MS Weekly Staff Memo – March 8, 2014

What’s Been on My Mind….

maya-angelou-ive-learned-that-people-will-forget-what-you-said-people-will-forget-what-you-did-but-people-will-never-forget-how-you-made-them-feelDr. Angelou is one of my favorites.  Her wisdom and grace continually astound me.  This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes.  I have found it to be true time and time again in my life.   Typically, I do not have a strong memory for detail.   I oftentimes have a hard time recalling the specifics of what was what said, the sequence in which things occurred, or who was around, etc…  But I have a strong sense of remembering exactly how I felt when exposed to specific people in particular instances throughout my life.  This is especially true of folks who evoke strong emotions in me – both good and bad.

I have been thinking about this a lot since the admin team’s meeting with the CMS folks.  While there are still many unanswered questions and lots of things still yet to be determined, one thing is for sure.  They are wowed by us.  During our talk with CMS representatives on Thursday, Dr. Valerie Truesdale gave us what I consider to be the ultimate compliment.  She said the culture in our school is extraordinary, practically tangible, and she pointed out that this doesn’t come from just speaking with the staff, it comes mostly from speaking with the students.  Yes, I think they are impressed by our educational practices and our approach to whole-child development through a student-centered experience, but I think what resonated most deeply with those folks sitting around that table was the culture of CSD or how they felt as they walked the halls of our building.

While this is a wonderful compliment that we should all be proud of, this is also a huge responsibility that none of us should take lightly.  This type of culture does not happen by accident.  It also cannot be created by a sole individual.  It takes all of us working together towards a common goal.  I believe that “tangible” energy Dr. Trusdale described can all be boiled down to one thing.  Relationships.  Relationships that have not sprouted from chance, but rather relationships that have been cultivated through lots and lots of conscious, deliberate effort on everyone’s behalf.  But here’s the deal; relationships are fragile.  I once heard Joy liken a relationship (a marriage in particular) to a beautiful glass ornament.  When handled properly, it provides beauty and wonder for all those around.  But if handled carelessly, within a moment’s notice, it can come crashing to the floor to be reduced to a million tiny pieces that can never be put back together again.   Our relationships with one another are the key ingredient to our culture at CSD, and while none of us are perfect and we will make mistakes, we need to always make the effort to handle them with extreme care.  This extra effort is what people feel in our buildings, and this results in the type of school culture I believe we are being called to perpetuate.   Let’s be honest.  Years down the road, kids may not remember our jaw-dropping lessons or the way we taught a particular concept, but they are highly likely to remember how we made them feel.

So as we move forward into this new week, let’s take some time to “sit where our students sit.”  Let’s take some time to walk where they walk.  Let us be cognizant not only of what they are learning (or not learning), but also of how they are feeling (or not feeling).  Are we giving them the message that they are loved even when their behavior might not be so lovable?  Are we giving them the message that we truly believe in them and with enough time and persistence they can accomplish anything they put their mind to?  Are we giving them the message that we are on their side rooting for them despite their setbacks?  I sure hope so.  Because as Dr. Angelou so eloquently said, “They will forget what we said, they will forget what we did, but they will never forget how we made them feel.”

Upcoming Events
Monday, March 10
11:15-12:15 – Juli and Dana will join 7th grade team meeting
4th Quarter Explore Electives begin today

Tuesday, March 11
*Juli out of building this day.

Wednesday, March 12
11:15-12:15 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon in elementary gym
3:30-4:30 – Ed Leadership Seminar – Teacher Leader Discussion in MS Media Center

Thursday, March 13
Beth Knight – Teacher Leader

Friday, March 14
6th Grade Holocaust Performances all day in Black Box
8:45 – Section 310:00 – Section 412:30 – Section 11:45 – Section 2

Other Upcoming Dates….
Week of March 17th – 7th Grade SLC’s
March 17 – MS Parent Workshop Series:  Cybersafety 9:00-10:00a.m.
March 21 – *Regular School Day – Snow make-up
March 28 – 8th Grade Dance
March 31 – EOG Prep begins this week
April 3 & 4 – 8th Grade Finance Park
April 5 – MS Show Choir Competition
April 7 – 7/8 Dance Class Sharing in MS Gym
April 7 – Parent Advisory – 7:30 at HS
April 7 – Master Calendar Planning Meeting – 6:00-8:00 at HS
April 9 – Ed Leadership Seminar – Teacher Leader Discussion
April 10 – 6th Grade Drama Class Sharing in Black Box
April 11 – 1/2 Day; Early Dismissal – Spring Break begins
April 11-20 – SPRING BREAK; Classes resume on 4/21/14
April 25 – CSD Golf Tournament
April 25 – 6th Grade Butterfly Project Field Trip
April 25 – CSD Junior/Senior Prom
April 28 – BK Writing Class 3:30-5:30
May 1 – 6th Grade Dance Class Sharing in Black Box
May 3 – Davidson Town Day and Spartan 5K
May 9 – Early Dismissal
May 15 – Early Dismissal
May 16-17 – Staff Retreat
May 19 – BK Writing Class 3:30-5:30
May 21 – Reading EOG 3-8
May 22 – Math EOG 3-8
May 23 – Math 1 EOC for 8th Graders
May 23 – 8th Grade Practicum Sharing (afternoon)
May 26 – Memorial Day Holiday
May 27 – 8th Grade Science EOG
May 27-28 – 7th Ropes Course
May 29 – 6th Grade Holocaust Museum
May 28-30 – 8th Grade Kanuga Trip
June 2-3 – 6th Grade Field Trip to UNCC Botanical Gardens
June 2 – 8th Grade Moving Up Rehearsal
June 2 – State of the School Address/Volunteer Appreciation 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
June 3 – 8th Grade Student Led Conferences (at HS with HS staff)
June 4 – Last Day of School – 5 & 8 Moving Up Ceremonies, 6/7 Dance
June 5-6 – Teacher Workdays
June 5 – First Ever CSD HS Graduation!!!  Belk Theater, Charlotte 7:30 p.m.

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders/Tips
As discussed in vertical team meetings, please make sure you are all set to administer diagnostic EOG’s sometime in mid-late March.  If you need any help whatsoever, please let Juli know asap.  And as we enter this season of testing, please keep in mind that it is very difficult to “undo” test anxiety.  Therefore, we need to keep things as low-stress as possible.  Reminders to parents are helpful as well (see Shannon Davis’ email sent out by Joy via email earlier this week).  A big part of this process is a mind game.  The more confident kids feel, the better they do.  So thanks for doing your part to keep everyone calm.

Please remember to get ALL movies approved by Juli in advance.  The admin team feels strongly about this.  I am happy to explain our thinking, so be sure to ask me in person if you have any questions.  I will also try to remember to explain in an upcoming staff meeting, but if I forget, somebody remind me!

Be sure you read the Tornado Procedures email that was sent out earlier this week.  We do not formally practice this drill with out students, but we want all staff to be aware of our procedures in the case that we encounter this type of event.

Staff, please be cognizant of cell phone use during school hours.  While we understand emergencies arise and calls sometimes need to be accepted or made, we expect this to be a rarity.  Our full attention and focus should be on our students during the instructional day.  It gives the wrong impression to our students, parents, and other visitors if they see us texting or talking on our cell phones during the school day.  Thank you for putting students first and for refraining from using your phones for personal reasons in front of students during class time.

It is that time of year when students could use a few reminders/brush up’s on the rules.  Please address the following with your Advisory either at attendance meetings or lunch.
-Cell phones are not to be used during the school day which includes carpool.  Please see a teacher if you need to contact your parent.
-Empty lockers are not to be used.  Each student is issued one locker.  It has been brought to our attention that some students are storing things in the empty, unassigned lockers.  Mrs. V plans to remove all items found in these lockers this week, so if you have belongings in these unassigned lockers, be sure you remove these items promptly.

Professional Development:  
Speaking of how our students feel, I ran across this and was reminded of this powerful practice.  Asking students for their feedback on how we are doing as teachers can be tremendously effective as we strive to grow as educators.  Although it takes a lot of courage and perhaps an extra layer of thick skin, engaging in this type of exercise can have tremendous benefits.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/teacher-how-my-9th-graders-graded-me/

Inspiration/Just for Fun: 
I am sharing this for two reasons.  1)  I love this song and can’t quite seem to get enough of it.  2)  I want to remind you to sing and dance with your kids.  Talk about feeling good.  Talk about connecting.  Nothing does it quite like singing and dancing.  🙂  I want to see you be BRAVE!

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