WPS 2024

The Wakefield Public Schools website will be upgraded and simplified.


WAKEFIELD – Woodville School Library Media Specialist Evan Burns and High School Library Media Specialist Diana Ho are redesigning the School Department website. “It’s hard to navigate,” Burns said of the current configuration. “It’s difficult for the average person to find stuff.”

“I’m a parent and know what I find frustrating while looking for information, so we’re trying to be thoughtful about where you find things,” Ho added, in reference to information about student services, athletics and alumni events.”

The goals of the redesign are to streamline the pages, customize it to Wakefield and establish consistency using recognizable icons. “Some pages are currently hidden in other pages,” Ho said. “In the future there’ll be separation.”

Each school will have a calendar specific to its schedule with the capacity for parents and students to download it directly to their cellphones. Using Google tools, it will be synchronized in real time. “Changes will be reflected automatically on the website to ensure information is always current,” reads a presentation Burns and Ho gave to the School Committee at their meeting Tuesday, May 14. There is also a YouTube video titled WPS District Website Rebuild.

The website will also have the capacity to translate information into other languages people use on their devices. “If you have your device set up for another language, when you go to the website, it will integrate it automatically,” Burns explained.

There will also be an Employees and Jobs page, with separate access for people already working in the school system and those looking to enter it, an Alumni Portal with information about reunions, an alumni directory and gifting options and integration with social media. “We want everyone to see the type of community we have here in Wakefield,” the presentation reads. “By embedding social media feeds to the website, visitors can easily access what it looks like to be part of the Wakefield public school community. We want people who might be looking to move to see our website and think Wakefield is a place they would like to live in based on what they see on social media.”

Hopefully, everything will be in place before the next school year. “We’ll have a soft start in July and be fully live by late August,” Ho said.

Burns said he and Ho were contacted by the administration to revamp the website, but later decided on a redesign. “We gave it a month and decided on a new design,” he remembers.

“This was long overdue,” Assistant Superintendent Kara Mauro admitted. “We didn’t keep our website as up to date as we should have. We’ve been talking about it for a few years to make it more user-friendly and thought it was time to take it on. They started from scratch, but it made sense to reorganize and they exceeded what we thought would come out of those first meetings.”

“A conversation was going on about how to make it better,” Superintendent Doug Lyons confirmed. “We brought up what we felt was missing and what we needed to make it better.”

He also feels it was better to have the redesign done by people working in the school system, not n outside vendor that might impose restrictions.

“I love this,” School Committee member Eileen Colleran reacted to what she saw. “It’s so user friendly. Everything you need is there.”


In other matters, during a presentation about goings-on at Galvin Middle School principal Megan Webb and vice-principal Andrew Tetrault touched on the recently adopted cell phone policy, in which students lock their devices in pouches for the school day. They said the policy has given students a tool for self-management and has reduced the time spent on discipline. “The students recognized some structure was needed,” Tetrault reported.

“The teachers were glad there was something,” Webb added. “They wanted to shy away from a system where they’d take cell phones away.

Under consideration for next year are the cost of maintaining the program currently funded through a state grant, creating a model for 5th graders and how to create a policy for new smart-watches. “There’s not an overwhelming amount of 5th graders with cell phones as opposed to 8th,” Tetrault said.

“Does it have to be the same in grades 5 through 8 in thinking about what tools we’ll use?” Webb asked rhetorically.

New School Committee member Melissa Quinn asked if teachers see an increase in student engagement because cell phones were inaccessible.

“I don’t know if there’s a quantifiable increase,” Tetrault answered. “It was mainly a problem of use in between classes.

He also noted students have other electronic devices that could be distractions in class.