Ram Nation News

Week of December 10, 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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This week, our students will begin taking their ACPs, let's be very intentional to provide a great learning and testing 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!!! ACPs results will not only measure our school’s progress from last year’s fall ACP, it will also provide feedback as to whether all that we have implemented has been effective. I want to thank all of you for not slowing down in our efforts to make our vision come true, I know that we continue strong #OnANewLevel!

Remember, 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. MOTIVATE our students to do their very best so that they would not miss the opportunity to be and feel successful.

  • Let's ensure that we are following the testing procedures shared by Mrs. Mooty. We need to be constantly monitoring students so that they are on task actively working on their test; if they are not, please communicate with Mrs. Mooty, Ms. Guerra, Ms. Woods, Ms. Davis, Ms. Tucker, Ms. Wells, or Mr. Cordoba in a timely manner.

  • Be familiar with and implement the accommodations that our Special Education, 504, and sheltered students have during testing; if you don't know, please ask!!!

  • Let’s continue to give our students that last push for excellence and relevant learning. Let’s incorporate engagement strategies to motivate students. As we review for ACPs, 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.

  • Continue to use the ACP blueprint to narrow your focus and reflect on the data of your daily checks to see how much students are learning and retaining to make the last few adjustments. Continue to make this learning relevant and incorporate engagement strategies to motivate students and make them active participants during the lesson cycle. Include review sessions that incorporate game format such as, Jeopardy or Kahoot and keep sending homework and study guides for students to practice and use.

  • Let's maximize every instructional minute available to us; bell-to-bell instruction is the key. If our scholars are focused and we engage them from the moment they enter our classrooms to the moment they leave, they will be the beneficiaries of learning.


Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn. 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 12/03 - 12/07:

  • 6th Grade - 96.11% - Awesome job 6th grade team. You continue to be in the lead after 10 weeks
  • 7th Grade - 94.95%
  • 8th Grade - 94.43%

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


  • Mr. Salazar, Ms. Winton, and Mr. Rivera for their dedication and leadership with our soccer teams. Both girls and boys teams won their games. We have been able to see students' hard work and improvement; we are very proud of our coaches for their impact in the lives of our kids!
  • Mr. Thornton for his dedication and leadership with our boys' basketball teams this week. Both A and B Teams won their games; we are very proud of the work done by our students and coaches.
  • Ms Wilson for her commitment and support as she works with some of our students needing the most love. We really appreciate you!

Instructional Practices


Ms. Cooray, Ms. Molla, and Ms. Minter were caught using their LED displays to model their thinking and doing explicit teaching. Through explicit modeling, each one of them provides students with a clear example of a skill, strategy, or thinking process. They recognize the importance of knowing ahead of time what they want students to know as a result of the modeling, so when students are set out to work on their own students know expectations and requirements.

Climate and Culture

I trust you have enjoyed the first few gifts from your 12 Days of Christmas. Thank you so much to our Ms. Miranda, Ms. Galvan, and Ms. Saucedo for their service and collaboration to ensure you are taken care of so that in turn our students have a happier and more motivated teacher.
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Climate and Culture

As you already know, our goal for our climate survey is to rank in the 5th quintile in all areas! This means that all of our areas of our climate survey 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 as well as showcase our students' talents and hard work. I appreciate the hard work, dedication, and commitment to support building the whole child, making an impact in our community, and involving all stakeholders in the process. Congratulations to our band and cheerleaders for their awesome performance; shout out to Mr. McCann, Mr. Alarcon, Ms. Turnbull, and Ms. Gray for their leadership and dedication to our kids. Thank you so to everyone who supported our students during the holiday program, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Akin, Ms. Davis, Ms. Woods, Ms. Vasquez, Ms. Michael, Mr. Hernandez, Ms. Galvan, and Mr. Garcia. (I am sorry if you attended and were not recognized)

UIL Competition

Ms. Michael, Ms. Eddy, Mr. Proctor, Ms. Molla, Ms. Rocha, Ms. Vargas, and Ms./Mr. Incognito (we had 7 staff members, but I did not get all the names) for supporting, leading, and coaching our students for the various academic competitions during UIL at Edison. Also, big thanks to Ms. Baker who supported their efforts as she coordinated the event. We had 39 students who participated and represented very well; however, at this time, results are not available


Ms. Addison and Ms. Buitron continue to lead, mentor, and support our girls' basketball teams. Our Lady Rams continue to improve and represent us very well! Both team won their games last week.


Our students had an opportunity to display their leadership skills during the AVID world cafe as they shared their school and AVID experience with our visitors. Thank you so much to Ms. Baker and Ms. Wells for coordinating, leading and supporting this station. Our visitors truly enjoyed this part of the visit. Also, shout out to Ms. Winton, Ms. Michael, Ms. Vargas, Ms. Turnbull, Ms. Brunson, and Mr. Patel for giving up part of their planning time to support our students and share their ACE experience with our visitors.


  • Teachers have to acknowledge in Cornerstone for a submitted spot to be marked complete and show up as complete on our tracker; if you have not acknowledged previous SPOTs, please do so to ensure accuracy and plan accordingly. (TEI 4.2)
  • Submit attendance on time. We have had too many unsubmitted attendance.
  • Our Remarkable Rams will begin testing on Thursday and will continue testing through December 19, 2018. Remember to incorporate the testing message/script you prepared for your students. During testing, we should be intentional as we actively monitor and provide accommodations to identified students. Please refer to the handout provided during PLC - Testing Expectations.
  • As we work on documenting the progress our students are making, remember our policy regarding failure rates and the various opportunities needed to ensure our students are successful. EIA (Regulation) (TEI 2.2, 4.2, 4.5)
  • It is critical to be prepared with lessons and materials to avoid having issues with students. When we are not prepared, our students can tell and will find their own way of entertainment.
  • We must have 100% presence in the hallway during transition times. Our students notice when there is a lack of adult presence in the hallways and will take advantage of it.
  • 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, December 10-

  • SPOT observations continue
  • A Day - We will be checking for exemplars and aggressively monitoring in action!
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans and follow up on the implementation of ACP action plan (address high leverage TEKS, low performing TEKS, map out TEKS to be covered in the remaining of the instructional days - ACPs begin December 13).

  • 4:45 Grade Level Meeting - GL locations to collaborate and work on having testing folders ready by period to include, teacher made exams with students names, seating chart labeling students with designated supports, supplemental aids for students who qualify.

  • Lady Rams’ basketball game at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Medrano MS against Medrano.

Tuesday, December 11-
  • B-Day. We will be checking for exemplars and aggressively monitoring in action!
  • Weekly PLC - Testing Meeting

  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. We need to work on the recruitment of students for our after school program since it impacts student growth, our school performance, progress, and, ultimately, part of our stipends are tied to the attendance of our students to our tutoring/enrichment sessions. I have noticed that we have been a little relaxed and have given our students the impression that they can opt out; we need to bring our numbers up! (Teachers, make sure you are staying after school during the day you said you are staying because students have attendance for credit and must make up their time with the teacher for whom they have excessive absences.)

  • Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school

Wednesday, December 12-
  • A-Day.
  • Climate Survey window ends - Currently we have 54 out of 78 (69%) staff members who have responded to the climate survey. Remember that our goal is at least 90% participation. Please, encourage each other to complete this very important component of our practices so that we can continue to improve as an organization. Thank you so much for the 54 staff members who have responded already!
  • During PLC time - Work on getting classroom ready for testing (cover content materials inside and outside of the classroom.)
  • 4:30 p.m. Last day of after school for the Fall Semester. After School Program Continues. We need to bring our numbers up! (see Tuesday for more details). (Teachers, make sure you are staying after school during the day you said you are staying because students have attendance for credit and must make up their time with the teacher for whom they have excessive absences.)
  • Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 13-

  • ACP Testing Begins full day - 1A, 3rd period, 1B
  • Boys’ basketball game at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Medrano MS against Medrano.
  • Soccer games at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. for the girls and boys respectively at Franklin Stadium against Tasby MS.

  • Christmas Dinner at 5:00 p.m. at Big Al's BBQ place

Friday, December 14 -

  • ACP Testing Continues full day - 2A, 3rd period, 2B
  • Snapshot for documenting student involvement in extracurricular and co-curricular activities - Ms. Baker

Saturday, December 15,

  • Winter Blitz - Destination Imagination team - Ms. Vargas and Mrs. Lewis

Upcoming Dates

As we prepare for the second semester, we want to take advantage of the next 3 afternoons to get ahead as much as we can. You and your team will collaborate during our early release to complete

  • IPCs
  • Create common DOLs for first 2-3 weeks of 4th six weeks
  • Create exemplars for common DOLs
  • Complete exemplar for 4th six weeks Common Assessment - Subjects that are available.
  • Lesson Plans - you will begin this work this week and it will be due on December 20, 2018

December 17

  • ACP Testing Continues half day - 3A and 3B. Students are released at 1:05 p.m.
  • 2:30 p.m. PGP training and work session to complete these plans
  • 2:00 p.m. Teachers who do not have to develop PGPs will work on items listed above

December 18

  • ACP Testing Continues half day - 4A and 4B. Students are released at 1:05 p.m.
  • 2:00 p.m. AVID Site Team meeting
  • 2:00 p.m. Teachers who are not part of AVID site team will work on items listed above

December 19

  • ACP Testing Continues half day - 5A and 5B. Students are released at 1:05 p.m.
  • 2:00 p.m. Teachers will work on items listed above

December 20

  • Teacher Work Day
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Performance Matters Survey

What: School Leadership 5 Question Survey of Performance Matters Training

Who: Campus Instructional Coaches (CICs) and Teachers

Why: To gauge

a. how much training has occurred

b. amount of knowledge transfer

c. additional support needs

When: By December 21, 2018


CIC Survey http://tiny.cc/PMSurveyCIC

Teacher Survey http://tiny.cc/PMSurveyTeacher

New RLA TEKS and Instructional Materials Adoption

We are gearing up for the new RLA/SLAR TEKS next year as well as the instructional material purchase that we have to do this spring. We really want people to see this as an opportunity to support the curricular work underway, not replace it.

To that end, and to what we found to be useful last year when launching the curriculum work, we think we need to go another “roadshow.” These would be two hour sessions, one in each network (mix of K-12). We will do some deep er looks at the new TEKS and then get folks thinking about the types of instructional materials they need to support those standards and the literacy block expectations.

If you would like to attend, feel free to attend. ACE teams can join a network nearby or a date that is convenient for them.

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Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers

As a Ram Nation family, it is good to support each other in times of difficulty. Please, keep the following staff members in your thoughts and prayers,

Mr. Lowry and Mrs. Brown - for a successful surgery and recovery.

Mrs. Woods - for a successful outpatient procedure and prompt recovery.

Welcome Back!!!

Mrs. Iresha Hayes comes back from her hardship leave and is eager to continue working with her 7th grade students. We know it is hard to leave the family behind during this difficult times and we appreciate the commitment to our school and community.

Happy Birthday

Wishing you the very best!!!

Dec. 13 – Ms. Galvan

Dec. 13 – Ms. Wilson

Dec. 22 – Ms. Safford

Dec. 24 - Ms. Davis

Dec. 29 – Mr. Johnson

Jan. 4 - Ms. Akin

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