September 1, 2016
Parents and Students:
I will NOT be able to attend this evening’s back-to-school night due to prior family obligations. I am very sorry to miss all of you, as I enjoy meeting you and sharing with you my plans for the upcoming school year.
As an introductory note to my classes and the school year, please read my earlier post and review my syllabi and “Notes to Ponder” regarding 12AP English.
You can review my Back-To-School Night Powerpoint presentations for each class below.
I am extremely excited to be working with you this year. Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please bookmark my website for updates and information throughout the year.
Rus VanWestervelt (VW)
Greetings, and welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! My name is Mr. VanWestervelt; please feel free to call me “VW” throughout the year.
This is my 14th year at Centennial, and I have been absolutely blessed and honored to work with hundreds of students and parents (many siblings as well!) during that time. We have shared an incredible journey along the way, and I look forward to continuing that journey with all of you.
I have a few “classic” guidelines that apply to all of my classes.
- Respect Yourself; Respect Others. From Day One, we will establish an environment built on respect — for yourself and for others. Valuing differing opinions, learning how to discuss difficult topics, and understanding that there are multiple paths to the same destination.
- Participate In And Beyond Class. Your personal investment in the content we cover matters more to you than anyone else. And, the content we cover is universal and timeless. We might be studying it in week 7 of the second quarter, but what we are learning might not fully kick in for another few years (or decades).
- Take Risks. This is a safe space to take risks, where you can experiment with ideas, writing, and even publishing. This is the year when you can “go for it” and know that, even in failure, you can experience success.
- Embrace Academic Challenges. Too often, we find that “comfort zone” where we know exactly what it takes for us to get by, to get that good-enough grade, to stay afloat. Sometimes, that means waiting until the last minute to do an assignment or depending on others to “mentor” you by sharing the hard work they’ve already done. That’s not embracing academic challenges; that’s throwing away opportunities to become a strong, independent, lifelong learner who could have achieved so much. Accept the challenges presented in class; take the harder path; experience what you thought was once unachievable. Trust me…It’s the greatest feeling in the world to be able to look back and say, “Look what I just did!”
- Practice WIIFM. Ah, yes. Good ol’ WIIFM. It stands for What’s In It For Me, and it gives you full license to be selfish and own what we are reading, writing, discussing, learning. Make it personal, make it relevant, and make it matter to YOU.
- Trust The Process. Working through the year is like hiking a long trail; there are going to be peaks and valleys along the way. Sometimes, you won’t be able to see anything under the dark cover of the trees; other times, you will be standing at the pinnacle of a mountain 5,000 feet in the air, seeing the world in ways you never dreamed. Keep the big picture in mind as you take this long journey. Trust the process. You’ll get through. I know you will. I believe in you!
I’m ready; are you? I can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be a year we’ll remember, and one we’ll get through together.
as always……………….. rvw 🙂