With a week and a half of the school year under our belts, I want to take a moment to thank those of you who have dropped by the office to chat or have submitted commendations or suggestions regarding life at WCA. We are always looking for ways to improve our effectiveness and serve as better partners with you. Our staff enjoyed connecting with many of you at the "Back to School Pool Party" and the Open House event.
One comment that was made related to better communications, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to provide a general overview of some of the projects that have been completed and/or are in process. Even though things often take more time than they should, and are often more complicated than seems necessary, there is a staggering amount of work that gets done week in and week out, and collectively we accomplished much over the summer. Activities over the past three months have included facilities improvements, Wellik grant purchasing, restructuring of the preschool program, onboarding of new staff, curriculum changes/orders and more.
Over the summer, almost all of the tile floors were stripped and waxed, carpets in need of cleaning were cleaned, storage areas reorganized, and Mills Painting finished painting the fascia, doors and windows of all 5 buildings that we lease. They are scheduled to complete the pillars in the breezeways in the very near future. The 4/5/6th grade trailer received new windows, trim, skirting, and bathrooms, thanks to a private donation earmarked for the work. Grant related activities include new power circuits for IT infrastructure, transforming Rm 9 into a computer lab, and a number of improvements to sound, lighting, drapery, electrical and the stage area in Legacy Hall. Science Lab received an epoxy floor, new lab tables, storage units, exhaust fans and more.
Wellik Grant Update
The Wellik Grant awarded in February was designated for four categories: 1) Teacher Tools, 2) Student Tools, 3) Science Lab, and 4) Performing Arts. We are working hard to make the most of the available dollars for the greatest good. Here are a few parts of the project made possible by the Grant:
+ 36 desktop PC's have arrived and will be distributed in the computer lab and classrooms as soon as the configuration is complete. All units run on Windows 7Pro and will have MS Office on them. Teachers who currently are using the school's MacBooks will be able to continue to use them. A handful of HP laptops have also been ordered for those who need them.
+ The aging MacMini's that were driving the video conferencing have been/will be phased out and replaced with very capable PC's.
+ iPads have been purchased for Preschool and Kinder
+ TV Cart w/ VHS/DVD will be available soon for each building.
+ 4 High capacity wireless laser printer/copier/scanners for teachers to use in PS, Primary, Secondary and Trailer.
+ Several new whiteboards have been purchased and will be installed in primary rooms.
+ A new network switch and dual servers will be installed in the office to service the entire campus. System Upgrades will include security, filtering, and centralized maintenance/updates. (so a tech doesn't have to sit at every computer on campus to install programs or manage passwords and updates)
+ WiFi will be upgraded campus wide for a faster and more consistent connection.
+ SMART Boards - A lot of footwork and research was done to narrow down our options, including a visit to the local library to see their MondoPad in action. Another variety is the IntelliBoard. A consultant visited campus and provided a number of recommendations. Due to the cost per unit, we decided to focus on the needs of the broader system, teacher computers, and student machines in the lab and classrooms before committing significant resources to the presentation stations. We still expect to be able to purchase several, but we need to be careful about getting overextended.
+ A team of techies is working on getting the wrinkles out of our new Learning Management System called "Moodle", starting with courses for the Secondary. The Primary courses will be next. Teachers will be able to make interactive instructional resources available to students outside the classroom. (digital flashcards, online videos, study guides and quizzes, available where ever the internet is)
We deeply appreciate the efforts of parents who have stepped up to help with various tech and facilities projects. The project must be completed by early 2017, so you can expect to see more improvements in the next few months. Please don't hesitate to give a shout if you have questions or would be willing to help.
WCA now works with 11 different School Tuition Organizations, receiving nearly $350,000 in scholarships during the last school year. Hilary is a great resource when it comes to completing scholarship applications, and Angela is your go to gal for tracking and managing your awards. Barb Willis was recently added to the team to help everyone keep track of the various application windows and related deadlines, so don't be surprised if she reaches out to you. She's on a mission to help you with tuition!
We are looking forward to a great year!
Kevin Armstrong, M.Ed.
Administrator, Wickenburg Christian Academy
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