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High School

Middle Grades

A Supportive Community Produces Outstanding Learners

Union Middle School, San Jose, Calif.

Whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform has named Union Middle School as one of its 2013 California Schools to Watch. This suburban school—located in San Jose, California—is most noteworthy for being ranked in the top 10 percent of state middle schools, due in part to its success in collaborative education efforts that provide student support. The commitment to excellence is also reflected in Union’s Academic Performance Index (API) score, which is nearly perfect by California state standards.

With Performance on the Rise, Urban School Seeks to Close the Achievement Gap

Frank J. Zamboni Middle School, Paramount, Calif.

Frank J. Zamboni Middle School—located in Paramount, California—has the distinction of being the only urban school to be designated as a 2013 California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. In just five years, the school’s Academic Performance Index (API) scores have risen from a low average to at or above the state target level in nearly every demographic group. Concern for the school’s large disadvantaged population has sparked a renewed focus on overcoming the socioeconomic issues facing many Zamboni students.

Sharing Ideas for Higher Achievement

Sanger Academy Charter School, Sanger, Calif.

As one in a trio of Sanger, California schools to be designated a California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, Sanger Academy Charter School proves the efficacy of a commitment to quality education. Collaboration between Sanger Academy and its two sister schools—also designated as California Schools to Watch—can be seen on all levels, from middle school sports tournaments to monthly meetings between the three principals to share ideas and techniques.

High Expectations Yield Valuable Lessons

Fairmont Elementary K–8 School, Sanger, Calif.

Fairmont Elementary K–8 School, recently named a California School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, sets the bar high for educational achievement. Located in Sanger, California, Fairmont works to help its students succeed by providing them with a safe learning environment, diverse intellectual opportunities, and a strong partnership with families and the local community. Students understand the high expectations held by their teachers and school administrators, and they strive to work at that level each day.

Community Stakeholders Motivate Middle School Excellence

Vilonia Middle School, Vilonia, Ark.

Vilonia Middle School joins twelve other exemplary Arkansas schools as one of whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform’s Diamond Schools to Watch for 2013. Located in Vilonia, Arkansas, the school prides itself on its staff’s “can-do” attitude and passion for learning and teaching. Principal Cathy Riggins cites the school’s ties to the local community as a source of support and motivation for continuing educational excellence.

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."

Reflective Learning Creates Mecca for Success

Robert M. Finley Middle School, Glen Cove, N.Y.

Robert M. Finley Middle School has become the spotlight of Glen Cove, N.Y., culminating in recognition as a 2011 Breakthrough School by the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals.

At Finley Middle School, Principal Anael Alston has helped transform the once poor environment into a center for success. Determined to celebrate diversity and increase achievement through building community, Finley Middle School is committed to investing in the human capital already in the building: its students. The reflective learning initiative, standardized schoolwide notebook system, and project-based learning practices have helped foster among the students a love for learning and drive to succeed.

Motivation Is Key

Smokey Road Middle School, Newnan, Ga.

Motivation is key at Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan, Ga., a recipient of the 2011 Breakthrough School Award by the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals.

After previous instability, Principal Laurie Barron stepped in and placed a priority on finding a common mission, collaborative leadership, and a continued focus on academic improvement. Committed to making the school a place where students could flourish both in and out of the classroom, the school also partners with local businesses to recognize and reward students and celebrate their academic and nonacademic talents. For the last five years, Smokey Road Middle School has met its adequate yearly progress goals to qualify as a Title I Distinguished School.

Breaking Ranks in the Middle Tenets Inspire Foundation of Georgia School

Haymon-Morris Middle School, Winder, Ga.

When Principal Sheila Kahrs, named a 2010 National Middle Level Principal of the Year by the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals, opened Haymon-Morris Middle School in Winder, Ga., she knew that the foundation of the school would be built on three tenets of Breaking Ranks in the Middle: collaborative leadership, curriculum instruction and assessment, and personalized learning environments for students and teachers.

Since the school's opening, the staff has worked with these tenets to help students succeed at all costs, and it's paying off. Across 6th through 8th grades, 95 percent of students meet or exceed the state's standards in English and language arts, while 80 percent do the same in math. Founded on the vision, "Where caring, patience, and consistency inspire excellence," this 2011 Breakthrough School, as named by the MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals, will continue to inspire.

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.

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