By: Mark Spencer, Principal
Westview opened its doors to students in 1991 designed from the ground up to meet the unique needs of young adolescent learners. This was evident not only in the design of the building but in the design of our instructional model and middle school programming as well. These design decisions have been instrumental in Westview becoming a unique place for middle schoolers where we say “Expect the Best.''
Each grade level, or “wing”, was built with groups of four core classrooms with walls that open. This allows for one, two, three, or all four classes to become one larger classroom. Much of the time, the walls are closed, and our school seems like any other. At other times our teachers open the walls to engage students in working collaboratively in interdisciplinary learning. They also open the walls to engage in team teaching. This structure allows teams to engage in menu days, gallery walks, and larger theme projects. The physical layout of our building facilitates innovative teaching and learning.
In addition to the academic benefits of our physical structure, the ability to open the walls facilitates our weekly homeroom advisory known as Team Time. Teachers have the walls open for team building activities, team communication, and team grounding activities. Teachers use this during the first semester of sixth grade to work as a larger group to build team expectations and procedural models. The ability to create a community sized learning space facilitates the success of our teaming structure.
Westview was also founded with a unique instructional model called Student Teacher Progression. In this model a core team composed of a math, science, language arts, and social studies teacher loops with the same group of students for three years. Students become part of a smaller learning communities. Each team develops team norms and expectations and engages students in the process of creating a unique learning environment. Students come to understand their role as part of these learning communities and build relationsships with their peers and core team of teachers. Teachers come to know their students as learners and as individuals. As they learn their students' interests and passions they are better able to make learning relevant and meaningful. In terms of curriculum and standards mastery, teachers begin each school year with a deep understanding of what has and has not been mastered by their students. They have three years to unpack standards and create additional opportunities to learn. The Student Teacher Progression model also builds relationships with parents and families. This strengthens the sense of teamwork between the school and families in working together to ensure the success of children.
Beyond core teaming and STP, we have built programs and traditions designed to build and maintain relationships. Unique to Westview is an experience called “Challenge Day.” Once a week, each grade level meets in the gym to compete in fun and engaging challenges. Some of the favorites include the Kentucky Derby, Frogger, and Hula Hoop Challenge. In the Hula Hoop Challenge, for example, students throw hula hoops in an attempt to ge the most hoops over the standards in the allotted time. During Challenge Day the din of excitement is heard up and down the halls. Another tradition at Westview is our intramural program. We traditionally have more than 150 students engaged each season volleyball, basketball, and track. The first layer of the program is our in-house intramural league. Eighth grade students serve as team captains and guide the younger players. This all culminates in a single elimination tournament with the championship game being played in front of the student body and live streamed to our community. Our 8th graders also compete in our varsity, or travel teams. These teams compete against neighboring middle schools, and there are no cuts. Students simply need to commit to participating, and they are on the team. Our intramural program engages our entire community. Parents, students, and staff all work together to deepen connections.
Over the years Westview has developed a tradition of success in many areas. Our students have demonstrated consistently high levels of academic achievement. We have always been accredited at the highest level, and we are consistently a school that demonstrates high growth in scores. For many years, we have welcomed the greatest number and percentage of open enrolled students of any middle school in our district. We enjoy very low staff turnover, and the majority of our staff have been at Westview for many years. In addition, we are the only school in the area that has been recognized as both an Apple Distinguished School and as a Colorado School to Watch. As a STEM middle school, we offer numerous STEM co-curricular activities including the top robotics program in the state.
We believe that our success derives from our focus on relationships. We all know that middle school is a time of tremendous growth and change. I think we all have also seen these things become even more evident since the pandemic. At Westview we intend to continue to deliberately build and leverage the power of relationships to meet the needs our students and make sure they are prepared for success in high school and beyond.