BACK TO SCHOOL: Westwood offers new reading and college saving options


Roughly 300 kindergartners, first-, second-, and third-graders will join principal Paul Holland and staff Aug. 30 at Westwood Elementary School.

Class hours have been extended by 20 minutes, now stretching from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Before that change was approved by the Wellington board of education over the summer, there was some concern it would make the day too long for younger students. Holland said he’s heard no negative feedback from staff or parents at this point.

“I think the adjustment they made works perfectly,” Holland said. “I agree with our superintendent that the more time we can get for teachers to be with students instructing, the better things are going to be. It doesn’t really change the length of a teacher’s school day, per se. They’ve just expanded the amount of time students are here with them in their contracted hours.”

The Wellington Schools Endowment Fund is matching 25 percent of money parents put toward a child’s college education through its “Saving for College” program. For every sixth-month period, the fund will match contributions up to $1,000. In the first half of 2017, nearly $6,000 has been handed out and the aid follows students all the way through high school.

Money is invested in the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority’s College Advantage program. Whether a family chooses fixed income investments or stock programs, the earnings are tax-free and are can be deducted from state taxes.

“We want parents to approach school like their child is eventually moving on to college,” Holland said. “I think this is one of the only school-based endowments in the state and it’s truly great. The endowment supports many projects that come up around the schools.”

Before last school year, Holland expressed a desire to see Wellington parents read more with their children. Beginning this year, the district will be part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a nonprofit that has mailed 80 million books to children in the U.S., Canada, and United Kingdom since 1995.

Children are eligible to be mailed a book from birth until age five.

“The awareness is better but we’re still not where we need to be,” Holland said. “These are books mailed for free. I think that’s incredible. We’re talking 60 free books a child can have before they get to kindergarten. It’s great for our parents without children in school yet. The statistics are there. Kids who are read to by their parents are more likely to be successful in school.”

Third-graders will take their state English and language arts assessments the weeks of Oct. 23 and April 16, followed by math the week of May 2.

Wellington was one of many school districts across Lorain County to see its state report card grades fall last year. Holland spoke of some of the challenges faced in rural districts as far as budget cuts, falling enrollment, and bringing departed students back.

“We need to make people aware of the good things happening at our schools,” Holland said. “People hear about that and it attracts people. The economics are obviously way beyond our control. The economics are a key indicator, but not the sole determiner of a student’s success.”

“Ben Carson came from the inner city,” he said, name-checking former Republican presidential candidate and current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “He came from poverty and difficult circumstances. The difference was his mom wanted him to buckle down and work hard. The real control is the parent. A parent or two being that advocate and driver to say, ‘I expect you to succeed,’ will get a response from the child.”

On his favorite part of being a principal, Holland said it’s all about the kids.

“I’ve been in a few different districts but the kids are basically the same,” he said. “They want to know who loves them and cares about them. We try to show them that every day. We love them here. They’re our future. We want them to be happy and successful. We want them to know difficulties can be overcome.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

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Principal Paul Holland is beginning his third year at Westwood Elementary School. Class hours will now be 20 minutes longer, 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and parents in Wellington can register their pre-K kids to receive books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
http://www.thewellingtonenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/08/web1_IMG_9618.jpgPrincipal Paul Holland is beginning his third year at Westwood Elementary School. Class hours will now be 20 minutes longer, 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and parents in Wellington can register their pre-K kids to receive books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise

Kindergarten teacher Lindsay Jameyson prepares her classroom for the first day of school.
http://www.thewellingtonenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/08/web1_IMG_9741.jpgKindergarten teacher Lindsay Jameyson prepares her classroom for the first day of school.

Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise

By Jonathan Delozier

jdelozier@aimmediamidwest.com