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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
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Welcome W elcome from the the W Westerly esterly Leadership dership T Team e eam Chris Rodenhizer Head of School Crystal Angulo Director of Advancement David Perram Director of Student Afffairs f Student Affairs
Ana Jimenez Director of Finance Finance and and Operations Operations
Elizabeth Proven Administrative Assistant
Mission: physically. emotionally, morally and physically. intellectually,, emotionally, esterly School of Long Beach is to develop each childâ€™s full potential intellectually Westerly The mission of W
School Philosophy Westerly School provides a challenging educational program that enables students to achieve academic success. The School is Westerly We believe body. We committed to building a strong self-concept, personal independence and social responsibility within a diverse student body. that student involvement in the community and community involvement in the School are fundamental components of a complete We strive to fulfill our goals through: education. We
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Founding Families Because of their their dream, dream, vision visionand anddedication, dedication,W Westerly W esterly School became a reality on September 23, 1993: Sonja Berggren and and Patrick Seaver Â‡Â‡Carol Carol Inge Bernstein Bernstein Â‡ Susan Chazin-W Chazin-Wright zin-W Wright right Â‡ V Vicki icki and Bill Bil Dawson Â‡ Lindsey Fenimore and and Gary Gary Fields Fields Â‡Tomilee Â‡Tomilee and Greg Greg Gill Gill Â‡ Jeri and and David David Goldstein Goldstein Â‡ Loraine and Michael Lieppman Â‡Helen Â‡Helen and V Vance an Lorenzini ance 2013-2014 Board of of TTrustees rustees Continuing the vision vision of of the thefounders foundersand andguiding guidingW Westerly W esterly into the future Stacy Andersen Â‡ Theresa Aranda Â‡ Maureen Baker Baker Â‡ Robyn Brawley Â‡ Arnoldo Casillas Â‡ Eileen Edwards Â‡ Ralph Holguin Â‡ Alex Jackson Â‡ Neil Kinney Â‡ Harry Karp Â‡ Lisa Lowell Â‡ Jim Martin Nicole Nguyen Â‡ Josh Owen Â‡ Steve Romeyn Â‡ Rebecca Turrentine
2950 East 29th Street Long Beach, CA 90806 (562) 981-3151 www.westerlyschool.org
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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
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ster Mayor Bob Foach
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mni, Friends, and Greetings Students, Alu
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cerest congratulations to pleasure to extend my sin a is it , city rly School at gre this th As Mayor of ersary. Since 1993, Weste celebrate their 20 Anniv solid a h wit de, Gra hth Eig Westerly School as they to d our youth, Kindergarten has educated and engage . lum ricu cur ng ndi sta foundation and out effective leadership has successfully provided ool Sch ly ster , and We rs, yea For the past 20 ge and physical education in the arts, foreign langua love to nt me mit com and skills, instilled principles e ication, prid dent with a sense of ded provided each stu st y. wa ry ntu learning in a 21 -ce ool strives to meet the, Long Beach, Westerly Sch of y Cit the in tion strong sense of titu As a private ins ds of each child. With a moral, and physical nee , arent. Class nal app otio r em eve l, are tua ool llec inte successes at Westerly Sch ic dem aca most the the n rit, eve spi community ironment, where vide a more intimate env erience a exp and lls she ir the sizes are smaller and pro m encouraged to emerge fro gram pairing older introverted of students are With a mentor-mentee pro es. niti ortu opp al and the ion cat wide array of edu e learning opportunities, and music classes, servic titution. art ins ts, ng den azi stu r am an nge ly you tru and ts, Westerly School is den stu ong am ie der ara overall cam made act Westerly School has ition to the positive imp their ogn rec ugh l thro cia spe ses a ces e suc giv I want to es on to have amazing tinu con te te dua dua gra gra and h nd Eac within our City. duates go on to atte ters of rly 100% of Westerly gra por nea sup and and rs, ff, yea sta ool the , sch high graduates es. I applaud each of the ping lead the City from four-year universiti rk and dedication to hel wo d har ir the nd me com and ool Sch rly ste We distinguished future. of Long Beach toward a mitment and leadership. ebrating 20 years of com cel on in aga ons lati atu Congr
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Mayor Bob Foster City of Long Beach
Table Of Contents 4 6 8 10 12 14 15 16 17 18
Building The Vision The Influence Of The Westerly Experience Music Integration Values And Service Learning Experiencing The Spanish-speaking World Highlights Technology Integration Project Based Learning Early Childhood Education Field Studies Summer With Westerly Cross Discipline Collaboration Visual Arts Workshop Teaching Wildcat After School Program Where Are They Now?
Thank You Advertisers
to the following A special thank you fromWesterly School companies and individuals for supporting this 20th Anniversary publication. Ability Tri-Modal GreenCoast Hydroponics Halstrom Academy Leadership Long Beach Ocean Direct Seafood Red Company Red Eye Media RMD Group Rolling Hills Preparatory School The Kids Theatre Company The Small CafĂŠ Timeless Pints Brewing Company Visiting Angels Westerly Board of Trustees
Cover design by David Perram, Director of Student Affairs at Westerly, and Gregory Navarro Pickens, Art Teacher at Westerly. Cover photograph by the Business Journalâ€™s Thomas McConville. Westerly Schoolâ€™s â€œCelebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learningâ€? is produced by the Long Beach Business Journal. For more information about Westerly, please call 562/981-3151 or visit www.westerlyschool.org. To contact the Business Journal, call 562/988-1222 or visit: www.lbbusinessjournal.com.
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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
Building The Vision ■ By TIFFANY L. RIDER Long Beach Business Journal
s the city’s only independent, nonsectarian school, Westerly School of Long Beach reaches a milestone of 20 years in operation. That milestone offers time for parents, the founders and the community to reflect on the years of conceptualizing, raising capital, designing facilities, preparing curricula and more, all while maintaining vision and determination to provide a challenging and nurturing environment for students. In 1991, a group of parents whose children attended a local Montessori school thought it would benefit their children and the greater community if there were an alternative to public elementary and middle schools. “At the time, class sizes were very large,” Sonja Berggren, one of the founders of the school, said. Coming from a family of educators working in the public school system, Berggren grew up with education around her. “I watched the decline of California schools as they lost funding and focus,” she said. “But I love education. The more I found out about alternative education and independent schools, the more excited I got because we could chart our own path.” Berggren became president and part of the five-member Westerly School Board of Trustees, serving a six-year term. The school’s vision and mission statement was established, along with policies and procedures. After a search for the right head of school, the trustees found that person in Raymond F. Bizjack – the former founding head of school for St. Marks School in Marin County. Bizjack was hired in February 1992. Over the next year and a half, the board members leased the site for the school at 2950 E. 29th St., broke ground on the school and opened enrollment for the first school year. “We all had the same goal, though we all came from different backgrounds with different approaches,” Berggren said. “But we wanted to go to the same place, and that’s where we ended up. It was wonderful.”
Sonja Berggren is a founding member of Westerly School and served as its first president
and donating their time to support the school’s success. Byron, being the parent who was always asking difficult questions at meetings, said he was asked to become a board member to address those questions. Byron spent five years of his first six-year term on the board as the treasurer, helping reorganize the school’s finances to be able to purchase the Westerly School property in 1997. An architect by trade, Byron collaborated with others to renovate the administration building. Shortly thereafter, Westerly School received a donation from Disney of modular buildings, which were turned into the new middle school quad, a library, bathrooms and a science building for the 1998-1999 school year. After a nine-month effort working with the city to change the property zoning of Westerly School from industrial to permanent entitlement, a group of approximately 12 planners, including Byron and other parents, got together to create a facilities master plan with the goal of replacing the modular buildings with permanent ones and creating new functions for the school. The master plan was finished in 1999. By the early 2000s, enrollment grew rapidly to approximately 180 students, Byron said. In 2002, Bizjack retired and Gerri Chizeck was hired as the new head of school. After the school celebrated its first decade in operation, the next several years involved leadership changes. Deborah David was appointed interim head of school in 2004 until the board found Bill Valenta and appointed him to the position in 2005. Byron, who had taken three years off the board, returned that year. He served on the search committee to help select Valenta and worked with him to dust off and revise the master plan. The Pinckerts worked on the capital campaign for the new master plan, which included options for a $6 million Westerly Pavilion and arts village. The project could be broken into parts so that, if the campaign earned $4 million, the Westerly Pavilion could be built, or with $2 million, the arts village could be built. Byron and Nancy Pinckert are long-time Valenta remained head of school during the capital campaign, supporters of Westerly School which raised $2 million for the arts village. After the construction It was Thursday, September 23, 1993, when Westerly School of Long Beach opened its deal closed in 2008, Tim Johnson was brought to Westerly School as an interim head doors as the first nonprofit, nonsectarian, independent school for students in kindergarten of school until the board found Chris Rodenhizer. Rodenhizer became the permanent through eighth grade. What had once been a vacant, three-and-a-half-acre lot had been head of school in time for dedication of the Raymond F. Bizjack Arts Village, which transformed to a place of learning for the first group of about 30 enrolled students. By opened in September 2009. the year’s end, the school had nearly 60 students. Under Rodenhizer’s leadership, enrollment is on an upward trajectory. New offerings, “From the first response we got, all of the phone calls and excitement about the including a summer program, after school program, a student garden, community events school, we thought we would have no problem with enrollment,” Berggren said, noting and field trips have expanded the opportunities for youth at what remains Long Beach’s her three children all attended Westerly School. We thought we would have over 200 only independent, nonsectarian school. kids. But we’ve never had over 200 kids, which is just as well because it’s hard to grow “We believe in their educational experience, having that close faculty relationship and also into that big of a group in the beginning.” being exposed to so many different things in their education, [including] to begin kinderIn the first school newsletter, Bizjack wrote, “The spirit of a school is real, yet it is garten with a foreign language [and] to begin music,” Nancy Pinckert said. “The exposure difficult to define. It is that intangible ‘something’ which you can feel each morning at has been absolutely priceless. After 20 years, the two parts of the school that seem to be assembly when one of the kindergartners tells a joke or sings a song . . . when that ret- really working, in my opinion, are the mission statement, which calls for that breadth icent child gathers sufficient courage to take the microphone for the first time to read in education, and the fact that there is something permanent there.” an original poem . . . or when a whole class puts together a humorous skit. That same Byron’s last six-year term ended in 2011, leaving a path for current spirit reveals itself as the daily routine unfolds and all Westerly students filter through and future board members to explore and take from in the years daily Spanish and physical education classes.” ahead. “The school was founded to fill an immediate Staff and parent volunteers carried that spirit as they organized meetings and projects need, but also to serve future generations,” he to supply classrooms with the tools and technology with which they wanted their students said. “The manifestation of the vision has to learn. By early 1994, Westerly School had been accepted into the National Association been wonderful. We would like of Independent Schools’ New School Services Program and received accreditation from to see it grow.” ■ the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. After the first school year, parents Byron and Nancy Pinckert became more involved by hosting what they termed “friend” raisers, creating advertising campaigns for Westerly School
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The Influence Of The Westerly Experience ■ By CHRIS RODENHIZER Head Of School
ver twenty years ago a brave and ambitious group of parents, looking for something different in the way their children should be educated, founded this small independent school and called it Westerly School. These parents, along with a savvy consultant, eventually hired the founding head of school, Raymond F. Bizjack. Together, over the course of two years, this group mapped out a program focused on creative and meaningful approaches to a “whole child” education, and subsequently provided an educational alternative for families in the city of Long Beach. Two decades and five hundred students later, the staff and faculty at Westerly continue to find new and innovative ways to ignite a passion for learning and to challenge and empower students to be prepared for their futures. What those founding parents could not have known for sure, though they may have suspected, was that the type of education they envisioned for their children and the program they helped build as a result, had a tremendous and transformative impact on students. The focus on the whole child, with attention on a challenging yet supportive academic program, a committed program in the arts, physical education and foreign language, imparted a well-roundedness that yielded a group of confident and creative thinkers. Integrate a focus on character development, complete with service learning experiences, and you come away with young people who are prepared to eventually tackle the challenges of their communities. The world has changed since 1993, however. Research tells us that in order for today’s students to be competitive in a modern society schools must prepare young people to work well with others, to think critically, to lead and solve problems in innovative ways, and to be adaptable to new situations. At Westerly, we embrace this thinking and have altered our approaches to teaching and learning to address current expectations. Allow me to highlight a few ways we prepares students to be successful in a modern world. Integration Of Subject Matter The faculty at Westerly regularly looks for opportunities to collaborate on units of study. This allows for the integration of math and science, for example, but frequently extends to include music or the arts. Last year our fifth grade students explored the use of equivalent fractions, which they were studying in math, in musical compositions. Students composed their own music, keeping in mind direct relationships of time signatures with the adding and subtracting of fractions. The student musicians also studied and mathematically proved measures in actual pieces created by such diverse composers as J.S. Bach and Charlie Parker in preparation for composing their own math compositions. At a music concert for the school community, each fifth grader conducted the piece they composed for student musicians to play. We noticed that this experience developed both an understanding of relevancy in what they were learning in math and a vested interest in the music they were playing. ■ By KE’YUANDA ROBERTSON Middle School Humanities Instructor 3rd Year at Westerly University of Southern California B.A. Broadcast Journalism California State University, Long Beach M.A. Social and Cultural Analysis of Education Secondary Social Studies Certification
What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – Unlike any other school environment I have been a part of, the familial vibe at Westerly speaks to the school’s strong sense of community. Everyone here knows each other and has a mutually vested interest in student well-being and success. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – My philosophy of education embodies my core belief that every child deserves more than a standard education. As such, my pedagogical approach includes exposing students to a broad range of lived experiences and perspectives. Through purposeful questioning and facilitated dialogue, my hope is that they will begin to think critically about the world in which they live and become better prepared to meet the academic and social world outside of their school environment. I incorporate both projec-based and traditional styles of learning to achieve this goal. I value integrity, respect, and positivity, and have high expectations for each of my students. I expect everyone to give his or her best effort, always. What motivates you to step into the classroom each day and do your best? – Knowing that I have the ability to shape the minds – for better (or worse!) – of future leaders motivates me to do my best each and every day that I step into the classroom. Understanding that my interactions with students absolutely impact the way in which they choose to see, observe, think, and respond to others is equally influential. By acknowledging that my greatest call to action as a humanities teacher is to teach students how to critically engage, I make it a priority to model the behavior I expect of others.
Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
Collaboration And Project-based Learning One way for students to process concepts they learn in class is to work with others in creating projects that demonstrate their understanding. Second and third graders collaborated on juice shop project where they explored the concept of entrepreneurialism by working together to start their own businesses. Students learned a plethora of skills from measuring liquids to handling money. They explored the concepts of profit and loss, and used their creativity in inventing new juice drinks to market, which they did through the fliers they created to promote their shops. Adult community members were invited to purchase the various juices with the money collected being donated to a local charity. Projects such as these take time, yet the learning experience folds in many subject areas and applies them in a challenging and very real way. Plus it’s really fun to learn this way. Presentation And Technology Integration Invariably technology plays a part in the learning experiences students have at Westerly. Students learn to use and care for computers, learn keyboarding skills, and gradually learn more complex skills so that the use of technology becomes an active part of the learning process. In our classrooms, the faculty takes the time to pose thought-provoking questions, entertain a variety of student responses, and welcome debate. They teach in ways that allow students to see creative and innovative application of learning in the real world, which allows kids to create meaning from what they learn. Ultimately our students are taught to be principled, collaborative, and creative thinkers and to make connections between ideas and concepts. We see evidence of their understanding every day in the things they notice and the questions they ask. We hear evidence of our successes when students return to Westerly as high school and college students during our annual Alumni Forum. At this event, the alumni tell our current students about ways Westerly prepared them for their post-Westerly schools and experiences and what they should expect once they leave this small school. We are consistently heartened by their stories of success and reassured by what a Westerly education has given them. As we bask in our twentieth year of offering a choice in education for our great city, we find ourselves reconnecting with the founders and alumni families to revisit the School’s earlier days. We enjoy and learn from their stories as they provide the foundation from which Westerly will continue to grow. The efforts of our founders and the establishment of a mission statement that stands the test of time will no doubt allow this wonderful gem for the city of Long Beach to flourish and guide its students to make our community and world a better place in the years to come. ■
Music Integration ■ By TOM MITTER Music Teacher
t Westerly School, music is integrated into every core academic and co-curricular class from kindergarten through eighth grade. For all musical concerts, middle school humanities students research the music pieces they perform, and students announce those pieces at the performances. Giving the songs a socio-economic and historical context provides an interesting and valuable perspective for our concert audience. Music is incorporated into fifth grade math by studying equivalent fractions and rhythmic sub-divisions, as found in all music from Mozart to Charlie Parker. Fifth graders use the concepts of math to create their own titled compositions, which are then performed at the spring concert. Students also collaborate with music when studying science, learning how sound is created; i.e., striking a membrane, plucking a string, vibrating a reed, buzzing a cupped mouthpiece or creating an edge tone. These sounds are made up of harmonic overtone partials, which are the foundation of pitch and intonation. In Physical Education, we plan to have a Japanese style “Ekiden” relay race, complete with Taiko drummers supplying the rhythmic energy for the event. Each relay team will consist of one student from each grade, kindergarten through grade eight. The Ekiden will take place at the Spring Arts Festival. Utilizing foreign languages, Westerly School vocalists learn to sing songs in Spanish and Portuguese as well as English. These songs are performed in public at the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade in addition to Westerly winter and spring concerts. The music program at Westerly enhances and enriches all units of study for students, giving a real-word application to musical concepts and theory. ■
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Values And Service Learning ■ By DAVID PERRAM Director of Student Affairs
oing beyond Westerly’s project-based learning, rich appreciation for the arts and foreign language, and diverse offerings in leadership opportunities, the School plays a strong roll in immersing students in an environment that thrives on cultivating “change-making” citizens. In order for students to have an impact in their community, however, they first need to understand themselves and their relationships with others. At the foundation of this work are Westerly’s five core values: respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and adaptThe School ability. community’s recognition and adherence to these values lends a tremendous amount to the development of Westerly students – students who think beyond themselves, take responsibility for their actions, speak with truth and confidence, and embrace change – all traits we look for in our neighbors, friends and family. Coupled with the teaching of values and the understanding of one’s self is maintaining an inclusive community that values and is committed to service and maintaining partnerships with outside organizations. The opportunities with which Westerly becomes involved are decided on with student input, which further motivates them to be engaged, involved and active members of their community. They are encouraged to think beyond themselves in a group setting with the goal of helping others. They practice the process of brainstorming and engage in the steps of how to bring an idea into reality. Some of the past favorite service projects have been: • Participating in the Million Meals for Haiti • Gift drives for Children Today and New Life Beginnings • Visiting the special education program at Webster Elementary for a day of games and crafts • Hurricane cleanup in New Orleans • Participation with Justin Rudd’s Community Action Team
Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
• Beach cleanups • Lemonade stand for a lemon tree • Healthy Kids Day • Mural painting at Century Villages at Cabrillo • Tree plantings around the city • Stuff-A-Bus donation drive In today’s world, community members committed to “change making” goes beyond being active; they are also aware citizens. They serve as a resource for those around them for the improvement of society, which is just another trait that is instilled in students on the Westerly campus. Imagine our future if all young people embraced such a challenge. ■
Experiencing The Spanish-speaking World ■ By JOSHUA MELENDEZ Spanish Teacher
t Westerly School, Spanish is more than a class, it’s an experience. All students, kindergarten through grade eight, participate in the program, which features a full-time teacher who ensures that students are engaged, challenged and exposed to the traditions, customs and history of the Spanish-speaking world. The Spanish program is divided into three parts: Kindergarten through second grade; third through fifth grade; and sixth through eighth grade, with each step preparing students for the next phase of Spanish learning. Kindergarten, first and second grade students are often taught songs to go along with their units of study across other disciplines. Kindergarteners often come into the classroom singing “Buenos Días,” or the Good Morning Song. They sing the Spanish alphabet, the days of the week, the months of the year and
■ By LORELEI ESTRADA Kindergarten Teacher 7th Year at Westerly California State University, Long Beach B.S. Child Development California State University Fullerton Multiple Subject Teaching Credential California State University Long Beach M.A. Educational Administration & Administrative Credential
What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – At Westerly, children are embraced for their unique ideas and wonderful differences. Our project based thematic teaching gives students the opportunity to use critical thinking skills, along with problem solving strategies. In addition, our philosophy of teaching to the whole-child lends itself to realizing a student’s strengths. Preparing students for the 21st Century requires educational institutions to embrace differentiating instruction while thinking outside of the box in order to meet individual needs. Reading, writing, and math are no longer enough when preparing the children of today for the fascinating world of tomorrow. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – I believe all students have the potential to become life-long learners. The key to accomplishing this is by creating an environment where children feel safe and secure enough to take the social and academic risks needed to push them to the next level. I believe that students who are embraced for their differences and unique ideas are able to flourish in such an environment. Making meaningful connections with all of our students enriches the relationships I establish, not only with our students, but with our families as well. These trusting relationships create our strong community that allow for life-long learners to flourish. What motivates you to step into the classroom each day and do your best? – Understanding that in kindergarten we are laying the foundation for life-long learners keeps me motivated to put forth my best effort each and every day. Seeing how eager our students are to embrace the learning process inspires me to keep abreast of the latest techniques and strategies available.
numbers when working with the calendar. They act out vocabulary words such as “despierta” (awake) by holding out open hands. First grade students learn about ocean animals and the related Spanish vocabulary to complement what they learn in their core class during the ocean unit. Grades three through five begin working with their own textbooks and begin to read, write, and learn more advanced vocabulary and grammar. They also begin to have contextual Spanish conversations, as these students form longer sentences comparing languages, customs and ways of life. Conversational Spanish is utilized to work on pronunciation and learn how to use Spanish in different cultural contexts. The focus of Spanish in middle school is to prepare students for level one high school Spanish, with students participating in Spanish “experiences” that include the use of technology and projects to gain an understanding of the history, cultures, geography, and people of twenty Spanish-speaking countries. Students have created amazing projects including a Spanish cooking show segment (students demonstrated step-by-step how to make their favorite dish or dessert), home video tours (students gave a visual tour of their own home or dream house), a fashion show (with detailed descriptions of clothing), and even a “camiseta” (tshirt) project that features students wearing details about a country on a shirt instead of a traditional poster or PowerPoint presentation. Students graduate Westerly with the ability to communicate in Spanish in a variety of settings and situations, and, equally as important, with the cultural knowledge of the Spanishspeaking world. ■
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Westerly W esterly School Congratulations on your Excellence in Education
Leadership Long Beach Alumni serving W esterly School (fr Westerly (from om left to right): Pedro Pedr o Jimenez (LLBI ’14), Ana Jimenez (LLBI ’13), David Perram (LLBI ’12) and Chris Rodenhizer (LLBI ’11)
And continuing to lead our children to their full potential. Leadership Long Beach Our V ision Vision A vital, positive Long Beach of engaged and dedicated community leaders www .leadershiplb.org www.leadershiplb.org
CONGRATULATIONS WESTERLY SCHOOL ON 20 YEARS OF SUCCESS
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Celebrating 20 Years of Inno
Friends Ar t s
At hle t ic s Highlights 1991 • Founding board members meet • Westerly philosophy and mission statement is established • Westerly’s program and basic policies established 1992 • Ray Bizjack begins his term as the founding head of school on February 3 • School site on 29th Street is selected and leased • Admissions for 1993-94 school year begin
1993 • Official school groundbreaking ceremony is April 23 • Construction begins June 4 and modular buildings are installed • School opens September 23 • First Westerly School parent-teacher group meeting is October 7, initially called WAPT (Westerly Association of Parents and Teachers) and later PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) • Projects to outfit classrooms with computers and build a hands-on science lab are underway by October • First student council meeting takes place in October 1994 • Westerly celebrates its first 100 days with a community day in the campus garden
• The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) approves Westerly’s application for membership in the New School Services Program • Westerly officially becomes a candidate for accreditation by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) in March • First 4th Grade outdoor adventure takes place in Sequoia National Park • First Westerly summer program 1995 • Formal tuition begins • “Adopt a Grandparent” program starts at Willow Lake nursing home (and is the brainchild of a Westerly student) 1996 • Westerly’s first graduation (nine students) is June 19 1997 • Westerly purchases school site
Char • First permanent library is constructed • Playground is added • Seven students graduate 1998 • Middle school science lab is built • Ahmanson Foundation becomes a supporter • Junior Choir choral group is established for students in lower grades • Instrumental program added to curriculum • Westerly website is created • WASC gives Westerly a 6-year accreditation • Nine students graduate Westerly 1999 • Master Plan established for school site • First Westerly sports team established – Wildcats Basketball
• 5th and 6th graders take field trip to Washington, D.C., and Williamsburg • Fifteen students graduate 2000 • All-school mural is painted • First Westerly graduates begin college 2002 • Westerly’s first Kindergarten class graduates • Founding Head of School Ray Bizjack’s last year at Westerly • Gerri Chizeck becomes head of school • New sports teams are formed – boys’ baseball, girls’ volleyball and basketball • Nineteen students graduate 2003 • Westerly celebrates its 10-year anniversary • Weingart Foundation awards $20,000 grant 2004 • Debbie David is appointed interim head of school
2005 • Bill Valent 2006 • Westerly’s begins colleg 2007 • Second fac • First Poetr by 2nd grade • One-to-on begins in Mi
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Years of Innovative Learning
endship Me n t o r i ng
Character trip to burg
ass graduates y Bizjack’s
of school – boys’ asketball
r anniversary 20,000 grant
2005 • Bill Valenta is appointed head of school 2006 • Westerly’s first kindergarten class begins college in Fall 2006 2007 • Second facilities Master Plan is adopted • First Poetry in the Park event is hosted by 2nd grade • One-to-one lap top distribution begins in Middle School
2008 • Tim Johnson is named interim head of school • Construction begins on Arts Village • First High School Decision event • SMART boards arrive at Westerly 2009 • Chris Rodenhizer is appointed head of school • Raymond F. Bizjack Arts Village dedication (including Pinckert Family Art Studio, Senn Family Music Studio and Seaver Family Plaza) Fall 2009
e c i v r e S 2010 • Westerly receives 6-year accreditation from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) • Wildcat After School Program begins • “Summer with Westerly” begins 2011 • New all-school mural painted by students and a local artist is installed on athletic field • Westerly adopts a community movie night • Lower School wins first volleyball championship 2012 • Advancement committee develops new Westerly tagline, “Innovative learning for curious minds” • Westerly garden is resurrected • Westerly welcomes its first group of interna-
tional students from China for a two-week visit • Middle School wins its first volleyball championship • First 8th grade service trip to New Orleans • First Middle School overnight on athletic field 2013 • Westerly conducts a re-branding project as part of its 20th year celebration • Original play structure (“Big Toy”) is removed and replaced with a new one • First campus-wide STEM Fair (Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math) • Greenhouse for the garden is built for Eagle Scout project • Campus trash cans and recycling bins are designed as public art
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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
Technology Integration ■ By PEDRO JIMENEZ Second Grade Teacher
n the Westerly community, as with the outside world, technology has become an irreplaceable part of our children’s everyday lives. With project-based learning, collaboration amongst students and classes, and cross-curricular integration being common practices at Westerly, technology integration is a daily classroom occurrence. Our focus on technology is driven by our need to have students build the skills and knowledge needed to learn and live productively in an increasingly digital world. Therefore, rather than seeing technology as a separate entity, Westerly integrates technology into the curriculum to advance student learning in new and relevant ways. When our technology integration is at its best, our faculty and students do not notice that they are using a technology tool; it is second nature. Students are also more actively engaged in learning when technology is seamlessly integrated into the process. An outsider might find it difficult to understand how technology can be impactful in the lower school classroom when only two desktop computers are available. However, each teacher has an Apple laptop and each classroom has a SMART Interactive Whiteboard and projector. Additionally, shared amongst the lower grades are Apple MacBook laptops, a SMART Document Camera, digital cameras and camcorders, a green screen and movie making software, and in some classrooms, iPads for structured use. The faculty takes pride in learning to use these devices, integrating them into their curriculum and sharing best practices. In the lower grade, Westerly students are able to work on multi-step projects integrated with technology, usually with the help of the older grade mentors and/or parent volunteers. Each teacher coordinates specific time when technology is available for assessment, game-based learning or research for further understanding. The SMART Interactive Whiteboards have led to an increase in the oral communication skills of our students. Beginning as early as first grade, Westerly students create and deliver PowerPoint and other types of presentations. This technology results in students becoming poised, confident and effective communicators by the time they graduate. In middle school, each Westerly student is provided with an Apple laptop for the year. The students expand upon the technology skills learned in lower grades; they use the laptops not only for everyday learning, but also to really explore and to take ownership of projects. Students are able to build and develop their digital and media literacy, as they become not just consumers of media, but creators and critics. Student-created media is evident across middle school in the form of slideshows, podcasts, digital storytelling and more. Addition■ By GINA ASHWORTH Fifth Grade Teacher 8th Year at Westerly Loyola Marymount University B.B.A. Finance California State University, Dominquez Hills Multiple Subject Credential
How might a colleague (or parent or student) describe your teaching and classroom setting? – Over the past few years, I have moved to a more project-based learning environment. The students are pre-reading and front-loading lessons independently and in the classroom, we are using the time to work on projects that reflect their knowledge. This gives them the opportunity to demonstrate what they know in a creative way. It also allows for differentiation in order to support students who need it as well as provide enrichment for students who need a challenge. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – I feel that my role as a teacher is to be a facilitator. I want to create an environment that allows the students to be innovative and foster a love of learning. I have high expectations for my students and I hold them accountable for their learning. We use John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success as a tool to constantly remind ourselves what we need to work on and to reflect on what we are doing well. What do you most enjoy about teaching at Westerly? – I love being a teacher at Westerly. I am trusted to be creative and to provide an engaging experience for my students. I am able to gauge my students’ strengths and challenges and differentiate my teaching to meet their needs. I love being able to come up with meaningful projects for the students to demonstrate their knowledge.
ally, the middle school math teacher uses a combination of online learning and distance learning to supplement her regular curriculum for those students whose needs require it. For Westerly educators it is important to remain curious and excited about new technologies so that we may continue motivating students and remain relevant in our changing world. For Westerly students it is important to utilize new technologies to enrich their learning experience and to help them remain curious and inquisitive. ■
Project Based Learning ■ By ALLYSON MCCLOUD Middle School Math Teacher
orkers are rebuilding a section of a highway 3.87 miles long. If they can complete 0.03 mile per day, how many days will it take them to complete the job?” This typical textbook problem, which requires a student to divide decimals, does not prepare students for the complicated (and sometimes messy) problems they will face in the real world. What if there is a delivery issue with the materials? What if the workers go on strike? What does the budget for this project look like? At Westerly, we believe that the process of inquiry is equally as important as the result. We incorporate tasks and projects that model real-world situations and give students a context for the concepts they are learning. Projects are carefully planned and assessed yet still allow students to choose how they will conduct research and present their final product to an audience. With traditional methods of teaching, sixth grade students studying probability are given a situation and asked to calculate the probability of a desired outcome, such as choosing a red Jack from a standard deck of cards. In Westerly’s project-based environment, students are asked to become carnival game designers to create an original, fair and profitable carnival game of chance to present to a carnival owner. The students begin by asking questions: What makes a carnival game profitable? What constitutes a fair game? What is the difference between games of chance and games of skill? What makes a game visually appealing so people will be drawn to the booth and want to play? What is a reasonable cost to participate? Students proceed with research to answer the very questions they pose. Next, students design and build their games in collaborative groups. The sixth graders brainstorm ideas, create many sketches, and calculate the probability of winning their game. They conduct a design review to ensure games meet all criteria prior to their construction. When groups realize the probability of winning their game does not fall within the acceptable range for profitability, they have the opportunity to make adjustments to their game. To conclude the project, students submit written reports to the carnival owner (the teacher) promoting their game, including the cost to play it, theoretical and experimental probability calculations, whether it is a simple or compound event, the rules of the game, and expected profit. The final product also includes hosting a “Carnival Day” for the first grade class. A project like this gives students a context for understanding complex concepts, helps them develop 21st century skills such as collaboration and problem solving, while keeping them engaged throughout the process. ■
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Early Childhood Education ■ By LORELEI ESTRADA Kindergarten Teacher
n the beginning years of a child’s life, family members are their first early childhood educators. A child mimics and models what they hear and see family members say and do, which teaches them how to maneuver through the day and eventually through life. At Westerly School, we view the school community as an extension of the family. We continue to help children develop the skills and strategies that will support them as they move through their day, and hopefully through their lives, as they become life-long learners. Part of what is unique about our approach and which most likely is an extension of our close community, is this natural inclination or ours to know deeply each of our students and their families. The School’s size and feel creates the perfect place for this to happen, where making connections with students allows us to better understand their individual strengths and target areas that need support. Students are then guided to work in collaborative groups and become more confident in working independently. The confidence these young learners gain is evident in their willingness to try new ideas that are necessary to help push them forward. Westerly’s students are not afraid to make mistakes. They quickly realize that without an attempt at a task, there is very little chance for success. Our supportive environment teaches our youngest students how to become adaptable and willing to accept input from others with whom they are working. Throughout the process of educating our youngest students we remain close to the mission to develop each child’s full potential intellectually, emotionally, morally, and physically. We take special care to instill the necessary skills and strategies we feel young children need to become life-long learners and contributing members of society. Young children grow and develop at their own rate and in their own way, and skills such as taking responsible academic and social risks, working in collaborative groups, and becoming adaptable are taught through modeling and hands-on lessons. Students eventually begin to understand how self-efficacy affects their learning process and the outcome. Westerly’s philosophy is to acknowledge that young learners need time and patience to become curious life-long learners. As early childhood educators, we provide an environment that is conducive to students making independent decisions, making mistakes and learning in a variety of ways. All students, especially the youngest, are embraced as individuals and are guided in the way that best meets their needs. We recognize that teaching reading, writing and math are only part of the equation in creating innovative thinkers and life-long learners. ■ ■ By KRISTEN WARNICK Middle School Science Teacher First Year at Westerly University of California, Los Angeles B.A. Psychology Multiple Subjects Credential
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Westerly? – What I enjoy most about teaching at Westerly is the small size. I have always worked in public schools with class sizes at a minimum of 20 students, more often, 35. Now, my class size average is 11 students. Being my first year at Westerly, I have only known these students for two and a half short months, yet I know them not only as students, but also as individuals. Because of the small class size, I have the opportunity to interact with every student every day. I can monitor their progress and differentiate as needed. In turn, every student has the opportunity and is expected to participate and take an active role in class every day. I am learning more and more each day about their personal lives, their strengths, interests, and challenges that help me help them be the best students they can be during these often complicated middle school years. What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – Westerly is unique. All Westerly students get a well-rounded education in academics, the arts, physical education, character building and opportunities to foster leadership. What motivates you to step into the classroom each day and do your best? – My students motivate me to step into the classroom each day to do my best. My love of science started at Wilson High School because of two amazing science teachers. They taught me that science is interesting and fun, not boring and intimidating. They taught me about hard work and perseverance. Their positive influence made me consider myself a scholar. I want to be that person for my students.
Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
■ By PEDRO JIMENEZ Second Grade Teacher Lower School Department Chair Summer with Westerly Co-Director 8th Year at Westerly University of California, Los Angeles B.A. Psychology National University M. Ed. General Education and Multiple Subject Credential SMART Technologies Exemplary Educator, SMART Certified Trainer, Leadership Long Beach Class of 2014
What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – The ability for students and teachers to connect on levels that go beyond the classroom walls is very unique to me. There is a bond that forms between teachers, students, parents, and it feels like a big family. It’s rewarding to be such a big part of my students’ lives and feel lucky that my son has that same experience with his teachers and peers as a student here. What motivates you to step into the classroom each day and do your best? – Our students are so engaged and curious that each day brings new opportunities for discoveries that at times go beyond what my lesson plans might have called for. Also, knowing that as a whole, we are all committed to continue improving our craft is motivating. There are times I feel like a new teacher fresh out of college, anxious to step into the classroom and try new things. How do you make learning engaging for your students? – Providing opportunities that speak to every style of learner. Sometimes as simple as adding humor to a lesson to engage a student, or providing extra hands on activities, or using technology to give a deeper understanding of a concept.
Field Studies ■ By DAVID PERRAM Director of Student Affairs
esterly ignites a for passion learning by creating a meaningful bridge from the classroom to the real world. Through a robust and enriching field studies program, teachers enhance the learning process with thoughtful and meaningful off-campus experiences designed to reinforce the knowledge instilled in the classroom. Students in kindergarten through grade five are given opportunities to apply what they have been learning in a relevant environment outside the classroom. Kindergarteners, for example, learn about healthy foods and how plants grow, starting in the classroom and finishing in the school garden. A visit to Tanaka Farms each year allows them to see first-hand how larger-scale farming works to feed our communities. Continuing the School’s commitment to meaningful field studies, first graders have gone snorkeling during their ocean unit study; second graders use compasses to understand directions and maps as they tour the Santa Ana Zoo; and third graders build on classroom learning about the community by utilizing public transportation on a trip to the local port to understand more about the port’s economic impact on our city. As students progress through the grade levels, their trips, still aligned with the curriculum, begin taking on a focus of increased student independence, team building and leadership development. Students participate in their first overnight field study in fourth grade on a visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano, and later pair up with fifth graders for an outdoor science and teambuilding camp in Orange County. Closing out their Westerly experience sixth and seventh grade students participate in trips designed to cultivate teambuilding and leadership development. While hiking and camping together for a week, activities are folded in that emphasize reliance on each other and stepping out of their individual and collective comfort zones. This process helps to strengthen students’ character and provides a solid foundation for their eighth grade service trip where the aim to incorporate these practiced skills by making a difference in the world. Last year’s trip to New Orleans, to assist with ongoing hurricane cleanup, and this year’s upcoming trip to Nicaragua, to help impoverished schools, have a transformative impact on our students and are testaments to the impact of Westerly’s field studies program. ■
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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
Summer With Westerly ■ By SAMANTHA MEHLINGER Long Beach Business Journal
eveloped four years ago with the goal of providing a summer program for kids that is both enriching and fun, Summer with Westerly offers a variety of programs designed to cater to different age groups and interests. “One of the big things we set out to do in this program was to really look at our student population and what are they excited about,” said Pedro Jimenez, second grade teacher at Westerly School of Long Beach and Co-Director of the summer program. “We try to do a nice balance of academic enrichment with recreation.” Jimenez co-designed Summer with Westerly’s curriculum with David Perram, Westerly’s director of student affairs. With previous experience teaching “generic preparatory” curriculum at other locations in the summer, Jimenez said, “I always felt like the kids don’t buy into it.” When designing Westerly’s summer curriculum, he and Perram set out to create a program that would spark the interest of the students. “We went out and polled some teachers in the area” about the subjects their students were most interested in, Jimenez recalled. They discovered that if topics such as math and science are taught using applications like robotics or microscopes, kids become more engaged. “Our biggest goal is to keep their minds engaged during the summer and keep them active physically and mentally,” Jimenez said of the program. “We want to prepare the students with self-confidence and self-esteem so that . . . when September comes, they’re not worried about the next grade – they’re excited.” Each summer, Jimenez and Perram continue working with Summer with Westerly teachers to enhance curriculum based upon their experiences in the program. “Even if we build a curriculum, we try to find those teachers who are going to take it and really learn how to adapt it to our population,” Jimenez said, explaining that the children attending the summer program are a diverse population coming from all around the local area. While not all of these instructors work at Westerly during the academic year, Jimenez said they are all carefully selected, certified teachers. Recreational instructors are “qualified staff,” usually consisting of teaching assistants who run Westerly’s after school programming during the year. The program is open to all students in the area, not just those enrolled at Westerly during the school year. “We wanted to open up the campus to the general public in the summer to let them know we’re here,” he said. “The summer has been a perfect opportunity for these students to have a taste of Westerly.” The Curriculum Summer with Westerly’s summer sessions are available for children from kindergarten through the sophomore year of high school. Curriculum and class schedules depend upon the age group of the students. For kindergarteners and first graders, the “Beginning Paths” summer programming is centered on a global theme. According to last year’s program guide, students enrolled in Beginning Paths “explore foods, build famous landmarks, dance to music and speak foreign languages.” Programming for grades 2-5, called “Expanding Horizons,” allows students to choose two courses for their academic enrichment periods during the first three summer sessions. Last summer, courses were available in robotics, film, screenwriting, using a microscope, anatomy of an athlete, and percussion. The courses offered are alternated every summer so that returning students have the opportunity to learn something new, according to Jimenez. ■ By TOM MITTER Music Teacher 8th Year at Westerly Valparaiso University B.S. Business Administration
What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – To help bring out each and every student’s ability to play music through enjoyable instruction. What motivates you to step into the classroom each day and do your best? – Each day is an opportunity to impact a student’s perception of music. Everyday holds many potentially life changing moments. How do you make learning engaging for your students? – Students are engaged in music classes by actually conducting the class ensemble and continually evaluating both themselves and their ensemble using elements of musicianship.
■ By ALLYSON MCCLOUD Middle School Math Teacher Middle School Department Chair 5th year at Westerly Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute B.S. Biomedical Engineering California State University, Long Beach Multiple Subject Credential Foundational-Level Mathematics Credential, CSULB M.A. Curriculum and Instruction
What do you most enjoy about teaching at Westerly? – I enjoy having the opportunity to present material in a mode that is best for a unique learner and group of learners. The applications, pacing, and problems my students are exposed to change depending upon their interests and level of understanding. No two years are exactly the same at Westerly. What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – Every student is an individual at Westerly. Faculty members get to know their students on an individual basis, and are able to both develop and guide students based upon their unique strengths and challenges. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – I believe that problem solving is one of the most useful skills a student learns in middle school. Students in our middle school program are exposed to the information they need to make decisions, but also have the opportunity to apply these concepts to new situations.
After lunch, students have the option to take part in afternoon recreational activities called “Wildcat.” Instructors plan activities based on what kids are excited about doing, and try to put unique spins on traditional sports, like playing “soccer through an obstacle course,” Jimenez said. Both the Beginning Paths and Expanding Horizons programs offer three late summer sessions, called Wildcat Weeks, in which students have extended recreational days and go on field trips to places such as Knott’s Soak City water park and Skate Depot skating rink. Last summer, the curriculum for middle school-aged groups focused on acrylic painting, with the end goal of producing a public art mural for a selected organization. These students also have the chance to build interpersonal and leadership skills through an internship program in which they spend afternoons interacting with and mentoring the younger campers. Summer with Westerly is divided into six sessions. Parents may choose to enroll their children for as many of those sessions as they wish. According to Jimenez, a twoweek session of full days costs $425. Discounts are available for those who sign up for more than one summer session. “If they have more than one kid we have sibling discounts” as well, Jimenez said. The programs continue to be popular – this past summer, total enrollment was about 250, Jimenez said. He added that the school makes an effort to keep a small student-toteacher ratio, with average class sizes of 8 to 15 children. “Our mission here is that the kids have a good time. They are learning without knowing it,” Jimenez said. “If we can provide that for them, I think we’ve met our goal.” ■ ■ By JOSHUA MELENDEZ Spanish Teacher California State University, Dominguez Hills B.A. Spanish Multiple Subject Credential
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Westerly? – As a K-8 Spanish teacher, I enjoy having the ability to see the students grow not just physically but mature personally and advance with their academic skills. I enjoy getting to know each of the students because I get to work with them each year and help prepare them for their prestigious high school programs. In essence, I enjoy seeing the process that each child goes through in their educational lives. How do you make learning engaging for your students? – Learning Spanish can sometimes be about grammar drills. I try to make Spanish about giving students an opportunity to use Spanish in real world context by having them involved in a variety of projects. The larger trimester projects that students do are based on what they are learning in class; for example creating a cook show segment or reenacting a restaurant scene where they learn about foods and how to order food. How might a colleague (or parent or student) describe your teaching and classroom setting? – Students have often described Spanish simply as “fun.” I know that lower school students have shown appreciating to the time we spend singing about what they are learning, and also the times we play games on the Smart Board or online games that relate to the learning that reinforces their skills.
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Cross Discipline Collaboration ■ By KE’YUANDA ROBERTSON Middle School Humanities Teacher
iven Westerly’s one-class-per-grade-level setup, department meetings by grade level or subject area are simply not feasible, yet collaborations across various academic disciplines are. In fact, cross-discipline collaboration is one of the things Westerly does well; so well in fact, it is one of the things faculty loves most about the school. At Westerly, the goal of every educator is to make learning meaningful. Students benefit from the more in-depth learning they experience when they witness connections made between two seemingly unrelated disciplines such as art and science, math and history, or music and English. One of the most successful examples of collaboration at Westerly in recent years was a result of the combined efforts of the teachers of music, art and middle school humanities for the annual winter concert. Using in-class lessons from the Reconstruction Era as a springboard, students selected elements from the African American Great Migration experience to highlight during their annual choir and band performance. The students researched the songs to be performed then created a written exposition for each song to provide audience members insight regarding: 1) The life and times of the singer, songwriter and/or composer; 2) The historical background of the times as related to the lyrical content; and 3) The significance and impact of the creative work to society. Students who expressed a desire to demonstrate their artistic skills in the more traditional sense focused their efforts on costume and set design. The end result was spectacular – what one parent deemed, “The absolute best concert attended as a Westerly parent of nine years.” Since Westerly emphasizes meeting the needs of the “whole child,” collaborations do not just end with academics. Paired mentor and mentee students meet weekly to participate in a variety of activities that encourage social interaction across grade levels. Older students assist younger students in revising writing assignments and preparing for presentations, as well as teaching them how to navigate “new” technologies such as iPhoto and iMovie. Younger students remind older students to unleash their inner child and let their imaginations run freely. This partnership requires students to learn and practice adaptability; a skill research tells us is critical for students’ future success. ■
■ By GREGORY NAVARRO PICKENS Art Teacher 2nd Year at Westerly Kutztown University B.F.A. Drawing and Painting University of Texas M.F.A. Drawing and painting California State University, Long Beach Secondary teaching credential Certificate in Non-profit management – California Women’s Educational Development Corporation - CalWED)
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Westerly? – I enjoy the tremendous sense of community I feel when I set foot on campus. From my teacher colleagues to the administrative staff, it is clear that it is everyone’s shared goal to create a positive and supportive work environment built on genuine interest, trust and concern for our students. What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – Westerly School has the ability to really focus on individual student needs because of the high teacher to student ratio and a clearly defined mission. Students stay together from year to year, which builds an almost sibling-like relationship amongst the student body who learn how to support each other very early on. What is your philosophy and approach to educating students? – As an art teacher, it is very important to me to be able to help my students access their own unique perspective, abilities and tendencies when making art. I value their individual perspectives and always encourage them to look at projects as a point of departure awaiting their own personal interpretation.
Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
■ By IRMA HAMAYAN Third Grade Teacher 10th Year at Westerly California State University, Long Beach B.A. Liberal Studies: Multiple Subject Education
What do you most enjoy about teaching at Westerly? – The thing I most enjoy about teaching at Westerly is the creativity that is encouraged, welcomed and shared amongst the students and faculty. Each time I walk into a classroom learning is evident through projects and artwork hanging from every wall. What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – The Westerly School experience is unique through our offering of co-curricular classes grades K-8th. Each student is able to tap into their interests and passions whether it may be academics, music, art, or the preforming arts. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – My philosophy and approach towards educating students centers on actively engaging students in discussions, and activities that use higher level thinking skills, using realism in my teaching (experimentation, observation, and reasoning), considering the whole child and their interests when developing lessons and projects, and motivating students to work towards their personal bests.
Visual Arts ■ By GREGORY NAVARRO PICKENS Art Teacher
he visual arts program at Westerly School is designed to help nurture each child’s individual creativity. Projects are designed to provide opportunities for developing art skills, exploring a variety of contemporary and historical artists and cultures, and working with a variety of media and art-making approaches. Although the curriculum is loosely based on the California State and National Core Standards, Westerly’s small student body allows us to create many cross-disciplinary opportunities and enrich many learning experiences through collaboration. Students learn proper art terminology for participation in critiques and written analysis of artworks. They gain knowledge of art movements throughout history and the significance of pivotal works of art. Students of Westerly’s art program also participate in community events and exhibitions such as the Belmont Shore Art Walk and the Patchwork Show (a festival of handmade arts and crafts). These public venues connect our students with the local arts community, allowing them to have a broader range of exhibition and community service experiences off campus. Finally, Westerly celebrates its student creativity with an art festival every spring. This event showcases the year’s accomplishments with an exhibition, musical performance and a few collaborative pieces combining the visual and performing arts. It is our belief that in order to foster success, the arts are a critical component of Westerly’s whole child philosophy. Students graduate Westerly with a healthy attitude toward taking risks, an ability to solve problems creatively, and confidence in their abilities to express themselves in many different ways. ■
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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
Workshop Teaching ■ By IRMA HAMAYAN 3rd Grade Instructor
t Westerly School we are constantly looking for ways to foster the love of learning in our students and have found that in workshop teaching, specifically in Reading and Writing Workshops. Reading Workshop provides students with time to read alone, in small groups and with reading partners who share similar interests and goals. It opens up opportunities to discuss and write about reading and provides explicit instruction in the skills and strategies of pro-
■ By LAUREN TAKII Fourth Grade Teacher 10th Year at Westerly California State University, Long Beach B.A. Communication Studies
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Westerly? – I enjoy teaching at Westerly because I have the freedom to teach outside of the box and get my students to think critically about the things that they learn. Westerly provides students and faculty with a unique experience to truly become a community. Teachers are fully vested in a student even after they progress to the next grade. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – My philosophy and approach to teaching students is based on respect, fairness, and high expectations. I challenge my students to work to the best of their abilities whatever their learning level may be. What motivates you to step into the classroom each day and do your best? – I feel energized at the thought of making a difference in the life of a student. I get excited when I see that light bulb flash on for a student, and they get that sense of accomplishment that they have succeeded because of hard work.
Wildcat After School Program ■ By DAVID PERRAM Director of Student Affairs ficient reading. Most importantly, it gives the students choice and freedom in reading books in which they are interested, which span many genres and are at their ability levels. The journey with Reading Workshop begins by accurately assessing reading comprehension and fluency levels. Students are placed into independent and instructional levels ranging from A-Z. Since they are reading at their own ability levels and using fully-stocked classroom libraries, differentiation of instruction occurs naturally. Periodic assessments are given to track progress and set students in appropriate reading levels, thus fostering the increase of reading comprehension and fluency. Typically, significant progress is observed across the board as well as an increased love of reading. Each reading period begins with a mini-lesson featuring a specific teaching point. Familiar texts are then used to model each teaching point. Following the mini-lesson, students then practice the skill or strategy taught in books at their independent reading levels. While reading, we may ask them to record thoughts and information to later share in partnerships, or with us. Throughout the period we hold one-on-one conferences with students to discuss reading, strengthen skills, or challenge students. We also pull together guided reading groups, where we read shared texts at instructional levels and work on increasing comprehension and fluency. At the end of workshop periods, classes come together as a whole to discuss big ideas and successes, or individual students may meet in their partnerships to do the same. The workshop definitely serves as a time to read, share and learn. Taking a similar approach, Writing Workshop allows students to go through the writing process at their own pace, while providing explicit instruction through daily teaching points. It creates opportunities for the writer to draw inspiration from real life experiences for narrative, realistic fiction and essay writing, and develops author’s voice – which brings literary analysis and non-fiction writing to life. Reading and Writing Workshops encourage and empower Westerly students to become more social and confident readers and writers. They become students who, at a moment’s notice, jump into discussions about character motivations and twists in plot lines; students who take risks and defend their opinions; students who can effectively communicate through written language; and students who independently explore unfamiliar genres. These are all qualities Westerly strives to instill in its students across content and grade levels; and these are the qualities that help keep its mission of developing each child’s full potential alive. ■ ■ By ANTHONY ZUNIGA Physical Education Teacher 10th Year at Westerly University of Southern California B.S. Public Administration California State University, Los Angeles Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential Concordia University M.A. Athletic Instruction
What do you feel is unique about the Westerly School experience? – Westerly is Long Beach’s best kept secret. It truly is special because it is a safe place for children to learn and be themselves. What is your philosophy and approach toward educating students? – I believe physical education teaches social skills, which include but are not limited to respect, cooperation, communication, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Describe a real student scenario and how it was positively handled by the Westerly team. – Last year a female 3rd grade student had been working hard towards achieving her goal of running a mile in under 10 minutes. The day of her final run a 7th grade boy helped her set her pace by running with her. She ran the mile in 9:50.
he Wildcat after school program is a popular staple in a day at Westerly School. Students flood to the after school program for more than just childcare. The endless enrichment offerings coupled with the dedicated, creative and qualified staff is a recipe for success. Not only do these staff members run a safe and reliable program, but they also serve as teaching assistants and substitutes to the regular school day. As a result, they have a keen sense of student needs and maintain a connection between the classroom and the after school program, ensuring a seamless line of communication between school and home. Each day the program offers homework assistance, snacks and activities both indoors and out. The staff creates a daily-customized calendar based on the interests of the students. From kickball to crafts, there is not much that Wildcat doesn’t offer. After school clubs also play a strong role in student enrichment. Art Club is always a place where imagination runs wild. Students help construct the calendar of activities, whereupon the club staff then designs the list of offerings to challenge students’ artistic side and creative problem solving skills. Glow-in-the-dark robots and papier-mâché turtles are just a few of the fun and creative projects with which students are engaged. Running Club has been another hit. Students, staff and families meet twice a week to run around the perimeter of the campus for fun or to train for community races. From speed walking to 10ks, this club is for anyone looking to keep their body moving. Finally, amongst the endless list of offerings, Westerly also contracts with outside organizations to bring programs to the campus that may not otherwise be offered under the skill sets of the Wildcat staff. Skatedogs, Yoga World Studio, Jazz Angels, and Chess Club are a few examples of outside friends who make regular appearances on the Westerly campus. ■
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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovative Learning
Where Are They Now?
■ By NANCY CHERIN First Grade Teacher 10th year at Westerly University of Illinois B.S. English Literature Double Minor in Art and Speech Communication National University Multi-subject credential
■ By ALISSA LIEPMANN Alumna
othing happens in life without a vision and some hard work. I watched my parents live this every day of my elementary school years as they tirelessly worked with a handful of other parents to open Westerly School of Long Beach. When I started there as a somewhat shy 6th grader, I was proud to walk through the doors of the school my parents worked hard to open and was also relieved to be in a smaller, family-like environment, compared to the hustle and bustle of the public middle school I was planning to attend. From that moment on, I received personal attention from my teachers, who customized challenging curriculum while making learning fun and interactive. The daily assemblies started to get me out of my shell, speaking and performing regularly in front the school. As the “senior class” for all three years at Westerly, our class became the role model for the younger grades. In 8th grade, I became Westerly’s first student body president – the first of many leadership roles to come. Finishing with our class of nine, the first graduating 8th grade class took on our next challenge as we entered high school. I attended Poly PACE and embraced the change from our close-knit environment to my new school with 5,000 students. Music, art, and sports were core facets of my Westerly education and continued to be a huge part of my experience at Poly, from captain of the water polo team to soprano section leader in our Chamber and Jazz choirs. As a Leadership Scholar at USC, I continued to use the foundation that Westerly helped me build as an adolescent. In addition to core Marshall School of Business requirements, I embraced what it meant to be part of the Trojan Family – a feeling I had already experienced at Westerly – and spent much of my time participating in a variety of on-campus activities from a cappella and student ambassador groups to giving back to the local community. Today, I work for the National Football League as Director of Digital Strategy. I work closely with the 32 NFL Clubs to improve content and achieve business objectives across their websites and social media channels, and I present on a regular basis to C-level executives. I also direct an all-female vocal ensemble in Los Angeles, www.LolasMusic.com, which I founded three years ago from a desire to bring music back into my life. When I look back, I see that my career has stemmed from the values and experiences that Westerly provided, where I learned from my parents, Mr. B, and the influential teachers that a little bit of vision and hard work can take you on any path you choose to follow. ■
■ By LOREN LUND Alumnus
graduated Westerly School in 2008 with high hopes for my future. I went on to attend Vistamar School, an independent high school in El Segundo, and learned about business, while continuing to enjoy and thrive in the sport of basketball. Now, I am currently 3,000 miles from home living in Boston, Massachusetts, attending Bentley College, pursuing my aspirations to be a business man. I am working on a double major toward a Bachelors of Science in Managerial Economics and Environmental Sustainability, with a minor in Law. Although far away from my home in sunny Long Beach, California; Westerly taught me to be adaptable and find those qualities of a place in order to thrive in diverse and new situations. Transitioning from the West to the East Coast, I have learned that people move faster in Boston. And like the winter weather, the business world here can be cold and tough, requiring a lot of effort and persistence to find success. Westerly taught me how to get my foot in the door and really dream big to achieve my goals. Never did I think I would be on the East Coast attending college; however, I am so thrilled that I am. Westerly School was a place I always felt safe in sharing my creativity and ideas, and the faculty and staff helped me realize how important it is to be my own person. I have always been confident and Westerly School only enhanced my confidence by listening to me and allowing my ideas to blossom in the classroom. I developed a strong work ethic and an appreciation for linguistics thanks to all of my English classes and Westerly’s continued effort to push the students to speak in front of crowds. I am working toward becoming a CFO for an ethically-based organization with a focus on sustainability in the environment. California is currently on a green initiative and I plan on coming home with a business degree from this fine university I am attending in order to do well and give back in my home state. In time, I plan to start my own business and take it overseas to Australia. Because of Westerly and the family I made there, I dream big and am forever grateful. ■
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Westerly? – I enjoy the sense of community here at Westerly. I appreciate that all of the teachers and older students here on campus are looking out for my students and I enjoy watching my students grow after they leave my classroom. I am always so proud of and impressed by the people they become by the time they reach 8th grade. How do you make learning engaging for your students? – I believe that learning should be an adventure. Right now we are traveling through the ocean and making daily discoveries. By teaching thematically, students are immersed in a theme and are making continual connections and building their expertise in that area.
■ By REBEKAH ROBERTS Alumna
am a sixteen year old, proud graduate of Westerly School: Class of 2010 to be specific. It feels as if time has flown since my final days at Westerly, yet at the same time, so much has happened over the past four years. I am currently a senior at Chadwick School in Rancho Palos Verdes, and as I stress over grades, extra curriculars, and (of course) the ever important college applications, I cannot help but to reflect over the many changes that I have experienced throughout my time in high school. Although outlining every single detail may be close to impossible, I can provide you with a few updates about my life, post Westerly. Throughout my four years of high school, I have been a dedicated member of the Chadwick Varsity golf team. I will admit that I am not the best golfer, however, I enjoy playing with my team tremendously. Along with golf, I have been a part of the Chadwick Dance Company since the spring of my sophomore year. The Company creates many pieces throughout the year, ultimately culminating in the spring dance concert that takes place in early May. Freshman year was a time for me to step out of my comfort zone and take part in new things. I began to take stage crew as an elective once a week, and I have continued with this activity all four years. I have also been a part of the backstage crew for four Chadwick plays and one Chadwick musical. This leads me to the discovery of my love for the theater: I was convinced by a few friends to audition for the school musical. I subsequently gained a spot in the ensemble with a focus in dance. After the successful performances we had, I auditioned for each musical every year since, ultimately being cast in a total of two with one audition on the way. Aside from the theater and sports, I have also been a committed member to many clubs at Chadwick: these include Black Student Alliance, Black Culture Club, Cultural Connections, Book Club, Bible Study, and Students Against Destructive Behaviors. I have also recently taken part in Round Square, a worldwide association of private schools from five different continents that work towards the values of personal development and responsibility through networking with other peers from around the globe. In April of 2013, I was a leader in a middle school conference for Round Square, and in October of 2013 I was given the unique opportunity to travel to New Orleans and Boca Raton, Florida in order to put these values to work in an international conference. Now that college deadlines are right around the corner and graduation is only but a reach away, I think back to the lessons that Westerly taught me before going to high school. It is always important to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I did, and it ended up quite successfully, as I found a new passion for something I was quite good at. It is also very important to do things that you know you love in order to gain a better understanding and appreciation for them. Finally, no matter what your grades are, where you end up going to college, or even the job you take in years to come, character should always come first. All of these things have little to no importance when it comes to what kind of person you are and the personal integrity you have. Westerly ultimately helped me to realize that building up and understanding the kind of person I am is the first step you must take before having the ability to move from one stage of my life to the next. ■
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