By Andrew Cluley- Communications Specialist
Ann Arbor Public Schools officials celebrated the naming dedication of the W. Scott Westerman, Jr. Preschool and Family Center with balloons, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and gifts for the former superintendent and lifelong advocate for education. While the board approved the name change nearly a year ago, Westerman says he still has to pinch himself to realize it really happened. “I really came to accept it when I was meeting with the entire faculty,” Westerman says. “I met them one by one, and I thought, oh wow, what an honor and what a delight they are, and what important work they are doing.”
Westerman may be the only person in the Ann Arbor Public Schools community that is stunned by the new name of the Preschool and Family Center. In fact School Board President Deb Mexicotte immediately thought of him as the board worked on the naming policy several years ago to ensure structures in the district are named for people who have given great service to Ann Arbor Public Schools. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I hope I’m still on the board when we get the opportunity to honor Scott Westerman,” says Mexicotte.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift adds Ann Arbor as a community is a better place thanks to Westerman’s work as both a vocation, and also all of his efforts to promote education after he retired. “We began to think about the match between the man and the location,” Swift says. “We couldn’t think of a better match because we know your commitment to early childhood and to what it means, not just for their K-12 experience, but for their entire lifetime.”
While naming a school after an individual is a great honor, Westerman wants to make sure his support of education continues beyond his lifetime, well into the future. “It’s one thing to have your name on a building, but what does it do for the people who are inside?” Westerman asks. “Not much if anything, and so I thought I wanted to establish a fund on which there could be draws made to meet unexpected and in some cases maybe planned needs that aren’t easily derived from the regular budget.”
Scott Westerman, Jr. Preschool and Family Center Principal Michelle Pogliano says all of the support Westerman has given to education in Ann Arbor in general, and the preschool center in particular can help inspire staff and kids to keep doing their important work. “You’ve added to our program, so we can look at the sign, and look at your name, and be inspired to continue doing this work,” says Pogliano.