Letter from the MC Principal

Hello MC families,

In previous Courier letters I’ve written about service learning at the Middle Campus. In those letters I’ve written about Community Project in 8th grade. Community Project is an 8th grade service learning opportunity in which students find a community that they want to work in, research the needs of that community related to a topic of the student’s interest, and then work towards performing a service action in that community. While we encourage our students to do work in the broader community sometimes this work is done inside the school.

There are various offerings that are coming up (including tomorrow) related to Community Project. Tomorrow (Thursday 2/9) there is a Technology Class about safe computer usage from 3:00-3:30 in the Media Center (there will be snacks at this meeting), there is a Debate Club that is starting with their first meeting being from 3:15-4:00 pm on Monday 2/13 in the Afzal/Bennett classroom, and a Creative Writing Club with an interest meeting taking place from 3:15-4:00 pm on Monday 2/13.

MAP, Milestones, Data Talks

The last two days we’ve been doing Data Talks with students. Several years ago we began a process of having one-on-one conversations with students about their MAP and Milestones data so that they could reflect on the connection between their testing data, their performance in class, and how their personal habits and approaches impact all of these things. It allows students to analyze how things are going, and at the end of the data talk we encourage students to make a plan for improvement or continued growth. These data talks have been very successful in the past (students would come into their final MAP test thinking about the goals they set and hoping to reach them), so we were excited to bring data talks back. Every student in the school had an individual 15-minute conference time set up with an adult who reviewed their data. Students were given passes during Advisory with their appointment time on it, and they came down to the Media Center on a rolling basis. Rhiannen Laurent, our K-8 Dean of Academic Growth, organized the process. The adults doing the talks were: Dr. Cassie Leymarie (DEI Co-Director), Chuck Meadows (Executive Director), Dale Scott (MYP Coordinator), Emily Stapp (ESS Department Chair), Kristin Lee (Counselor), Lesley Michaels (Elementary Campus 3rd-5th Instructional Coach), Leslye Ryan (School Nurse), Lindy Settevendemie (K-8 MTSS Coordinator), Naomi Whiters (K-8 504 Coordinator), Natalie Caudle (Elementary Campus ESS Department Chair), Dr. NaTasha Woody-Wideman (Assistant Principal), Nickey Hardon (Instructional Coach), Terri Linahan (Media Center Specialist), Ms. Laurent, and myself. Speaking of this data, MAP scores from the Winter administration of the test have been uploaded to ManageBac (the Fall scores are already there) so you can login to ManageBac to see those.

Conversation with a Student

Our 8th grade Language and Literature class has been reading about the proposed police/fire training facility referred to by some as Cop City. Not everyone is in agreement about the merits of this proposed facility, and students have read articles from the perspectives of both sides of this issue. They have discussed the controversies, the law enforcement officer that was shot and the activist that was killed. I was able to sit in on a class in which an activist came in to share their point of view, and it was great to hear the various perspectives of the students. In an upcoming lesson the 8th grade teachers are working to bring in someone who represents contrasting views to this activist. 

In the class that I sat in on, after some of the initial discussion, a student brought up the concept of “defunding” the police. He said that he didn’t understand why people would want to take money away from the police, because it would make their neighborhoods unsafe. Another student responded and said that defunding the police did not mean that the police would lose all of their funding, it was simply referring to using funds differently for the benefit of a community. In order to help clarify this point, I mentioned that some believe the idea is that instead of only addressing crimes once they are committed, an attempt would be made to use funds to help communities in order to prevent crime from occurring in the first place. The students exchanged various ideas about these concepts on both sides of the issue as the class continued. 

Once this portion of the discussion was over and students were transitioning to something else, the original student who had issue with the concept of defunding the police came up to me and we talked. He talked about how lower tax bases in underserved communities contributed to a lack of services. I discussed the impact of redlining and other exclusionary tactics that contributed to the creation of concentrated high poverty areas and the redistribution of wealth out of Black neighborhoods. Next the student suggested that more evenly distributed neighborhoods with mixes of more expensive and less expensive homes would create a tax base with more money that would increase the funding for the services that each neighborhood needs – distributing these funds more fairly. In response I told him that he raised a good point and that our conversation was an example of how our government is designed to work. When people with varying viewpoints are able to share ideas in a respectful manner, when people can disagree without being disagreeable (we’ve had Advisory lessons about this specific concept), it allows people to come together and find mutually agreeable solutions. This student interaction is an example of the great work that we do at our school. It’s an example of the reason why we don’t hide from difficult conversations, but instead we encourage them and encourage multiple perspectives. We want our students to share their points of view and grapple with difficult ideas, so that they learn how to engage with people from all walks of life and with people with varying viewpoints. This is an example of one way that we fulfill the mission element of “challeng[ing] each student to take an active role as an informed citizen in a global society.” 

Have a great week and as always if you have any questions feel free to reach out.

Kind regards,