Shamrock Academy Educates Ambassadors for Westfield Washington Schools

Writer / Amy Adams
Photography Provided

These arent your average graduates. They’re a little older. And now theyre a little wiser, thanks to Westfield Washington Schools(WWS) Shamrock Academy.

The new ambassador development program welcomed 25 community members to its opening session in the fall of 2021.

When I got here I knew we had to find a way to get people outside the school inside the walls,” says Dr. Paul Kaiser, WWS superintendent since May of 2021.

WWS Communications Director Joshua Andrews had already begun brainstorming with colleagues to create a WWS program similar to Noblesville SchoolsMiller Ambassadors program, which began in 2017.

Shamrock AcademyWith the motto Educate, Experience, Engage,” the cohort of school parents and community leaders met one Thursday morning each month from November through May to get a firsthand look into the educational experience and business of the school district.

Academy participants engaged in dialogue with leaders of various departments at various levels within the school district on a different topic each month, such as Supporting All Learners” and Life Ready Rocks.” With a few things that were important to the learning experience itself, as well as some changes and additions to the building itself. Principals, administrators and directors addressed educational issues from finance to fitness and from the curricular to the extracurricular, allowing participants to ask questions to gain a true understanding of the issue being discussed.

The fact that they were there asking pointed questions about finance and the referendum – we see that as a victory for the program,” Andrews says. Those hard questions are not something we shy away from. They are something we want to happen.”

In addition, meeting at a variety of schools allowed attendees to tour classrooms and programs to get an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at how the school district functions.

We know that our community values transparency, so we want to pull back the curtain,” Andrews says. “When people walk through the building and see what is happening with their own eyes, they are going to experience it themselves and then form their own opinions and share them in the community. We started seeing this after the first and second meetings, and that is something we really want to see.”

Along with the transportation presentation that included an old-school bus ride, attendees also cited the finance sessions, the food services tour, complete with a special brunch, and exploration of the multiple career-path areas at Westfield High School, among the most impactful experiences in the academy.

The most interesting thing I learned was the amount of work Larry Johnson and his team do for our transportation system before 7 a.m. daily,” says Laura Mantel, a mother of three at Monon Trail Elementary.

Shamrock AcademyBefore moving to Westfield a year and a half ago, Kim Padilla taught in California public schools for 20 years. It’s especially interesting for me to see how different WWS is compared to the district I taught in in California,” Padilla says. To see the kitchen in the cafeteria at the middle school was like walking into a buffet restaurant. The differences were astounding from the district where I used to work.”

Suzanne Walker holds a doctorate in education from Ball State and retired from a long career as an educator in Muncie as well as a professor at Anderson University. I was very impressed by the quality of education our children receive,” says Walker, who has lived in the Maple Glen area for about five years. The programs are phenomenal because the teachers, staff, school leaders and senior administrators put their hearts and souls into their work. They truly want the best for each child and it shows.”

Shamrock Academy was a great overall experience,” Mantel says.

I would highly encourage others to be a part of the Shamrock Academy if they can,” Padilla adds.

Both Kaiser and Andrews agree that the inaugural Shamrock Academy exceeded all of their expectations.

Shamrock Academy is perfect for people who might have ambition to run for school board,” Andrews says. But it is for anyone who has some tie to our community and wants to learn about our district.” He adds that those interested in the program don’t have to have kids in the WWS district or even live in Westfield to apply for this free opportunity.

Plans to expand Shamrock Academy include a larger cohort for the 2022-2023 school year that will meet once per month from August through May. The application window for the 2022-2023 Shamrock Academy will be open through the end of June.

If you have questions about Shamrock Academy or the application process for the 2022-2023 school year, you can email Andrews at, or visit

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