The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Thinking Back; Moving Forward

As another school year winds down to its last few days, I have found myself spending a great deal of time reflecting over all that was accomplished. A school year is always filled with many wonderful moments. It is always amazing to watch the growth that occurs throughout a school over the course of a single 10 month school year. I am always taken aback as I consider all the hard work and effort that comes from an entire staff to make a school year a success for our students.

While there are many wonderful moments of a school year to consider and celebrate; there is also a great deal of busyness that can consume us come May. End of the year weariness and frustrations can sometimes overshadow the greatness achieved throughout the school year. I feel it is this time of year- so close to the end- that needs our greatest focus. Now- is an important time to think back on our year and plan towards the future. If we “just survive” May, we miss a huge opportunity to improve our classrooms. Summer can be a great revitalizer, but we can also forget about those great ideas- you know those ones we tried once and had amazing success with and we promised ourselves that we would work in ways to repeat them, and those everyday challenges that need attention in our classrooms now, but we have figured it is too late in the year to attempt to fix- so we vow to do things differently next year… Yes, those things.

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Without reflection at the end of a school year, we settle for another year of readdressing the same issues and muddling through the same problems because we never took time to think about solutions while the issues were fresh in our minds. I am reminded of these commercials which, I am sure, most of you have seen in the recently.

DirecTV The Settlers Commercials Compilation

Settlers, is that who we are? Do we settle for what we’ve always had because it’s what we are not willing to take risks on and move forward on in pursuit of better things. I have to remind myself often this time of year, that a school year is a marathon and the month of May deserves the same attention and energy as any other month. As I am writing this post, I will be honest, I am feeling very overwhelmed in getting everything that needs to be done- done. The end of a school year is not truly an end, it is a time to regroup, refresh, and push forward with new ideas and new methods for the new students who will be sitting in front of us in just a few short weeks.

I encourage you to not just settle here at the end of this year. Take time to reflect on what has gone well and what challenges you have faced. Look for problems you were not able to solve this school year and find some summer readings that will help you learn about these ideas before next school year. Have an open dialogue with your students about what helped them learn the most and the best this year; use this feedback to grow from - to make next year even better than this one! Use the month of May as another part of your journey, not as a end point in the success of a school year. Think back to what worked the best and what needs the most attention, then use these ideas to keep moving forward!

Never stop improving. There will always be new challenges - which is what keeps life interesting!

Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Thank you to Jamie Marshall and Danielle Bentley for their organizational work with the 8th grade celebration.
  • The new yearbooks has come in, it looks awesome! Thank you for Michelle Swan and her students for putting together the yearbook.
  • Scheduling for next year is coming together. Thank you for Forrest Miller and our special education teachers for all the work to put together a schedule that meets the needs of our students.


Week 35 Grateful Friday Challenge

To extend teacher appreciation week a little further fill out the statement below and share it with you colleagues. One teacher who had a particularly strong influence on my life was _____________, because____________. The moment that stands out for me is when ____________. If you choose to take it a step further, give students the opportunity to complete this statement for one of their teachers at SMS and deliver the notes to those teachers before you leave.


  • Interesting Blog Post: Can growth mindset theory reshape the classroom? (thank you to Paula Swengel for sharing this post with me)

  • Great Video: Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers (this is a little longer than videos I usually include, but it is worth watching)

The surprising habits of original thinkers | Adam Grant


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.

Jamie Marshall

It is that time of year where we have the first opportunity to welcome our incoming 7th graders to the building! Today, Mrs. Marshall led and organized the 6th graders presentation and visit to SMS. Students received a brief introduction in the auditorium. The introduction included: School motto, “Student Success is a TEAM Effort and Kindness is Our Strength.”, Cards R TOPS, a typical student schedule, special classes offered, and athletic information. Lastly, each 6th grade class was led around the building to see the main office, media center, student services, gyms, locker rooms, 7th grade halls, and cafeteria.

Kelley Huddleston

Ms. Huddleston's 7th grade Pre-Algrebra students are wrapping up the school year studying probability. Students were given multiple real-world examples and asked to calculate the probability. Before doing this, students had to determine whether the event described was independent or dependent. Two events are said to be independent if the result of the second event is not affected by the result of the first event, while they are dependent if the result of one event is affected by the result of another event. After determining this, students could then determine the probability. Students worked individually and in small groups to discuss problems and solutions throughout the class.

Dan Bailey

Mr Bailey's 8th grade French students are still working hard preparing for their upcoming final exam. Today, students took part in a cultural based lesson. Mr. Bailey took student through french speaking parts of western Switzerland. Students learned about cities like Geneva, attractions such as the Jet D'eau, and products of Switzerland like Rolex. Students watch short videos and read passages about each of these different cultural aspects throughout the class discussion.

Jessica Keck

Over the past couple of days, Mrs. Keck has taken some of her students to Southport High School for a tour. Students spoke to Mrs. Karushis and then were led on a tour of the building by students. Students were able to see SHS first hand and ask current students questions about the building and classes. Students ended the tour back in Mrs. Karushis's room from and question and answer time. This tour helped to easy some anxiety about the transition to high school.

Georgina Mayorga

Ms. Mayorga's 8th grade language arts students are reading S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. As they are reading and discussing the book, students are also spending time working on a project. Ms. Mayorga asked the students, "If you were in high school with the students in The Outsiders and noticed the gang activity what would you do to address the problem?" Students have choice in their projects that show how they would answer this question. Students are putting themselves in the real life situation and creating different projects and ways to address this issue. You can follow Ms. Mayorga's class conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TheOutsidersA102.


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