A message from Jessica Jenkins, the founding principal of WESS:
Parent Engagement: We look to Families as our Partners
Let’s Build West End Secondary Together….
Parent and Community Engagement: At WESS, we fully engage our parent community and embrace community relationships. Rather than use the term involvement, we use engagement as it involves doing with. We strive for engagement through listening to what parents think and respecting what they desire for their child. Our goal is to continuously welcome and solicit parents as partners in the learning process. To that end, we will regularly engage parents and community members in the school community as field experts, through community breakfasts, community circle, open classrooms, family book clubs, and as learning and arts partners. Additionally, we have created liaisons with museums, Lincoln Center, the New York Historical Society, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in order to utilize the unparalleled resources of our city’s art organizations and enhance the learning experiences for our students.
Family Book Clubs: Family book clubs will be hosted on a regular basis and are designed to encourage parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings to read a book in common. Through a partnership with the New York Public Library, class sets of books can be loaned on a monthly basis and made available to all. A student and his or her family will meet to discuss aspects of the book that were particularly intriguing, enlightening, and compelling. Joint reading ventures such as these are certain to transform students’ appreciation of literature, seeing in them an opportunity to share opinions and interpretations with those they love. Likewise, families who participate will enjoy observing their child’s enthusiasm while deepening their own love of reading. Book selection will be open to suggestions from the entire school community. The Family Book Club will be a cherished component of our community gatherings.
Student-Led Conferences (SLCs): Twice during the school year, the school invites students and their families to attend formal conferences during which report cards are presented to families. At WESS, SLCs replace two of the traditional parent/teacher conferences and are attended by the student, parent/guardian, CREW leader, and other adults the student has invited. The student facilitates the meeting, with the support of the CREW leader. During the conference, students explain their progress toward and mastery of both academic (content/skill) and character (habits of work) learning targets. Students justify their progress by leading their families through a student-assessment-notebook of work products culled from academic classes.
Community Circle (CC): Each Tuesday, the entire school meets for CC, a 20-30 minute student-run circle featuring student presentations, parent guests, and celebrations focused on WSSI’s cultural values. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in our circle. CC allows us to celebrate learning and nurture a strong, positive, and caring school culture.