New Home. New Name. Same Spirit.

Posted on 08/28/2020
Westwood Trail Academy


During the summer of 2019, the former Heritage Landing Alternative Program moved to a new location along Westwood Industrial Park Drive as part of the school’s expansion to include elementary students. While the spirit of their community remains the same, the school took on a new name along with the new location: Westwood Trail Academy (WTA).

Over the years, the school has spent a lot of time, energy, and professional development focusing on how to best support students who have dealt with trauma or chronic adversity in their life and have transitioned to WTA through the individual education plan (IEP) process. Through strategies such as the sanctuary model and trauma-informed practices, the staff strives to provide their students with the newest and best education that supports them academically, socially, and emotionally.

As staff and students brainstormed their new name this past year, they wanted something that captured the essence of their school and the journey of each student. They decided on Westwood Trail Academy to represent their physical location, but also to celebrate the trails that their students and staff walk together.

WTA supports the whole student, but also their families through the ups and downs to ensure students’ needs are met, both at school and at home. They provide assistance with clothing needs, support with bills or doctor appointments, and more. “It’s a very community-focused building,” said WTA principal Dr. Tony Haan.  “Everyone is there to support, encourage, and help one another in any way possible.”

Haan shared how inspiring it is to see the growth that the students demonstrate through their time at WTA. “The resiliency of the students is amazing,” said Haan. “They start fresh every day and have a positive attitude through the daily struggles.”

Years after they graduate or transition back to their home school, students have reached out to share where they are in life and to thank the school for their support. The students are able to look back and realize the staff cared about them immensely.

To signify the encouraging community that exists at WTA, the staff, students, and families chose the llama for their logo and mascot. “It’s a very supportive and caring animal that works in packs,” said Haan. “It represents that we are a community that all works together.”

As Westwood Trail Academy faces a new challenge this school year full of uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, the community will stride forward like they always do – as a resilient pack of llamas.

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