By Chris Bavender
Westfield Washington Schools has launched its inaugural Shamrock Academy. The program, open to district parents and the public, will provide a firsthand look at what it takes to run the district.
“Each month, our select class of participants will experience a new aspect of Westfield Washington Schools. The cohort will experience the classroom, food service, transportation, extracurriculars and so much more,” said Joshua Andrews, WWS director of communications. “In addition, they will hear from and interact with district and building administrators to understand the high-level concepts of education like safety, student support, finance and how the school board works.”
Andrews said the goal is to select a representative sample of the Westfield community. The application asks questions geared toward learning more about the applicant, ranging from interests to how they engage with the community to aspects of the school district they would like to learn more about.
“We haven’t decided how many people will be selected,” Andrews said. “We would love to select everyone who applies, but we also want to ensure that each participant has an engaging and personalized experience.”
The academy is important, Andrews said, because WWS is a “premier public school district with a high school ranked in the top 5 percent nationally, so academic success is important to us.”
“But what is more important to us is that our community trusts us, our teachers and our leaders, to continue to provide their children with a first-class educational experience,” Andrews said. “In order to retain that trust, we want to pull back the curtain, so to speak, and display what goes on in the classrooms and explain how and why we make decisions.”
The district wants Shamrock Academy participants to walk away from each session with a new perspective and deeper understanding of that month’s aspect of education.
“At the end of the whole program, we want our graduates to be able to speak about our district from a firsthand perspective that gives them an added level of credibility and clout in the community,” Andrews said. “We also want program graduates to have a renewed appreciation for what goes into providing our community with a world-class education.”
Andrews said the Shamrock Academy is perfect for people considering running for school board.
“The insight and experience this program provides will give citizens a thorough look into the logistics of education and will prepare school board candidates to speak from knowledge and experience,” he said. “They will learn the roles and responsibilities of the board and potentially hear directly from current members about their experiences.”
Academy graduates will be invited to continue sharing their perspectives and insights with the school board and administration on district issues and topics.
“We previously had a Key Communicators group that gave us feedback on upcoming decisions and helped spread the word throughout the community. That group no longer meets, but the plan is to revive that concept with Shamrock Academy graduates,” Andrews said. “After having completed the program, graduates will be able to offer feedback based on their personal experiences in focus groups or key communicator-style meetings.”
For more about the Shamrock Academy or apply, visit in02206768.schoolwires.net/Page/1890.