Westwood's Henry Bietz named principal of the year
“It’s always nice to be recognized by your colleagues,” Bietz said, “not only that you’re meeting the requirements of your profession, but trying to exceed those.”
But Bietz praised others and said they were responsible for him winning the award.
“I wouldn’t be successful without the support I’ve received from the board, the staff and the community,” Bietz said.
The principal said engaging the community has been one his goals as superintendent of the school district.
“That’s one thing we’ve worked at,” Bietz said. “The community needs to know they’re part of our success as well as our struggles.”
Since 2000 Bietz has served as superintendent/principal of the Westwood Unified School District, overseeing five district schools — Westwood Junior and Senior High School, Fletcher Walker Elementary School, Red River Community Day School, Westwood Community Day School and Horizon High School.
As though this was not enough, Bietz also has served as the driving force and superintendent/principal of the Westwood Charter School, a statewide, site-based, charter school with an independent study program in Lassen and contiguous counties enrolling as many as 750 students.
A powerful nomination
The Lassen County Association of California School Administrators nominated Bietz for the award and summarized his career. The following information is from Bietz’s nomination papers.
“The Lassen County Charter acknowledges and appreciates the efforts that Henry has made toward all students in Lassen County and, through his work with ACSA, the state of California,” his nomination read. “Throughout his career he has promoted success for all students through his leadership skills, by providing a school culture that is both safe and nurturing and by having vision that spreads beyond his own boundaries.”
The superintendent/principal began his career in education in 1973.
In the face of declining enrollment, rising faculty costs, and special education concerns, Bietz’s unique vision was to look outside the rural community and to tap into resources not commonly available to rural, less populated areas.
His creation of the Westwood Charter School brought needed services to the Westwood Charter School population but also brought needed funds to Westwood. A fortunate outcome of this vision was a financial boost to the Lassen County Special Education Plan Area, which positively affected all schools within the SELPA.
Twenty percent of the Westwood student population receives some type of public assistance. Through the use of traditional schedules, Regional Occupation Program, the charter school, two community day schools, technical classes, Advancement via Individual Determination, advanced placement classes, an agriculture and business program that is work related, an opportunity classroom and an alternative high school, all students in Westwood have an opportunity to participate in the culture of learning.
All students are challenged to be motivated lifelong learners who are confident, responsible and productive contributors to society, through community service and teamwork.
The use of on-campus programs that promote positive development, peer mediation, character education and conflict resolution provide that students at Westwood are educated in a safe and effective learning environment.
For the past three years Westwood has participated in Character Counts, a restructured guidance and counseling service features a comprehensive and coordinated curriculum that includes academic counseling, student planning, career guidance, personal counseling, and crisis counseling.
Through the successful use of state funds and collaborative projects with High Desert State Prison and the California Correctional Center, the district has been able to complete projects such as painting, construction and grounds maintenance.
The Westwood Unified School District has had several major construction projects recently completed at the high school, including renovation of gym locker rooms, the installation of covered walkways to the WHS library, portable classrooms and a new library.
According to his nomination, Bietz’s personal leadership style is one of collaboration. He models this by seeking input from all aspects of the school community and by empowering others to be a part of the decision-making process.
In spite of the demands of holding serving as the superintendent/principal of the Westwood Unified School District and the Westwood Charter School, Bietz has continued to expand his role in regional and state activities through ACSA, the Small School Districts Association Executive Board and the Forest Coalition. As the state president and past president of ACSA, he has provided a pipeline of information between Sacramento and Lassen County, while representing ACSA at the state level.
In doing so he has provided a voice for the smaller school districts. He dialogues monthly with Lassen County school administrators about the changes, trends and concerns coming from Sacramento. As an ambassador for education he participated in the An Administrator Exchange in South Africa during October of 2007 and will make a presentation at the Lassen County School Board’s dinner in the spring of 2008.
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