Letter from MC Principal

Hello MC families,

We just wrapped up our spring student-led conferences, and I heard lots of feedback regarding our students being quite reflective about their growth in some areas and honest about their lack of growth in other areas. Of course, that report is not universal. There are always cases where students may have trouble being reflective or taking Responsibility for their actions and learning when things are not going well. There are also cases where students are simply not Prepared for their conferences. It happens. One thing that is very important though, is that if a student is not prepared we allow them to deal with the natural consequence of not being prepared. We give our students lots of time in school (multiple hours) to prepare for conferences and the same goes for portfolios and exhibitions (8th grade Exhibitions will take place the week of April 24th, Milestones for all grades will be the first two weeks in May, and 6th and 7th grade Exhibitions will take place the week of May 15th). Part of building the capacity for students to rise to the occasion is sometimes allowing them to fall flat if they didn’t bring their best effort – otherwise they will never know how to bounce back. Resiliency is a big skill that children must learn and struggles are great learning opportunities.

FYI the Spring Advisor Reports in which teachers reported on the Commitment to Guiding Principles achievement levels that your students have earned this Spring, as well as the impact on class performance, are uploaded in ManageBac.

Conferences and reporting are major academic data points at ANCS. Another academic note that I want to briefly touch on is academic honesty. In November ChatGPT was released. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot that can be used for many purposes. There are positive applications of artificial intelligence chatbots, however one of the negative uses is students generating computer produced work and passing it off as their own. This issue has been creating challenges throughout the world of education, and it has recently landed in our community. Students plagiarizing work or otherwise cheating, in addition to being wrong, can also result in disciplinary actions like suspension from school. There are students around the country (and locally) losing college acceptances, losing scholarships, and getting kicked out of school for cheating so please have a conversation with your children about plagiarism and its consequences. Please also read 8th grade Language and Literature teacher Heidi Goodwin’s Courier letter about plagiarism – it is definitely thought-provoking. New technology creates new challenges, but we are also going to be thinking through ways to use this technology positively at school as well.

A recent event at the Middle Campus that I wanted to circle back and write about was our author visit with Jerry Craft on Thursday, March 16th. New York Times bestselling author Jerry Craft is the author of “New Kid,” one of our summer reading books. “New Kid” is a banned book that is about the experience of a young man of color attempting to fit into a new private school. There are challenges that he faces related to racial and socioeconomic differences both from people at his new school, and from people in the neighborhood where he grew up. It was a fun read with some great story lines and I really enjoyed reading it this summer. Jerry Craft is the author and illustrator of this book and he has won multiple awards including the Newbery Award and the Coretta Scott King Author Award – two prestigious awards for authors of children’s books. In addition to wowing us with his talents as a storyteller and an artist, Jerry talked about the importance of finding something to read that you connect to. He read comic books as a kid and was turned off by long “traditional” classics, however he encouraged our students to find anything that interested them and latch on to it. He also told us about the many times that he was rejected, before he finally broke through as an author. Perseverance was a major theme of his visit – Mr. Craft’s visit was a very impactful one.

Switching gears, middle schools (and schools in general) are a microcosm of society. There is a teenage mental health crisis that we are dealing with in our country that has been exacerbated by the ill-effects of social media and by the isolation of COVID-19. In response to some of the needs of our young women we had two representatives from the Body Positive program at Georgia Tech come speak to our 8th grade students who identify as girls. From what I was told it was a positive and informative experience that addressed body image, eating patterns, and mental health. During this time our 8th grade students who identify as boys were in a session with me and a few other male teachers focused on toxic masculinity, positive vs. negative peer pressure, and ways that these concepts impact all genders including the boys themselves. This was another quality student experience that I think our students truly benefited from.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to reach out. Have a safe, restful, and enjoyable Spring Break and we’ll see you on April 10th!

Kind regards,