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School’s Active, Caring Environment Guarantees Student Success

Reading Middle School, Reading, Ohio

The mission of Reading Middle School, an active and caring community, is to guarantee the development of all students as successful, lifelong learners who become contributing citizens after graduation. A 2013 School to Watch, whole child partner The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform gave this school this recognition for providing a challenging, comprehensive curriculum; best practice instruction; and quality extracurricular activities supported by an exceptional staff in state-of-the-art facilities in partnership with parents and community.
 

Respect and Support Frame Academic Achievement

South Middle School, Lancaster, South Carolina

South Middle School has been named a South Carolina School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. The Lancaster, South Carolina school maintains a partnership with Winthrop University in order to continue its pursuit of academic excellence and high standards for students and staff alike. Visitors to the school immediately note the culture of mutual respect among students and staff. Students receive support from individualized interventions designed to keep all learners on track for success.

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.

School is Built on the Belief that Every Adult Needs to Commit to Every Child

Lesher Middle School, Fort Collins, C.O.

Lesher Middle School is a school of choice, as are all the schools in the Poudre (Colo.) School District. In 2004, it was a traditional junior high school with declining enrollment. The school had an International Baccalaureate Middle Years (IBMY) program that was only open to select students. Today, it is a thriving middle school, at capacity enrollment with 700 students coming from 29 elementary schools, 40 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged. Now, all the students are enrolled in the IBMY program and are benefiting from a global perspective to their studies. Lesher’s transformation and very survival was built upon the belief that in order to “break ranks,” every adult needs to commit to the success of every child.

Family Atmosphere Fosters Sense of Belonging

Imagine Schools South Lake, Clermont, Fla.

Despite being one of the largest of the more than 70 Imagine Schools campuses, Imagine South Lake feels like a "family" school. Each day, students are greeted by the principal (who knows everyone by name), other administrators, teachers, parents, and student safety patrols. Teacher turnover is minimal, and the re-enrollment rate is above 95 percent. When speaking of her schoolmates and teachers, fourth grader India says, "They are my family." Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Imagine South Lake's staff students, and parents live the core values. Staff members incorporate character within the classroom in ways that best meet the needs of their students and reflect the school's mission statement. Middle school language-arts teacher Joyce Crawford notes that "being here at Imagine means you have a voice;" all classrooms have meetings where students' "voice and choice" is heard and appreciated. Teachers care about the students academically, socially, and emotionally. Fourth grader Eliya states that the teachers "don’t want us to fail. They teach us how to learn from our mistakes."

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.

Believing Leads to Achieving

Hotchkiss K–8 School, Hotchkiss, Colo.

A recipient of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform's 2011 Schools to Watch® Award, Hotchkiss K–8 School in Colorado is set on maintaining a positive school culture through focusing on their "Famous 3": passion, purpose, and plan.

Dedicated to providing middle-level students with the utmost ability to achieve success, programs like Child Advocacy Program (CAP) and Help, Understanding, Guidance & Support (HUGS) have been used to instill a sense of responsibility among students, promote proactive engagement, and develop a relationship between the staff and students that encourages high performance across both an academic and nonacademic spectrum.

Hotchkiss K–8 continues to flourish as an exemplary school, and we agree wholeheartedly with their motto: "If you believe, you can achieve."

Community School Provides Easy Access to Host of Services

Ethel M. Taylor Academy, Cincinnati, Ohio

A recipient of the 2011 National Community Schools Award for Excellence from whole child partner the Coalition for Community Schools, Ethel M. Taylor Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the true spotlight of its community.

Focused on strengthening the seamless integration of academic and nonacademic partnerships, the school provides easy access to a host of services through its Community Learning Center, where partners and community and family members are able to play a vital role in students' success. Forty-two percent more of students are scoring proficient or higher on the Ohio Achievement Assessment, and community volunteers have increased by over 100 percent—a true testament to the excellence in academics and infectious dedication Ethel M. Taylor Academy inspires.

Integration of PBIS, RTI, and Character Education Escalate Achievement Growth

Charles M. Russell Middle School of the Performing Arts and Sciences, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Setting the stage for student engagement, performance, and growth is what Charles M. Russell Middle School of the Performing Arts and Sciences in Colorado Springs, Colo., is all about.

Through the integration of Positive Behavior Intervention Support, Response to Intervention, and character education, the school has escalated the growth and achievement of its students by incorporating academic practices with global and cultural awareness and helps instill a moral compass within each student.

Designated as a Colorado School of Character for the past two years and a School to Watch® by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, Russell Middle School truly values creating an invaluable school experience for its students.

Oakland Transforms into a Full-Service Community School District

Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, Calif.

Committed to fulfilling the vision of having all students graduate from high school, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) has started a four-phase effort to transition into a full-service community school district that supports the unique needs of each child.

Determined to see that each student is in a safe, healthy, and supportive school with high-quality and effective instruction and prepared for success in college and future employment, California's OUSD believes that it is 100 percent necessary to have a high-quality instructional core, as well as student and family support services accessible to all students. The growing community-wide culture of a shared purpose and relational accountability has also helped promote the creation of a five-year strategic plan to reach these goals.

Named the most improved urban school district in California, OUSD will continue to make incredible strides in its mission to transform the district into one that truly serves the whole child.

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