Friday Focus


I woke up this morning and noticed that it’s May. Holy cow! I really can't believe how quickly my first year with all of you is going. We all know when the May page on the calendar shows up, students naturally start the countdown of school days left in the year. I urge you not to start that same countdown in your classroom. Instead of counting the days, let’s continue to make the days count (sorry - I couldn't help myself). We all have plenty to do. Keeping the students active in their learning is a great way to show them that expectations have not changed even though the majority of testing is finished and the days are getting sunnier and warmer. We will also continue to tighten things up on our end in the hallways and cafeteria. Let's make the last 8 weeks smooth and engaging!


Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Monday, May 4th

  • Unified Basketball Game #1/Harlem Wizards @SHS, 4:00 PM

Tuesday, May 5th

  • Admin Cabinet Meeting, SHS LGI, 9:45 AM
  • Faculty Meeting Cancelled - Next meeting on June 2nd

Wednesday, May 6th

  • Community Coalition Meeting, SHS LGI, 3:00 PM
  • BOE Budget Hearing/Meet the Candidates, SHS LGI, 6:30 PM

Friday, May 8th

  • SchoolTool 4th Quarter Progress Report Unlock Date
  • Final Teen Town, OWWMS, 7:00 - 9:00 PM

Middle Grades Forum/Schools to Watch Conference

This is my last ditch effort to put together a contingent to go to Washington, D.C. for the Schools to Watch Middle Grades Forum conference beginning on June 24th and running through June 27th. You can find detailed information on the conference here:

Because this is my first year as principal, I'd like to stay behind here at school and make sure the year wraps up smoothly. Please let me know ASAP via email or in person if you are willing to represent OWWMS as we are re-designated for a third time. From what I hear, it's a great professional learning opportunity, as well.

Our First XFactor Event was a hit!

....Literally! Last Friday we had 10 boys show up for our inaugural event, which was originally planned to be pizza and basketball. Somehow it morphed in to student vs. teacher dodge-ball for an hour, and then a second hour of hallway manhunt. Embarrassingly sore doesn't begin to describe what I felt on Saturday morning. Check out the video below for a little taste of our evening, and make sure to watch it through to the end for the move of night. Thanks to the teacher-mentors for your willingness to have fun with our students. I'm truly looking forward to our next event, and so are the students.
XFactor Event - 4.25.15 (watch the whole thing)

"Just a simple hello can make a person's day!"

A couple of weeks ago, Jeannine Wysocki sent me an email about an activity she did with her 6th graders based on an article from the Times Union, which you can read here. I really enjoyed reading about it, especially since this is how I try to start my mornings in front of the building each day. I asked her if I could share it with you. Social-emotional learning is such a big part of what we talk about at the middle level, and being able to connect it to literacy skills is outstanding. I love seeing things like this in action. Thanks Jeannine!


"I did a little activity today to address the other part of my teaching job, the part where we try to encourage our kids to be patient, considerate, and tolerant of others. Last Friday we had a solemn discussion about Jacobe. I just let the kids talk and share. The conversation turned to how people might feel lonely, and we came up with a plan to give a sincere "hello" to people over the weekend and here in school.

Today (this is a in a SS class) I passed out an article and had the students close read it, state the central idea, and relate it to our weekend activity. They all got it - just a simple hello can make a person's day! That simple connection can turn someone's day around! I then had them share their experiences and write them on an index card. We'll keep it up all week, and who knows, maybe they'll continue on their own. We talked about the different responses and acknowledged that people react differently because everyone is different and may be going through something that we don't know about. Whatever their response, it "doesn't cost us anything" to say hello.

Here are a few of their comments. I am thrilled at their willingness to give it a try:

"While I was walking down the hall, I greeted others who were passing by. They would turn, surprised, and then greet me in return. I wondered why their responses were so surprised."

"I was walking down the hall and said hello to a girl who looked a little older than me. She said hi back in an awkward voice. I think I scared her a little bit."

"My sisters were at their friend's house and her dad was outside watering the garden. I said hi and it lead to a whole conversation."

"I was at the Flames hockey game and I walked by an older man and said "hello" and he said "hello" back and also smiled at me."

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The weekend is looking good. Enjoy it!

- Tim