WESTFIELD – In a year that brought an aviation program, a new name and a zero percent dropout rate, Westfield Technical Academy added another accomplishment to its list. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released its annual Accountability and Assistance Results on Dec. 9, and Westfield Technical Academy jumped from a Level 3 school to Level 1.
Principal Stefan Czaporowski said that while he knew his staff and students have worked hard since the last assessment was released, he was happily surprised.
“We were very excited. The staff and students have put in a lot of hard work that’s paying off,” Czaporowski said. “I expected maybe Level 2 because we’ve seen our scores increase … It’s exciting. Between going to a zero percent drop out rate, aviation technology, there’s a lot of great things happening at Westfield Technical Academy. It’s an exciting place to be. I don’t know how else to say it.”
Since Czaporowski took over as principal four years ago, Westfield Technical Academy has seen changes on many fronts. One of his priorities was creating a culture that made students want to attend and succeed at school.
He started by issuing a school climate survey created by a committee of staff and students. Czaporowski said he and his staff took the results of this and actually did something with them.
Some of the suggestions included more sports being offered. This resulted in adding the school’s first cross country team and partnering with St. Mary’s High School.
Students wanted more chances for college credit. With a dual enrollment program with Westfield State University, students can take college level courses taught by professors afterschool on Mondays.
“When you give a survey like that, the most important part is to act on that. We’ve listened to our students and parents and we listened to business because whether they go to college or not, we want the students to be employable,” Czaporowski said.
With an opportunity with Westfield State to earn college credit, Westfield Technical Academy also has a partnership with Springfield Technical Community College to help students get a head start. Czaporowski said the school is looking to establish Westfield Technical Academy as an early college high school.
Last year, 58 percent of students went on to a two or four year school, which was up from a previous trend averaging a percentage in the low 30s.
That is “the next horizon,” Czaporowski said, but so is maintaining the newly earned Level 1 status.
“Maintaining these kinds of numbers isn’t an easy task. If we continue to offer a compassionate climate for students, we will be able to keep the numbers up,” he said. “Looking forward, we want to grow the aviation program … There is such a demand that I would like to see a freshman class twice this size because there are jobs waiting for these people.”
While Westfield Technical Academy moved to a Level 1 school, the district as a whole remains at Level 3. Franklin Avenue Elementary School moved up from a Level 3 to Level 2 school, and Westfield High School took a step back from Level 2 to Level 3.