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L.W. Westfall Elementary named Model School for 20th straight year

By Ryan Horton
Choctaw Times

Great Expectations representatives present L.W. Westfall Elementary with Model School recognition for the 20th straight year. (PHOTO BY RYAN HORTON)

L.W. Westfall Elementary has been named a Great Expectations Model School for the 20th consecutive year.

The entire school gathered for their weekly Friday morning assembly “Westfall Rising” with much to celebrate, May 5.

Westfall continues to set an example for not only the Choctaw-Nicoma Park School District, but the entire state.

Once earned, the Model School status is not guaranteed each year. Regular and detailed reviews of schools and staff are a part of the Great Expectations program, and evaluations determine a school’s rank within the program each year.

Westfall Elementary has now been maintaining excellence for two straight decades.

“I started at Westfall as just a wee baby teacher, I learned how to be the best for my students, then I became a parent of a student that got to experience elementary at a Great Expectations school, and then I became an administrator. It has been 20 years that Westfall Elementary has been dedicated to offering students and staff with the best education has to offer,” said Shannon Shay, Principal of Westfall Elementary.

“Together, we work to meet the needs of our school community, no matter what that need is. Great Expectations has been a road map for us.”
Shay says success has been achieved by following the program’s six tenets that are meant to create a positive learning environment and develop students’ social, emotional, and academic skills.

“Students you continue to amaze me each and every day with your creativity, kindness and dedication. You accept challenges that many adults would shy away from,” said Shay. “As I work with you and watch you grow, I am a better human. Staff, the respect I have for you cannot be described. You have a deep-rooted conviction to educate and bring out the best of every student.”
The Great Expectations program, founded in 1991, is a scientifically-based research educational reform model that is bringing major change and innovation to PK-12 public and private school classrooms.

The program represents an approach to learning meant to empower teachers to expect and to get the best from students, while rekindling the excitement of discovery among both students and teachers, and push everyone involved to greater heights of achievement.

Representing Great Expectations was Tom Freeman and Linda Dzialo.

“This morning when I woke up I started thinking about Westfall. The question I asked myself was how do you do it? How do you maintain excellence for 20 years?” said Dzialo, President and CEO of Great Expectations.

She says after thinking about the elementary students and staff, she landed on an Aristotle quote to explain the school’s healthy habits that have resulted in maintaining excellence.

“’We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.’ Students, you have developed a habit of following the eight expectations. Now that’s who you are. To every adult in this school, you follow the 17 classroom practices. That’s a habit, and now that’s who you are. To you all, you’re exceptional. Not only have you reached the level of excellence, but you have maintained it for 20 years. So from the bottom of my heart, congratulations!”


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