Dear Middle School Families,
Welcome back to the 2015-2016 school year! We are off to an excellent start this fall and the year began very smoothly,
Grade 8 Ambassadors
The year began so smoothly due in large part to our Grade Eight School Ambassadors who formed relationships with all of the incoming sixth graders as well as with students new to the district in grades seven and eight. This group of over 40 Ambassadors made time to meet with our newest students before school began and made quite a positive impression on everyone in attendance. The Ambassadors forged relationships with groups of three students and prepared them to navigate the school by helping them learn to read their schedules, to find their lockers, and to share tips on how our school functions so they would be read to roll on day one. This included taking a tour of each student’s schedule of classes, finding lockers and getting to know each other along the way.
The Ambassadors will continue to work with their small group of students at set points during the school year. The will cultivate a relationship that we hope is beneficial to the younger students while at the same time giving them a sense of how they can perform in a leadership role in the future. Ambassadors will also serve the parent community during Back-to-School-Night by being on hand to help parents move around our building and escort them to the various rooms they wish to visit.
New Staff Members
Please allow me to introduce you to our newest staff members: Mrs. Linita Shih, Ms. Stacey Schriro, and Mrs. Jenna Williams. We are happy to welcome these three outstanding educators to our staff and I hope you will join me in making each of them feel at home.
Mrs. Linita Shih- Middle School French and Spanish
After an extensive review of candidates for our combined French and Spanish
Probationary position in grades Six and Seven, I am pleased to introduce Mrs. Linita Shih to you as our selection for this probationary appointment. Ms. Shih comes to us most recently from the Chappaqua Central School District where she taught both middle and high school level
World Language classes in a part-time capacity. Ms. Shih has long experience with
middle school students in several high-achieving school districts including Worthington,
Ohio and in districts in Massachusetts as well. Linita is a graduate of The Ohio State University and she holds both a B.S. in Foreign Language Instruction and an M.A. in French Literature.
Mrs. Stacey Schriro
I am pleased to introduce you to Mrs. Stacey Schriro as our selection for a leave replacement in Grade 6 and 7 Mathematics from September 8 through November 12, 2015. Ms. Schriro will cover Mr. Chris Yi’s classes during his planned FMLA leave from the district. Stacey comes to us most recently from the Chappaqua Central School District where she taught mathematics classes as both a substitute and teaching assistant. Stacey is a graduate of S.U.N.Y. Oneonta where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and from Long Island University where she earned her Med in Middle/Adolescent Education. Ms. Schriro is certified by New York State to teach Mathematics from Grades 5-12.
Mrs. Jenna Williams- Grade Seven Science
I am happy to introduce you to Mrs. Jenna Williams as our selection for a leave replacement position in Grade 7 Science from September 8 through December 9, 2015. Mrs. Williams will serve as the leave replacement for Mrs. Jennifer Zopp who will return in December after her planned child care leave. Mrs. Williams comes to us most recently from the Rye and Eastchester School Districts where she substituted primarily at the secondary level in science classes. Prior to this Jenna was a researcher for the Environmental Protection Agency in New York City. Jenna is a graduate of Manhattan College where she earned both a B.S. and an M.S. in Chemical Engineering. She is also a graduate of Pace University where she holds an MS degree in Teaching Chemistry.
Making Good on the Bronxville Promise: Exciting Changes for 2015-2016
Every year we endeavor to find ways to improve the overall experience for all members of our school community: students, teachers, parents and other community members. There are some exciting changes we have made to our practice this year that speak to fulfilling The Bronxville Promise. Below are some of the ways in which the school has be reorganized to more completely achieve the tenets of our philosophy through our practice. These include, but are not limited to the following:
A New Paradigm for Ninth Period
Students are now able to stay in classrooms to begin their homework independently and/or in small groups. Students may work without teacher assistance, but the teachers are also available for extra help, even if to clarify something they are working on for homework. This period has been difficult for students who needed a place to work between the last period of the day and the beginning of clubs or sports and now there is a great solution open to all. The time has also been extended to 40 minutes, which offers a solid, period-long block of time to begin work on their outside assignments.
A New Math Sequence
the 2015-2016 sixth graders are the first students who will follow new sequences for math. Our school has made the commitment that with this cohort of students, the entire sequence of Functions I and Functions I Honors will be covered during the grade eight year, culminating in the NYS Regents Exam for that course. Currently, the students take the first three modules of this course and complete the last two during the beginning of Grade 9 and then sit for the Regents Exam in January of freshman year.
In order to make it possible to have students meet this more challenging trajectory, changes need to be made in the program in grades six and seven. Students in grade six are taking the same content in all sections during the first quarter of the year. Near the end of the first quarter, all students will sit for the NWEA Math exam, an on-line test that was also administered at the end of Grade 5 to students who were here at that time. It is important to note that we do not use the NYS test results for any placement decisions. Using the NWEA scores, the first quarter grades, and teacher recommendation, we will begin to accelerate several sections of grade six math. Students who are not recommended for an accelerated section may still be added after the second quarter by teacher recommendation or in grade seven after all criteria are available for placement. Students who are in an Accelerated Six must maintain a strong average and exhibit excellent behaviors related to scholarship during the year or they will not be invited to continue the sequence in grade 7.
We feel strongly that students need to have multiple opportunities to grow and to make successive changes as they become more serious about their work and their time in class. To that end, there are multiple moments for students to be considered for higher level math classes across the continuum, but these changes must be made based on achievement data. At no point will a student be moved down a level during the course of a given year, but they may not remain in the same cohort the following year based, again, on achievement.
A New Vision for Grade Eight Advisory: Student Selected Clubs
Our grade eight Advisory teachers have developed an exciting new way for students to work on the tenets of character and mindful growth inherent in the advisory model. Beginning this year students will elect to take six clubs during the course of the year, each with a different teacher who is offering content that is outside of the norm for their discipline in order to give our oldest middle school students an invitation to learning more about what passions are held by our staff as they enter into new and innovative activity. There are nine selections:
SCHOOL OF ROCK-by Ms. Stancarone
Love music and enjoy creating it? Interested in playing and performing rock and pop, creating your own music and songwriting? This musical club is open to all instrumentalists and singers. Orchestra, band and chorus students welcome, as well as guitarists, bassists, and percussionists. Teamwork, positivity, creativity, cooperation, and commitment to music making a must. Get ready to rock! Please bring your instrument to every class.
ENGINEERING CHALLENGES- by Mr. DiStefano
Engineering is all about working with others to solve problems and to make a difference. During this club, students will work together in order to learn to design models and to solve engineering problems. This club offers a chance to learn how to design and build with a variety of materials.
AUTOMOTIVE MECHANICS- by Mr. Marino
Do you like cars? Do you know how they work? Most of us rely on automobiles, but few people know what makes them run. Learn how cars work in this hands-on club. You will spend time under the hood of an actual car learning the systems and maintenance that makes them run!
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY- by Mrs. Myers
There is much more to digital photography than meets the eye! There are new and exciting ways that digital photography can be used an expression of creativity. From digital cameras to phone cameras and computer programs, come learn how to enhance your photography skills!
HOW TO USE SPREADSHEETS- by Mrs. Windels
Making sense of data is something that everyone needs to know. This club will give you the chance to learn how to organize and express data in useful ways. From learning how to create tables, charts and spreadsheets these skills will enhance your work in many classes!
UNDERSTANDING THE MEDIA- by Mr. Stockton
Do you like it when people trick you? Nobody does! People are unaware that they are manipulated by the media (print, video, online). We will analyze how media outlets use language, production value, perspective (physical/narrative) music and voice to make you not think for yourself!
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT- by Mr. Tatarian
Leaders are made, not born. Learn skills and capacities that are closely associated with success in leadership and life. Learn to set goals, understand the importance of self-esteem, define role models, develop high-level reasoning skills and commitment to a personal set of values.
PUBLIC SPEAKING AND DEBATE- by Mrs. Schenck
The ability to speak in public is one of the key skills people need to be successful today. Students will learn how to be confident in front of an audience and will learn a variety of tips and skills for engaging with an audience. the fundamentals of debate will also be developed, too.
SPORTS BROADCASTING- by Ms. Garzia
Learn the field of sports broadcasting through technology. Develop an “on-air” personality through broadcasting. Learn the rules of sports, enhance your sports vocabulary, analyze videos and write a script for a final broadcast which will be presented via ScreenCastify and a podcast.
Middle School Organization (MSO)
The Middle School Organization is run by Mr. Michael Marino. This is our form of Student Government and parallels the high school SFL in many ways. The MSO is a non-elected group of volunteers who meet regularly to work on a variety of issues throughout the school year. From quality of life issues to Spirit Days to challenging practices and procedures in the school, Students commit only to those plans or matters that are interesting to them. Last spring the MSO distinguished itself by planning and implementing the most beneficial student program we have offered to date. Middle School Issues Awareness Day was a series of workshops focused on ideas of central importance to middle school students. This afternoon conference was entirely run by students from both the middle and high school and we look forward to the second annual conference this spring.
MSO will also branch out by helping parents to plan exciting Teen Center themes and activities for these events. Student choice and input are high benchmarks of the strongest school programs and MSO give students the chance to weigh in on their own experience in school.
A New Schedule in Tandem with High School
The Middle School schedule is now largely synchronous with the high school schedule, thanks to the help of Ms. Ann Meyer, our high school principal. This is the first time this has ever happened and allows for some interesting new opportunities to be explored.
New Club Offerings
Getting students interested in afterschool activities in any useful numbers has proven to be difficult in Middle School. The draw of sports teams is strong for many of our students, but we remain committed to finding new and innovative ways to have our students find a voice in the school when sports aren’t a top choice. In addition to the Homework Club run by Ms. DeSanto and high school volunteers and the Running Club which is sponsored by Mr. Marino, we are proud to offer two more clubs this fall. Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Oliveri are running a Math Club as a pilot to a potential competitive team format next year. Ms. Torrey is coaching a team for First Lego League (FLL) a competitive robotics team that will have its inaugural run this year.
A New Way to Share Staff
Due to our streamlined schedule, we now have greater opportunity to share staff between the two schools. In addition to the physical educators, music teachers and several language teachers who are shared across the two schools we now have Mr. John Ruiz working with a section of our Grade 8 students in a Functions I Honors class (formerly Algebra I Honors) and Mrs. Justine McClellan working with a section of our Grade 7 science students. We a thrilled to have our high school colleagues working with us and look forward to more collaborations like this in the future.
These are just a few of the ways in which our school is evolving and making deliberate decisions in order to make The Bronxville Promise the capstone of our work together. I look forward to reporting on other ways we are making strides as the year progresses!
Dr. Thomas L. Wilson
Middle School Principal