As I have been visiting English classes over the last few months, I have observed some lessons that have had a deep impact as our teachers try to bring personal relevance into our students’ lives. Today Ms. Stucky was discussing the draft, draft lottery and the history of the Vietnam War as the students are reading The Things They Carry. Students learned of their draft status in the draft lottery based on their birthday and listened to some CCR as they performed Fortunate Son. Ms. Carnes led a discussion on one of Hamlet’s soliloquies as she brought attention to several allusions that are currently relevant. Coach Nowland had a group of juniors working together on poetry about war. Juniors were more than excited to share with me their favorite poems and stanzas. This led to a discussion on imagery and word choice in a poem about the Civil War. Mr. Uhler and Ms. Liefeste created a lesson that included parents as they began studying Romeo and Juliet. The lesson involved parents and students describing their ideal spouse so each group could then compare and contrast their views - the idea being how one would feel in an arranged marriage. I had the chance to listen to original poems versed in iambic pentameter written in a few minutes with Ms. Connell. Mr. Yeoman did a wonderful lesson on transcendentalism with Emerson and Twisted Sister. These are just a few of the examples I see each and every day at Westlake with our creative and thoughtful staff.
Please enjoy the Teacher Feature on Denise Demartino.
Denise DeMartino graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in biochemistry and worked for the Texas Department of health as an analytical chemist for 4 years. She has been teaching chemistry and working with the AP program for the past 20 years here are Westlake High School. Currently she serves as Science Department chair. She also does extensive work for AP Strategies and the National Math and Science Initiative dealing directly with underachieving students by aiding in their AP exam preparation. Her students affectionately refer to her as “DeMo”. Denise works with teachers across the state helping them with vertical alignment in science and with pre-AP and AP program preparation. In addition, she acts as an AP Exam Table Leader and is also contracted by ETS as an outside item writer of AP exam questions.
When asked why she loves Chemistry, she replied, “I'm obsessed with chemistry! When I use a battery or when I cautiously pop open a can of soda that I've dropped or when I ponder what cleaner to use on the grease stained carpet I am thinking about chemistry. I love teaching Chemistry because I get to share my nerdy passion with amazing students who also love to learn new and exciting things. My job is so much fun!”
She is also part of the district’s “League of Innovators” and continues to explore and incorporate new apps and technologies that make the chemistry curriculum more accessible to students. In the pictures below, she is using the Explain Everything app to push the lecture and live notes directly to student iPads. In the other picture, she used the Nearpod app and the PHET simulations to provide students with an interactive molecule.
As a campus we continually look for ways to help our students. We recently began a new program at WHS which will impact a large segment of our students. This year WHS has purchased licenses for Albert.io, a digital test prep tool, for all of our Advanced Placement students as well as all students taking the SAT and ACT this Spring Semester. Students can access the web application from any device to practice thousands of sample questions created by teachers from across the nation. Last week all juniors should have received an email inviting them to the virtual class and will be receiving periodic assignments delivered by our Ed Tech team to help them prepare for the ACT and SAT tests. Our AP teachers have access to setting up classes for their specific subject tests so that students can practice for their Advanced Placement tests. We chose this tool so all students who plan to take the SAT or ACT can have access to a free prep program.
For more information about using or accessing the Albert.io test prep tool please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you plan on watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, I hope you will root for Nick Foles regardless if you are a Patriots, Cowboys or Texans fan. I have known Nick as a 14 year old teenager all the way through to a grown man who represents this community well every day. Nick is an exceptional son, brother, friend, husband and father who also plays football at a high level. We will conclude this week with ‘Go Eagles!”
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections