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Panther Pause: Middle school accomplishments

Spring is right around the corner somewhere, I know it. As we all wait for the snow to be gone and for spring sport athletes to actually compete, a lot of amazing things have been taking place at SCC Middle School.

We began the year with a "Kids Deserve It" theme, and the staff has done a great job fulfilling the promise every day in their classrooms. We begin every day with an advisory period where staff works with their groups every Wednesday discussing and sharing character education traits. The biggest advantage of the advisory period is the relationships each teacher is building with their advisory students.

State testing has come and gone. The teaching staff did a great job identifying essential standards and supplementary standards this fall to help prepare students for the test. The middle school also implemented a special testing schedule that allowed for a more relaxed atmosphere as students were only tested on one subject per day, and when they weren't testing, each student was working with their classmates on thematic lessons and projects. For example, the eighth grade students prepared and did work associated with their upcoming trip to Washington D.C.

WIN (What I need). Where I am hopeful we are making the biggest difference is with our RTI (Response to Intervention) program that takes place at the end of each day for 35 minutes. During that WIN time staff is working with students, reteaching grade level deficiencies from current lessons in Tier 2 and staff members are also working with students in small groups who are struggling in below grade level deficiencies.

The middle school staff has done an admirable job getting used to me as their new leader and working with Dean of Students Langeness. Staff and students have had to adjust to a new schedule, two new leaders, PBIS, WIN at the end of the day, new homework policies, and new test retake expectations, and finally they have done incredible work preparing for an eventual move to Standards Based Assessment and Reporting. They not only have done all this work but they have done so with a very positive, can-do attitude always putting kids' needs before their own.

With all of the great things we have done thus far this 2017-2018 school year, we need to keep improving and refining the great programs we have started, and we need to do a better job on others. Areas we are making a commitment to keep working on with students and parents are:

1. Bullying (We would like to stamp it out completely.)

2. Mental health --Through PBIS and Advisory I am hopeful we can continue to develop relationships between students and staff as well as students with other students to build trust and making SCC Middle School a safe environment for all students.

3. Digital and Technology Safety. Langeness and I shared an article six weeks ago that highlighted a number of apps that are allowing students to be cruel to one another online and also participate in risky behavior through their technology. Parents, if you are not asking your children to put their phones, iPods, iPads tablets, etc. in an area that you can monitor them before 9 p.m. at night, I can promise you that they are on it. Please also consider not allowing them to be on any technology while alone and in their bedroom, a key ingredient to cyberbullying, sexting, etc. Other concerns with technology are focused on brain research. Please check out this article as it has a lot of great information regarding the impact technology has on our children. "Screen Time Syndrome: Brain Images Explain Why Kids are Moody, Impulsive & Can't Pay Attention" published Oct. 9, 2017, By Jacqueline: http://deeprootsathome.com/screen-time-childs-brain.

4. Standards Based Assessment and Reporting. We are moving forward with a 2019-2020 goal for full implementation of SBAR. Staff will continue to work on identifying these key standards, rubrics, and most importantly, assessments so we are ready for the roll out in 2019.

Middle school parents should be proud of their students' behavior and effort thus far. Students have been working incredibly hard and have accomplished much. Middle school staff should be proud of their efforts, as well. I am most thankful for the incredible support I have received from middle school parents and the community. We are well on our way to being a TOP Ten Middle School.

I wish everyone sun and warmth soon!

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