Ram Nation News

Week of October 22, 2018


A middle school that cultivates scholars to be catalysts of change, life-long learners, innovators, and competitors in a global society


At Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, our mission is to empower our students to become

college and career ready by providing them a culture of excellence through challenging

opportunities, powerful relationships, and strong community partnerships.

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As we approach our common assessment window, let's be very intentional to provide a great learning environment for our kids. Let's be very purposeful and have a laser focus as we work on having double digit gains across all subjects in all buckets and reach number 1!!!

A great deal of student achievement lays on the level of motivation students have. A discouraged or unmotivated student will not put forth the effort required to perform above the average. Students can have access to great books, teachers, lessons, and technology, but it will not get students excited about learning, nor will it make students be willing to work hard. Motivation is key in the success of students. Teachers play a very important role in encouraging and motivating students, but since every student is motivated differently, it takes time and effort to get to know how to motivate and encourage each student. Even the best-intentioned and educated teachers sometimes lack the skills to keep kids on track.

  • MOTIVATE our students to do their very best so that they would not miss the opportunity to be and feel successful.
  • Be familiar with and implement the accommodations that our Special Education, 504, and ESL students have during testing; if you don't know, please ask!!!
  • Let's continue to prepare our students for the next grade level keeping in mind our common assessments as a benchmark and a guide. By doing so, you are able to determine the critical SEs tested and the level of thinking demand.
  • Let’s make this learning relevant and incorporate engagement strategies to motivate students. Games such as, Jeopardy, use and reference to study guides, stations, and Quizlet are a few examples of engaging activities while reviewing critical SEs. As we present our lessons to students, continue to make sure that you are addressing, What students are learning, Why it is important, What mastery looks like, and How to connect it to prior knowledge and their own lives
  • Be very intentional in the type of work and tasks that you are putting in front of our students. As you know, there are things that students must know and other things that are nice to know; therefore, have a laser-focus on the learning that is critical for each grade level and focus on the "must knows".


Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn. It is awesome to see all of our students being on time to school. Let's continue to support our students in transitioning in an expedited manner from class to class. The following is the percent for attendance for the week of 10/15 - 10/18: 6th Grade - 97.08%; 7th Grade - 95.89%; and 8th Grade 95.07%.

Way to go 6th grade with 4 weeks on the lead!!! 6th Grade improved by 0.68. from our previous week and continue to take the lead.

Let's continue to encourage our students to be present and on time on a daily basis. It really makes a huge difference when our students are present learning

Climate and Culture

When I say "Go" you say "Rams".... "Go"... "Rams" When I say "Rusk" you say "Green".... "Rusk".... "Green". Our goal for our climate survey is to rank in the 5th quintile in all areas! This means that all of our areas will be green. Also, we want to provide our students with the opportunities to participate in after school or co-curricular activities as we support our district's goal #4. We celebrated Homecoming Week with dress up days and fun events for our students. Our culminating event for the week was the pep rally and the dance. Thank you so much for all your support in the various activities and for the great participation in the pep rally. Our students had a great time and showed out by surpassing the expectations I had for a full school assembly.
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TEDxKids@SMU: The Future is Us

TEDxKids@SMU is a one-of-a-kind experience and the first ever TED style conference for kids. Middle school students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade from across North Texas came to SMU’s campus to engage with big ideas and great conversations. This day was dedicated to kids; adults were asked to sit in the balcony while high school volunteer hosts sat with the students on the main floor. During the breaks the energy and raw curiosity of 800 young minds all in one room was contagious: ideas were presented on stage then debated with the speaker, partners demonstrated the latest technology and teach creative expression, and all the while future leaders were being formed.

Thank you so much to Ms. Vargas for her leadership and passion for our kids as she organized and collaborated with SMU to provide this opportunity for our kids. Also, shout out to Ms. Perez and Mr. Proctor for attending and supporting our kids during this event; they all gave up their fair day to allow our students this one-of-a-kind experience.

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Our area congressman (woman), Eddie Berniece Johnson challenged schools is her district, which DISD is a part of, to accept the 2018 Congressional App Challenge. Students throughout the nation are pushed to create apps to promote computer science and STEM.

The students who accepted the Challenge at Rusk worked hard learning how to create apps within a short time period. They were so dedicated in accomplishing a difficult task they’ve never tried before. It was amazing to see students code and create real apps that can be downloaded onto phones and tablets! They were so excited to see real working apps they created!

I am very proud of the work by Mrs. Safford who accepted this challenge, worked with our students in this project, and communicated with district personnel via surveys to ensure we were on track to enter the App challenge and meet the deadlines.

Here are the links to students' videos in Vimeo.

Student Names.................. App Title....................... Vimeo Video Link

Abner Navarrette........ “What Do You Like”........ https://vimeo.com/295378037

Nickalas Soto

Nickalas Soto............ “Passing The Time” ........https://vimeo.com/295370958

CeMya Walker

Diana Medina............ “eWhiteboard” .................https://vimeo.com/295305844

LC Johnson............... “Triple T App”................. https://vimeo.com/295300426

Carmelo Jimenez

Alejandro Ramirez also participated and was a great support in trying to meet the app challenge.


  • During transitions, let's make sure to have 100% participation and hold each other accountable to be present in the hallway supporting students. Our goal is to narrate the positive and have at least 10 positive interactions each transition. APs, CICs, and counselors will be working with each one of you to provide individual support. (TEI 3.3 and 3R Positive Attitude/Enthusiasm).
  • Engage learners throughout your lessons and ensure we incorporate bell-to-bell instruction (see below for more details). It will support the increase in student achievement and reduce disruptions. While students are more familiar with engagement strategies such as Think Pair Share, we need to ensure that we have taught, modeled, and practiced these skills in order for effective implementation (TEI 2.4, 3.1, and 3.3).
  • Be very consistent in the effective implementation of various practices discussed during our TEI orientation and lesson alignment conversations. With regards to Alignment (learning objective), the proficient rating states: Focuses students at the beginning and throughout the lesson, by clearly stating (TEI 2.1)
    • What they are learning
    • Why it is important
    • What mastery looks like
    • How to connect it to prior knowledge and their own lives and explaining to students
  • Submit lesson plans by Thursday at 6:00 p.m. (TEI 4.2)


Monday, October 22-
  • A Day - Wear Red in support of Red Ribbon Week! (Attire includes: all red or red shirt or sweater with uniform pants.)
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:45 Grade Level Meetings - AFC and other topics by grade level.

  • 4:45 - 6:00 p.m. - Soccer tryouts for 7th and 8th grade students who are interested. Ms Winton and Mr. Salazar.

, October 23-
  • B-Day.

    Pair up against Drugs! Match with your friend on twin day to show everyone you’re drug free. (Attire includes: regular clothes are allowed with school appropriate pictures/wording and no tears or holes in pants.)

  • Selected 6th grade students will attend a college field trip to Paul Quinn College.

  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

    Football game at Franklin Field against E.D Walker MS.

Wednesday, October 24-
  • A-Day. Don’t get mixed up in drugs! Wear your craziest tacky outfit to show your drug free spirit!
  • Calibration Walks - We will be walking classrooms checking for alignment, exemplars, and aggressively monitoring.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. - CILT sessions - Edison MS.
  • 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Volleyball game at Tasby MS against Tasby. This is the last game of the season.

Thursday, October 25-

  • B-Day. Say Peace out to Drugs! Show the world your hippie 70s outfit to say peace out to drugs. (Bell bottoms, tie dye, peace signs.)
  • Selected 8th grade students will attend a field trip to explore our Townview High School Center.

  • Department Collaboration PLC - Department Chair and AP/CIC
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • Students can select from several enrichment clubs such as Anime, Model UN, art, cooking, and poetry among others. Continue to promote your club - Data is being collected and I have noticed that we do not have a lot of interest from students and we need to bring our numbers up.
  • 6:00 - Lesson Plans Due

Friday, October 19 -

  • A-Day. Let’s make a drug free world! Show your cultural pride (Mexican, African, Asian, French, any culture you would like to represent) to celebrate a drug free life! (kimonos, daishiki, Mexican dresses/blouses, sari, etc.)

Upcoming Events

October 30 -

  • 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. - Sign up Dallas ISD Flu Clinic available.

October 31 -

  • Compliance videos due -hard deadline.

November 9-

Election Laws Related to Political Electioneering and Advertisement

As the upcoming November election nears, District employees needs to be aware of election laws related to political electioneering and advertisement.

Communities in Schools Update

10 Teaching Strategies to Keep Struggling Students Working

Happy Birthday -

We want to wish you the best and many blessings for the years to come.

1 – Ms. Herrera

8 – Ms. Vasquez

16 – Ms. Buitron-Irani