What Makes Us Special...
Our students! We have amazing Ethnic, Cultural, and Racial Diversity. Our 430 students and their families represent six continents. Over 100 of our student speak 27 different languages!
Webster Hill has its own intra-school postal service run entirely by students! Children in grades 2-5 apply to be sorters, cancellors, nixie clerks, carriers, assistant postmaster, or postmaster. Each Wednesday, students who are hired prepare and deliver letters written by students, staff and families. Every classroom has a unique mailing address so feel free to write to your child and drop off a letter in the mailbox located in the main office or just across from the Family Resource Center. Speaking of the Family Resource Center…
Our FRC is open to Webster Hill families for our weekly play group sponsored by The Bridge. On Tuesday mornings you and your little one can come enjoy circle time, stories, free play, crafts, music, and more. You can even leave with a backpack full of fun things to do until your next visit. Call us for start times and session dates.
While “Webster the Whale” has been our original and official school mascot, we are often referred to as “The Butterfly School”. We have milkweed plants that grow around our school, which attract monarch butterflies. Our family volunteers come over the summer in search of the eggs that eventually produce tiny caterpillars. Each classroom is supplied with viewing tanks so we can watch the caterpillars spin their chrysalises and eventually watch the monarchs emerge! Our fifth graders tag the butterflies and we keep them in our beautiful butterfly house, located in our living courtyard. In late September, we hold a whole school gathering (with families), sing, and release the butterflies. Some years, we start the migration to Mexico with over 250 monarchs and some years, it’s only 5. Either way, it’s a nice ceremony, a way to discuss environmental factors which affect wildlife and migration, and above all, it’s an important tradition at Webster Hill.
In 2013, parents built 7 garden plots on the south side of the building. Classrooms grow vegetables from seed and our Environmental Global Group transplants the classroom plants into the garden. Parent volunteers take care of the garden during the summer and in the fall, we use the harvest to create foods in our very own kitchen for our children to sample. Yum! And speaking of the Environmental Global Group…
Students and staff work together on environmental issues. They have been instrumental in our recycling efforts and use morning announcements to educate the school. Their fundraising efforts have supported our school and our edible schoolyard is consistently successful because of them. They meet during school (and sometimes after school) to discuss, research, plan, and make a difference. Click here to see their Blog.
If you watch WFSB in the morning, you may get a temperature read from Webster Hill School. That’s because we have the instrumentation to send real-time data to channel 3. Our fifth graders are training to read that instrumentation and post the daily and 3-day forecast. This information is extremely helpful when we have to make indoor vs. outdoor recess decisions. We get accurate and immediate information, which includes the wind chill factor. Don’t try and pull a fast one on the kids. They know how to read the screens out in the hallway so if it’s 20 degrees or warmer, we’re going outside for recess!
All students need to feel connected at school. All students need to feel successful. No child should be bullied and no child should bully others. We use our in-house mentoring program to work toward these goals. If any staff member sees a child at-risk, they submit their name to the principal to be added to the mentoring list. All 65 adults in the building are invited to work with or mentor an at-risk child. “At-risk” can mean a child seems to be struggling academically or behaviorally. They may be new to the school and having a difficult time making friends. They may have the characteristics of a bully or a potential victim. Our caring and thoughtful staff members, who volunteer their time, give kids the skills they need and attention they deserve to be successful. If we feel your child would benefit from mentoring, you will receive a call from the classroom teacher.
Each year, the CT Library Association and CT Association of School Librarians puts out a list of 10 quality titles for children. Our club (parents and students in grades 4 and 5) meets in the evening and discusses the books. Mrs. Mintz supplies the books and the meeting dates. The rest is a rich discussion of the texts and how we connected to them. Thanks to a Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools grant, we have multiple copies of each title so no one is turned away from reading these high quality titles.
We also run book clubs throughout the year that are held during the school day. Staff members volunteer their time and run a variety of clubs for a variety of grade levels. We’ve had nonfiction, poetry, and magazine clubs along with our more traditional literature selections. Children are invited during morning announcements and can sign up for these exciting and enriching opportunities.
On a monthly basis, we formally celebrate student writing at our Author’s Celebration. Classroom teachers select students and formal invitations are mailed home to families. After the students share their work, the pieces are displayed in the hallway for everyone to enjoy!
We must provide a balance between tasks that do and do not require technology. As students progress through the elementary grades, they have increased access to technology in many forms. All learning spaces are equipped with SmartBoards and document cameras. Teachers also have access to iPad, Surface and laptop carts so all students are able to work independently or collaboratively on computers. Multiple computers are also in every classroom for center work or class projects. Students in grades 3-5 are trained in Google Docs and students in grades four and five have their own school-issued G-Mail accounts.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports works on the behavioral side of our SRBI (scientifically research-based intervention) model. At the beginning of each year, all students are taught what Respectful, Responsible, and Safe behaviors look and sound like in all facets of their day (bus, hallway, classroom, auditorium, cafeteria, playground, arrival, and dismissal). By using a common set of expectations and common language, we can provide consistency for staff and students. We focus more on what students are doing right vs. what they are doing wrong. We make it a point to acknowledge when students are meeting our expectations instead of waiting to point out when they do not. When a whole class is meeting or exceeding an expectation, they may be recognized with a Whale Tail. When a class earns 10 Whale Tails, their accomplishment is shared during morning announcements and the class celebrates their success. If individual students are struggling to meet expectations, they are retaught those expectations. We want to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful and not assume they are willfully being disobedient or disrespectful. If they continue to be unsuccessful, we put additional supports and strategies in place to help students. The focus of PBIS is NOT rewards and consequences. It is about consistent expectations, focusing on the positive, and ensuring children have the skills they need to successfully meet the challenges they face each day at school.
We rely on our “big kids”. We see them as role models and student leaders. Therefore, we call upon their skills and talents to spend time with our youngest students. Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade teachers ask for our most responsible students to come down and support our “little ones” with learning and the reinforcement of letters, words, numbers, and basic skills. Our younger students love working with our fourth and fifth graders and our older students enjoy playing the role of teacher.
All classes team up with another class (typically one older and one younger) and get together on a weekly basis for Book Buddies. Students read together and do projects together. This promotes caring amongst our students and sends the message that we take care of each other. Our younger students love to see their bigger buddies in the hallway or cafeteria. Our older students love feeling like a celebrity.
A team of students and teachers learned the art of origami and worked for months to perfect the world’s largest origami butterfly! It was constructed in front of a live audience in the gym during Family Math Night in 2015.