Daniel Lewer, a social studies teacher and department head at Honoka High School in Hawaii, was not disappointed that he included a visit to Westfield High School during his sabbatical.
“I actually discovered Westfield High School through two of your teachers, Kimberly Leegan and Ryan Daly, who were awarded the 2016 Award for Global Understanding. I discovered this on the National Council for the Social Studies website,” explained Lewer. Following his visit to Westfield on Jan. 18, he remarked, “I was very impressed with the amount and the quality of the discussions taking place in the classrooms I observed. Clearly, a lot of work went into creating a culture and climate where students feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and their insights with the class.”
The classes observed included American Studies, Global Perspectives, AP Psychology, Humanities, Exploring Global Studies, and The Global Citizen.
“It was not just ‘the few regulars’ doing all the participating; in many of the classes, many students were raising their hands. I was also impressed with the high expectations that the students were held to; the tasks I saw the students completing required higher level thinking and thoughtful analysis of what they were learning,” said Lewer.
Westfield Supervisor of Social Studies, Andrea Brennan, acknowledged that the visit was beneficial for her department as well.
“It was a unique experience for the department as we compared classroom schedules and instruction techniques with Daniel, and it was a great opportunity to give back to the teaching profession by opening our doors to a teacher outside of the district,” stated Brennan.
Reflecting on his visit, Lewer added, “I really am grateful for the time I had at WHS and took away a lot. Everyone was so helpful, supportive, and I left inspired to be a better teacher!”