Parent Newsletter

Jan. 6th - 10th

Students Return Tuesday Jan. 7th

2nd Nine Weeks Report Cards Go Home - Wednesday Jan. 8th

Welcome Back!

We are excited to have students return for the second semester on Tuesday Jan. 7th. We are sending this newsletter out on our normal day of Sunday, but please remember students return on Tuesday Jan. 7th. Please check out this week's newsletter to learn more.

- A Look at the Week Ahead

- Upcoming Games and Concerts

- Spirit Week is Jan. 7th - 10th

- New Vaping Policy begins 1/1/20

- New Year's Resolution: Using Canvas and Skyward

- Social Studies Grant

- PTO News

- Counselors Corner

We are excited for students to return on Tuesday Jan. 7th. We look forward to another great semester.

Have a great week,

Phil Cox, Principal

Chris Layton, Vice Principal

Jenifer Laurendine, Dean of Students

A Look at the Week Ahead


NO School for students

Staff Professional Development

Girls Basketball Practice 1:00-3:00

Boys Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00


B day

Spirit Week—Comfy Day (NO pajamas or onesies)

5th/6th Grade Morning Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 7:00-7:30

Atomic Eagles Lego League Team Meeting (Shanafield) Science Wing 2:45-4:45

Master Builders Lego League Team Meeting (Scott) Rm 102 2:45-4:30

5th/6th Grade After School Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 2:45-3:30

Cheer Practice 3:00-5:00

Girls Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00

Boys Basketball Practice 5:00-7:00


A day

Spirit Week—U.S.A. Day

Grade Reports sent home with students 7th period

Cheer Practice 1:00-3:00

Girls Basketball Practice 1:00-3:00

Boys Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00


B day


Spirit Week—Ugly sweater Day

5th/6th Grade Morning Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 7:00-7:30

Math Club (Tracey) Rm 203 2:45-4:00

Robotic Sumo Bot Team meeting (Franco) Rm 316 2:45-4:30

RadioActive Brix Lego League Team (Davis) Rm 223 2:45-4:30

5th/6th Grade After School Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 2:45-3:30

7th/8th Grade Tutoring (Hondorf) Rm 301 2:45-3:30

Library Club 2:45-3:45

Cheer Practice 3:00-4:15

Basketball vs. LaFollette Middle School @ Home GJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00

Band Concert-ORHS 6:30


A day

Spirit Week—Blue and Gold Day

Youth for Christ-JPAC 7:30

Discipline Assemblies-JPAC 8:40-7th grade, 9:30-8th grade

Pep Rally

Middle School Basketball/Cheer Recognition @ ORHS Basketball Game

Boys Basketball Practice 5:00-7:00


Basketball vs. Robertsville Middle School @ ORHS BJV-1:00, GV-2:15, BV-3:30

JMS vs. RMS on Saturday 1/11 Boys JV starts at 1 pm

Spirit Week is Jan. 7th - 10th

It's Spirit Week at JMS in honor of the second JMS vs. RMS game on Saturday Jan. 11th. There will be different days for students to dress for spirit week. Please remember that all school dress code and rules apply during spirit week. Here are the list of days for spirit week and some details about spirit week:

Tuesday- Comfy day - Students may NOT wear pajamas, onesies, lounge wear or slippers (lounge shoes) etc. as it violates the dress code. Students are encouraged to dress comfy with something like sweat shirts etc. Students are not permitted to wear pajamas, onesies, lounge wear or slippers (lounge shoes) etc. that violate dress code.

Wednesday- U.S.A. day - Show your patriotism and sport your best red, white and blue. Clothing must comply with the school dress code.

Thursday- Ugly sweater day (any ugly sweater will do, not just Christmas)

Friday- Blue and Gold day

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Upcoming Games and Concerts

We will be busy as we return from Winter Break with many games and concerts. Please check out the dates below to see the upcoming basketball games and also re scheduled concerts for both band and chorus:

Week of Jan. 6th

Thursday Jan. 9th

Basketball vs. LaFollette Middle School @ Home GJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00

Band Concert-at ORHS 6:30 pm

Saturday Jan. 11th

Basketball vs. Robertsville Middle School @ ORHS BJV-1:00, GV-2:15, BV-3:30

Week of Jan. 13th

Monday Jan. 13th

Basketball vs. Pigeon Forge at Home JV starts at 5 pm

Tuesday Jan. 14th

7th and 8th grade Chorus concert (rescheduled from before break) 7 pm at JMS

Thursday Jan. 16th

Basketball vs. Eagleton at Home JV starts at 5 pm (8th grade Night)

Special Thanks to Our Maintenance and Custodial Staff

A special thanks to our Maintenance and Custodial staff for their efforts over winter break to help work on the JMS building. They were able to continue making addition of new seats in the Jefferson Performing Arts Center. The efforts have been made to replace the seats over the past few weeks and the crews got a great deal of work accomplished over the break. In addition, they were able to scrub and wax the entire first floor over the break. We are very fortunate to have such a hard working crew, who do such an amazing job to help keep our building in top shape.

What will STEM Night look like? Here's a look at last year's STEM Night to give you a better idea

STEMNight2019 Revised 2.19.19

STEM Night is 2/20/20

STEM Night: 2/20/20 We hope to see you there

This is a message to Save the Date for STEM Night which will be from 6 pm - 8 pm on Thursday February 20th at Jefferson Middle School. The goal of STEM night is to invite our families and students in to our school to learn more about STEM, careers in STEM and applications both at JMS and the world in which our students will work, live, and thrive in their futures.

If you have any resources or you work for a group that may want to be a part of the STEM night, please contact either of our STEM coaches Callie Painter at or Alex Goldberg at

We will keep reminding everyone of this date as we hope to have a HUGE turnout like we did last year!

Special Thanks to Dr. Trisler at East Tennessee Orthodontics for sponsoring our Staff t shirts designed to help promote the event. This is the second year Dr. Trisler's office, East Tennessee Orthodontics has provided the shirts for the JMS staff. Dr. Trisler's office has been very generous to provide these shirts to our staff and we are very grateful for their efforts.

New Vaping Policy Takes Effect Jan. 1, 2020

To effectively address and discourage student vaping, Oak Ridge Schools board of education has approved the following addendum to the 2019-2020 Oak Ridge Schools Discipline Code. This addendum will go into effect January 1, 2020, to allow us to communicate specifics to students and families.

Read the updated policy below or at this link.

Smoking/Tobacco Citations/Electronic Cigarettes

Smoking or the possession or use of any tobacco product including smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes in school buildings, on school premises, or at school-related activities is prohibited. (BEP SEC. I-5, TCA 39-17-1601 and school board policy 1.803) Students who are found in possession of tobacco or tobacco products including smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes will be issued a tobacco citation for a court hearing. (T.C.A. 39-17-1505). Electronic cigarettes mean an electronic device that converts nicotine into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Nicotine vapors or oils will be considered as paraphernalia for the electronic cigarettes. All uses of tobacco including electronic/battery operated nicotine delivery devices, vapor products, and all other associated paraphernalia are prohibited in all of the school district’s buildings and in all vehicles that are owned, leased, or operated by the district. Smoking and vaping shall be prohibited in any public seating areas including, but not limited to, bleachers used for sporting events or public restrooms. (School Board policy 1.803)

Students who are vaping or found to be in possession of tobacco or tobacco products on school property including smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, will be assigned the following consequences:

. First Offense – Student will be assigned five days of out of school suspension, receive a tobacco citation and be required to attend a tobacco/vaping education class. The length of the suspension may be reduced pending the successful completion of the tobacco/vaping education class.

. Second Offense – Student will be assigned seven days of out of school suspension.

. Third Offense – Student will be assigned a long term suspension (10 days or more).

Students who are found to be distributing tobacco or tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes, will be assigned the following consequences:

. 1st Offense – Student will be assigned seven days of out of school suspension, receive a tobacco citation and be required to attend a tobacco/vaping education class. The length of the suspension may be reduced pending the successful completing of the tobacco /vaping education class.

. 2nd Offense – Student will be assigned a long term suspension (10 days or more).

Vaping products containing THC – Student activity involving possession or distribution of products containing THC will be addressed as a Zero Tolerance Offense.

JMS Library gets new furniture

If you haven't been in the JMS library recently, you may be surprised to see the upgrades that are being made. We have been working over the past few years to update and upgrade a lot of the furniture and equipment. The goal is to help make the library a space for collaboration in addition to being a central hub for student and teacher resources and books. The pictures above show how the library is being utilized beyond a library in a traditional sense. The new tables that arrived before break are modular and allow for easy movement to set up collaboration for small groups. Recently, the 8th grade ELA classes were able to utilize the library for their 2nd annual film festival and share their short films that they created for their Project Based Learning lessons.

Thanks to a transformation in the library, we have been able to add more opportunities for students and teachers to have space, tools, and opportunities to collaborate, design, and think critically. We look forward to continuing this transformation and utilizing this space to help foster and encourage more 21st century thinking and skills for our students.

8th Grade Students Learning Great Life Lessons

Building Connections to Real World Learning

Connecting to Career Readiness through Get Hired Junior Achievement

The week before Winter Break our 8th grade students were able to participate in a great real world experience called "Get Hired". The Junior Achievement 8th grade event at Roane State was a shining example as to how we can build connections to the real world and work place.

The event helped students understand how to research potential careers, apply for a position, work on both hard skills and soft skills, and even mock interview. Finding ways to help build connections to real life can help provide high levels of engagement. To witness our students in this environment was amazing as they were working to learn these skills and then apply them in an authentic environment. Students were participants in seminars learning about professional behaviors, goal setting, how to dress, how to shake hands, connecting with others, setting up networking, learning about careers and the education needed for them etc.

So often in education our students ask the question, "when will I use this information?" This event did an excellent job of helping students see and understand a lot about careers, finding a career and the steps needed to go after a career of their choice. Our students did an excellent job preparing for this event in the ELA classes where they designed and put together resumes, reviewed sample interview questions and discussed the job hiring process. Overall the event was a huge success for our students. We are very thankful for our teachers for their efforts to help prepare students for this event and also Dr. Holly Cross, director of CTE for Oak Ridge Schools and Junior Achievement for organizing the event.

3rd Nine Weeks Discipline Assemblies are Coming Up

We will be hosting our success assemblies to kick of the 3rd nine weeks:

Friday Jan. 10th

2nd Period - 7th Grade

3rd Period - 8th Grade

Monday Jan. 13th

6th Period - 5th Grade

7th Period - 6th Grade

We will focus the success assemblies on starting the nine weeks strong with academics, expectations for students to be successful at school academically and socially. In addition, we will remind students of the expectations for school rules and behaviors. Thank you for your efforts to help students and keep JMS school climate at such a positive level.

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Setting Goals for a Great Second Semester

As we near our return to school on January 7th, we also want to help encourage students to work on goal setting for a successful second half to the school year. Even students had struggles in the first semester it is important for students to understand that they second semester is a new beginning. As a part of our focus upon our return, we will continue to inform our students about the importance of setting goals, and working towards making our goals S.M.A.R.T.

The following article lays out some good ideas and practices for students and parents about goals and how to set goals. Check out the article from Edutopia "SMART goal setting with your students" to learn more. Below is an excerpt from that article:

With all that is being written now about "mindset," it is an excellent idea to begin school by having our students set positive goals. More and more K-16 schools are introducing concepts like SMART goals as a way of gradually building students' capacity to tackle the increasing challenges they are facing.

Developing a Specific Goal

SMART goals are:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant, Rigorous, Realistic, and Results Focused
T = Timely and Trackable

Learning how to frame goals as SMART goals and being willing to adjust them to get SMARTer is an important skill that would help every student get off to a better start and have a better school year, this year and into the future.

Here is a practical example, starting with a typical, but not especially SMART, goal:

I will do better on my report card in the next marking period.

Here is a way to make it SMARTer:

In the next marking period, I will get at least a C on all my math tests, and at least a B on most of my quizzes and homework assignments.

But it's not SMART yet because it has no action plan or benchmarks. Here is a pretty SMART goal:

In the next marking period, I will take careful notes and review them at least two days before tests and quizzes so that I can ask the teacher questions about what I don't understand. I will do my math homework before I do things with friends, and when I hand it in, I will ask the teacher about anything I am not sure about. When I get anything wrong, I will make sure to ask the teacher, or one of my classmates how they got the right answer.

It's not easy to write SMART goals. This skill takes time to develop, and it’s especially important to have in place for students at the secondary level. A goal is an outcome, something that will make a difference as a result of achieving it. It can't be too ambitious to be out of reach, but also not so simple that it does not challenge. A goal has to be realistic with a stretch, requiring effort and focus to achieve it. That's why goals need timeframes and measurable action steps along the way so that we can keep track of progress and make adjustments as necessary.

JMS Parent's Introduction to Skyward

New Year's Resolution: Using Canvas and Skyward More

It's the time of year to think about New Year's Resolutions. One such goal could be to utilize the tools for both Skyward and Canvas to help students remain organized and submit assignments on time. We spend a lot of time focusing on how large of an impact a zero can have on a student's grade or the impact they can have when they resubmit an assignment. As we work with students to set up goals, these tools can have a major impact to help keep students up to date and organized for their academic goals.

You have probably heard about Canvas or Skyward, but you may not know how they are used by teachers. Both are incredible tools that work to help both students and teachers keep up with their classes. Below are some brief descriptions for each tool and how you can utilize them at home to help your student stay organized and on top of their work.

Skyward - (video above)

For the 2019 - 2020 school year parents will be able to check out student grades in Skyward. Teachers will work to keep the grade book up to date weekly. This will help to have a better idea of student's progress weekly. Around 4.5 weeks into the nine weeks, students will get a midterm report sent home and at the end of the nine weeks.

Canvas (video below)

For 2019 - 2020 Canvas will serve as the place to get information about your child's class. For example, "what did you do in school today?" or "what did you learn about today?" etc. Canvas allows teachers to post announcements, links to resources, videos, PowerPoint notes, links to OneNote and other information that will help students in the class.

We ask our teachers to work to keep the announcements section updated each week in Canvas. This will allow parents to see a glance at the week ahead. Please keep in mind that some assignments, quizzes, tests, projects etc. may be subject to change and that the look at the week ahead is a tool to help students and parents have an idea of what will be discussed each week.

JMS Parent's Introduction to Canvas

Social Studies Grant Award

Congratulations to Mr. Brian Smith as he has been awarded a grant from Association from American Educators Foundation. Mr. Smith was presented with the grant on December 20th. This is the second year in a row Mr. Smith has been awarded this grant. He was presented with the grant from a representative from AAE and also Mr. Robert Eby, former Oak Ridge Schools board member and current Tennessee State School Board Memeber. The information below is the press release issued by the Association from American Educators Foundation about the grant:

Jefferson Middle School Educator Awarded Association of American Educators Foundation Classroom Grant

Mission Viejo, CA – Mr. Brian Smith, a social studies teacher at Jefferson Middle School, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has been awarded a grant by the Association of American Educators Foundation (AAEF) to help students further educational development in geography and art through a fantasy mapping project.

“This curriculum will incorporate visual arts standards and social studies geographical standards,” noted Mr. Smith in his submission. “Art projects are also ideal for mainstreaming special education students.”

AAE is committed to offering individual educators various avenues for improving effectiveness in the classroom. “AAE commends the dedication that Mr. Smith has demonstrated in securing funding for this curriculum that will challenge his students to stretch their creativity and think innovatively,” said AAE Senior Professional Programs Manager Melissa Pratt. “These scholarships and grants are an investment in empowering teachers as professionals and supporting student outcomes in all educational communities nationwide.”

Student Device Check Jan. 8 - 10

Laptop Inspection

Student Device Checks

Upon return to school this week student devices will be checked. Please make sure your student has all the items they need for device check including their device, laptop bag and charger. The devices will be checked during homeroom from Wednesday Jan. 8th - Friday Jan. 10th.
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PTO News

Next PTO Meeting: Our next meeting will be Tuesday, January 28 at 7:40am in the Eagles Nest. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be served!

Fundraiser Spotlight: Are you curious about how your fundraiser dollars are being used? Each week, the PTO section of this newsletter will feature a different department or classroom from JMS that was helped with money from our annual Direct Drive fundraiser! This week the spotlight is on the new JMS water filling stations. With funds from the Direct Drive, PTO was able to purchase two new filtered water bottle filling stations for the school. One will be located on the 3rd floor and the other in the gym so all students will have easy access to filtered water throughout the day. Thank you JMS families!

Counselors Corner

Welcome back to a New Year! We hope that you have had a safe and restful break. We will have lots of things happening at JMS from now until the end of the school year so be sure you look at important dates that will involve your child(ren). As we have begun a new year we need to look at where we are in the school year with our academics and what New Year’s resolutions we need to be making that will lead up to a successful rest of the year. Here are some steps that Jennifer Gonzalez, Cult of Pedagogy that may help with getting you started:

Just like adults, students may be looking at the new year as an opportunity for a new beginning and a time to reflect on their lives and make goals on how to be more successful.

Here’s a step-by-step plan you can use to help your students make the kinds of resolutions that could have a significant impact on their goals for the remainder of the school year.


Ask students if any of them have made a new year’s resolution yet. Allow students to consider a question, turn to a partner and discuss their response with the partner. Then ask a few to share their resolutions with the class. Remember some students may want to keep their resolution private due to dealing with some serious challenges in their lives. Also talk about your own, if you have one. This is just a casual conversation to get warmed up.


One of the main goals for thinking about goals is to give students a better sense of control of the things in their lives. That’s an important message; one that can empower them to take ownership for their choices and start making big changes. And this message will be most effective if students are exposed to a broad range of possibilities by listening to their peers, rather than limit themselves to whatever ideas they happen to come up with on their own.

So, spend some time surfing the web and look at the different kinds of resolutions other middle school students make. You might brainstorm a list of possible resolutions on the board, then divide that list into categories. This would essentially be to help students brainstorm and how certain topics relate to others.

The list could include categories and examples like these:

Health Resolutions: eat less junk food, exercise more, get better sleep

Academic Resolutions: set up a homework routine, keep school materials organized

Social Resolutions: be a better listener, stop gossiping, spend more time with family

Personal Growth Resolutions: learn a new hobby or skill, spend less time on devices

Once students have explored many possibilities, have them choose at least one resolution for the new year.


One of the reasons some resolutions fail is because they aren’t specific or measurable. If a person resolves to “eat healthier,” that’s hard to measure and hard to track. With a broad resolution, it’s easy to fall into a gray area and eventually drop it altogether. So, teach students how to take a vague resolution like “give my dog more attention” and turn it into a specific, measurable goal like “spend 10 minutes a day petting and playing with my dog.” Introduce students to the concept of SMART goals so they can develop a goal that meets all five criterias.

If a resolution is something more complex and long-term, like “learn how to cook,” have students think about what success with that resolution might look like: Maybe someone who knows how to cook can make a certain number of meals easily, so have the student decide what that number is and set a deadline for learning that number of meals. Or better yet, have them create a list of specific things they want to learn how to cook; this can serve as a checklist for the year.


Explain to students that people generally have a greater chance of meeting their goals if they keep track of their progress in some way. Then show them how to do it.

Because students will have different kinds of goals, they will need different approaches to this tracking. Some will have the kind that require daily changes, like flossing every day or spending time each day with a pet. For a goal like that, they could use a daily record like this one, where they record “scores” they define themselves.

Dates to Remember:

January 7, 2020 - Students return to school and they will receive their new schedules for their term classes within their homeroom. Remember that your child may have had RTI changes and their schedule may look different than before Winter break.