Dr. King gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. It’s our dreams that change the course of history. ~ Simon Sinek
Last winter, our leadership team planned, organized and then hosted a mini-conference in August for South MS teachers and community members with the focus on learning and application of that learning connected to diversity, equity, disparity, cultural differences, valuing perspectives, race, inclusion, climate and culture. The mini-conference was a unique mix of experts from near (Des Moines, Waukee) and far (Chicago, Portland), school and community members, professional learning materials and resources along with time for teachers to collaborate together. It was a great event and a common learning experience for our many of our teachers and parents.
This year, I have based my professional growth goals upon that foundation of learning with the hope I can continue my own learning and growth in this area. Principal Kim Tierney of Maple Grove Elementary and I set our focus of:
strengthening our knowledge and skills needed to be a threat to the existence of inequity within our spheres of influence; and
to provide a space and voice to everyone of our stakeholders in order to assess our current reality and identify or address inequities within our school, district and community.
After having some great 1:on:1 conversations with some parents and students 1st semester, I would like to CONNECT with more families by expanding the conversation to small groups of parents and community members. This next step is bring together a group of willing and interested parents and community members to engage in open conversation around diversity, equity, disparity, cultural differences, valuing perspectives, race and inclusion.
If you are interested in being a part of this school & community conversation, please reach out to me (email or call) so I can involve you in the learning, collaborating and work (dreaming!). I look forward to hearing your dreams for our students and our school community.
Unfortunately our January Pops Concert scheduled for tonight has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. We were able to record both bands today and will share the full concert for a short period of time with our South MS families here in the near future. More information to come to band parents from Mr. Deutmeyer and Mrs. Cunningham. Our band students did an AMAZING job performing for our students and teachers this morning during our whole school assembly. You can view a bit of what we heard below. Our next scheduled band concert will be April 23. For our band schedule and other band related information, visit our band blog [click here].
CHOOSING YOUR ONE WORD: For the 5th year at South, I am encouraging every staff
member, student and parent to choose your ONE WORD to drive your actions, vision and
mission for this coming year. After reading Jon Gordon’s reasoning behind choosing your ONE word a number of years ago, this is a practice I started doing on my own to better help me drive me toward my WHY, my purpose.
By each of us choosing that ONE WORD and then sharing this word with each other, my hope is that this action supports a collective positive vision for our students, staff and building. As the new year begins, I would love to get as many staff, parents and students involved in this by having you select your ONE WORD for the year and submit it here. Below is a visual of all the ONE Words chosen over the past 4 years by staff, students and parents.
As I thought about which word I was going to choose this year, it was much more of a struggle for me than any previous years. Both at work and at home, the upcoming year brings much change and unknown. Our district continues to grow quickly and the Waukee I knew nine years ago seems to be so much different than the Waukee today. The opportunities for our students are nearly endless, our teachers still continue to do amazing things in the classroom, but the challenges of being able to hone in on the individual needs of each and every student with rapid growth and 100s of new students can be daunting. The need for me, each of us, and our entire building/district to understand and connect with our changing student and community population is vital for us to continue to be THE leading district in the state. I believe in Waukee and know it will take listening and work to be the school we want to be for our students and families. At home, my oldest child will graduate and head off to college next fall followed by my other two children in the not-so-far-away future. The life I know today in my home will look drastically different over the next 1-5 years. I realize my time to share all my parental knowledge and shape them into the young men I want them to be is running short (I do know my limits here as well!).
So with all that in mind, my ONE WORD for the 2019 year is PRESENT. My hope for PRESENT guiding my upcoming year is to:
Be present in my conversations with our stakeholders. My goal is to engage in a number of student and community conversations (1:on:1; small group, etc.) to deepen my understanding of who we serve and how I/we can do it better.
Be present as much as I can when I’m engaged in conversation with teacher teams, walking through classrooms, standing in the hallway during passing periods and avoiding distractors when I need to be present (phone, email, etc.).
Be present in my home. Put down, put away, put up my phone and laptop to avoid working being seen as a priority over my wife or sons. Play. Listen. Enjoy this time.
Best of luck in selecting your ONE WORD for 2019. As we finish the 2018 year this week at South, I want to wish you and your family a relaxing, joy-filled winter break and a happy New Years. All of us here at South MS look forward to a fantastic second half to our school year beginning January 2nd!
Doug Barry, Principal
3D Printer Mini-Blitz Fundraiser. We want to purchase a new 3-D printer for our students and need your help! Over the next two days (Thursday & Friday), you or your child can bring a check or cash to SMS and give it to Mr. Kleinwolterink in the atrium before school. This is a tax-deductible donation! Please label the envelop with your child’s first and last name along with “3-D Printer for SMS“. You can also donate online anytime through Sunday (link below). Our goal is to raise $2,000 over the 4 days (only $3 per student!).
This new 3-D printer that will allow for better quality printing, faster print times and cheaper printing for students/families. One example of how we are using the 3-D Printer is that all students in 7th grade Engineering class are designing keychains using Autodesk Inventor and then having the option to print one out in 3-D using our 3-D printer. Whether your child is in Engineering class right now, next semester or next year, this printer will be used by all to engage in problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Please note: If your child is currently in Mr. K’s Engineering class, you will receive an email from him in the near future that will include the option to donate as well. Online donations are not connected to the $1 each student would need to bring to school next Monday or Tuesday in order to print their keychain if they so choose
Why raise funds like this? Over the past 3 years at South, we have not done a building fundraiser as we know all of our feeder elementary buildings do large ones with their families (which many of you are a part of as well). Through input from our Parent Advisory Committee, we decided to instead begin to focus on identifying a need and then engage our families and community in helping us find funds for that specific need. We won’t ask for money unless we feel there is a need and do not have the allotted funds to meet that need. Over the course of the school year, we plan on doing 1-4 of these mini-blitz fundraisers and if you feel so inclined, please donate. If not now, maybe for the next mini-blitz item(s).
Thank you for your support of our staff, students and building and helping us move toward our purpose!
Last week, all of our students took the annual student survey (questions found here) which allows us, in the famous words of the late Aretha Franklin, find out what it means to me (each student)! The survey gives us a chance to gain a perspective on how our students are feeling about several parts of their day here at South and provide an opportunity to see how students view the overall climate and culture here. A few new twists to the survey this year include:
Our building academic and behavior goal are tied together with this goal:
2018-19 Behavior Goal: 85% or more of our students will agree or strongly agree that their classmates are generally respectful to them.
2018-19 Academic Goal: All SMS students will show growth in producing clear and coherent writing.
Students will not only get to view the data from the survey this year, but they will work together to come up with reasons why the data is the way it is and/or provide us suggestions (Academic goal connection: through clear and coherent writing!) on how to continue to improve what we do at South.
We will now take the survey quarterly and engage students, staff and parents in conversation around the data, sharing celebrations and putting ideas into action.
This week in Advisory, our teachers will engage students in a “I do. We do.” activity in which students will review some of the recent data (below) from the Quarter 1 survey and collaboratively produce a response to one of the prompts below. I am very excited to see what ideas our students have to make South MS THE place to learn, grow, laugh and learn. If you would like to be a part of the conversation too, our Parent Advisory Committee will be meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00pm. This will be one of our agenda items so email me to RSVP. Together, we can IMPACT our students, teachers and learning community in amazing ways.
Student prompts we will be using this week:
What idea do you have to make every student at South MS feel respected What is a reason why a student or students do not feel respected at South MS?
If you and your family are attending our South MS Tailgate Party this evening at 5:30p, we are moving it to the South MS Commons because of the rainy day and cool weather. We are adjusting our time to 5:00-6:30pm to allow families picking up students from the Homecoming Party to stay and eat and time for families to get to the stadium for the 7:00pm kick-off. For families who like the cool weather, we will utilize our outside commons area as well so feel free to bring a lawn game to play and lawn chairs. If you did not pay online, we are collecting money at the event; $10 per family.
We’re expecting a big crowd and can’t wait to connect with our staff, students and their families attending. Feel free to bring your favorite finger food (we won’t have silverware) to share. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll hold the tailgate at South MS in the commons. We’ll let everyone know our plan by noon on Friday.
We are very excited to host our first ever South MS Family Tailgate on Friday, September 28th at Centennial Park in Waukee. All South MS families and staff members are welcome to join us for some food, fellowship and fun! Bring your favorite family tailgate side dish or dessert if you’d like or just show up and enjoy. Click here to pay online.
A slight change as there are now 3 ways to RSVP:
RSVP online and pay when you come to the tailgate. Click here.
In order to provide extra assistance (academic & behavior) for students, both 6th and 7th grade teams will be offering a “9th Hour” every week this year beginning on Thursday, September 13. Students may be a part of 9th Hour for any of the following reasons:
Missing or late assignments (multiple or frequent)
Additional time to work on skills, concepts, projects, papers, etc.
Consequence for behavior (3+ documented incidents)
Missing Work: If a student is missing assignments, teachers may invite them to stay after school for 30 or 60 minutes; 3:05-3:30 or 3:05-4:00 pm; to work on completing the missing work. This will help to keep late or missing assignments from piling up and help with student organization.
Additional Time: Teachers may ask a student to stay to work on a skill he/she is struggling with in class (beginning or developing). This additional time will allow students to process the instruction and practice the skill. The amount of time will be dependent on the student’s need and will be communicated with parents as to a pick up time.
Consequences: If a student earns a 3rd documented incident (combination of disrespect, noncompliance, tardy, etc.), they will serve a detention and complete a Plan of Responsible Action with the teacher or the 9th Hour teacher. 9th Hour is one option to serve that detention along with before school or during lunch. The reteaching conversation or lesson must still take place between the student and the teacher he/she earned the documented behavior from during the event/situation.
How will it work?
The process: If a teacher would like or needs a student to attend a 9th hour session on a Thursday:
Parents will be contacted so transportation arrangements can be made (student may call from class phone or their cell during class, they must talk to a parent, leave a message, or text).
Parents may also request their child stay to work on late work or get help with work. Please note that the teacher staying may not be an expert in the area of need (i.e. social studies teacher staying and work needed is math). For extra help with a specific teacher, contact the teacher directly and a time can be worked out (before school, during lunch or after school).
Students should report to media center/library immediately after school with their work and a pencil. If students are there as a consequence, he/she will complete a Plan of Responsible Action sheet and then will read or complete homework. Students will be dismissed at 3:30pm or 4:00pm and need a ride or instructions as to how to get home.
One of our goals beginning a couple years ago was to look for additional ways to CONNECT our students to activities, staff members and our school community. From that goal, we formed a Student Connection committee who has tried to be creative as to how we can accomplish this before, during and after school.
One idea that came out of this group was having Interest Groups during Advisory time. Each year, students generate ideas of activities they would enjoy ranging from coloring to card games to tumbling to cricket and many more ideas. Once those 30-40 ideas are generated, a teacher volunteers to lead one of the groups of students, students get to choose their top 3 choices, groups are formed and they meet together in small groups each Thursday during Advisory for 8-10 weeks. Voila! Students meet new friends and make a connection with another adult in the building.
Last year, we worked on adding to our before and after school options. Although small in number of opportunities last year, the groups like Art Club, Video Game Club, Basketball and Chess connected some passionate students with passionate adults. This fall, we have some great options for students already and parents/students can find them on this blog. We want to expand our offerings by getting more parents, grandparents and community members involved. Do you have an idea for a before or after school club, group or activity? You, a grandparent or friend could host a card game club, athletic activities, financial literacy, gardening (we have a garden at South!!), book clubs, etc here at South before or after school. We’d love to keep adding to our offerings at South MS and you can help! Email me or give me a call to share you idea and begin the planning!
Thank you for helping us continue to move toward our purpose and goal of connecting every child to South Middle School in some way at some time of their day.
If you’re a returning parent, you likely have missed *cough, cough* my Monday morning updates. 😉 Those will begin August 6th but for parents seeking information about the start of the year, I thought I’d get some information on my blog now. I am, again, at the point in my summer where the joy I take in the quietness of not having 800+ students and 100 adults around me every day has worn off and I’m looking forward to the ENERGY returning to South soon. Now wait…I don’t mean drop your child off on Monday! Waiting until August 23rd is the plan and until then, here are a few nice-to-know items for you to digest:
Schedules – You can access on Aug 13 if…
You have completed online registration for your child, and
you have paid your fees or completed the fee waiver form.
If you get an error message on August 13 when logging in to PowerSchool, you have not completed one or both of the steps above (please note it takes 24-48 business hours from completing registration to accessing your child’s schedule online).
New to Waukee? So far, we have over 30 new to Waukee students joining us from as far away as Maryland, Florida and California and as close as West Des Moines. You will need to get your access ID and password for PowerSchool. Please talk to one of our secretaries (Sheila or Teresa) and they can help you navigate PowerSchool. Call 515.987.3222 or stop in to South to begin. Also complete our New to Waukee survey form.
School Supplies – If you ordered your child(ren)’s school supplies through the PTO, the supply box will be delivered to your child’s Advisory classroom before Open House. If you are getting your supplies on your own, find our school supply list online.
Bus routes will be shared with families via email the week prior to school.