Gov. Norm Bangerter's visit to Provo's West-ridge Elementary School Tuesday is the best part of being governor, he said.
"I average one school visit a week," said Bangerter. He said the school visits are fun and the "best part of my job."Bangerter said that people often ask him what they can do to help with education in the state. He said he tells them, "Go to the schools."
He said consistent help at the local school is more beneficial to education than sitting on a committee that generates a report. There are too many committees and too many reports, said Bangerter.
Bangerter visited Westridge to observe the school's many educational innovations. Westridge was the first of 67 schools in the state to move to a year-round schedule.
Under the direction of principal John W. Bone, Westridge has piloted several programs. This year the school has more fully integrated special-education students with the rest of the school.
Sixth grade special-education teacher Vickie Webb said fifth- and sixth-grade children with special needs were separated from other children the same age. This year the classes are down the same hall. Every special-education child spends at least three hours a day in a regular class.
The school tries to provide a personalized approach to learning. Each student meets with his teacher and a parent to set individualized goals for the school year.
Boyd Stout said the goals he set for himself are to run faster, achieve 100 percent on spelling tests, to participate in the PTA Reflections Contest, the Great Brain contest and the science fair.
He also said he set a goal to be a better sport - "to not get mad when I get out in Four Square."
Kayna Stout, Boyd's mother, said the goal-setting program focuses attention on the child.
Westridge has also opened its doors to technical advances. Westridge teacher David Gordon said the school is lined to the Provo Public Library with a new computer system by Dinex. Both Provo's middle schools and high schools - as well as Sunset Elementary - are on the Dinex library system.
Gordon said a new computer system, which will run programs for students in math, reading and other subjects - should be operational in about a week.
Westridge also has a self-development program that focuses on principle centered character values. The program was conceived by Gayle Gibbs, who has taken a leave from the classroom in order to work on special projects for the school.
One aspect of the program deals with service, and Westridge has adopted a sister school in Mexico. Sixth grader Kyle Bills and his father, Greg Bill, told Bangerter about the trip they took to Mexico to visit four schools there.
A student choir sang two original songs for the governor - one of which was written by Gibbs and retired teacher Sam Francis.