PERRY -- A projected 540 pre-K through 12th-grade students and 80-plus full- and part-time staff start a new year at The Westfield School on Wednesday.
With the new school year, theyll find a new head of school.
Theyll also find a new-looking gym floor.
The schools new head, William Carroll, said what happened to the gym floor speaks volumes to him about the schools past and future.
I love that gym, Carroll said. When I first saw it, I loved its old-school charm but also the fact its fairly large with modern features. But there was a problem with the floor.
Carroll said the floor had dead spots that made playing basketball difficult. He said money was budgeted to rebuild the floor over the summer and repair apparent rotting in the sub-floor.
What we found was the sub-floor was in amazingly good shape, especially for something built in the 1970s, Carroll said. The sub-floor was fine, really, and so was the surface. It just needed a few minor repairs, some tacking down and refinishing. We were able to use virtually all the original materials. I think it speaks of the quality job the Westfield community did when they themselves built the gym.
Carroll said the floor is a good picture of the overall school and the dedication many have shown through its history to build a great independent school.
I believe that dedication continues today, Carroll said. Since it was founded in 1969, Westfield has worked to maintain and promote a Christian atmosphere where children are nurtured and are safe. We want to develop children that are going to have the skills needed both for higher education and for the job market they will enter. That means a rigorous academic program in a safe environment.
Carroll said the Christian aspect of the school means daily devotionals, prayer at all ceremonial events and a few formal Bible classes in the curriculum. He said Westfield allows for more of a Christian environment than simply being a Christian school, and faculty and staff see themselves as partnering with families in nurturing their children
For the future, Carroll sees the school continuing its high educational standards while adding a greater emphasis on global thinking to prepare students to compete in a global marketplace and economy. He said in part that means a greater emphasis on foreign languages at every grade level.
Carroll said Westfield takes pride in its fine arts program with its emphasis on creative thinking and problem solving that augments excellence in science and math studies. He said the school offers an array of extracurricular activities including sports, which he said was a powerful way to teach character and ethics.
Carroll came to Westfield in July after serving as director of the high school program at an independent school near Mobile, Ala. Prior to that, he said, he taught math and social studies at an independent school in Montgomery, Ala., and has taught in the Memphis, Tenn., public school system. He has also coached and enjoyed cross-county running and track and field as a student himself. He said now he is a jogger, not a runner.
Carroll, who is in his 40s, said he received his education degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, has a masters degree in educational leadership from Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and also has a law degree from the University of Alabama.
I guess I really knew I was called to be a teacher after being on staff at summer camps when I was in school, Carroll said. I loved interacting with kids and helping them learn. I suppose my career in education was a way to extend that through the rest of the year.
Carroll said Westfield is currently accepting students in some spots in some grade levels for those who qualify academically.
You certainly dont have to be a genius to attend Westfield, but we do have standards and are open to anyone who meets our academic requirements.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.