A few Thursdays ago, we had a guest speaker, Dr. Bob Duke, come to Westlake High School. Dr. Duke, who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, is an expert in the area of brain research and development. Dr. Duke spoke to us about the developing brain and its impact on how we experience and perceive happiness. Part of the discussion was how and when we start to lose the simple joys as a child. Dr. Duke provided many examples of this for the audience. This resonated with our students and staff as we could all remember when happiness and joy was a song, a cupcake, a Popsicle, a sandbox or even a kitten away. And then Dr. Duke asked the big question: what do you find joy in today - where do you find happiness? After this extraordinary lead in from Dr. Duke, the campus went silent……….this may be one of the tougher questions to answer after reflecting on our youngest years of joy.
While this can be an introspective question, I challenge you to ask your family and friends where they believe you find joy. Their answers may actually surprise you because they may view your laughter and smiles differently than you do. After I completed a jog late one night, my girls surprised me by telling me how happy I am after I complete my old man run around the neighborhood. This was shocking since we recently had to say goodbye to our Maggie after 17 years. Maggie was my walking and running companion for nearly two decades. Even when she had major trouble with walking, we would still go on “runs” as I would jog in place next to her - we became quite the sight in our neighborhood. The girls have told me how excited I still become after my runs instead of being downtrodden as they thought would happen. As I reflected, I guess I was happy - I could now think of Maggie as I run by her favorite places - our lake, park by the pool, and all the yards we passed over the years. The target is ever moving so check with your closest group to see if your source of happiness has changed. It might be a good time to also check in with your kids to see if your perception of what makes your kids joyful is the same as what they think makes them joyful.
A little over eight years ago, we began our Senior Service Day at WHS. While I had a pretty good idea, our student support counselor, Katie Bryant, took the idea and built this day into one of the more meaningful activities for our seniors. Katie has done a tremendous job with her leadership on this day for our campus. Here are some pictures of our students experiencing joy by helping others in our community.
We hope you enjoy the three day weekend. The month of May will be upon us as we return next Tuesday. We are only four school days away from three weeks of testing - STAAR, Advanced Placement, and final exams. Plus we will throw in a prom along with graduating the Class of 2018, all within those 25 days in May. Take care, and take care of your loved ones this long weekend!
As I have written about over the years, there are many milestones in the life of a high schooler, a parent of a high schooler, or being the teacher of high schooler. These milestones make this a memorable and unique journey which we all get to share as a community with our kids. Some of these milestones include learning to drive, applying for a first job, college acceptance, prom, extracurricular contests, and all the normal school events. One of the most challenging time periods exists as we head to the conclusion of the school year. While we have now completed 146 of 175 school days, there is a new feeling. We‘re 83% completed with this academic year, but we still have so much to do! Sometimes the hardest and most difficult period of time is when we can see the finish line but know how much effort we still must exert to attain the goal of completion. Twenty nine days left but so much to accomplish. While we may believe we will all look like this on May 25th…..
….. we may need a little help, and encouragement.
Our children and students may need some motivation and love during these six weeks. While as adults we know from our experience that it will be summer soon, our kids may need some help along the way. These next two weekends can be the best time to visit and check in to see how the end of the year is impacting them. The seniors can see the final weeks of their high school experience, and our juniors can see the end of what is traditionally the most challenging year. Our sophomores are looking forward to a relaxing summer while we truly may not ever know what many of our freshmen are thinking about at any moment. As we progress through the next weeks, please reach out to us with any concerns you may have so we can help you support your student. Our team of teachers, counselors, administrators and support staff are ready to help. The road to the finish line can be challenging for all of us on campus but our goals are attainable if we work together.
We would like to congratulate Valerie Taylor for the being the Westlake High School Educator of the Year. Valerie currently serves as our Humanities Instructional Partner. She provides support, guidance and acts as an advocate for our English and Social Studies teachers. Valerie also teaches our Capstone Seminar and Research classes with Mrs. Crocker and Mrs. Dupre. Valerie has many roles including coordinating our New Teacher Academy, collaborating on Early Release and Summer Professional Development activities, GT Coordinator, English STAAR accelerated instruction, and Writing Workshops for Eanes ISD. With tremendous effort, Valerie also takes the time to support all of our teaching staff outside of the core areas. This year provided a unique challenge for Valerie as our STEM Instructional Partner took another position within our district which left all departments with Valerie. She assumed this new challenge with high levels of grace, appreciation and motivation. Valerie has been on our campus since 1990 as a teacher and then instructional partner. She has won numerous awards at the state and national levels. Congrats on a wonderful year and being selected by our WHS staff for her contributions to our community of learners.
On April 19th, our campus will have the opportunity to hear from Bob Duke. This speaker is part of our campus’ goal of presenting information on a wide variety of topics that can influence daily, healthy decisions. This speaker will be presenting on the impact our thoughts and expectations may have on our happiness in this modern world. Mrs. Valerie Taylor helped find this speaker as part of our Social and Emotional education.
Guest Speaker: Dr. Bob Duke, April 19th
On Thursday, April 19th, we will have a guest speaker for the entire school. Pure junior and senior 1st period classes will report to the PAC right after checking in with their 1st period teachers. All of these teachers will need to accompany their classes to the PAC. All other classes will have the presentation streamed to their classrooms. Below is information about the speaker and his title and topic and the bell schedule for the day. This presentation is aligned with our focus on Social and Emotional Learning for the year.
BIO: Bob Duke is the Marlene and Morton Meyerson Centennial Professor and Head of Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin, where he is an University of Texas System Distinguished Teaching Professor, Director of the Center for Music Learning, and Clinical Professor in the Dell Medical School. For the past six years, he directed the psychology of learning program at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Dr. Duke’s research on human learning and behavior spans multiple disciplines, and his most recent work explores the refinement of procedural memories and the analysis of gaze in teacher-learner interactions. A former studio musician and public school music teacher, he has worked closely with children at-risk, both in the public schools and through the juvenile justice system. He is the author of “Scribe 4” behavior analysis software, and his most recent books are Intelligent Music Teaching: Essays on the Core Principles of Effective Instruction, The Habits of Musicianship, which he co-authored with Jim Byo of Louisiana State University, and Brain Briefs, which he co-authored with Art Markman, his co-host on the public radio program and podcast “Two Guys on Your Head”, produced by KUT Radio in Austin.
PROGRAM TITLE: How to make yourself unhappy…
DESCRIPTION: All of us are faced nearly every day with expectations that are defined by others. Combined with the goals we set for ourselves, these expectations can so overcrowd our thinking as to diminish our quality of life, sense of well-being, and joy. We will discuss the relationships among aspirations, feedback, and emotions, and how best to structure a healthy, happy life.
It’s been a good, solid week at WHS. We hope you have a fabulous weekend!
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections