2018-19 WGHS Principal Selected



Dear WGSD Community,

Over the last month, we have had the pleasure of facilitating a multi-phase process to identify the next principal of Webster Groves High School.  Our process included, but was not limited to, multiple performance assessments, face-to-face interviews, reference checks, and additional vetting through candidate’s online “footprints.”  A variety of stakeholders including students, staff, parents, community members, and a representative from the board contributed to the process along the way.  The goal, which I believe we accomplished, was to create an interview environment for candidates to comfortably share who they are and what they would contribute to the school and district communities if selected as the next principal of the High School.  At the end of the rigorous and thoughtful journey, Dr. Matthew Irvin was selected to be the next principal at Webster Groves High School.  Dr. Irvin is currently the associate principal at Lafayette High School in the Rockwood School District.

While you’ll soon have the opportunity to meet Dr. Irvin and learn more about him, I do want you to know that he is extraordinarily eager to team with you in support of doing great things for students!  Matt is a natural leader who cares deeply for students and staff members.  A great communicator, he’s a learner himself with a strong knowledge of pedagogy.  A teacher at Kirkwood High School where Matt was both a teacher and a high school instructional coach shared that his “love for learning and students is infectious.”  An assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction who worked with Matt on a variety of projects noted that he was “strong with best practices,” “equity minded,” and “highly skilled at giving feedback and helping teachers grow.”

Dr. Irvin holds a doctoral degree in educational administration from Lindenwood University, a master’s in educational administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University. 

I am confident that Dr. Irvin is the right person at the right time to lead Webster Groves High School forward and into the future!

With great expectations…John



Safety and Security

Dear WGSD Family:

Like many of you, my heart remains heavy for the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community, especially those who lost loved ones.  It sickens me that a senseless act of violence can forever change the lives of so many.  My continued thoughts and prayers are with their community. 

At the Board of Education meeting this week, Student Services Director John M. Thomas presented an update on school security. We understand that the topic of safety is on the minds of our community and I’d like to take this opportunity to share some details about safety in our district.

Please be assured that student and staff safety is our top priority.  Our administrative team began discussing, analyzing and taking training on this topic well before the latest tragedy in Florida. At this time, in concert with local law enforcement, we are re-examining our practices and procedures to see where we can improve and enhance school security.  There is always more that we can do, and we’re committed to doing what we can to help children, faculty, and community feel safe when in our schools.

What follows are some of our current practices, some of which are being revisited or reinforced, and some which have been recently initiated.  Please know that this is not an exhaustive list nor does it include all the details.

Current Practices: 

  • Our school counselors and social workers daily work to support the social and emotional needs of students and families. These staff members also help families connect with community resources to help them.
  • All schools here have adopted programs and/or initiatives to build positive cultures within their buildings. Each of our schools places a priority on creating a caring community where children are connected and feel valued at school.
  • The district has two school resource officers from the Webster Groves Police Department. One works at the High School and one is at Hixson Middle School. In addition, the Rock Hill Police Department has an active and intentional presence at and near the schools in that city.
  • The Webster Groves Police Department has provided active shooter training for all staff members annually.
  • WGSD, in conjunction with the Kirkwood School District and area private schools, meets regularly with local police departments to discuss safety.

Recently Initiated:

  • The school district will install a buzzer system with a camera at both Webster Groves High School and the central office.
  • The district is inspecting interior doors in all schools to see where improvements can be made.
  • High School administrators are meeting with all students in classes next week to talk about safety and what students can do to help.
  • The district has installed the Raptor system for screening all school visitors.
  • The district has established a hotline and a tip line on its app for the community to report any concerns related to school safety.
  • District administrators will attend a second safety meeting (in 2 weeks) at EdPlus with administrators from across the area as well as law enforcement representatives to collaborate on best practices related to school security.
  • Administrators are discussing ways to improve everything related to safety including consistency with building-level practices (ex: buzzer systems) and reporting facility concerns which affect school security (ex: intercom not working).

I can assure you as your superintendent, and as the father of a child in our wonderful school system, district staff and I will be proactive in our efforts to create a learning environment where our children and staff feel safe and secure at all times.

With care,



January – Moving Forward

Our Story

Dear Families, Community, and Others,

Since ​2001, ​the ​Webster ​Groves ​School ​District ​has ​expressed ​and ​demonstrated ​a
commitment ​to ​creating ​an ​equitable ​learning ​environment ​for ​all ​children, ​staff, ​and
families. ​While ​progress ​has ​been ​made, ​much ​work ​is ​left ​to ​be ​done, ​which ​led ​the ​Board of ​Education ​to ​adopt ​a ​resolution ​in ​the ​spring ​of ​2017 ​that ​acknowledges ​the ​equity ​gap that ​remains ​between ​the ​current ​learning ​environment ​and ​the ​one ​to ​which ​we ​aspire.  The ​resolution ​also ​states ​values ​and ​beliefs ​which ​must ​be ​central ​to ​our ​work ​moving forward.

In ​order ​to ​change ​the ​patterns of inequity, ​we ​must ​disrupt traditional ​beliefs, ​systems, ​structures, ​and ​practices ​which ​favor ​those ​privileged ​by ​race, economics, ​gender, ​etc. ​Traditional ​ways ​will ​continue ​to ​yield ​traditional ​results. ​Beyond ​the ​beliefs ​and ​values ​outlined ​in ​the ​Equity ​Resolution, ​we ​must ​hold ​true ​to our ​district ​vision, ​which ​calls ​us ​to ​innovate ​or ​think ​and ​act ​differently. ​Doing ​so ​will ​allow us ​to ​better ​support ​children ​as ​they ​engage ​in ​self-discovery ​and help ​empower ​them ​with ​the ​beliefs, ​knowledge, ​and ​skills ​to ​flourish ​in ​a ​global ​society. Cultivating ​such ​a ​school ​environment ​isn’t ​just ​good ​for ​some ​children, ​it’s ​good ​for ​all children.

To view ​many ​of ​the ​district ​and ​building-level ​strategies ​initiated ​this ​year ​​to ​help ​move ​us ​toward ​a ​system ​that ​benefits ​everyone, click on the link below my signature. ​While ​every ​microstrategy or ​effort ​can’t ​be ​listed, ​many ​of ​the ​major ​efforts ​under way or soon under ​way, ​are noted. In ​order ​to ​be ​attentive ​to ​the ​ever-changing ​needs ​of ​our ​students ​and ​the ​world ​in ​which they ​live, ​we ​will ​remain ​fluid, ​flexible, ​and ​adaptable ​with ​our ​strategies ​and ​agile ​in ​our approach. ​For ​this ​reason, ​the ​list ​will ​remain ​in ​draft ​form ​and ​we ​will ​add ​to ​it, ​moving forward.

Trust ​that ​we ​know ​these ​strategies ​or ​actions, ​as ​well ​as ​all those ​initiated ​prior ​to ​the ​17-18 school ​year ​(not ​listed), ​aren’t ​alone going to solve all the issues with equity inside our schools. However, ​we ​do ​believe ​they’re ​contributing ​to ​our organization’s movement ​in ​the ​right ​direction, and we’ll continue ​to ​learn, ​grow, ​and ​act ​in ​support ​of ​our ​positive ​momentum.

Each child, Each day…John


Our Celebrations

  • Congratulations to WGHS student Nicolaus Braun who earned a perfect 36 on the ACT!  Fewer than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT receive the top composite score.
  • Four students at Webster Groves High School have been honored in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. Noah Erb and Mary Katherine Townsend received certificates of achievement and will advance to the state level of competition. Margaret O’Brien and Caroline Fellows received certificates of merit as runners up.

Pru award

  • Dr. Jon Clark was awarded the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Missouri State Thespians for his support and dedication to the WGHS Thespians and his support of the arts in general


  • Steger Science Teacher Chantell Mason won the 2018 METC Making IT Happen Teacher Award which honors educators in their use of education technology integration.  Ms. Mason was the one educator selected from our region and there were approximately 34 winners from around the globe.
  • Statesbots teams competed on Sunday in the Flo-Valley Community College FTC Qualifier.  The Orange team placed 6th out of 34 teams and received the Control Award for their outstanding programming.  The Black Team placed 20th and received the PTC Design Award for their “unique design of a 3D printed screw for enabling better controlled use of a grabbing device.”


Our News

  • During the high school’s Social Justice Week, Speak Up! Student Leaders (students trained by the Anti-Defamation League and further supported by WGSD staff) facilitated courageous conversations and learning opportunities for their peers on topics such as hate symbols, assumptions, and stereotypes.  They will continue to facilitate activities with their peers and with other student and adult groups across the district.


  • The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District is hosting a free showing of this movie on February 15.BackpackInvitation
  • If you would like to receive critical information regarding legislative activities and proposals around issues that could impact education, please click on the following link to subscribe: https://goo.gl/forms/Bq1fH0J0Aj3nHlav2 .  The majority of these messages will be sent January through May to correspond with the Missouri General Assembly session.
  • Please click on the following link to view the results of the latest enrollment report, including 5-year projections, for the WGSD: Final Enrollment Report January 2018.
  • The WGSD Foundation continues to make a difference in the lives of district children via its grant program.  To read about some of the recent opportunities the Foundation provided, go to: http://www.wgsdfoundation.org/news.

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!



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!


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!



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.


  • 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!

2017 student artwork for 100 Neediest cases

  • “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.


  • 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


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