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Middle Grades

Middle School Looks to Social Curriculum for Success

Jefferson Middle School, Champaign, Ill.

A first–time recipient of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform 2011 Schools to Watch® Award, Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, Ill., prides itself on continually enhancing its positive school climate through a social curriculum.

The curriculum, based on a combination of Positive Behavior Intervention Support, Positive Behavior Facilitation, and Howard Glasser's "Nurtured Heart Approach," has helped the school see a remarkable decrease in discipline referrals (down 54.7 percent) and suspensions (down 63.6 percent). Heavily committed to closing the achievement gap, Jefferson Middle School also focuses on asking the best questions about how it can improve each student's individual school experience rather than immediately addressing best practices.

Jefferson Middle School is also a National AVID Demonstration School and a SMART Showcase School.

From Kindergarteners to Pre-Service Teachers, Flourishing Learning Community Serves All Students

University of Wyoming Lab School, Laramie, Wyo.

Located on the University of Wyoming (UW) campus, the University of Wyoming Lab School serves as a hub for innovative, research-based education for its students, as well as those in the UW Teacher Education Program. With more than 400 preservice teachers completing observations and practicum experiences in the classrooms, UW Lab School is not only providing a rich educational experience for its K–9 student population, but also for future teachers.

Engaged and meaningful learning is a critical part of the curriculum at UW Lab School, and teachers believe that students are fully capable of self-directed learning and independent research. From weekly art, music, and physical education classes to research-based mathematics and integrated literacy coursework, students develop well-rounded knowledge and an awareness of multicultural issues.

Collaboration with the UW Department of Anthropology has given students the chance to apply classroom content to real-world experiences as they participate in a National History Channel Save Our History Project that involves analyzing excavation data, exploring cultural and economic implications related to identified artifacts, and helping to create an exhibit.

The high level of achievement at UW Lab School is indicative of the flourishing learning community and the school's commitment to providing the best education experience for every student.

Partnerships Help Support Diverse Set of Community-Based Services

Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, Vt.

Exceptional community-based services for youth have emerged in Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union in Vermont, whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People winner, thanks to its cultivation of partnerships.

With connections from regional planning commissions to indigenous organizations to local hospitals, the community has been able to provide strong programs for youth across a spectrum of ages. The Early Childhood Program provides screening services for children before entering preschool, and the Circle of Courage program helps children gain an awareness, understanding, and appreciation for the local Native American Abenaki culture.

Because of its dedicated work to build systems of care for children with special needs, the region received the Communities Can! Award by the Federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Collaborative Atmosphere Encourages Student Success

M. O. Ramay Junior High School, Fayetteville, Ark.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is what M. O. Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville, Ark., is all about. Focused on academic growth, Principal Matt Saferite heavily prioritizes creating a collaborative atmosphere where teachers and students feel safe, appreciated, and valued. With more than 50 percent of the students coming from low-income homes, Ramay Junior High School understands that it's important to cater not only to the students' academic needs, but also to their basic needs.

After failing to make adequate yearly progress in 2006, Ramay Junior High School is proud to have met its goals for the past four years, and the achievement gap is continuing to close. Awarded the 2011 Breakthrough School Award by the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals, it's clear that compassion truly breeds success at Ramay Junior High School.

Collaboration with Hospital Promotes Healthy Lifestyles Among Students

Batesville Community School Corporation, Batesville, Ind.

Batesville Community School Corporation, a school district in Batesville, Ind., was a part of the field test of the first edition of Creating a Healthy School Using the Healthy School Report Card: An ASCD Action Tool.

One initiative involves collaboration between Margaret Mary Community Hospital, a local Food and Growers Association, and the school corporation to improve cafeteria food offerings and expose students to more fruits and vegetables. Another addresses the critical problem of teen drinking by the school corporation's Drug Free Task Force's Choices program, which includes parents and students in alcohol abuse education events and provides a safe, supervised, and alcohol-free place for teens to socialize within the small community. Since the Choices program was implemented, Batesville has seen a reduction in both alcohol use and alcohol-related discipline referrals.

Batesville Community School Corporation is an ASCD Healthy School Communities site and mentors other schools and districts interested in connecting health and learning.

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