Tagged “Middle Grades”

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Community Vision Drives School Growth

Apple Valley Middle School, Hendersonville, N.C.

Apple Valley Middle School (PDF) is located in rural North Carolina in one of the Nation's largest apple-producing areas. Eventhough the school has a high percentage of disadvantaged students, the school thrives and is continually striving to reach higher growth. The school atmosphere is warm and welcoming and is supported by the community in many ways. A variety of partners in the community, including counselors, mediators, and community support centers, support the work at Apple Valley. Faculty, staff, and students see the principal as the person who holds the school together, but they also see the administrative staff as a well-balanced team. The school is the heart of the community and is heavily involved in helping the community it serves.

School Recess Shows Students How to Work Hard and Play Hard

Alexander Graham Middle School, Charlotte, N.C.

Alexander Graham Middle School (PDF), a 2012 North Carolina Middle School Association Redesignated School to Watch, is a diverse school that draws from a diverse population in Charlotte, N.C. The school has does an excellent job of establishing a culture that meets all students' needs, which allows students to coexist and get along. The school provides a rigorous curriculum to students at all levels, yet is one of the few schools we've seen that has stayed committed to the concept of recess. At Alexander Graham, "Fresh Air Time (FAT)" is taken seriously, and students truly enjoy their breaks. They have managed to find the balance between hard work, high achievement, and physical activity.

Rich Culture Inspires Students

Indian Lake Middle School, Indian Lake, N.Y.

If a middle school needs tips on how to improve, it can turn to the Indian Lake school district for help. Indian Lake, a K–12 school in New York, has been picked for the “Essential Elements: 2012 Schools to Watch” program, an initiative that recognizes middle schools that demonstrate excellence. This is the first time this school has been recognized for this honor for its practical and cultural experiences that address the mental and physical needs of each student. Although the school is small in population, the culture is rich in academic excellence and expectations. Students leave the school feeling inspired in self sufficiency, lifelong learning, creativity, responsibility, and citizenship.

Nurturing Environment Drives Academic Excellence

Seventy First Classical Middle School, Fayetteville, N.C.

Seventy-First Classical Middle School (PDF) located in Fayetteville, N.C., is a 100% School of Choice. This school demonstrates tremendous academic success and has been labeled a School of Excellence in North Carolina since 1998.The students and staff appear happy, and there is valuable input and buy-in from stakeholders when making
decisions for the school. Parents are very pleased with programs and the care and concern shown by teachers and staff. Seventy-First Classical Middle meets the needs of their students, parents, teachers, and staff in an environment where excellence is expected, yet students are nurtured."

Rural School Takes Meeting Student Needs Seriously

Rugby Middle School, Hendersonville, N.C.

Rugby Middle School (PDF) is a 2012 North Carolina Middle School Association Redesignated School to Watch. Located in rural western North Carolina, the school takes meeting the students needs seriously. Rugby is a "community of practice, going beyond rhetoric to reality." Teachers, staff, and administrators do whatever is necessary, creating clear-cut, well-understood expectations for everyone in the building. All students are eager to talk about how good their school is and how much they enjoy being there. The school feels warm, safe, and inviting, providing a rich teaching and learning experience for all.

Leadership Drives School Success

Mint Hill Middle School, Matthews, N.C.

Mint Hill is a 2012 North Carolina Middle School Association Redesignated School to Watch. Located in a "bedroom community" in the Matthews area east of Charlotte, the school is exceptionally well run from top to bottom, with effective leadership at the office and classroom level and strong support from central office. The school leadership creates a safe and stable learning environment in which all students acquire the skills to become confident, self directed, lifelong learners. Visitors to Mint Hill find themselves drawn into the lessons they observe, often leaving with many ideas about how to strengthen their own programs and practices.

A High-Mobility Middle School in Missouri brings sudents together

Fox Middle School, Arnold, M.O.


The staff at Fox Middle School has become character education leaders frequently called upon to share best practices with other educators. Service learning is seen as a tool to help students learn important skills—and learn to appreciate what they have. As a school with only two grades and a high mobility rate (15 percent), Fox works hard to ease the transition for all new students. Both parents and students write letters to their teachers before the year begins to let them know about their learning needs and interests. In order to meet the dual challenges of having many students whose families are financially stressed and being faced with shrinking school budgets, Fox teachers “go above and beyond,” according to principal Aaron Wilken. “They do anything to make the kids successful. They make do with what we have. Staff members are willing to take risks and [exercise] responsibility.”

New York School Focuses on Individual Learning Via PLCs

Chatham Middle School, Chatham, N.Y.

Long before the term “professional learning community” became popular, the Chatham staff functioned as such—reading reports of education research, visiting other schools, piloting an advisory program, examining data, and discussing what worked and what needed tweaking. Students are as proud of their Chatham “home” (and their home and classwork that covers every nook and cranny) as they are of the brotherly love that defines school culture. Guidance counselor Jackie Hoffman states, “Every student is an individual, and we make certain that each one gets the nurturing he or she needs.” Chatham’s character-building effort has been sustained by an engaged faculty who listen to students and shape them to lead the charge to change the world.

School Policies Help Students Meet State Standards

West Carter Middle School, Olive Hill, K.Y.


West Carter Middle School has not retained a student in the last five years. Staff members proudly point to this fact as evidence that their decision to not permit zeros is working. Coupled with the ‘no zero’ policy were a number of programmatic supports in mathematics and reading/language arts as well as a strong tutorial program offered multiple times during the day that allowed all students to meet state standards and demonstrate significant academic growth. Six years ago, the school with 475 students in 6th through 8th grade, 69 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, was one of the lowest performing middle schools in Kentucky; today, the students outperform 90 percent of the students in the state.

An Education Community Aids Student Transition

Pleasantville Middle School, Pleasantville, N.Y.

Pleasantville Middle School is an education community that is dedicated to understanding and facilitating the positive transition from childhood to adolescence. Community and staff are committed to providing educational experiences where learning is valued, differences are accepted, wellness is encouraged, and accountability is realized, to assure the development of each students’ intellectual, educational, physical, personal, and social growth.

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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.