Community Matters

The new school year begins with new faces, both in the halls and in the office. Last spring, Dr. Phil Ertl, superintendent of Wauwatosa Schools, appointed Frank Calarco, former principal of Roosevelt Elementary, as the new principal of Tosa West. Calarco has fresh, new ideas to bring to West and is excited to put them into place. All good structure has a good timeline, and a good timeline is exactly what Calarco has in mind.

By September 1st, the first day of the new school year, two things will be obviously apparent to new and returning students. The first is the new homeroom system in which the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program will be put into place. PBIS is a school wide expectation that will consistently reinforce the school behavioral expectations of Respect, Responsibility, and Engagement in Learning.

The second thing students will notice is the visible presence of adults and teachers in the hallway. “I ultimately want to create a better learning environment,” Calarco explained. “I want teachers building relationships with students and I want there to be a greater sense of community within our high school.”

A greater sense of community is the underlying principle in all of the changes that Calarco plans to bring to West.

By the end of the first semester, Calarco’s goal is to get every student involved in some sort of club or activity. “I don’t care if [the activity] is band, orchestra, theater, sports, or any extracurricular, just so long as every student in this building is involved in something that will draw them in to the community of this school,” Calarco said. “I’ll create clubs if I have to so that every student can have the opportunity to be involved in the things that interest them.”

By the end of the school year, Calarco’s goals are a little more focused on the academic area of school.

“I want kids to be ready to take more rigorous classes,” he said. “I want every kid to be able to meet the growth scores on the MAPS tests. Ultimately, I want my students to be achieving at a higher level.”

By the start of the next school year, about one year from now, Calarco plans to build on the sense of community at West by focusing on improving the overall appearance of the school, so that students will have more respect for the building that they visit every day and will be excited to spend time there.

“Many people have heard me say it, but I’ll say it again,” Calarco said. “I want to put Marquette and DSHA out of business. I want to cut in half the percentage of Tosa kids who are enrolled in private high schools and get those kids to want to come to West. I want to create a community that will draw more Tosa kids into our school system.”
All of these changes and goals are building blocks for what Calarco sees as the ultimate goal.

“By 2015, when this year’s freshmen graduate, I want Tosa West to be the type of school where other schools ask us for direction,” Calarco said. “I want teachers collaborating and working together so that they can be the best in the state. I want Tosa West to be the model of what an excellent high school should be.”