Dear Westbrook Families,
What an incredible start to the first day of school! This morning, we welcomed more than 590 students PK-12 to the start of the new school year, including new students and families from Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, and Honduras. The morning has been filled with joyful new beginnings, connecting with friends and teachers, and much excitement for the year ahead. We hope all of our students and their families enjoyed the summer months, but we are very, very happy to have everyone back for the new school year.
We have a number of new and exciting changes to share with you this year in each of our three schools.
At Daisy Ingraham Elementary School, we are piloting a team model approach for grade 4. Students will have a homeroom teacher just as you would see in an early middle school model and then change classes and teachers for core area subjects like math, science, reading, and social studies. We also added a science lab to our upper elementary wing so that students in grades 3 and 4 will engage in hands-on STEM activities every day in a science lab space and look forward to redesigning and upgrading it over the next year with input from our students at Daisy and with the help of high school students. The current grade 4 cohort will remain at Daisy for the 2024-2025 school year- the return of grade 5 to Daisy Ingraham Elementary School for the first time since the 2004-2005 school year. We have also added instrumental music and band opportunities for students in grade 4- introducing an important part of our music program to this younger grade to further increase instrumental music learning opportunities for our younger students.
At Westbrook Middle School, we have expanded our English language arts classrooms to create an open and engaging reading space- the classrooms are now doubled in size and include dedicated areas to encourage independent reading and to allow for small group discussions. There is also a new writing class for students in grades 5-8 where they will read, discuss, and write daily to improve those critical foundational skills for all courses. In grades 7 and 8, our students will now have the opportunity to explore robotics as well as additional STEM classes that include SeaPerch- a fun and engaging underwater robotics curriculum introduced to us and funded by Electric Boat to expand our STEM offerings. Westbrook Middle School is also working with General Dynamics Electric Boat and Goodwin University to bring Boat for Kids to our students. Lessons will include buoyancy, welding, pipe fitting, electricity, sheet metal work, and machining. The lessons provide interactive, fun ways to introduce students to new scientific concepts as well as skilled industrial trades involved in submarine building. Westbrook Middle School is also piloting a Digital Citizenship, Media Literacy, and Internet Safety course for fifth graders. All WMS students will once again be engaging in the Discovery Project process this year. Discovery Projects allow students to study a topic of their choice and present new learning to their peers. This year, WMS Discovery Projects are aligned to the Westbrook Portrait of a Graduate, individualized student success plans, and the Westbrook High School Career Pathways program.
Westbrook High School is in the second phase of creating a new welding and fabrication lab that will include additional welding stations to accommodate increased enrollment in this important program. The renovations include a workshop size doubled from its original size, a larger and upgraded HVAC system, and new electrical panel in addition. During the 2023-2024 school year, two welding courses (Metals and Welding I and Metals and Welding II) will be offered that are aligned to American Welding Society national standards and curriculum. During the 2024-2025 school year, two additional advanced courses will be offered to continue to advance student skills in welding and fabrication. We are in the process of exploring ways for these courses to earn college credits for our students in addition to high demand trade skills. At the high school, we continue to focus on increasing dual enrollment opportunities to increase student access and participation in courses that earn both credit for high school graduation and college. We are also in the process of planning to offer three new UConn courses: UConn AH1100 Introduction to Allied Health Careers; UConn AH2001 Medical Terminology; and UConn ARE22210 Essentials of Accounting and Business. In the high school math department, we also added a new course for the 2023-2024 school year called Financial Algebra.
Our work together as a school community continues to be focused on providing engaging, student-centered, personalized learning opportunities for all of our students. As a community, we have prioritized six critical attributes for all students that we have identified and communicated through our Westbrook Portrait of a Graduate:
Critical Problem-Solver: A Westbrook graduate who is a critical problem-solver systematically and strategically resolves a variety of complex issues.
Creative Thinker: A Westbrook graduate who is a creative thinker explores existing ideas, products, or designs to innovate and create in imaginative or novel ways.
Effective Communicator: A Westbrook graduate who is an effective communicator conveys a clear message while being respectful, receptive, and responsive to the input of others.
Perseverant: A Westbrook graduate who is perseverant holds oneself responsible to reflect, revise, and grow through critical feedback and setbacks regardless of the challenges encountered.
Socially Aware: A Westbrook graduate who is socially aware recognizes and understands the feelings of diverse individuals and groups with the ability to show compassion when considering norms for behaviors in a variety of settings.
Responsible Decision-Maker: A Westbrook graduate who is a responsible decision maker demonstrates awareness of self and others as one considers responsible choices and consequences while making decisions to benefit self and community.
Last year, our teachers and leaders worked to develop lessons and activities aligned to our Westbrook Portrait of a Graduate, including the creation of a new logo to capture this important school community vision. Special thanks to Westbrook High School graduate Andrew Scotella (Class of 2023) for his creative thinking and original artwork found in both the design of the circular logo and the Westbrook beach imagery to capture both our Westbrook shoreline and the pathway to graduation. I would also like to acknowledge and thank another Westbrook Knight, Nicole Stark (Class of 2005), who completed the final rendering and stylizing of the Westbrook Portrait of a Graduate logo.
In each of our three schools, we continue to learn more about what each of these critical attributes mean in the context of learning at each grade level and across all content areas. We look forward to sharing more this year about the different ways our students in grades PK-12 are learning about and gaining skills aligned to the Westbrook Portrait of a Graduate.
We are looking forward to an amazing new school year for our students in Westbrook! Welcome Back!
Your partner in education in service to the students and families of Westbrook,
Kristina J. Martineau, Ed.D.
Westbrook Superintendent of Schools