Westerly School’s positive and supportive school climate is made possible through the participation of the whole school community – faculty and staff, parents and family, and of course, the students. This Student Behavioral Value Policy supports the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recommendations for Schools of the Future through the tenet of Ethical Excellence.
Westerly aims to support student values through a clearly written, well-communicated, and consistently reinforced plan which encompasses teaching and encouraging positive student behaviors which are built upon 5 core values the schools works to instill in each and every member of its community; respect, responsibility, compassion, adaptability and honesty. The plan covers four main areas of student conduct:
1. Teaching positive behaviors
2. Behavioral expectations
3. Academic integrity
4. Dress code
Teaching to and encouraging positive student behavior
A positive climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, comfortable, and accepted. A core set of values, agreed upon by members of the school community, have been established and will be integrated into the school curriculum to provide students guidelines for positive choices. It is the school’s goal that through the students’ embracement of these virtues they will be able to independently monitor their own behavior and have the patience to understand the perspective of others. The values Westerly espouses are responsibility, respect, adaptability, compassion, and honesty.
Other proactive approaches to teach good behavior
In addition to the integration of virtues into the curriculum, Westerly students are given other opportunities to discuss and role-play appropriate choices for a variety of everyday interactions through the following approaches and programs:
- Second Step: A conflict resolution program used in all lower school classrooms that presents scenarios of student conflict and the opportunity for teachers and students to talk through the pros and cons of a variety of responses to those conflicts
- Conflict Resolution Steps: An approach taught to all students on how to handle conflicts that arise when an adult may not be present. Those steps are:
- Cool off . . . calm down
- Use “I” messages
- Express needs
- Stop and Listen
- Brainstorm a plan and carry it out
- Advisory: A bi-weekly small group session for middle school students where the advisors and advisees discuss issues that affect all teens.
- Value cards: These cards may be issued to any student by any faculty or staff member for an exemplary display of the schools values through ethical decision making. Students receiving value cards may be celebrated through various school publications or community assemblies.
- Individual Connections: The faculty and staff regularly take advantage of the small class size at Westerly to talk with students on an individual basis, as needed, to counsel them on any number of issues they may be experiencing.
It is important that expectations for student conduct be clearly articulated and fairly and consistently enforced. Westerly students are held to a standard of ethical decision making while encompassing the school values.
- Westerly students treat each other the way they want to be treated
- Westerly students show appreciation and consideration to their environment
- Westerly students are active listeners and help create a positive learning environment
- Westerly students use positive language towards others
- Westerly students are truthful to themselves and others
- Westerly students do what’s right regardless of who is around
- Westerly students keep the promises they make
- Westerly students complete their own work
- Westerly students are inclusive and encourage friendships, teamwork, cooperation and collaboration
- Westerly students welcome any and all visitors to our campus
- Westerly students represent their school in a positive fashion both on and off campus
- Westerly students are compassionate, caring, and helpful towards others
- Westerly students take ownership of their behavior
- Westerly students ask for help when needed and help others in need
- Westerly students honor their extracurricular activities (practices, games, rehearsals)
- Westerly students are committed students who are on time, organized, and come prepared to learn
- Westerly students welcome new people and adjust to new places
- Westerly students embrace change and say “yes” when faced with a new challenge
- Westerly students compromise for the betterment of the group
- Westerly students keep an open mind
Corrective Actions (Behavioral)
Each area includes the implementation of clearly stated and agreed upon expectations along with a progressive discipline method in which consequences that are unique to each individual and situation. Upon the setting of consequences based on the progressive method staff will look at 5 Critical Disciplinary Considerations.
- The precipitating events
- The child’s intentions
- The personality and temperament of the child
- What actually happened
- The damage or hurt caused by the misbehavior or value violation
- First reminder: 1st value reflection card
- Second reminder: 2nd value reflection card, counsel with teacher
- Third reminder: 3rd value reflection card, sent to office with all three cards
- First visit: counsel with student, issue consequence
- Second visit: counsel with student, issue consequence, inform parent with conference, document on Renweb (student file)
- Third visit: counsel with student, inform parent with conference, consider more severe punishment with a possibility of suspension or expulsion
Value Reflection Cards
- These cards are issued to Middle School students for not following Westerly Behavioral expectations. Students will complete and return the card immediately upon value infraction in order to assume immediate ownership of their actions. Cards will be used as a proactive tool in later discussion between Advisors and advisees.
- Lower school will be given verbal reminders that may then lead to a Value Reflection Sheet which will be taken home to complete with parent signature.
- Value cards and reflection sheets will not be marked on student’s permanent file. They are used to ensure student takes immediate ownership of their actions. Students’ files are marked when any incidents are recorded on Renweb.
Corrective strategies are part of all counseling sessions with students and each day (class period for middle school students) is a new day, allowing students a behavioral fresh start. It is important to note, however, that depending on the severity of the infraction, repeated behaviors would accelerate progression through the stages. In these cases, administrative discretion determines the course of action. Severe behavioral infraction would merit immediate administrative action and a parent conference.
Though the faculty and staff at Westerly are committed to investigating each infraction or conflict thoroughly, if students and/or parents feel that the consequences appear not to be fair, they may request a “due process” discussion. This is an opportunity to find out more information regarding the incident in which some cases may find the consequence to be unfair or unjust at which time the consequence may be eliminated or adjusted to better fit the situation.
Academic integrity is held in the highest regard at Westerly. It is expected that students are committed, responsible and honest in the approach to their work, as well as being respectful of others’ efforts. Violations of the School’s academic expectations would be late and missing work, cheating and copying, and plagiarism.
Consequences for violation (Academic)
The Westerly faculty and staff feel a strong sense of responsibility toward the development of students’ academic integrity. Consequences for violations of academic expectations are designed to further teach students an ethical approach to their schoolwork rather than to punish them. Consequences for violation of academic expectations would vary from grade level to grade level and are outlined in class syllabi and family handbook.
Dress Code Expectations
The goal of Westerly’s uniform policy is to allow for students to focus more on academics and friendships rather than fashion and appearance. Students in school uniform help show school pride and help create an identifiable Westerly look.
Consequences for violations (Dress code)
- First reminder: Student given a loaner and value reflection sheet to be signed by a parent
- Second reminder: Student given a loaner, conference with administrator, value reflection sheet to be signed by a parent, loss of Friday Free Dress privilege
- Third reminder: Student given a loaner, conference with parent and administrator, loss of Friday Free Dress privilege.
Cell Phone Expectations
Westerly allows students to bring cell phones on campus but are not to be held responsible for lost or broken phones throughout the school day. Students are required to turn off phones when they enter campus and they are not to be turned back on until they leave campus. No cell phone should be visible or on throughout the regular school day. Upon the approval of a Wildcat staff member, cell phones may be used for music during homework hour.
Consequences for violations (Cell Phone)
- First reminder: Cell phone is confiscated and returned at the end of the day with a value reflection sheet to be signed by a parent.
- Second reminder: Cell phone is confiscated, conference with administrator, value reflection sheet to be signed by a parent, loss of Friday Free Dress privilege.
- Third reminder: Cell phone is confiscated, conference with parent and administrator, value reflection sheet to be signed by a parent, loss of Friday Free Dress privilege, loss of ability to have phone on campus.