TheJetway Winter 2019: Progress

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Table of Contents

Editors Alicia O’Connor Marketing and Creative Manager

Welcome from HOS


ECC: Persona Dolls


ES: Scottish Storyline




Mini Maker Faire




Alumni Spotlight: Class of 2015


GPSF Day Highlights




Philanthropy Report Highlights



Annual Fund


Ed Su, Studio Printing

Amy Woropay Director of Communication and Webmaster Alice Wyman Assistant Director of Admission and Enrollment Management

Photography Vince Bucci Photography WNS Community Members

TheJetway is published two times per year by Westside Neighborhood School for parents, alumni, and friends. For more information or questions, please contact: WNS Office of Communications 5401 Beethoven Street Los Angeles, CA 90066 © Westside Neighborhood School




PROGRESS WNS fundamentally believes children learn best when they’re actively engaged and supported in differentiated learning experiences. They thrive in a learning environment where they’re seen, heard, known, feel safe to embrace a growth mindset, and have opportunities to authentically apply what they learn. Collaboration is an essential skill that must be taught and practiced from a young age. Our work is founded on these beliefs, and every aspect of our student experience has these core assumptions as a foundation. WNS 2020 focuses on supporting the whole child from early childhood through 8th grade, infusing social-emotional learning (SEL), anti-bias curriculum (ABC), academic rigor, STEAM, and maker skills with a strong constructivist and developmentally attuned academic program. What were once considered “soft skills,” collaboration, resilience, perseverance, civility, and kindness are now essential. Internalizing a growth mindset perspective and a sense of possibility is instilled in every WNS student. Beginning with our social constructivist approach in our preschool and kindergarten programs, that later morphs into a project-based learning approach in the elementary and middle school, our students develop the confidence and competence to apply what they learn in a meaningful way. They continuously innovate and implement different strategies in search of solutions to meaningful problems. The endpoint of this approach is to graduate students who have the tool kit for the future and see themselves as social entrepreneurs, capable of identifying issues and problems in their world; workshopping, testing, and refining solutions; and delivering programs and products that make their community and world a better place. This is progress.

Brad Zacuto Brad Zacuto Head of School




Early Childhood Center



of Early Childhood

This year in the Early Childhood Center (ECC), we’ve introduced Persona Dolls as a divisionwide practice. These are dolls that live in our classrooms and are visible at all times, but are accessible only for meeting times. The classroom Persona Dolls are specifically for storytelling, and when they come out, the children know that they are in for something special. Persona Dolls are an important part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and our Social-Emotional Learning programs. The purpose of this practice is to both reflect the diversity in the classroom and to fill gaps in representation. For instance, if a child happens to be going through a divorce, one of our dolls might share their story about their experience living in two houses. On the other hand, if we want to open a dialogue about the experience of people who have different physical abilities, one of the dolls might be deaf and speak only through sign language. These dolls also have a diverse range of family histories that reflect the ECC children’s lives and experiences. The dolls are often used to normalize the many different kinds of experiences the students in our school have. Children begin to notice differences in race and gender at six months of age, so as educators we must be able to talk openly about these topics. The more openly we can talk about our differences in curious and compassionate ways, the more comfortable the children will feel with their own unique story and the stories of others in their community. When a child is interacting with or “meeting” a Persona Doll for the first time, we treat the experience as if they are interacting with another member of the classroom. To accomplish this, the doll’s name, birth date, family, likes, dislikes, etc. remain as constant as the characteristics of the children in the classroom. In addition, the doll’s life experiences unfold just like those of our students. We also use Persona Dolls to tell stories that support social-emotional development. If two children left the playground not feeling good about an interaction that occurred, we might approach the situation by telling a similar story about two dolls. This practice allows the children to relate to the experience, reflect on strategies, and not feel shamed or singled out for a particular behavior. They’re able to process the event or social expectation in a depersonalized way.




These special dolls are not available in dramatic play or any other play context. We keep them special so that when they do come into the classroom discussion, the children lean in and listen. When Persona Dolls come to visit a class meeting, the children know that a story will unfold, and their ideas will be needed in order to work through the challenges the dolls are facing. When the Sandpiper teachers introduced their Persona Dolls during morning meeting in September, they began with Dash, a four and a half-year-old boy who lives in Los Angeles. The children had lots of questions and found that they had a lot in common with Dash:

Student: Why does he have a car on his shirt? Teacher: Maybe Dash is interested in cars and trucks? Do you have that in common with him? Student: (nods) Student: Why does he have brown shorts? Teacher: This is what he wanted to wear to school today. As the children’s ideas around this practice develop, we are looking forward to seeing where it takes us and what new connections will be made. As Loris Malguzzi, the founder of the schools of Reggio Emilia wrote, “A child’s most sought after goal is to recognize himself in others, and find in others parts of himself.”




Elementary School


C h a rac te C ame ro r: n Do c te n Oc c up a t io n: Trade r

At WNS, our goal is to prepare children to become lifelong learners and competent decision-makers. In order to do so, we do our best to help them make connections between real-life and academic skills, concepts, and attitudes. Studies show that students participating in an interdisciplinary approach have better attitudes toward school and lifelong learning. We use a curricular approach called Scottish Storyline to guide and inform our social studies units to do just that. Developed in Scotland, this method is most effective because it emphasizes that learning must be memorable to be meaningful. With Storyline, students create a setting, characters in that setting, and relate it to a global theme. This method encourages active learning and reflection, as well as a strong sense of

“My favorite thing I liked about the community center was making things that we had to build with friends.”

ownership over their learning. The Storyline Method is used in Grades 1-4 here at WNS for many reasons. First and foremost, it is student-centered. One of the most important resources available to us as classroom teachers is the knowledge already inherent in our students. Children’s own ideas and prior experience provide the starting point for each topic. Storyline also produces a high degree of motivation in students. Since the implementation of this program, we have noticed that students feel personally involved in the creation of the Storyline. Students have the opportunity to create a place inhabited by people they have imagined. Each trimester, students work collaboratively to solve real-world problems and learn about social, economic, and environmental issues in a developmentally appropriate way. There is great flexibility with Storyline as it relates to real-world problems, which inevitably change as time goes on. While this program has been in place at WNS for several years, recently many elementary school teachers have received formal training and modernized the content to reflect global issues that are both current and relevant. One example of a second grade project is our Storyline on the Los Angeles Community Center. In this unit, students work cooperatively to build a community center (similar to the YMCA or JCC) that serves local communities in the Los Angeles area. In addition, this Community Center



“I like that our Community Center included team building when we created buildings and offices inside and out.”


will offer various forms of aid and support to displaced peoples and new families coming into Los Angeles. With this in mind, students are inspired to think about the reasons people might need relief or aid, the interior and exterior qualities of a community center that would serve the established needs, and the different jobs and roles of individuals at a community center. Throughout the unit, different “real-life” problems come up, and students work collaboratively to solve them. For example, a natural disaster could hit the region, or a neighbor might not appreciate the influx of people and activity the Community Center brings. Through reflection journals, teacher-created incidents, and student-driven events, students are able to live in

“My favorite part was making the play structure because it was fun and a little challenging, but I like a little bit of a challenge.”

a story and see how different events and problems affect their self-created characters and community. By allowing students to see how their actions and decisions affect their lived story experience, we’re able to build a bridge for students to recognize how they might approach their real communities with compassion, innovation, and stewardship.







Middle School


7TH GRADE INTERDISCIPLINARY PROJECT Sarah Mirman, 7th Grade Dean, Middle School English Teacher

The 7th grade is Solving Problems for Los Angeles Society & Health through an interdisciplinary project called SPLASH. For this annual project, students pick a public health issue facing Los Angeles and ultimately propose an action plan of how the community could take specific steps to resolve that issue. Work on this project incorporates their knowledge from social studies, science, English, and technology. Students begin thinking about potential directions for their SPLASH projects by designing a series of problem statements. These statements discuss an issue students saw in Los Angeles, identify who was impacted by that issue, and think about what may be causing it. For example, some problem statements students wrote include: •

Teens that suffer from depression need a way to more easily speak to a mental health professional and access support in order to have suicide rates go down and depression and anxiety be treated. Los Angeles homeowners need to be convinced to install rainwater catching systems and containers because LA has an unpredictable rain formation. Parents need a way to be informed about lead concentration in their homes, parks, and communities because it causes behavioral and health problems in their children.

Once the 7th graders identify their research issue and the people impacted by it, they practice empathy and perspective-taking. This is a critical first step in the Design Thinking process. To do this, students write a vignette through the perspective of someone impacted by their research topic. Seeing things through another person’s eyes enables students to think deeply about what would be most helpful for those impacted by the issue. This act of “taking a walk in another person’s shoes” guides the direction of their project and how they decide to help others. Inspired by this new perspective, students then engage in both science and social science research with the goal of understanding how their topic became a problem, how it impacts community members, and ways that the government or other organizations have tried to address the issue in the past. They practice a variety of skills including finding




reliable sources, documenting information, and finding evidence that supports their claims. Based on their research, students then come up with ideas and prototype designs of possible solutions to help alleviate the issue they are addressing. Students have come up with a variety of solutions in the past, including application designs, 3D models of rain catchers, PSA’s, and more. The project concludes when students go to the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health to pitch their proposals and solutions to public health professors and graduate students to get feedback from the “real world.” This helps to motivate students because research has illustrated that when students create a product for a real audience, rather than writing a paper exclusively for a teacher, the quality of students’ work is positively affected. Together, this cognitive, emotional, and social engagement helps students answer, in the form of their project, their student-driven problem statements. When students reflected on the experience of presenting their ideas to people who work in this field, they said: “Something I learned on this trip is that age does not define your ability to have good ideas.” “This experience helped me feel more confident as a presenter. I liked how we got to pick a problem we were really passionate about and present it to people who could help our problem.” “It was very cool to know that someone was getting to listen to what we created and give us feedback to help make it better.” Students walked away from this project with the understanding that they have the power to bring change to their community when they put their minds to it. Final student reflections include: “I liked this project so much because it was so interesting to think about how everything we do can really make an impact.” “A highlight of the project was that it made us young teens think about real-world problems and think of solutions on how to fix them.” “I feel very happy knowing that because of my group’s SPLASH project and the support of the community, at least one person’s life will be improved in some way.”





John Umekubo, Director of Social Entrepreneurship

On October 19, WNS hosted our second annual Mini Maker Faire. With ten stations to choose from, children in grades 3 - 5 from throughout Los Angeles navigated the maze of opportunities in our STEAM corridor to laser cut hand-drawn art, code robots, work with power tools, build cardboard creations, and engage in virtual reality. Map in hand, students explored the various stations, collecting stickers along the way as they completed each activity. Participants coded custom robots using the Hummingbird Robotics platform and the SNAP! programming language. They designed 3D models using Tinkercad. They visited far-off lands and outer space through Google Expeditions and painted in a 3600 virtual world with Oculus Quest. They made custom artwork using power tools and wood burnishers, converted hand-drawn designs into laser-cut backpack tags, and programmed LEGO robots to navigate an obstacle-filled landscape. Teacher, student, and parent volunteers helped to facilitate our maker stations. We were joined by our friends from the reDiscover Center who ran the woodworking station in our Maker Court, working alongside our own ACE faculty. We welcomed approximately 100 children, with many parents in tow. We look forward to next year, with more engaging activities, new technologies, and further opportunities to dive into creativity!





WNS Class of 2019 Zoe Rose Almassizadeh Olivia Grace Amann Zoie Noelle Brogdon John Ryan Chamas Quinn Chryss-Connell Mele Faiva Corral-Blagojevich Hope Eve Craig Sean Dominic Cuneo Carter James Daley Katrina Doll Hannah Rose Franklin Gabrielle Gantvoort Murphy Cain Glasgow Tori Gluckman Lina Katharina Glunz Lucas Patrick Green Amber LeAnn Grimes Joshua T. Hirsch Connor Edward James Abbey Johnston Kaela Khorsand Mashhadi Natalie Kim Ava-Marie Elaine Lange Nick Letscher Garcy Marisol LoCicero Brycen Manners

Francesca Rose Marchetti Dylan Michael McGovern Austin Tucker Micka Cody Finn Muson Julia Ann Ocampo Sophia Papouchado Ella Parker Nia Symone Porter Zaniah Ipuniuesea Sinatiloa Puni Sean Reiff Charles Arthur Russell Ava Lillian Pearl Schwartz Charlotte Shays Jake Robert Shockley Emmett John Slavin Whitney Cosgrove Stoker Sarina Thomas Chase Paul Treglia Charles Hardy Van Hook Charlie Wakeham Ian Henry Meriwether Warfield Lola Watkinson Peyton Alexandra West Delyle Williams Adam Grant Yost Aidan Beckett Younger

We expect big things from all of you! You have shown us here how much you are capable of achieving, imagining, and creating, along with a genuine desire to make the world a better place. Congratulations, Class of 2019, for the journey you have completed thus far! - Graduation Speech Excerpt by Brad Zacuto, Head of School

WNS is proud of our Class of 2019! Take a look at where this class is making their mark this year:

Archer School for Girls California School of the Arts San Gabriel Valley Chadwick School Crossroads School Culver City High School Da Vinci Schools



Geffen Academy Harvard-Westlake School Loyola High School Marlborough School Marymount High School Mira Costa High School Notre Dame High School

Pacifica Christian High School Redondo Beach High School St. Anthony High School St. Monica Catholic High School St. John Bosco High School Vistamar School Windward School


Alumni Spotlight: Class of 2015

The Class of 2015 is attending the following colleges and universities:

One of WNS’s most treasured alumni

Arts University Bournemouth Barnard College Boston College Brown University California Polytechnic State University Chapman University Colgate University DePaul University Fordham University George Washington University Howard University Loyola Marymount University Mills College New York University San Jose State University Santa Clara University Savannah College of Art and Design Scripps College Southwestern University Texas Christian University The University of Alabama Trinity College University of California, Los Angeles University of California, Santa Cruz University of Colorado, Boulder University of Miami University of Michigan University of Oregon University of Puget Sound University of Queensland University of San Diego University of Washington University of Wisconsin University of Southern California Wellesley College






Assembly. Each spring, the WNS alumni high school graduating class returns for a special Community Gathering. This year, the Class of 2015 returned to the WNS campus where they spent many of their childhood years to share their post high school plans. They also shared their favorite WNS experiences, memories, and advice for the current WNS students. After the Community Gathering, they had the chance to explore the new WNS tricampus, connect with their old buddies (who are now fourth graders), and reminisce with past teachers and staff. Good luck on your next adventure, WNS Class of 2015!




WNS Grandparents & Special Friends Day WNS students spent two wonderful days together with grandparents and special friends sharing in where they spend their days learning and growing, as well as the opportunity for grandparents and special friends to reminisce about their own childhood. It was a special time enjoyed by all!

ATHLETICS Chris Pearson, WNS Athletic Director

We Strive Through All Challenges; Jets Soar High For Excellence! We have had a successful close of the 2019 spring and fall sports seasons! Our spring teams enjoyed another successful season in the Delphic and Pacific Basin Leagues. Our Varsity Boys Volleyball advanced to the semifinals for the second year in a row, while the Boys Track came within a couple of points of capturing the varsity track title in the Pacific Basin League (PBL). Girls Middle School Track earned first place in the PBL final meet for their fourth consecutive title with impressive results! Girls Softball has now won five consecutive titles in the PBL with their championship




win this season. Additionally, Girls Softball played their third season in a competitive Delphic League and won a third championship title. Both the Girls Track and Softball teams continue to set school records with several consecutive league championships. In lower school sports, our fourth and fifth grade students participated in the annual Coastal Canyon League track invitational in May. This coming spring, we plan to offer Coed Soccer, Boys Volleyball, and Girls Softball clinics, as well as offer track for the fifth year in a row. We are also offering youth clinics for younger grades in basketball and indoor soccer. The 2019 fall sports season recently concluded with a great showing by all WNS teams! Varsity Flag Football advanced to the final championship game and lost 20-12 in an exhilarating contest. JV Flag Football also advanced to the playoffs and lost a tough quarterfinal game. We also want to recognize our Girls Volleyball teams in both Varsity and JV Divisions. Although they did not qualify for playoffs, we appreciate the growth and development of our program. Looking ahead to the winter season, we have nearly 50 fourth and fifth grade girls signed up for the upcoming winter volleyball lower school season. We are thrilled that the future is bright for our Girls Volleyball program, and it will continue to thrive at the next level. The upcoming winter season brings our Boys and Girls Soccer teams to the field. We are also excited to bring back our Girls JV Basketball program, along with our lower and middle school Boys Basketball teams. It is always a busy time on the court or field as our athletic program continues to soar for excellence! Go Jets!







The expenses and revenue charts shown in our philanthropy report represent the annual budget that WNS thoughtfully creates and maintains every year. As you can see, our single largest expense is faculty and staff compensation. WNS has highly competitive levels of faculty and staff compensation, which is key to attaining and retaining our top-tier teachers. Our largest area for revenue is tuition and fees, which is typical of all independent schools. An area where WNS stands out among our peer schools is our budgetary commitment to financial assistance for many of our families.

4.3% 2.4% Tuition & Fees

ACE & Summer Program Interest & Misc Income



WNS invested over $2.4 million in financial assistance to 25% of our community last year; 11% of our total budget. This is key to making WNS the place it is, a place that truly represents the world we live in. Another common trend within the independent school world is fundraising. As a 501c3 nonprofit, independent schools like WNS must fundraise a portion of the budget through voluntary giving. With WNS investing so much in our socio-economically diverse community, it is critical that we all make WNS a priority in our giving. We recognize that everyone can give something different, and we cherish that.



Expenses 2.2%





Financial Aid

11.1% 13.4%


Facilities & Services Programs & Supplies ACE & Summer Program Other Expenses

To view the full 2018-19 Philanthropy Report online, please visit Please contact for the access code.




WHAT DOES YOUR GIVING DO? When you support WNS, you’re not just supporting a school you’re helping drive what comes next in education and community. Your giving makes these opportunities possible: Academics •

7th Annual Film Festival

2nd Annual Passion Project: Legends of the Trash Creatures

2nd Annual WNS Mini Maker Faire

30 field trips

Athletics •

90 students participated in fall sports

122 students participated in winter sports

119 students participated in spring sports

4 championship banners were raised

Arts •

9 performances on stage

5 middle school students were selected for the prestigious Southern California Vocal Association Junior High Honor Choir

4 eighth grade students selected for the CAIS Honor Choir

Thank you for your support! TheJetway



Annual Fund What is the Annual Fund? Annual fundraising is an essential part of our school’s yearly financial planning and sustainability, filling the gap between what tuition funds and the full cost of educating each student. The gap between what tuition covers and the full cost of educating each student is approximately $2,500 per student for the 2019-20 school year. Support for the WNS Annual Fund enables the school to uphold our commitment to socioeconomic diversity through financial assistance, provides for technology in the classroom, facility improvements, field trips, professional development, and so much more. Together, our community of parents, alumni, grandparents, and friends of the school help make this all possible!

Visit to make an impact at WNS.




Why I Give?

back f giving y w ay o ity.” m n ’s u it m e m “Becaus zing school co a , to an am rke Austin ‘17 Cla nt e d tu mni S WNS Alu

commitment “Because we value the kinds.” all of ity to divers The Johnson Family, Current WNS Family



“To support the school that has molded us into the ed ucators we are tod ay!” Sergio & K aitlin Rodri guez, WNS Facu lty

“To suppor t our granddaughter ’s wonder ful scho ol and her teachers!” WNS Grandparen ts of the Forester Family


5401 Beethoven Street Los Angeles, CA 90066