As the new superintendent for the Westby Area School District, I am writing this letter so people can learn a little about me, as well as the direction of our district this year. My family is new to the Westby area, but our transition has been absolutely wonderful. We love our new community and our children are thriving in school.

Though I’ve only been in the district a short time, here are some things that I’ve noticed. We have great staff who are dedicated and student-centered. We have tremendous pride in tradition (both in school and the larger community). We have outstanding business and community support. In fact, our staff was able to visit many businesses during our early release days in order to learn how to better prepare our students for the workforce and how we might be able to partner with them. Our students are well rounded, with most participating in a wide variety of athletics and co-curricular activities. The Westby Area School District Board of Education is exceptional and absolutely dedicated to the students and staff.

On Aug. 27, I was able to address the staff and share these observations. Additionally, I presented three goals that will take time to fully implement (I’m pleased to report that we made progress already in each area). First, we need to tell our story. We have advanced a new and improved district Facebook page (WestbyAreaSD). We published and mailed a summer/fall newsletter. Many of our staff members remain involved in the many community organizations outside of our schools. Second, we need to develop a strategic plan for the next five-10 years. We have begun the process of listening to staff, students, parents, and our community stakeholders. Having a cohesive strategic plan will help us align priorities district wide and clarify our goals. Parents, be aware that we will be asking for your feedback in January as we employ School Perceptions to conduct a parent survey. Last, we are working on becoming a destination school district for students and for staff. All three of these goals are interrelated, of course.

Little did we know that less than 12 hours after my opening address, we would be faced with historic flooding. I am very proud of the efforts of our students and staff as we pulled together to assist those who were impacted by this disaster. Sometimes the best in us shines through during hardship.

Thank you for supporting your public schools. It is an honor for me to serve this community.

Steve Michaels

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