The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Ask Yourself These Questions

I asked my staff a couple of questions at this years opening day meeting that have continued to be on my mind for the past month. As part of our opening day meeting, I asked my staff to discuss and voice their opinion on the question: “What is the purpose of education?” It was interesting listening to various responses to this big and broad question. I then posed the question: “What do you hope your own children get out of school?” I asked those parents, who had school aged kids in the room to explain their answers to others around them. I challenged my staff to think about their responses to both questions and whether they were aligned. What I want for the kids I teach and my own children should be the same answer, right? I have continued to think about these two questions. What do I want my kids to get out of school? And, does that align with my beliefs as a principal? I hope my answers are the same and I hope those actions show in my daily work.

You may have noticed, I have been talking about my kids a good deal in my blog posts this year. I believe that this stems from these questions. As I have continued to consider what I want my kids to get out of school, I keep coming back to the following three big ideas.

I want my kids to be loved and cared for on a daily basis. If I subtract out the time my kids sleep at night, they spend a considerable more time at school during the week than at home. This means school must be a home away from home. I trust that while my kids are at school they are in an environment that safe and with people who care for them. I know my kids are not perfect, but their unique personalities are what make them special. I want to know that when they are at school that there is someone there who loves them and cares for them. We have an awesome responsibility as teachers - people trust us with their most precious things in the world. Just like my own children, no child is perfect. And every child can be a challenge in their own way, but we must love them anyway. Above anything else, I want my kids to be in an environment with someone who cares for them every day!

I want my kids to have opportunities to try new things and take risks in a safe environment. The point of education must be to help students find their passion and be successful members of society. They need to find an avenue that will lead them eventually to a happy life, future career, and hopefully many future successes. To find this passion we must allow students to explore, try new things, and look down multiple paths. But, at the same time, being the age of an adolescent is a scary time. People this age are often concerned with what others will think, and most students are not willing to put themselves at risk of failure. This is where educators come in, teachers must create safe learning environments where students have the opportunity to fail and learn from those failures. Teachers should focus on planning experiences, not just lessons for our students. We must help our students understand learning is a journey and on that journey failure is a vital part of success.

I want my kids to learn. Please take notice I did not say: I want them to get good grades or to pass a test. I want my kids to learn. I struggle with this idea sometimes. We live in an archaic school system, using ideals and measurements for learning that have existed for decades or centuries even though science has taught us so much in the past few years about how people learn. Wanting my kids to learn, does not always equate to doing well “at school.” I don’t just want them to be able to play the game of school; I want them to be able to apply what they have learned. I want them to be able to transfer their learning to new topics and new ideas. Knowledge is no longer power. Our students need to be able to do more with information than just regurgitate it. If I consider the skills I use on a daily basis that help me be successful at work, none of those skills came from a book. They came from doing! Saying I want my kids to learn means I want my kids to do, to be part of, to understand the why, the what for, and the how so, in relation to the content they are learning.

If these are the things I want for my own kids, then these must be the things I want for ALL kids. I must endeavor to put first things first and strive to create this type of school environment in my work every day.

Ask yourself these same questions. Decide what you really want your kids to get out of school. Then see if what you want for your kids aligns with what happens in your school or your classroom everyday.

If these ideals align, awesome! If they do not align, ask yourself: What am I going to do differently tomorrow?

Keep learning, keep growing, and keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Thank you to Mariah Beal who is finishing her long term substitute position for Meghan Sefton today. We appreciate Mariah's dedication to SMS and our students over the past six weeks!
  • Thank you to Mrs. Mendel and the Cardinal Cafe for delivering drinks to teachers each morning. This a a great service to SMS and a wonderful experience for our CIP students.
  • Thank you to our science and math teachers who hosted Woodrow Wilson Fellows from UIndy this week.

Teacher of the Month

Angie Chisham is the August teacher of the month. Angie was nominated for her efforts in creating a student centered classroom. She has been working diligently this year to turn her classroom over to the students. Angie has promoted our school theme "OWN IT!" with her students this year and has made some very positive classroom changes! Keep up the great work, Angie!


Week 6 Grateful Friday Challenge

We saw the power of the post-it last week. To continue to show that kindness is our strength, go out of your way to show at least one random act of kindness to a student or staff member today.


Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win


Each day we share a story of learning taking place at Southport Middle on our 180 Days of Learning Blog. Below are this week's stories of learning.

Amber Barton

Students in Mrs. Barton's reading class started off the week with some free writing, and worked on getting up their word counts. The class is reading the book Dragon's Pearl. While going through the book they are learning new vocabulary . To help students with their vocabulary acquisition students were using Kahoot. Kahoot is a web tool designed to help make learning more fun and interactive for all students, while helping teachers get data to help diagnose student problems and make decisions for the needs of our students. Using their Chromebooks students are able to respond to the questions posted on the board. Students then broke out into their groups for the period.

Chris Robinson

Mrs. Robinson's 7th grade social studies students continue to find great uses for their new online 'tech'book. This 'tech'books provides and interactive venture through the text with videos and read aloud options for the students. Today, students were studying the United Nations. They studied different world wide issues were the United Nations interviewed. The completed a graphic organizer with dates, locations, and descriptions of these events. Students were then asked to think about if the peacekeeping activities of the United Nations are justified?

Danielle Bentley

Over the past few days, Mrs. Bentley's 8th grade language arts students have been working on identifying the main idea. Students have read multiple short passages, identified main idea, and supported the main ideas with details from the text. For a portion of the class today, Mrs. Bentley used Kahoot to review these concepts. Kahoot is an online game based program where students can interact with questions and each other in real time. Kahoot was not only a fun way to review, it provided Mrs. Bentley with some great feedback on how well her students can determine the main idea from their reading.

Mike Greathouse

Mr. Greathouse's 8th grade art students continue to develop their comic characters. Today, students focused on developing facial expressions based on personality or emotion. Students worked together with Mr. Greathouse to learn how to depict facial expressions such as: happy, mad, and sad. Students then took their new learning and applied it to their personal comic character. Students will continue over the next few days to develop other features of these characters.

Brandi Battinau

Mrs. Battinau's 8th grade Language Arts students spend time each day improving their vocabulary. Students are presented with a new word each day. The students write their own definition of the word, use it in sentences, find synonyms, determine word families, and draw pictures that represent the words. So far over the course of the year, students have added numerous new words to their daily vocabulary.


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