Ascend Leadership Academy


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Principal Introduction

Greetings Aviator Families!

My name is Jeff Whitt and I am the ALA Middle School Principal. I have 24 years experience in education as an Educator, Facilitator, Director, and Administrator. I believe in teamwork and bridging the communication and involvement gap between home and school for everyone's best interest and success of our students. Communication should never be a barrier - so please reach out to me if you feel you are not connecting with your child's teachers or if you are not receiving school-wide information as well.

I am married to my beautiful wife of 23 years, Lisa and we have 5 boys; Ken (age 32), Matt (age 28), Jonah (age 22), Brayden (age 20), and our youngest Carter (age 18). I look forward to introducing them more to you along this incredible journey we are taking together at ALA.

Parents, as we start our new school year off in a very non-traditional way, we are going to need to stay in contact with one another for the benefit of the students. There are several platforms we can stay connected and you can be assured to know all of the happenings at ALA this school year. You can follow me on Twitter and with our SMORES communication of weekly events up to a month ahead (larger events you will be notified in plenty of time as well).

If you have any questions, would like to have a conversation, or would like to volunteer this school year for the many activities we are planning in the Winter/Spring, please feel free to contact me directly at

Thank you for welcoming me to the ALA Family.

Jeff Whitt, Principal


ALA Middle School Virtual Open House


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Humanities and Social Sciences challenges students to understand their responsibilities in a globally changing world and provides opportunities for developing socially responsible future citizens that encompass our core values of respect, accountability, integrity, service, and excellence in order to work collaboratively to make the world a better place. As the academy leader in offering high-quality, innovative education, the department prepares students for a successful life in a democratic society through preparing them for future careers of choice.

-Ascend Leadership Academy Humanities Department Mission Statement, 2020

The Humanities Middle School Department in Ascend Leadership Academy puts our mission statement into action by developing thoughtful, thematic units that dive into diverse perspectives and life experiences across place and time.

We begin with our 6th grade curriculum and the development of civilizations and societies in the Ancient World. The 7th grade curriculum expands upon the development of society by diving into how culture, time, and place influence the development of identity in America. The 8th grade curriculum culminates our overarching themes by investigating the creation, dismantling, and response to barriers across time and place in North Carolina and America.

6th Grade Unit 1: Early Human Migration and Prehistoric Age; Mentor Texts: Various Nonfiction Articles

7th Grade Unit 1: Identity Mini-Unit; Mentor Text: A Long Walk to Water

8th Grade Unit 1: Defining Barriers; Mentor Text: Refugee

Ms. Kimberly Sidorowicz - Team Leadership Representative


The goal of science education is to prepare students to be responsible citizens in an increasingly complex and dynamic world. At ALA, we will provide students with the foundation to achieve, collaborate, and participate in engaging learning experiences. Our science curriculum will accomplish these goals through NC state science standards, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Project Based Learning.

Our 6th grade ALA students will begin the 2020-21 school year learning about the Scientific Method to include the purpose of each step. They will then move on to understanding the concepts of waves and its properties. Our 7th grade ALA students will begin the school year with learning about Weather to include Earth's Atmosphere and different weather patterns. This is an exciting unit to begin the school year with and we look forward to tracking weather patterns such as hurricanes.Our 8th grade ALA students will begin the year learning about Earth's History to include Rock Layers and how the Earth was formed. This unit will expand student knowledge and provide more detail about how fossils and rock layers are used to date the Earth and how the continents have moved over time as part of the Theory of Plate Tectonics.

Mrs. Erika Weidner - Leadership Team Representative


In Math, we will start our school year learning about growth mindset and making everyone feel comfortable with remote learning. We will be going over procedures and learning about our new Learning Management System - Canvas. We will be reviewing topics learned last year in each grade level. In 6th grade, we will start learning divisibility rules, number sense and order of operations. In 7th grade, we will continue our learning of ratios and rates to define proportional relationships and the constant of proportionality. In 8th grade, we will round and estimate decimals. In Math I, we will start learning the bases of functions and positive and negative exponents.

Ms. Elizabeth Jackson - Leadership Team Representative


The mission of the Digital Media department at ALA ist to encourage creativity, innovation and collaboration to enable students to produce entertaining content that contributes to society in a way our students can be proud of.

Next Week grades 6-8 will be participating in "Getting to Know You" activities, learning how to use the ipad and the canvas app. The following weeks grades 6-7 will be learning keyboarding skills, and how to be a good digital citizen. Grade 8 will study media and the design process through the use of storytelling.

Look for "I can" statements such as:

"I can type without looking at the keyboard."

"I can respect other in person and online"

"I can be safe online"

"I can use media and my voice to tell a compelling story."

Mrs. Tamara Lamb - Leadership Team Representative


Hello Parents and Guardians,

As the Educational Leadership Team representative for the Elective teachers, I’d like to take a moment to welcome you to the 2020-21 school year here at Ascend Leadership Academy.

Though this year may look different from last year, we are working hard to give students the best learning experiences possible.

The Elective teachers have created, found or adapted lessons to accommodate this year’s learning environment, whether it be remote or blended instruction.

We are using the tools and technology available to us to virtually take students to visit an art museum, walk around an historic site in a spanish speaking country, hear from leaders in business or nutrition, attend a musical/theatrical performance, learn how to self-care from leaders in mental health, and spend a day in the life of an athlete. Students will then be able to apply what they've learned to their own lives and grow from the experiences.

We are excited about the year and can’t wait to begin on Monday.

Mrs. Dawn Louis-Jean - Leadership Team Representative


Parent Pointers: Understanding Your Child's Canvas Account


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New Teacher Highlight - Mr. Markofski - 8th Grade Digital Media Teacher

Hello, everyone! It’s great to meet you. I’m originally from Mooresville, North Carolina. My alma mater is Appalachian State University. I was the Captain and President of the Rugby team in college, and I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Electronic Media and Broadcasting.

My teaching journey started in Warrenton, North Carolina where I taught Digital Media for three years at Warren New Tech High School.

Being a teacher has offered me tremendous global opportunities: I visited schools in Scotland and Ghana, and most recently taught for two years in Japan.

I worked as an Assistant Language Teacher in the small town of Nishiki, Kumamoto. I learned a wealth of information about Japanese culture, education, and even learned how to sumo wrestle along the way.

Now, I’m back in North Carolina to teach 8th Grade Digital Media here at Ascend Leadership Academy. I’m excited to be a part of this great staff, and I’m looking forward to teaching some amazing students this school year.

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Monday, Aug. 24th, 9am-3pm

This is an online event.

Welcome to the First Day of School. As a reminder, please be prepared to log in to your first class on Monday using our CANVAS portal with the links provided by your teachers. If you are having issues with logging on, please contact your teacher via email to let them know so they can send you the link for the day's lesson.

Let's get ready for a great start to the best year yet at ALA Middle School.

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Are you Interested in Joining ALA's Parent E.A.C. Program?

Thursday, Sep. 17th, 6-7pm

This is an online event.

Are you interested in joining ALA's Parent Educational/Athletic Committee? This program is designed to support our ALA Educational and Athletic Programs by serving as a support for our Competitive Academic Clubs and Athletic Sporting Events by planning fundraisers, volunteering for event coverage, providing supervision with teachers as needed and so much more. This is a great way to bring our ALA community together to continue building on the great programs already in place. If you are interested, please email me at with your name, contact phone number, grade level of your children at ALA (you can be a relative of one of our students and participate as well), and a good contact email. We will be holding our first interest meeting virtually and the link will be sent directly to your email. Together, anything is possible!
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We will be starting some Educational Competition Clubs this year and will be passing on information as we get it. We are looking to start the following clubs:

  • Quiz Bowl
  • Quill (Writing)
  • Art Showcase
  • Middle School Forensics
  • TSA
  • FCA
  • Show Choir

Stay tuned for more information! It's going to be a great year at ALA.


Final 6th Grade Orientation
ALA 7th Grade Open House
ALA 8th Grade Open House Video 20 21