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!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February March Newsletter

NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS (NAEP) Our 4th and 8th grade students participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and mathematics again this year on February 22, for grade 4 and on February 23 for grade 8. Our school has been randomly selected to represent Vermont for several years. The assessment is given every other year. It takes approximately 90 minutes to administer. This is the first year when approximately 75% of the children took the test electronically on a tablet, while the remaining 25% took the traditional paper and pencil version. This will give the people who prepare the NAEP test important information so they can compare results on the two versions of the exam. NAEP sends trained staff to proctor the exams in the children’s classrooms. While we do receive state-wide results from this assessment, we do not receive any school or student specific results.

ENRICHING EDUCATION FOR ALL We want to share with you our observations that we see so many wonderful, enriching activities taking place in the school. In our regular classrooms we see challenging math, literacy, science, and social study lessons taking place. Children who need additional support are receiving that assistance from our special education and intervention staff members. In our special classes students have the opportunity to explore the arts, music, a foreign language, technical education, family and consumer science, the resources in the library and computer lab, and develop wellness habits in physical education that should serve them well throughout their lives. We also see your children arriving here every day full of energy and curiosity. What an exciting place this is!

COUNSELOR LUNCH GROUPS From time to time, our school counselors have time in their schedules to meet over lunch with groups of 3-4 students who have expressed a desire to do this. These lunch groups are not counseling sessions. They simply offer interested children a chance to eat lunch in a small group setting and share general conversation together. Topics of a personal or confidential nature are not permitted to be discussed during these times. If you do not want your child to participate in these lunch groups or have any questions about them, please either send a note to school expressing your feelings or call any of our school counselors, Mrs. Joanne Campisi, Mr, Alex Wawrzyniak, or Ms. Sandra Cormier. Thank you.

“GIRLS ON THE RUN” “Girls on the Run” is a national experiential learning program for girls in grades 3-5. Although its apparent goal is completion of a noncompetitive 5k walk/run to be held in Burlington, VT, in May, “Girls on the Run” is as much about good health, friendship, positive body image, and self esteem as it is about running. Through its focus on positive emotional, social, mental and physical development, since 1996, “Girls on the Run” has helped more than 30,000 girls gain a strong sense of self as they enter adolescence. Chris Farnham, one of our math teachers, and Amelia Abraham, one of our third grade teachers, will be acting as the head coaches for this group. Both Chris and Amelia are very excited about getting young girls to appreciate the joy as well as the many benefits of running!

CELL PHONE REMINDER  Please remember that all middle school students who may have a cell phone should be sure the phone is off and out of sight during the school day. Thank you for your understanding and support with this!











Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This past month has certainly been a busy one! I think that my biggest take away was the multiple opportunities for professional growth and reflection that we participated in. I truly believe that we are better able to engage our students when we continue to learn ourselves.

“As goes the signal, so goes the class.” Thank you to all teachers who opened their classrooms for observation during Roxanne Hable’s visit. Roxanne travels all over the country doing Developmental Designs coaching and consultation. She is genuinely impressed with the work that we have done implementing DD with fidelity in our school. Since implementing the Developmental Design framework strategy called TAB, our referrals to the planning room have dropped 30 %. When I think of implementation, I think of a feedback loop, and how important it is to try things, get feedback, measure, apply what we learn and continue to move forward. In fact, we can apply the thinking of a feedback loop to so many things.

Here are a few of the things that our colleagues who recently attended the Lake Morey Growth Mindset conference shared with me. I think there are some powerful ideas in their thoughts.
~Teaching students how to learn is just as important as imparting knowledge.  Communicating why we are doing things is essential. Mindset + Skill-set (x Relevance) = Results. We need to ensure our students understand the physiology of the brain and how it works (meta-cognition process). Growth mindset and study skills instruction is powerful. It is important to recognize when we as adults are experiencing a fixed mindset and use that experience as an opportunity for our own growth. ~ This is so true! We are all learning all the time!

For the classroom
A strategy for modeling meta-cognition in the classroom

For Inspiration
Our Time   The video that was shown at the Up For Learning Workshop last Friday.

On February 1st our Penguin Plunge Middle School team jumped into the icy waters of Lake Champlain. 15 students raised over $4,300 for Special Olympics Vermont of which the BCEMS Unified Sports Program will receive approximately $500. Our students conducted themselves with honor and respect, and we are very proud of their efforts!
Looking ahead
We will give the YRBS on 2/15 and there is a 5 /6 dance on Friday the 10th and a 7 / 8 dance on Friday the 17th. Pennies for Patients continues Feb. 13-16.

Bob Goudreau will be back briefly this week to check in. He is still available as we need him to be, and I am certainly grateful for that. I have heard from so many of you that in my absence his presence was calm and reassuring. We will be seeing less of him, but he is leaving us with fond memories and nothing but gratitude for his service. Thank you Bob!