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WHS administrators use passions to further student education

Rylee Poplin

Guest Writer

February 27, 2024

Multitasking on the fly - Mr. Frederick finds a moment to work on preparing for the WHS production of American Pie.

The high school has one head principal, Mrs. Alicia Denniston, one associate principal, Mr. Bill Naas, and four assistant principals, Mr. Denver Wade, Mr. Matt Putman, Mr. Kurt Frederick, and Mr. Kevin Scanlon. Although this may seem like a lot, they all have different roles with students that concur with their passions, as well as staff that helps with the flow of the school year, and guidance of a graduation plan for students.

“My two predominant roles at Westfield High School are the overseer of all attendance systems, and then student supports within the school,” Assistant Principal Mr. Denver Wade said, “and it ties in a lot with the passion areas I already have.”

Mr. Wade meets with several students daily to discuss attendance because he sees being present at school as one of the main success factors. His role ties in with one of his passion areas: the power of education. This passion relates to the other principals, including Mr. Bill Naas. 

“I oversee our AP Program,” Mr. Naas said. “83% of our seniors next year will have taken an AP class or are signed up to take an AP class, and I want to get that up to 90%.”

One of Mr. Naas’s passion areas is consistently educating throughout the entirety of high school up to senior year. His goal is to have students work hard throughout all of high school so that college can ultimately be easier for students. Part of what makes the success rate so great is the staff that supports the students, which is where Principal Alicia Denniston’s strong suits come in. 

“My passion area includes professional development,” Mrs. Denniston said. “That’s something that I’ve kept on, is making sure our teachers have good professional development opportunities and that they are learning together.”

Mrs. Denniston was one of the main reasons that late-start Wednesdays began. While students get an extra half an hour to sleep in, teachers come in and learn more about how they can be better for students. One thing they learn at those meetings, especially at the beginning of the year, is security and welfare; overseen by Assistant Principal Matt Putman. 

“One of the roles I fill daily is the safety of the building,” Mr. Putman said. “So we try to have a good relationship with the fire department and police department to make sure we’re on the same page.”

Since WHS hosts many events, Mr. Putman has to make sure the building is up to code for the safety of the students, and one of his passion areas is communications and systems, so this role fits him especially well. The safety of the students is also overseen in a discipline aspect, which is usually mostly done by Mr. Kevin Scanlon. Still, since he is out for the trimester, Mrs. Erika Seymour has taken over his role. Even though this is true, disciplinary action is taken by all administrators at this time. 

“I will team with the other administrators to help them out when they’re facing a situation where they need a second opinion,” Mr. Frederick said. “Or I just happen to be the first to arrive if there’s a conflict or issue and I just take it on.”

Disciplinary actions are commonly reported to administrators that the student feels comfortable with, so it comes to all the different administrators. For example, Mr. Kurt Frederick has some role in discipline, but his main passions are in special education and extra-curriculars.

“I started here [WHS] in 2007 as a special education teacher,” Mr. Frederick said. “So overseeing the program still as an assistant principal really fulfills me.”

With all of these different roles that the administrative staff has, the organization of the school has improved because of it. The principals also get fulfillment in their daily lives. On top of that, it helps them mesh together well. 

“We work together to ensure everybody has a voice in that collaborative effort,” Principal Denniston said. “Each person feels that they have value because of their role in their passion and expertise.”

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