New anti-bullying measures, an expansion of advanced placement courses, and more vocational education options are just a few of the initiatives Wellington students should expect to see over the coming school year.
District superintendent Ed Weber said he plans to cancel all classes on Monday, Sept. 10 to hold a district-wide staff training session on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
It claims to reduce instances of reported bullying in schools by half and cut down on other negative behaviors including vandalism, fighting, theft, and truancy.
The program was started by Norwegian psychology professor Dan Olweus, who conducted the world’s first long-term study on bullying in the 1980s. His book, “Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do” has been published in 25 languages.
“We’re also going to be asking the community to hang up posters for us,” Weber said. “There’s a huge community component, so we’ll certainly deliver anti-bullying posters to any business that would like to display them.”
“Bullying often starts small and it’s easy to miss the small signals,” he said. “By alerting everyone in regard to catching these concerns much, much earlier, we can be more helping and provide the necessary interventions.”
A team of 15 district employees was trained over the summer and will be tasked with leading the Sept. 10 session. The shape the anti-bullying effort will take will vary between buildings, from weekly in-class meetings at McCormick Middle School to working with Wellington High School’s Friends of Rachel Club.
WHS will introduce several advanced placement classes this year including government, literature, language, U.S. history, and world history.
McCormick is slated to add honors English language arts courses for grades five through eight, accelerated math programs for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, and several new STEM initiatives.
Full coding courses will be rolled out at both WHS and McCormick.
Middle school students will be able enroll in new entrepreneurship and technical education courses while WHS plans to offer a financial literacy class dealing with topics like budgeting, investing, and managing credit cards.
“We want our kids to exit our schools ready for college and having job-ready skills,” Weber said. “We want every student to have a college acceptance letter or credentials that allow them to earn a good wage in the work force. They can then make their own life choices after graduation. We need talented workers everywhere.”
Westwood Elementary School will continue its Kindergarten to College program, which works in tandem with the Wellington Schools Endowment Fund to match 25 percent of families’ yearly contributions to college savings plans.
A meeting discussing the program will be held Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Westwood’s gymnasium.
Students and families participating in Kindergarten to College as well as anyone wearing college-related clothing can attend WHS’s home football game on Sept. 21 free of charge.
During Lorain County Fair week, several Wellington Schools departments will move their offices to the fairgrounds for a day. WHS will set up shop on Monday, Aug. 20 followed by McCormick on Aug. 21, busing Aug. 22, finance Aug. 23, and Westwood Aug. 24.
“Kids can come up to find out what bus route they’re on,” said Weber. “Our finance office will be sharing the five-year forecast. We’ll all be at the fair breakfast on the 20th and the superintendent’s office as well as the student life director’s office will be there throughout the week. We’ll also be featuring different sports clubs each day.”
As a back-to-school gift, Weber has given every teacher in the district a book entitled, “Thank You, Teacher,” which contains notes from students thanking educators for contributing to their success.
“Being a teacher is an awesome job,” he said. “We can’t forget the opportunity we have to impact our students’ lives. This book calls us to our duty. It’s wonderful to be thanked but it’s important to realize it’s our duty to be this great person for the kids we serve. The responsibility of a teacher is great and it doesn’t get thanked enough.”
Weber is beginning his second full school year as superintendent in Wellington.
In April, the Wellington Education Association and Wellington Support Staff took a unanimous no confidence vote in Weber, saying he overruled disciplinary measures taken by faculty members and jeopardized school safety. The school board, however, voiced its support for him.
“I would think we all have a fresh opportunity with the new school year,” he said. “I feel communication has always been good. We have our regular meetings and I’m always there. I have an open door to my office. I definitely want to partner with our association and I invite them to continue to work with me on developing great things for out students. Improving student outcomes isn’t going to happen any other way.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.