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Middle Grades

Harnessing Leadership Potential to Keep Teens in School

Fontana Unified School District, Fontana, Calif.

Fontana Unified School District, located in Fontana, California, has been awarded a grand prize grant in whole child partner National School Board Association’s 2013 Magna Awards. The district has developed and implemented the Fontana Leadership Intervention Program (FLIP). FLIP, which is directed at middle and high school students, offers students a variety of classes ranging from ethics to drug and alcohol resistance. The program also requires participation in community projects and seminars for parents as well. This multifaceted outreach has already made a visible difference in behavior issues at both the middle and high school levels.

Where Young Minds Can Grow, Everyone Wins

Lebanon Middle School, Lebanon, Kentucky

Lebanon Middle School has been named a Kentucky School to Watch by National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a whole child partner. Lebanon joins an elite group of Kentucky schools with this award, which recognizes academic achievement and developmental initiatives, among other exemplary factors. County Superintendent Chuck Hamilton commended the students and staff of the Lebanon, Kentucky school for their commitment to achievement and pursuit of excellence. By creating a welcoming community, Lebanon Middle School ensures that its students maximize their academic and personal growth.

When Excellence is an Everyday Commitment, Success Follows

Holcomb Bridge Middle School, Alpharetta, Georgia

Whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform has selected Holcomb Bridge Middle School as one of its 2013 Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch. Holcomb Bridge was previously named a 2012 Beacon School, indicating that progress towards becoming a Lighthouse School was underway. Principal Joy Schroerlucke cites the Alpharetta, Georgia school’s commitment to excellence for every student and emphasis on collaboration as formative factors in the school’s awards record. Holcomb Bridge is also notable for its sensitivity to the needs of individual students and its positive learning environment.

Magnet School Supports and Challenges Its Students for Maximum Development

Corwin International Magnet School, Pueblo, Colo.

Corwin International Magnet School has been designated as a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. The Pueblo, Colorado school became a magnet school in 2008. Corwin’s recognition was focused in large part on its learning environment that engages and challenges its students and staff. The Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch award recognizes schools that are not only academically excellent, but also work to incorporate student needs and interests, as well as engage in ongoing assessments to keep improving the school in all areas.

Collaboration Leads to Engagement

Sinaloa Middle School, Novato, Calif.

Whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform recently added Sinaloa Middle School to its list of California Schools to Watch. Sinaloa, located in Novato, California, is constantly working on new ways to improve the student experience and close the achievement gap. This is most notable in Academic Performance Index (API) scores for students with disabilities, which have increased by nearly 100 points since 2007. Aside from numerical success, faculty collaboration has yielded a series of strategies and initiatives designed to promote student engagement with the school and learning as a whole.

With Time for Support, High Performance Is Ensured

Scotts Valley Middle School, Scotts Valley, Calif.

National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a whole child partner, has named Scotts Valley Middle School a California School to Watch. As a top-performing school on California’s Academic Performance Index (API), Scotts Valley’s efforts to close the achievement gap are seeing considerable success. The school, located in Scotts Valley, California, is divided into seven academies that help students focus on achieving high standards in English, math, history, and science. With an increasingly diverse student body, Scotts Valley staff members ensure that individual needs are being met through an enrichment period during the school day.

School Focuses on More Than Just Academic Achievement

Port Jervis Middle School, Port Jervis, N.Y.

Port Jervis's school improvement efforts over the past few years have completely changed the school into a thriving learning environment that focuses on more than just student academic achievement. One of the first recipients of the NYSASCD Whole Child for the 21st Century Award, the school has initiated programs that fully prepare students for work, college, and citizenship by keeping them healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. The culture motivates students and engages them in learning through programs such as the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Students, community outreach activities, health fairs, and proactive assemblies.

Caring and Belief Are Key at this New Jersey Middle School

John A. Carusi Middle School, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Carusi students tell visitors they feel even more cared about at Carusi than they did at their elementary schools. Science teacher Angela Warrington notes, “We at Carusi are so committed to our students’ success. We all believe we can make a difference.” The hallways and classrooms are covered with student artwork, posters, and documents that publicize the school motto: Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve. The motto, however, is much more than words on a wall or poster. It embodies a school that infuses character and academics into every class, every interaction, every day. Character education informs every decision at the school, including curriculum design, student–teacher relationships, and approaches to discipline.

An Individualized Education Rich in Academics

St. Louis Charter School, St. Louis, M.O.

Comprehensive character education has been a part of St. Louis Charter School’s mission since its inception 11 years ago: “To provide children with an individualized education rich in academics and character.” All classrooms emphasize core values. According to school board member Lynn Yearwood, the values are so embedded in the school that “[t]hey are even woven into board meetings.” St. Louis Charter staff work hard to create community among their students—who come from different parts of the city and from different backgrounds—and to celebrate their differences. Student work and art are everywhere, even on attractively painted ceiling tiles. Staff members monitor data closely and plan program changes in response. The school also uses its data to help individual students improve. St. Louis Charter does an outstanding job of providing professional development opportunities for the entire staff to help them meet the needs of their students.

Nurturing, Supportive Environment Prepares Students for the Future

Martha Brown Middle School, Fairport, N.Y.

The staff, parents, and students at Martha Brown Middle School work as a team to develop a friendly, nurturing environment that fosters positive self-esteem, mutual respect, and responsibility. The school recognizes individual learner styles and offers diverse opportunities that promote academic, physical, social, and emotional growth. Martha Brown influences students during their critical transitional years, striving to develop critical thinkers whose spirit of inquiry creates a lifelong love of learning and helps its students become contributing members of society.

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Fast, Free, Online: The ASCD School Improvement Tool

Designed for use in schools and districts, the free ASCD School Improvement Tool offers educators a comprehensive and completely online needs assessment.