WACO, Texas – The West Independent School District Board of Trustees has been chosen by a Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) committee as the 2018 Region 12 School Board of the Year. As the Region 12 School Board of the Year, the West ISD Board will be in the running to be named a 2018 Texas Honor Board, one of which is chosen as Texas’ Outstanding School Board.
“We commend the WISD school board for their outstanding leadership and dedication to providing a quality education for every student in their district,” said Dr. Jerry Maze, executive director of Education Service Center (ESC) Region 12. “We are proud to recognize them for their strong commitment to their students, staff and community.”
The West ISD Board of Trustees is comprised of seven talented and dedicated civic- and service-minded leaders. The group truly believes and utilizes the district vision “With Children as our First Priority” to guide all decisions. West ISD serves more than 1,300 students through an elementary, a middle/high school campus and an alternative school that serves sixth- through 12th-grade boys. In April 2013, the community of West experienced great grief and devastation due to an explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant. For the past five years, WISD has been working hard to recover the three schools and support facilities lost in the explosion. During this past school year, the last of the temporary facilities were removed. The students and staff spent their second year in the schools, and the new or renovated facilities for athletics, administration, alternative education, transportation, and maintenance were finally complete. The board works cohesively with the superintendent as a “Team of Eight” to provide unified and progressive leadership. This term stems from the required training that brings seven board members and the superintendent together as one unit. The board consistently reviews, creates and adopts operating procedures that help to maintain effective operations and communicate effectively with stakeholders.
The Central Texas district carries high student attendance, graduation, and dual credit enrollment rates, as well as an 1.5 percent or less annual dropout rate. District leadership analyzes data to develop goals and support for improvement initiatives. Most recently, WISD recognized the needs to improve student performance in the areas of math and writing and increase college and career readiness opportunities across the district. The board worked with the superintendent to implement a number of new support and enrichment programs. This work was targeted through a strategic planning process comprised of more than 90 district staff, parents, community members, and business leaders coming together to discuss ways to truly make WISD an education destination for both current and future families.
The first goal was to improve writing proficiency across grade levels. The board reviewed and supported an action plan that included efforts to design and carry out instruction based on the specific needs of each student. Planning time was purposefully scheduled at targeted grade levels throughout the school year and shared lessons and activities were crafted by each grade level team. This effort required extensive work from the teaching and administrative teams. The teachers, administrators and board members took a stance to do whatever it took to help each student improve their writing skills.
The second goal was to create a “team approach” to instruction in upper elementary math classes. Each classroom teacher worked with a math interventionist to provide the best instruction for each student. An interventionist worked directly with students needing extra support and also in the classroom when covering new material. The curriculum coach and teacher utilized data from multiple sources to drive instruction. The board encouraged this all-hands-on-deck approach to meet the needs of students through the support of the collaborative math team.
The third goal centered on the district’s work on implementing the Texas Education Agency’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Blueprint across all grade levels. West Middle and High School is now a TEA designated STEM Academy, and Project Lead the Way courses have been implemented at grades kindergarten through grade 12. Also at the high school, course strands were added in the areas of computer programing, engineering, robotics, biomedical science, horticulture and greenhouse operations, and senior capstone. All grade 8 students now take an engineering/computer programming course. The board felt the district needed to focus on improving instruction and academic performance in science and mathematics-related subjects and increase the number of students who studied and entered STEM careers.
The West ISD Board of Trustees works tirelessly to gain input from staff, students and community members when making decisions. Feedback is obtained through campus lunch and learns and events where the board helps prepare meals for the staff. Input is also collected through community forums, civic group meetings and surveys. Information obtained through surveys, as well as updates from board meetings are shared openly with all stakeholders. Additionally, they created a Teen School Board, comprised of 14 female and male student representatives from grades sixth- through 12th grade. These students meet monthly with the superintendent to discuss news and upcoming policy that will impact students.
“Each individual leader on the WISD board loves our students, staff members, parents, and community. They are true servants who go out of their way to attend every campus and district special event and activity possible in order to cheer on our incredible students. They always put our students best interests first when making decisions for our district.” said David Truitt, Superintendent. “Since the West Fertilizer Plant explosion, the board has been on a challenging journey to help rebuild West, but have stood steadfast in their commitment to see the vision and work complete. West is blessed to have these individuals serving on our board. They are truly the board of grit and greatness. WISD would like to thank Region 12 and Dr. Maze for this special honor. Much of our work was accomplished only through their support.”
Recent district and campus recognitions include:
ESC Region 12 will hold a luncheon next month to honor the West ISD Board of Trustees along with the Region 12 Superintendent and Teachers of the Year.
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