At Westgate, we believe in our students taking ownership of their learning. We empower our students to become leaders, not only among their peers, but also in their own life and with their own classwork. The community embraces our Leader In Me ideals and programming. We partner with our parents and families to organize many annual events and gatherings that emphasize our belief in the importance of fostering leadership. Our students are taught to be diligent workers, yet open to the idea that there is often more than one way to look at solving a problem. Our students are encouraged to be caring, and the partnerships we have with different organizations and businesses in Arlington Heights give our students an outlet to give back through fundraisers and outreach. Westgate is a place to get involved and grow through interaction with one another. Our doors are always open, so come on in and explore what we are all about. This page explores, in a transparent way, who we are at Westgate. Enjoy getting to know us and what we are about and if you have any feedback, comments or questions, don't hesitate to contact us!
Traditions unlike any others
We believe in the importance of tradition here at Westgate. Traditions innately tie us to our community. They are here because they help connect the community to what we do and who we are. Tradition creates the feel of family and since traditions occur in families our students, staff, parents, and guardians are family here at Westgate. We are creating the type of connection experienced in family, and that is important to a student as he/she learns and grows. That culture provides the foundation for our students to feel supported, confident, and fearless. They feel safe here at Westgate as if they were learning in the comforts of their own home.
It's all about relationships, established through tradition. The relationships our teachers have with our students create a learning environment, based in trust, which encourages risk taking. The majority of a child's time is spent at school, with his/her teacher, and the relationship is what keeps the learning alive and positive.
The importance of leadership
Being a leader at Westgate is more than having an impact on others. Being a leader at Westgate is about showing how to lead others AND how to lead your own life. We talk about the philosophy of leadership and how we are all leaders, of our own life. We all make choices on how to live, and those choices everyday impact our lives.
We are a Leader in Me School. The Leader in Me philosophy is more than just a label here, at Westgate. It is a way of learning, living, and being together as a community. Our parent community has fully adopted the Leader in Me philosophy, which enhances a student's learning at becoming a better leader. The practice leaves our school and continues at home.
The Leader in Me philosophy is engrained in the school and can be applied to every aspect of the school day and/or experience. The 7 Habits are posted throughout the school with signs and projects, as constant visual reminders to our students in the different ways our students can become better leaders.
Community impact in the classroom
We believe our students' learning should extend beyond the four walls of their classroom, and our teachers utilize our community to accomplish that. Whether it be Skyping with an expert, inviting a parent in to share their experiences, utilizing a community partnership, or simply inviting the Rolling Meadows high schoolers in to read to our students, every day a community member's impact is present in a classroom. Utilizing the community to expand a student's view and experience of the world, adds perspective and widens the lens of what's happening out in the world for our students. Westgate's learning community is more than the nine-block radius surrounding our school. Our learning community is the entire world around us, no matter how far and wide. There are learning communities established in every classroom that are impacted by the outside world/experts, and in today's world, community is much easier achieved through the use of technology.
Club and action teams
At Westgate, we believe in fostering an environment where students extend their learning outside of the school day through clubs and action teams. We hope our clubs enhance the knowledge or interest a student has on a particular hobby or activity, but the greater takeaway comes for students as they learn the skills it takes to participate in that club. It's more than just learning about STEM, drones, running, or health. Students learn the skills it takes to leave the safe space of their classroom with the friends, and fellow students and the teachers they know, and develop the self-confidence to enter a foreign situation where they learn how to navigate a new environment and get the most out of it. Those skills will translate to situations throughout life.
Often, our clubs are created organically. Our students give insight on things that they want to learn about and a teacher or staff member take that interest and feed it with time, effort, and fellow students. Student input creates student ownership and buy in. From that place, a student's learning becomes personal and he/she can get more out of it.
What we are teaching is, not necessarily, more about a subject or content. We are teaching skills of learning and leadership through the content, in which the student has engaged in and created himself/herself.
Academic goals set using data
Goals are important at Westgate, both personally and professionally/academically. Our academic/professional goals are made based on data, and from a personal place. Every teacher, staff member, and student has school goals and personal goals from which to operate from. Our goals are all aligned. Westgate Administration, with input from staff members, creates a school wide vision with goals. The grade level teams than take the school wide goals, reflect on them, interpret them, analyze their own data, and then apply them to their specific grade teams, thus, creating their own goals. Students are made aware of these goals and are allowed the time and given the support needed to reflect on them, interpret them and create their own, personal goals.
At Westgate, we are not afraid of our academic data, but rather, we properly utilize it to empower our students and teachers. Our goal is to give students ownership over their learning, and part of that process, means looking at and embracing the data. Our students write their goals in a Leadership Notebook which gives them a visual way to self-reflect and strive to meet and accomplish academic goals.
Accountability is important in this process, and students are often asked who their accountability partner is. The skill of integrity is learned through the accountability process.