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  Friday January 30th, 2015    

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The promise of public education (08/05/2014)
From: Dr. Stephen West

WAPS Superintendent

I am both humbled and honored to have been selected to serve as Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Superintendent in this community, and will work tirelessly to ensure success for each and every student.

In this first month on the job, I have seen Winona’s support of education up close. First, let me acknowledge the generous donation to WACS and Cotter schools. It demonstrates the ongoing commitment the Winona community has to education. Similarly, after meeting with our district’s charter and other parochial schools, I find that same passion and commitment to the children of the Winona area.

I will work to be a strong educational partner, but please know that I brought with me, to this position, the long-standing passionate belief that public education is the great cornerstone of our democratic society. Just as our forefathers planned, making free and equitable education available to every child in America would be the great leveler, the great engine that moves our society forward. I have learned that for the past 153 years, Winona Area Public Schools have been that cornerstone for our students, in town and in our rural settings, to be welcomed, just as they are, to reach their potential. No other system in our district can claim to be the best without recognizing that they would not be here without a strong public education system that provides them with many resources to do their work and for their students to better prosper. We stand proudly by our organization’s tagline of “Welcoming All Learners” — we work to grow each and every child that we welcome through our doors, and we are proud to be your public schools.

I am excited to work together with the passion and commitment of WAPS staff, students, parents, and our community to make plans for capitalizing on our strengths and commitment to excellence. I want to take this opportunity to note the strengths I see.

Firstly, our extremely dedicated team of staff and administrators works diligently to examine learning and teaching practices in a collaborative way, along with data, to implement solutions to meet the unique needs of each student.

Secondly, the level of parental and community support, involvement and partnership that I have witnessed is impressive and extremely important to our mission. Families, our most important partners, and the community provide pivotal contributions for enhancing the learning and lives of WAPS students.

The future is here now in our classrooms. In our time together, we will need to wrestle with vitally important issues, such as how do we continue, as a community, to make certain that every child is safe, supported, engaged, healthy and challenged? In a political climate in which government is struggling to fund its most important resource, our children’s education, how do we fulfill the promise of schools to prepare our students for an increasingly high-performance, high-tech world? This is just the beginning of the work ahead of us, and these challenges face every school system in our district. Winona Area Public Schools are not alone in facing these issues, and we acknowledge them.

I am an optimist who knows that by locking arms with one another, and with an unrelenting focus on the success of each child, we can do this vitally important work. Every Winona Area Public Schools student is depending on us. We must always remember that even on our worst days, when nothing seems to be going right, each of us is some child’s best hope for the day.

As the start of the new 2014-2015 school year approaches, so do a number of events associated with the start of school. I look forward to meeting each of you personally or at community events. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have or just to chat about what is on your mind. The teapot is always on. Thank you in advance for joining me on the journey. Winona Area Public Schools will not suggest that we are the absolute best, but together our goal will be that every effort will be made to ensure that each of our students works to his or her absolute best potential. 


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