Sunday, June 11, 2017

Last post of this year

Hi Everyone!  

Well, it’s here. The last week of the 2016-2017 school year is upon us, and what a great year it was. I hope that you go into this week feeling excited to bring the year to a close and celebratory as you think of what you have accomplished with our students. There is always more to do, but try not to let that be the focus now.

This week
Monday - PEAK and Ujamaa field trips & the School Board meets at 5:30
Tuesday - PRIDE field trip
Wednesday - After school staff meeting and the 8th grade send off dance
Thursday - 8th grade promotion ceremony @ 5:30
Friday - our last day - half day with an assembly from 10:00-10:30. Schedule  
Report cards will go home this week. Grades should be in by Wednesday morning. Thank you! Don’t forget to add a STAND UP ticket for one of your colleagues to the jar in the work room!
Looking ahead
Staff development on Monday the 19th and Tuesday the 20th.

Leadership team update
Adrienne and Milika will be new members of the leadership team next year. Join me please in a heartfelt thank you to Treg and to Jay for their years of leadership on this team! I have appreciated their collaboration, insight and the time that they have put into the job!

Photo of our move up day assembly - thank you Ms. Matthews!
One last…
For inspiration, reflection and classroom practice

Turning to One Another
There is no power greater than a community
discovering what it cares about
Ask “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.      
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together.
Margaret Wheatley  2002

I shared this poem with you during my first staff meeting as principal in June of 2015.   As I read it today and reflect on the past few years, I can think of so many examples of conversations that led to action around what we care about and the work that brought us closer together. In fact, I can think of examples to illustrate every line. Thank you all for inspiring me to do my best. It has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my career to serve you as co-principal with focus on the middle level at BCEMS. I am so grateful that I will be able to continue to work with all of you in my new role!  

With love and pride in my heart ~  I wish you a fantastic week!!  Jackie  :-)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Some important information

As we approach the last weeks of the school year, here are some important links I'd like to share with you.  

Our May - June Newsletter  

Karen Fredericks (Team RISE) has been facilitating an Explore block about Blogging. Here is the link to the students latest work! 

Barre City Bloggers

Mr LaFlamme mans the
front desk
Volunteering on May Day 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Amazing personalized, project based learning happens at BC!

Have you seen this fantastic article? We were so proud to share our work with the School Board, the Times Argus and other community members. Mr. Aldrich facilitated the fantastic learning that took place during this quarter three explore block. Students truly embraced this personalized, project based learning with amazing curricular connections!

7th and 8th grade students host Kindergarten students for a scavenger hunt

 We have been offering explore blocks for two years, and as you can see, this project aligns perfectly with our vision!

From the course description page.
Purpose - Exploratory curricular programs (considered essential in good middle schools), will give our students learning experiences in which they can explore their interests, discover their talents, unique abilities and values. There is a natural connection here to Personalized Learning Plans.  Enthusiastic teachers, who have interest and expertise in a variety of areas, plan and lead these exploratory blocks with their students. They develop learning experiences while considering individual learners and 21st century skill development. They also model lifelong learning for students.  Students will have an opportunity to choose offerings that match their interests which gives them a voice in how they spend some of their time and allow them to explore their interests and how they connect with a variety of learning targets.

Over time

Three years ago, through a collaborative effort with some great musicians from Connecticut, our own in house songwriter Mr. Mislak and the amazing work of our entire staff, we launched a movement at BC. STAND UP was introduced as our Middle School motto, and we have been so fortunate to continue to integrate this work into our daily lives here at BCEMS. STAND UP is embedded into our Habits of Learning Rubrics, our recognition system, our assemblies, and in our weekly acknowledgements. For awhile now, students have been nominating each other, along with teachers for STAND UP recognition.

Students are paying attention to the STAND UP
recognition board on display as you enter our school
Now, new for the end of this school year, teachers are also recognizing each other for all that they do each and every day to support and facilitate learning for our students. Stay tuned for the STAND UP teacher nominations as we move through these last few weeks of the year. In the meantime, please take a look at this video made by a member of the Video explore block. If you've seen it before, it is definitely worth another look.
Student STAND UP video

Friday, May 5, 2017

In Appreciation

This morning as I was walking through the building trying to greet each TA I was surprised to be greeted by a member of our fantastic PTO. She smiled as she handed me a lanyard  and said "our school is amazing, thank you so much for all that you do." Each staff person was greeted in that way today, and I reflected on how much I appreciate working in this truly amazing learning environment. As I stopped on my travels to talk to a few staff who were in the hallway, a teacher poked her head out of her classroom and said "Mrs. Tolman, you have to come in and see all of the fantastic learning that is happening!" As Principal, I am always honored when I am invited in to see the hard work of students and their amazing learning facilitators at work. This happens often, and these authentic moments are part of the many things that inspire me to continue to do whatever I possibly can to ensure that teachers have whatever they may need to meet the needs of our students. 

This week was a busy one at Barre City Middle School! On Tuesday, we spent a large portion of our day participating in our May Day activities. Each student volunteered their time to focus on a school improvement project or help a non-profit with their work. Our day ended with a whole school assembly and STAND UP awards were given. Madison Plante was the recipient of the Principal's award. Madison was recognized for going above and beyond to volunteer her time to help a younger student. Thank you to Students on the Move for all of their hard work in organizing the day!  May Day Activities   

On Wednesday we were honored to again host our Developmental Designs consultant, Roxanne Hable. Roxanne spent her day observing and offering feedback to teachers about their Developmental Designs implementation and our work in establishing the comprehensive practices that integrate social and academic learning. We were proud to share with Roxanne our student led, blended grade advisory time. After school, the entire teaching team spent time reflecting on what went well this year with DD, why it did and they identified common areas to focus our growth. We look forward to welcoming the DD team back in the Fall to kick off the 2017 - 2018 school year! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekly staff update 4/30/17

Hi Everyone!

  (students are paying attention to STAND UP!)
I hope you have had a great weekend. Tomorrow is the first of May, and I am reminded of the number of activities and tasks that we will accomplish during this next month of school. I do believe that May is the busiest month for us as we instruct, assess, plan for transitions, plan celebrations, special events, field trips and do many other things. As we embark on these busy weeks, I am also reminding myself of the importance of communication and routines. I am asking for your help to be sure that we remind ourselves to include all that need to know in communication about students and team plans and that we stick to our established routines and best practices as much as possible. Thank you so much!

This week
Mindset Monday!  Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Tuesday       Parent Night with Pete Cudney  May Day (Schedule link ) VSAC Field trip
Wednesday - Roxanne visits and we have an after school staff meeting with her
Thursday -
Friday - 5 /6 Dance
STAND UP letter this week is A for Achievement (Set goals and make progress toward them/Reach a standard I am proud of/Strive for quality work and personal success)                                                                                           

8th graders are at Midnight Mountain Wed, Thurs and Friday. Here is the SBAC schedule for this week.  
sbac may 1-5.PNG
Next week
Budget re-vote on 5/9. International walk to school day on May 10 and 8th graders will be taking Science NECAP’s

Congratulations to the elementary and middle school artists who have been recognized for winning the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District tote decorating contest! Thank you so much to Kate and Adrienne for leading this effort and for all that they do everyday with their programs! On May 11th CVSWM will present each teacher and the students with their award after school.

The NELMS Barre City Scholar leaders have been announced!  Congratulations to PEAK team member Alyssa WInkler and Ujamaa team member Jasmine Sayah! This program is intended to give public recognition to two students from each middle level school in our state who have distinguished themselves in terms of outstanding scholarship and leadership. The girls were nominated by their teams and will be formally recognized at a ceremony at Norwich University on June7th!

Staff survey for PBL and G - Thank you so much to those of you who have taken the time to complete the survey about PBL and G. We have 13 responses so far, and as I mentioned last week, these responses will be critical in helping us meet your needs as we plan for upcoming PD opportunities. If you received the link from Jessie and haven’t completed the survey yet, please do so asap. Thank you!

For Inspiration
Some of our own moments!       See you all tomorrow! Have a great week! ~ Jackie

Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage ~ Brené Brown

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Barre City Middle School March Parent Newsletter

I recently spent some time reflecting on our community building/boredom buster day that was coordinated by SOTM with help from Dawn and others. There is ample research that describes the importance of community building activities such as this in schools. “Students in schools with a strong sense of community are more likely to be academically motivated (Solomon, Battistich, Watson, Schaps, & Lewis, 2000); to act ethically and altruistically (Schaps, Battistich, & Solomon, 1997); to develop social and emotional competencies (Solomon et al., 2000); and to avoid a number of problem behaviors, including drug use and violence (Resnick et al., 1997).” I am so grateful to SOTM, Dawn, and everyone else not only for that day, but for everything they and you all do to help ensure that sense of community for our kids!

As I completed my walk through on Friday afternoon I was so impressed with the student to student positive feedback that I heard during one pod meeting! It was authentic, it crossed peer groups and was very specific. I also observed a great whole team activity in another pod and students leading a meeting. That was an inspirational way to end the week, and I am carrying those thoughts into this one!