Across workplaces, college lecture halls and local communities, graduates of West Bloomfield School District are remarkable for the skills they possess. This is thanks to the Portrait of a Graduate, a district-wide initiative that focuses on leveraging the most important qualities young people need to be successful and productive, whatever their futures hold.
“Several years ago, stakeholders came together to really determine what it means to be a graduate of the West Bloomfield School District (WBSD). No matter how long former students have been out of school, what are the common threads?” explains Daniel Durkin, public relations and marketing coordinator at WBSD.
What the group of invested teachers, parents, students and community members decided built a foundation for the educational experiences of WBSD students to this day.
“The key competencies are the ‘four Cs’ that make students collaborators, critical thinkers, communicators and contributors,” Durkin says. Together, these skills create an individual instantly recognizable as having a WBSD education.
From early childhood
Preschool and early elementary years are not too early to lay the foundation for the four distinct competencies. Students at West Bloomfield’s Preschool Academy, two K-2, two 3-5 and one K-5 elementary schools are already learning these four skills that are so important to future academic and career success.
“When a teacher asks students to put on their thinking caps to ponder what clouds look like, that teacher is helping students build the early components of critical thinking skills,” Durkin says. “Open-ended questions help foster conversations and build connections for young children.”
In the Magnet Program at Roosevelt Elementary, students in grades three, four and five collaborate every day, mentoring each other and working in teams in this multiage classroom. “Here, kids have lots of opportunities to mesh together, collaborate and share ideas,” Durkin says.
To middle and high school
Communication is especially important for the middle school grades and faculty and staff work to model effective communication for kids of this age. “Middle school is a formative time. The group work you will see between grade levels and classrooms offers so many opportunities to practice sharing ideas and building dialogue,” Durkin says. “It’s great for these kids to be encouraged to communicate effectively and work toward a common goal. Kids really just want to be understood, so communication is something that we really work on in middle school.”
As West Bloomfield students reach high school, they bring together all of the critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills they have practiced and developed. Many have even reached the stage where they want to contribute to their community, says Durkin.
“At West Bloomfield High School, we have many students who have an awareness of their potential impact on the world and their community. We see that through student outreach in established groups like the National Honor Society,” he says. “But what was really impressive during the pandemic, high school students gathered donations to help frontline workers at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. That was all student-led, with no larger organization by staff.”
Regardless of student choice — to attend a four-year university, gain concurrent high school diploma and associate degree through Oakland Early College, enter the military or go directly into the workforce — these “four Cs” are critical skills for success, Durkin says.
“Portrait of a Graduate identifies our graduates as individuals you will want to invest your time and resources in. Whether you hire them or ask them to volunteer, they will contribute, think critically, collaborate and communicate.”
Learn more about West Bloomfield School District at wbsd.org.