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Academic and Social Growth for ALL students, EVERY DAY!


John C. Hamstra

John C. Hamstra - Superintendent

Corinne M. Hayes

Corinne M. Hayes - Assistant Superintendent

Superintendent's Message

Fall, 2023

We’ve had a great start to the 2023-2024 school year! We welcomed in our largest student enrollment in school district history – with over 4,600 students! Many of us can remember the days where we had just over 3,300 students. We hired 48 new teachers and support staff members this summer and they are now fully in the mix and living our mission – “Academic & Social Growth for ALL students, every day!”. Our focus this school year will be putting hard, livable metrics to both the academic growth and the social growth sides.

Growing every student, all 4,600+, by 1.5 years is again our goal for this school year. The MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) given in the fall, winter and spring will help us track this goal. We are also working diligently to see 97%+ of our high school seniors graduate. We’ve invested heavily in our workforce readiness program – providing internships to students with real-world work experience and opportunities as well as offering 22 Advanced placement (AP) classes where students can earn college credit. Bottom line – growing our students 1.5 years takes extreme intentionality each and every day.

On the social growth side of our mission, we are working to get 100% of our students actively engaged in at least one extra-curricular activity or community engagement endeavor. This would include athletics, performing arts, clubs, volunteer efforts and public service.  When students are involved in something productive, outside of school and with friends, good things happen. We will also remain cognizant of students becoming “overly committed” and spreading their time too thin by trying to be involved in too many activities.

Since last May, we have added three mental health specialists at the secondary level (2 at the JS and 1 at the HS) and we have added 4 additional therapists, district wide, via Best Point. We have added Wildcats Care, a district initiative to help provide a funding mechanism to take care of the financial needs that accompany loss or tragedy. For example – if one of our students’ homes burned down, the family may ask for assistance for a hotel stay. The committee would review the request and look to assist with this need. We are also looking to add a JS Hope Squad, in the same framework as the HS Hope Squad. There will be additional staff training throughout the year, and we are also looking to add several parent training nights. Lastly, we will continue the Character Effect K – 5 and Satchel Pulse at the secondary level – in terms of Social Emotional Learning.

Finally, we will continue our focus on a safe and secure learning environment for our staff and students, each day. This should go without saying, but the “Golden Rule” still applies here – treat others as you would like to be treated. Making the 7 hours we have students the best part of their day is what we strive to achieve!

Here’s to an awesome school year / Go Wildcats!

John C. Hamstra
Southwest Local Schools

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