WJHS Students and Staff Embody District Mission
Jon Vogel, Principal at Washington Junior High School, recently presented the School Improvement Plan to the Naperville 203 Board of Education. The presentation focused on Washington’s progress towards meeting their School Improvement Goals through the lens of the District mission. Washington Wildcats live the District mission in everything they do.
Washington creates a climate that fosters self-directed learners. One way they do that is by putting the students in charge of setting academic and personal goals. Students then share these goals with their parents during fall Student-Led Conferences, and reflect on their progress in the spring.
Producing quality work at Washington is standard at all grade levels. In Social Studies classes, students create artifacts based on an ancient civilization. While learning and applying the Laws of Thermodynamics in science, students construct a scale model of a house to test different insulation materials for heat loss. Through inquiry and modeling, students’ creativity is on full display.
“Collaboration and learning go hand in hand at Washington,” said Jon Vogel. “On any given day, students challenge each other as workers and thinkers, demonstrating real-life collaboration skills that will set students up for success on their future paths.”
The rapid changing world requires students to have multiple ways to solve problems. At Washington, students have many opportunities to be complex thinkers in the classroom, through various clubs, and in the recently redesigned Learning Commons.
Building a strong community is an important part of being a Wildcat. The Service Matters club organizes events such as Feed My Starving Children and a holiday gift and clothing drive to benefit people in need. The Ripple Effect club helps create a positive community by leaving uplifting notes on students’ lockers and distributing messages of encouragement to students and staff. Our Pride Club fosters a safe and accepting environment where all students feel a part of Washington. Staff also write grants to enhance and innovate in their classrooms. For example, this past year, Kasie Smith, a 7th grade science teacher received a NEF grant for a 3D printer for chemistry modeling.
Washington’s Home and School is a tremendous resource and support for students and staff. Every year, teachers have the opportunity to submit a wish list item to further supplement and improve their classroom environment. Past granted wishes have included additional instruments for music classes, novels for classrooms, fidgets, interactive games/activities, and flexible seating for students. Home and School also provides volunteers and financial support to assist with after school events and supports teachers during conferences. The partnership with Home and School enhances Washington’s educational offerings and builds community among all stakeholders.
Teachers and staff, as part of Professional Learning Communities (PLC), are also embodying the District mission along with their students. PLC’s meet weekly to identify which students have met essential standards and establish SMART Goals for language arts, mathematics, and science. Areas of focus include grading practices as the school shifts its practice to a focus on essential standards. This year, instructional Rounds (teachers observing other teachers) will be implemented so staff can grow their repertoire of strategies and have rich discussions on the observations of student learning in each other’s classrooms.
The growth of positive co-teaching partnerships has also provided an educational environment that utilizes instructional approaches, such as parallel and station teaching, which directly benefits the whole student population. As a result, Washington has seen a positive trend in student achievement data for students with IEPs.
Washington is also implementing the MTSS framework to enhance academic and social emotional support for students. Learning Support Coaches and teachers are using reflection guides and assessment protocols to build teacher capacity in creating common formative assessments and high quality Tier 1 instruction. Additionally, standard assessment results will be used by teachers and students for goal-setting and student-led conferences. Finally, the high level of collaboration among support staff and teachers allows staff to evaluate the effectiveness of MTSS to design and coordinate a Tier 2 and Tier 3 intensive intervention.
Each day, Washington Junior High School strives to foster a passion for lifelong learning for all, transforming learning one student at a time.