Dear Parents and Guardians:
All of a sudden it’s February and half the school year is over! The halfway point of the year marks the end of the 2nd quarter and the beginning of the 3rd quarter. A month ago we celebrated New Year’s Day, and many of us took the opportunity to make resolutions to change some aspect of our lives. For students, the end of the semester is a type of New Year’s Day because it is an opportunity for them to start fresh in every class and establish new habits that will lead to improvement or recommit to habits that have influenced their success so far this year.
At Merton Williams, we started the new semester with grade level assemblies to review our success as a building in lowering the number of behavioral incidents that resulted in a discipline referral and to encourage students to recommit to following our building-wide PBIS expectations of being Respectful, Responsible and Productive. What we found when examining behavioral data from the first semester was quite impressive and really speaks to the character of our student body. Last year, the 2012-2013 school year, we had 618 incidents that led to a behavior referral. That was down from over 1,000 referrals in the 2011-2012 school year. So far this year, we have had only 98 behavior referrals! We believe many factors have contributed to this dramatic reduction, but the bottom line is that your children, when faced with a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing, are choosing the right thing! That doesn’t happen unless there are high expectations at home and at school. Thank you for expecting your child to do the right thing and teaching them what that means.
On the academic front, we talked to students about the concept of “grit” and how it can help them reach their goals. There are many definitions of what grit is but simply put, grit is the ability to show perseverance and resiliency when faced with difficulty or failure. In the next week, your child will be taking a short survey on grit. The idea for the survey began with our building School Improvement Team and the work we are doing around helping students who we know can do better in school, do just that. We initially referred to these students as “middle” students, and what we discovered in researching ways to help middle students improve their achievement is that students who possess higher levels of grit tend to achieve better academically. Furthermore, we realized that ALL students, regardless of how they achieve academically, can benefit from developing their grit. The survey is a first step toward introducing the concept to students and for the School Improvement Team to collect data on how our students perceive their level of grit.
As we move forward into the second half of the year, I encourage you to continue talking with your child about how they are doing in school and continue to monitor their progress via the Parent Portal. Encourage them to set goals for the new quarter. Ask them about grit and how they demonstrate it in and out of school. Most of all, continue to have high expectations for your child and periodically reinforce what those expectations are. As we know, middle schoolers can have short memories so it never hurts to remind them what doing the right thing looks like!
Stay Warm! Sincerely, Tim Dobbertin, Principal
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