Letter from MC Principal

Hello Middle Campus families,

As the weeks go on your students are seeing more and more subject specific content in their classrooms. We always start the year building a foundation based upon relationships, routines, and procedures; and then we build from there. In my first Courier letter this year I talked about students reconnecting with their friends and their teachers as well as getting back into the routine of school. Relationship building helps create a situation where students can learn, as students learn best from trusted adults. According to CDC research on teen mental health, school connectedness contributes to academic success and also makes students less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Our focus on taking care of each other goes beyond just doing what’s right, it’s a part of what makes us a successful school academically. 

In these first couple of weeks of school various content areas are spending time in their classrooms taking on specific topics that are a part of who we are as a school. Science classes are teaching about Conscious Discipline and the brain state model (Executive State: brain ready for learning, Emotional State: state of upset that is verbally expressed, Survival State: fight or flight), chromebook orientation is taking place in Arts classes, and introduction to, or review of, the IB Middle Years Programme is taking place in Spanish class. The other classes are taking on the Guiding Principles:

  • “We come to school and every class Prepared to learn and do our best.” AND Quiet Time (Mathematics)
  • “We Resolve Conflicts in a thoughtful, peaceful, meaningful way.” (Physical & Health Education)
  • “We Celebrate our individual and collective successes.” AND introduction/review of Commitment to Guiding Principles rubric (Individuals & Societies)
  • “We Respect each other, our surroundings, and ourselves.” (Design)
  • “We take Responsibility for our actions and learning.” (Language and Literature)

As classes get deeper into content you are seeing various elements of our approach to teaching and learning at Neighborhood Charter. Inquiry based lessons start with a question that students are seeking to answer. All of our IB units have a statement of inquiry that guides the work that students are doing. Additionally, as a school that is built on constructivist learning principles, our students are grappling with concepts and constructing their own meaning based on various inquiries or investigations that their teachers are guiding them through. 

That said, the key word there is “guide.” Our teachers are not just helping students hunt for the right answers without concern for the process it takes to get there. They are having students engage with work that develops their critical thinking skills, and guiding them along the way. When a student faces a challenge our teachers are also encouraging productive struggle – situations where students are grappling with the work and thinking outside the box to find solutions. So it’s ok if a student is not always seeing the answer right away. That’s how we develop those critical thinking skills and develop those productive struggle muscles. We are also helping our students to develop a growth mindset. We don’t want them to think that “I’m there” or “I’m smart enough and I don’t have to keep working” or “I’m not smart enough and I’ll never get there.” We are pushing our students to focus on figuring out how they can grow. We spent the first two weeks of Power 30, our math and reading support class, solely focused on students gaining an understanding of growth mindset and learning the skills they need to overcome setbacks. We’ll get to the content soon enough, but if students don’t believe they can grow they will be limited in how far they can go.

Next week during our first IB Caregiver Info Session you will learn a bit more about teaching and learning at Neighborhood Charter and in the IB. Hopefully, you saw information about this in our MYP Coordinator Dale Scott’s Courier letter last week. There is a morning session on Wednesday, August 24th at 9am and an evening session on Thursday, August 25th at 6pm. Please click here to register. Calendar invitations with the meeting link will be sent out on Monday, August 22nd, so be sure to register by Sunday, August 21st in order to receive the link. If you miss the deadline, please email dscott@atlncs.org to receive the link as the form will no longer be available. 

The beginning of my Courier talked about both school culture and academics. One other element of our school culture is our club offerings. Last week I wrote about athletics in my Courier. The following is a summary of information about upcoming clubs. These are not the only clubs that we will have this year, but this is a set of clubs that are starting now and others that will be starting in the coming weeks.

Clubs starting now:

  • Drama Club, led by Mr. Dewey, will be taking place on Mondays from 3:15 pm-4:00 pm. This club started this past week.
  • MC Farm Club, led by Ms. Lupo meets on Tuesdays from 3:15 pm-4:00 pm. The purpose of this club is to explore, learn from, and support the plants and chickens on the farm, as well as to interact with and learn from each other, our individual and collective identities around food, and from various special guests that may join us from time to time.
  • Cube Club, sponsored by Ms. Johnson, involves students learning different methods to solve Rubik’s cubes. This club will be taking place on Mondays from 3:15 pm-4:00 pm. The first meeting date will be Monday, August 22nd.

Clubs starting in coming weeks:

  • The Gender and Sexuality Alliance is a club that aims to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Ms. Linahan, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Dewey sponsor this club. The start date for this club is TBD.
  • Educate 2 Skate is a skateboarding club led by Mr. Bubes that focuses on the process of falling down, but getting up to try again. The start date for this club is TBD.
  • In Reading Bowl Club, led by Ms. Linahan, students read from a list of selected books for middle school students in the state of Georgia. They then meet as a team and discuss/read the books and then create/study trivia questions. They will compete in January with other APS schools. The top 2 teams then go on to the regional level, and so on. The start date for this club is TBD.
  • In Fitness Club, led by Coach Prather, students will work on personal fitness – mentally, physically and emotionally. The start date for this club is TBD.

This week we have a modification to our schedule for MAP testing. MAP testing began on Tuesday and is continuing on Thursday this week. We are testing from 8:30 to 10:30 am. I know this is late notice for anyone planning to check students out for appointments. However, for any situations where you are able to avoid checking out students during this window, please work around this timeframe to minimize disruptions to MAP testing.

Finally, as we began the school year I wrote about our dress code and the idea that last year we began the process of re-evaluating our current dress code as we move towards modernizing it. We are planning to have a virtual parent session to talk about our process and start moving towards creating a more modern dress code. Tentatively, we are looking at the week of August 29th, I hope to have more details to share in my Courier letter next week.

As always if you have any questions please feel free to reach out.

Kind Regards,