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NWLSD Portrait of a Graduate

Northwest Local School District Portrait of a Graduate: Communication, Critical Thinking, Integrity, Learner's Mindset, Adaptability, Empathy

Northwest Local School District's Portrait of a Graduate

In 2020, Northwest Local School District (NWLSD) partnered with Battelle for Kids and over 90 community members to develop a Portrait of a Graduate (POG). The Portrait of a Graduate (POG) is a key component of the district’s strategic student achievement objectives around student engagement, academic rigor, and increased achievement. The community's most highly valued competencies are identified in the Portrait of a Graduate (adaptability, communication, critical thinking, empathy, integrity and learner's mindset) and teachers are designing learning experiences for all students that foster the development of these skills, while also building deeper understanding and mastery of academic content.

Interested in contributing to our efforts to ensure that all NWLSD students can engage in deeper learning experiences beyond the classroom? This is the next phase in implementing our Portrait of a Graduate. Please help us spread the word! https://www.locallevelevents.com/events/details/22615

In January of 2020, district leaders began meeting with parents, staff, board members, communities of faith, business and community leaders, policy makers, social service agencies, educators, universities and students to identify the types of skills and competencies in which stakeholders want students to excel. There are numerous 21st Century skills, but our stakeholders prioritized the following competencies for our students: adaptability, communication, critical thinking, learner's mindset, empathy, and integrity. “Now, more than ever, learning experiences must not only provide the acquisition of rigorous academic content, but they must also foster the development of life-long skills that our young people need to thrive in this complex, rapidly changing world,” said Brenda Miller, NWLSD Director of Curriculum.
The district’s team of stakeholders met once per month starting in January, and convened throughout the month of April. The virtual meetings were held on the following dates: January 13, February 11, March 16 and April 14.

Click the links below to see an overview of our meeting minutes: 
Our Board of Education formally adopted our Portrait of a Graduate in May of 2021.

Our Department of Curriculum worked with a team of 35 NWLSD teachers during the 2021-22 school year to increase their understanding of deeper learning. The teachers then worked together to design deeper learning expeditions for each grade level from preschool through 12th grade.

Our deeper learning expeditions have the following characteristics:
  • designed to be 1-4 weeks in length

  • aligned to Ohio Content Standards

  • targeted focus on at least 2 Portrait of a Graduate competencies

  • interdisciplinary content (a minimum of 2 subject areas)

  • learning experiences that require students to work interdependently

  • allow for student voice and choice throughout the expedition

  • strong process and product

  • must include meaningful interaction with others outside of the school, real-world connections

  • intentional opportunities for student reflection and self-assessment throughout the learning experience

The following are examples of the types of essential questions that our students will be working to answer as part of our grade level expeditions:
  • How can we persuade more people to live and work in our community? (Grade 6)

  • How does a budget help people plan and make personal economic decisions for the present and future and to become more financially responsible? (Grade 3)

  • How can creativity and geometry be applied to engineering? (Grade 10)

  • What changes can be made on Earth to keep animals from becoming extinct or endangered? (Grade 2)

  • How have technological inventions from Ohio helped the United States? (Grade 4)

  • Utilizing your knowledge of Newton’s first law, how can you improve the design of a helmet, seatbelt, parachute, or other safety mechanism? (Grade 8)

The NWLSD is looking for meaningful opportunities for our students to partner with members of our community and beyond as they work to explore content and answer these essential questions. We are looking to partner in our learning with real estate agents, urban planners, individuals working in our area parks, architects, farmers, gardeners, public health officials, firefighters, politicians, small business owners and many more. We are also seeking opportunities for our students to extend their learning beyond the classroom through field trips and other experiences.

Teachers have begun implementing our deeper learning expeditions this school year with the goal being to scale this work moving forward so that every student has the opportunity to be a part of an expedition each school year moving forward. We look forward to partnering with you to make learning meaningful for our students and to ensure that our graduates are ready to become productive contributors in our community and beyond.

Portrait of A Graduate Competencies Defined


Our students….
• demonstrate flexibility and resiliency by responding effectively to changing situations and circumstances
• reflect and respond productively to feedback, praise, setbacks, and criticism
• understand and balance differing views to negotiate workable solutions


Our students…
• express thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication for a variety of purposes and audiences
• actively listen to understand others and remain open-minded
• use communication strategies to resolve disagreements peacefully and productively

Critical Thinking

Our students…
• consider multiple strategies and solutions to complex problems
• consistently analyze, assess, and reflect to enhance the quality of their own thinking
• apply intentional thinking that is clear, logical, and informed by evidence
• propose solutions that are mindful to the impact they may have on self and others


Our students…
• demonstrate awareness, sensitivity, concern, and respect for others
• seek to understand and connect with other’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, and cultures


Our students…
• earn others’ trust and respect by speaking and behaving in ways that are consistent and honest
• do the right thing even when it is challenging

Learner’s Mindset

Our students…
• display positive attitudes and beliefs about learning
• demonstrate curiosity by exploring concepts and asking questions
• actively seek diverse perspectives and learn from others
• demonstrate perseverance by working towards a goal despite difficulties while learning and growing from mistakes

Northwest Local Schoo District Portrait of a Graduate Competencies and their definitions