blvd), the district will host a District Vision for Learning Event to provide community the opportunity to learn more about the district’s direction as it relates to student learning.
  • The WGSD Foundation’s annual golf tournament will take place on September 26 at Westborough Country Club.  To learn more about the event including how you might contribute to the Foundation’s largest fundraiser, go to the Foundation web site: www.wgsdfoundation.org.