As we enter the second half of the school year, I’d like to discuss how Whitefish Schools continues to demonstrate a student-centered and project-based education for our students. This approach is different from many of the schools we grew up in. It is an exciting time in education as we forge ahead in a new direction from traditional school systems.
I have been working for the past few years with our staff, teachers, trustees, families and community members who strongly believe that this innovative approach will create a foundation for our students to meet the demands of the modern world, helping to instill creativity and skills for a job market that is changing at a breathtaking pace.
When I first arrived in Whitefish, I was surprised to see that some families were uncertain about the rigor of our academic offerings. When I would sit down and speak with them, they then became surprised to learn the depth of our programs. With that in mind, I looked for a way to make more people aware of the offerings in Whitefish Schools.
We have created a new publication called “A Look Inside Whitefish Schools — The Foundation for Tomorrow.” It details our project-based model where our students are learning more by doing than by reading textbooks. You can find the publication on our website, as well as the print version at school offices and other locations around town.
Our learning model helps students develop the six “deeper learning” concepts, both inside and outside the classroom. We train students to master academic content, think critically and adaptively to solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, monitor and direct their own learning, and to develop growth mindsets.
A unique aspect about Whitefish Schools is that we have many options for learning that occur outside the classroom. Our children are lucky! The natural environment we live in and the resources we have available in our community are unparalleled on many levels. I hope you’ll take a little time to read about how these learning opportunities play out in our schools.
The interaction and mentorship opportunities that we have from kindergarten up to our high school seniors is also very special. Our younger students really look up to our older students and it is a great benefit for them to all work together as they learn and grow.
Beyond academic learning, we continue to focus on creating a culture of equity and a safe and inclusive environment for all students, family, and staff regardless of their circumstances. Compassion, open-mindedness, acceptance, and kindness are values we hope to instill in our students as they make their way out into the world.
We still have much work to do. As we continue to strive for excellence, from fine arts, to computer coding, to athletics, I welcome your feedback. We could not take on these challenges without the support of our community and I remain grateful for your help.
Heather Davis Schmidt is the Superintendent of the Whitefish School District.