Parent Newsletter

Nov. 4th - 8th

Week 4 - Midterm is Approaching

It's hard to believe that we are nearing the midterm for the 2nd nine weeks. Check out this week's newsletter to learn more about how you can work to finish the first part of the midterm strong:

- A look at the week ahead

- Preparing for the Midterm

- Using Canvas as a tool for success

- Applying 21st Century Skills in School

- Promoting a Growth Mindset for Students

- STEM Night 2/20/20

- Vex Robotics has Great Success

- JMS Safety

- Counselors Corner

Thanks for all that you do to support JMS,

Phil Cox, Principal

Chris Layton, Vice Principal

Jenifer Laurendine, Dean of Students

Please donate to the Thanksgiving Food Drive: Details Below

A Look at the Week Ahead


B day

Chess Club-Library 2:45-3:45

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

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

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

Basketball vs. Coalfield—home GJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00


A day

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

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

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

Girls Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00

Boys Basketball Practice 5:00-7:00


B day

Atomic Eagles Lego League Team Meeting (Shanafield) Science Wing 12:45-3:00

Cheer Practice 1:00-3:00

Talent Show Practice-JPAC 12:45-2:30

Girls Basketball Practice 1:00-3:00

Boys Basketball Practice 5:00-7:00


A day

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

Ober Gatlinburg Presentation during PE classes

Library Club (Haverkamp) Library 2:45-3:45

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

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

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

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

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

Basketball v. Pigeon Forge BJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00


B day

Youth for Christ 7:00 JPAC

Ober Gatlinburg Presentation during PE classes

Girls Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00

Boys Basketball Practice 5:00-6:30

First Home Basketball Game 11/4 - Girls JV 5 pm, Girls Varsity 6 pm, Boys Varsity 7 pm

Leadership In Action For October

Ms. Kelly Sample, Spanish

Ms. Sample is an amazing advocate for all students. She actively works to support the needs of her own students, and also any student who has a need in our school. She often supports our students by working and attending extracurricular events. Ms. Sample engages students in their class with unique lessons designed to stimulate curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. Ms. Sample combines both the art and science of excellent teaching each and every day, but to go even further by exhibiting care and empathy for the students of JMS. Students who have had Ms. Sample know about not only her love for Spanish, but also her efforts to go above and beyond to support all students and their needs. Ms. Sample creates a love for learning for her students that sets as an inspiration to so many students and staff. She has on several occasions worked to advocate for students and their families, even when she does not have the student in class, in order to help support our JMS community. We are very proud to present the Leadership In Action Award for October to Ms. Kelly Sample.

Ms. Greta Hensley, 6th ELA

Ms. Hensley works on a daily basis to challenge students to the highest standards. While working to challenge students, she also works to develop relationships and works to foster an effort from students that often exceeds the student’s expectations. When you hear students speak about Ms. Hensley they often recount about how challenging the curriculum can be at times, but they often describe the efforts by Ms. Hensley to work to help them. Often Ms. Hensley gives her own time throughout the day including during lunch to work one on one with students. She works to challenge students to achieve far beyond any level they ever thought they could achieve. Ms. Hensley has worked to support her students by working to continuously learn and grow new ideas and approaches to support student learning. She works closely with her PLC partner to review data and build instructional ideas, resources etc. driven by data to help support student needs and skills. She works to provide a challenging learning environment centered around promoting student success on a daily basis. We are very proud to present the Leadership In Action Award for October to Ms. Greta Hensley.

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Vex Robotics Team Has Great Success

The JMS VEX Robotics A and B teams competed in their first tournament this year in Bristol, TN.

The competition focuses on teams creating a robot to collect blocks and place them in a designated scoring area. Teams can multiply their scoring blocks by placing blocks in different levels of towers. An autonomous program is ran for the first 15 seconds of a match where the teams must program their robot to collect as many blocks as possible based off the program they have written. After the autonomous portion, teams control their robots manually and drive around the course collecting as many blocks as possible while also preventing other teams from collecting blocks as well. Both teams did extremely well with the A team finishing runner up in the tournament championship and the B team making the quarterfinals out of 20 teams competing. The teams had to build, program, and drive their robots while competing against other teams at the same time to score points. The A team consisted of Driver- Randy Moore, Builders- Craig Boles and Daniel Vogt, and Programmers- Brian Qu and Spencer Pendley. The B team consisted of Ciara Matlock, Alex Pickel, Silas Rowden and Duncan Rowden. It was a great team effort all around, awesome job Eagles!

JMS Safety

Over the past few weeks, JMS has spent time focusing with our students and staff on various safety skills and training. Included in these safety drills we had a tornado drill with our students along with training for our staff on the use of an epi pen. In addition, our safety team performed with great success a training and simulation of how to utilize the AED defibrillator. Safety is our number one concern and we spent a lot of time working with our staff and also our students to help focus on how we can continue to improve the safety of our community.

On Friday Nov. 1st we also worked to share with our 5th grade students the importance of fire safety through a program put on by the Oak Ridge Fire Department. This event was a very engaging way to help teach our students about fire safety and also the resources they can share to help make your home safer.

Thanksgiving Food Drive

Thanksgiving is coming. Can you help?

As the holidays approach, JMS is gearing up for the annual Thanksgiving Basket and Food Drive*. This year we would like to provide a full Thanksgiving dinner for some of our students in need. We are looking for volunteers who would like to take on donating these four items for one JMS family in need.

1 turkey

1 dozen eggs

1 gallon of milk

1 pie

If you would like to donate these four items for a JMS student/family, please contact Kelly Sample at . There will be details to follow regarding when to drop off the four items to school. We appreciate your consideration for this effort.

*The Food Drive collection in November will provide non-perishables to complete the Thanksgiving meal. More details will come for the Food Drive. The Food Drive is a long-standing tradition at JMS. The strong turnout of food enables us to not only serve our JMS students/families in need, but also to contribute generously to two Oak Ridge food banks.

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JMS needs your help for the JMS Food Drive

The holidays are coming and so is the JMS food drive. Every year, students donate non-perishable foods to those in need here at JMS and in Oak Ridge. We will use the donations to create Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need, and also to donate food to our local food pantries. You can help by bringing in non-perishable, non-expired food to your homeroom starting next week November 1, and continuing until November 8. The homeroom with the most food donations wins a Chick-Fil-A breakfast. Be generous and donate food to this worthy JMS tradition.

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Donate a Book Drive was a HUGE Success

Special thanks to the JMS community as the Donate a Book Drive was a HUGE Success! At Jefferson Middle School we had over 800 books donated during the drive. At the district level there were over 2,000 books donated. The drive was a great success and soon we will be distributing the books to students in our community to help increase access to literacy. Our goal is to provide as many students as possible with books through this drive and thanks to your efforts we have had a huge amount of success.
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Preparing for Midterm

It's hard to believe, but we are getting closer to the midterm of the first nine weeks. As we get closer to midterm, we want to give a few helpful suggestions to help students and understanding their grades:

1. Remember, the midterm is just an update for progress at that point in the nine weeks. It means that at this point, this is your grade. The goal is to help students get a better idea of their grade and work to improve their grade over the remainder of the nine weeks.

2. Most failing grades are because of failure to complete assignments. Talk to your student about effort and submitting every assignment. We will continue each week on our TVs and through the newsletter to emphasize how a 0 on an assignment carries a big impact on a grade.

3. Check Skyward for grades weekly. The midterm is simply students grades as recorded in Skyward at the 4.5 weeks mark. Check Canvas weekly to see what assignments, major tests, quizzes, projects etc. your student has upcoming.

4. Contact teachers and work to get feedback on how your student can work to improve their skills. What steps can they take at home? What routines can they have to immerse themselves into the learning process outside of school?

5. Spend time speaking to students about the importance of YET! Promote a growth mindset and work to help them understand Grit. The resources below are great reminders as to how important our effort can be in the learning process. As stated above, it is often the lack of submitting work that penalizes students. Often students who are failing do not submit any work. Keep in mind, teachers want and need the work as a way to assess, "do they understand?" To simply omit this step in the learning process is cheating yourself. Give it your best effort and if it's not perfect, learn from those mistakes.

6. Take advantage of your resources early and often. In many cases, we will have students ask "what can I do to help my grade?" two or three days before the nine weeks ends. Often the answer is, nothing! It is important for students to take advantage of resources and opportunities as they are given to them. For example, will the teacher allow for corrections on a test or quiz to earn more points? Does the teacher allow you to submit work late? Does the teacher offer help before school, during lunch or after school? Ask those questions and find out how you can empower yourself to improve.

7. Use the picture below with your student to help motivate them to work on resolving their understanding of their school work. The steps below allow students to take reflection steps and learn and understand how to go through the learning process.

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Applying 21st Century Skills

We work with our students to help them understand a wide variety of skills including mastery of content, but also a focus on skills that will help prepare them for the career opportunities of their future. By many estimates, a large amount of careers that will exist and begin in the lifetimes of our children is significant. These new career opportunities and fields will require our students have new skills along with some of the skills we have come to know from education. In our district, we focus on the 4 C's which you can see below as skills that future employers are sharing with us as skills that will be essential to success for young adults now and in the foreseeable future.

In addition to those skills, we also spend time focusing on skills that have been labeled as "soft skills". Our teachers work to present opportunities for our students to learn these skills along with content knowledge. For example, we want our students to collaborate with partners and in small groups because we know future employers will require our students to be able to do so. As we work to teach skills and content, we also work to model the applications of these skills and how to show mastery of the content. The balance of blending a 20th century model of education which is based on content mastery with a more holistic approach of 21st century education that works to combine skills can have its challenges. Our teachers work to help our students learn both the content they will need along with the skills they will need to apply their knowledge.

The graphic above gives a good description for each of the 4 C's (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity). We also spend time focusing our efforts with our students on developing a growth mindset, grit and learning how to exhibit a wide range of soft skills. The world in which our students will work, learn, share, and grow will require a wide range of skills that go beyond just content mastery. The video below also helps to explain the needs for the 4 C's and how education in general is working to help develop these skills for students.

What are the 4Cs?
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PTO News

Thank you Book Fair Volunteers. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped last week with our fall book fair. It was another successful fair with lots of money raised for the library. The book fair could not happen without the help of all our wonderful volunteers!

Help JMS PTO by Using the Kroger Rewards Program: If you shop at Kroger, your regular purchases can help the PTO’s mission to support teacher and student’s needs at JMS. By enrolling your Kroger Plus card in the Community Rewards program and having it scanned at checkout, Kroger will donate a small percentage of your purchases to JMS. It’s easy – just follow the instructions below to enroll your card at the beginning of each school year:

1. Go to

2. Click “I’m a Customer. Want to enroll in Community Rewards? View Details”

3. Sign into your Kroger account or create a Kroger account

4. Click on “Find Organization” and search for Jefferson. Select Jefferson Middle School PTO as your organization. That’s it!

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 school-wide program to recognize student hard work and exceptional effort through postcard messages sent home. When teachers at JMS want to acknowledge efforts made by students, they can write and send a postcard to those students. PTO helps to fund part of this project with money from the direct drive. Thank you JMS families!

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Promoting a Growth Mindset for Students

We spend a lot of time in our newsletters, on our Twitter account, on our school TVs and in our classrooms talking about Growth Mindset. We focus on this term a lot because we want to help promote this for our students to become lifelong learners. We want them to understand that the learning process is never ending even as they complete school. For our students, they are going to live in, work in, and compete for jobs in a world that is filled with content, information etc. However, our students will need to develop skills as mentioned above, 21st century skills like the 4 C's. In addition to the 4 C's, our students need to develop Grit and Growth Mindset as skills to help prepare them for their future. Below are some ideas as to how parents can help students with learning and developing a growth mindset.

Learn more about Growth Mindset here. We will continue to share resources, ideas, and strategies for students to work on developing a growth mindset. A few simple ways for students to consider to develop a growth mindset:

1. ALWAYS take advantage of revision opportunities, chances for re-takes, test corrections etc. These opportunities show you want to grow, attain the knowledge and develop your skills.

2. Prepare for tests, quizzes, projects etc. every night. Sounds like some work, but you're better off to spend small amounts of time preparing for big grades like tests, quizzes, and projects over time than trying to do it all in the last minute.

3. Take responsibility for your actions or lack of action. If you didn't do a review for your class, it's no one's fault, but yours. Take the time to give it your best effort EVERY TIME and if you don't understand, ask for help.

4. Eliminate Zeroes from your grades. They do nothing to help you, they only hurt you and by not submitting work teachers don't always have the tools needed to know where you need help. Develop a goal to submit ALL assignments and give your BEST effort on ALL assignments.

5. Remove "I can't" from your vocabulary. You can, it is often a matter of whether or not you are willing to DO what needs to be DONE. If you are challenged in school, that's great! That means your brain is working to grow.

6. Use all of your resources. For example

"I didn't know we had a test"

- Did you check Canvas? Do you ever check Canvas? If not, make it a daily routine (like social media is for many, playing video games, checking favorite websites etc.)

"I didn't think re-taking the test would make a difference"

- Of course it makes a difference, you are being given a chance to improve. Your education at this point in your life is free. Always take advantage of trying again and revising. That is a chance to grow and be a lifelong learner

"I don't understand my teacher, so it's not my fault!"

- If you don't understand something, it's always wise to ask for help. Have you done that? Make sure to use all of the resources in the picture below and work through your questions. That may seem challenging but it is exactly what developing a growth mindset is all about.

RSA ANIMATE: How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential

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!

JMS Parent's Introduction to Canvas

Maximizing Canvas as a Tool

1. Canvas is the best place to find out information about what is going on in your child's class.

When we were students, someone may have asked us, "what did you learn in school today?" Sometimes we had an answer and sometimes we simply stated, "nothing", as a strategy to move on. However, our students today along with parents have access weekly as to what is being taught and the expectations for each week. It is a great idea and practice to log in or have your student log in once per week to look through their teachers Canvas pages. This will allow you to keep up with the following:

A. Dates of important assignments

B. Dates for quizzes and tests etc.

C. Important tools, resources including access to OneNote

Start the Canvas 10 Challenge at home

1. Ask your student to log in to Canvas

2. Take 10 minutes to review all of their classes

3. What assignments are due this week? When do they have tests? What resources are being provided by the teachers to help?

4. Design a calendar for students to look at in the house with these dates. It's a great organizational and life skill

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Vaping and Our Teens

We have the incredible opportunity to host ASAP of Anderson to present on the vaping epidemic and how it is impacting our students. We would love to have you all join us for this 1 hour presentation on November 14th 6-7p at Jefferson Middle School Auditorium. We will also have a panel discussion with the ORHS Youth Ambassadors to discuss their view on this epidemic that is effecting their generation.

Counselors Corner

Dates to Remember:

November 13th: Midterm

November 13th and November 14th: Aspire test for 8th graders (Details Below)

December 20th: Last day before winter break

Good Evening from the Counseling Office! We hope that you had a great weekend! We have quickly went from Summer to Winter weather within a week!

This month we are going to focus on career awareness and how we can better prepare and help our student(s) to start looking at how their interests can lead to a future career. This week are going to look at 4 Careers Awareness Activities for Middle School Students.

According to Applied educational systems career awareness is an essential first step in building students’ understanding of the working world.

Career awareness differentiates itself from career exploration and career clarity by introducing students to different job opportunities in the world. It shows them options for their futures in a huge scope with the hope that each student will find a career that resonates with them in terms of interests, purpose, and inspiration. That’s a tall order for a middle school class, which is why career awareness activities are so hard to find and even harder to apply to middle school students. With that in mind, you have a few options at your disposal to help you out!

These are the five best career awareness activity ideas for middle school:

  1. Interest & preference questionnaires
  2. Aptitude surveys
  3. Classroom speakers
  4. Job shadowing

1. Interest & Preference Questionnaires

The first step in introducing students to career options is to determine what they like in the first place. These questionnaires help students collect their thoughts and place them on paper. For many middle school students, this will be the first time they’ve had to do this.

While it may sound dull, the results of questionnaires like this can be surprising both to you and your students themselves! You can take this information a step further as well, letting students derive their personal preferences for work environments, social interactions, and more from a simple questionnaire. Regardless of the extent to which you analyze these questionnaires, there’s just something about getting those thoughts down on paper that gives students an ah-ha moment for their own lives. Once they have that moment, you can capitalize on it by discussing career paths that cater to those interests.

Some common interest questionnaires include:

Still, students need more than just an interest to start the career of their dreams. They also need to have skills — or at least an interest in the skills that can point them in the right direction!

2. Aptitude Surveys

Aptitude surveys are the natural complement to interest questionnaires. While interest questionnaires let students get their thoughts down about what they want, aptitude surveys let them discover the skills they want to (or should) learn for the future. These tests are great on paper. But aptitude surveys have a strong stigma attached to them namely, the idea that students who do better on them are overall better than students who do poorly. The perfect example of this is the classic IQ test, which is rarely used in schools anymore.

Intelligence (and aptitude, by extension) is a difficult quality to measure in a person. That’s why it’s important to use some carefully-constructed aptitude surveys that can help your students discover their basic talents and how they can move forward.

Some popular aptitude surveys include:

  • Differential Aptitude Test (reasoning)
  • Stanford Educational Mathematics Aptitude Test (math)
  • Modern Language Aptitude Test (reading)

You may recognize some of the names on this list. That’s because both gifted and special ed programs throughout the United States use some of these tests to determine the best ways to teach students. Combined with their interest profiles, your middle school students now have their first insights into what they can do in the future. More importantly, they can figure out what careers can make them happy throughout their lives. Still, tests are just one element of career awareness. To really understand a career, students need to hear about it from the adults who live those careers every day.

3. Classroom Speakers

When you want to give your students valuable insight into a career, a classroom speaker is your best choice. Classroom speakers are frequently members of your community who represent the scope of a career. For example, the CEO of a small business can come to a class and talk about how they got their start. What career did they do first? When did they get the inspiration to start their own business? What is their life like now? That kind of insight is gold for students thinking about their careers. And while middle school students are known for being flighty and distracted, they’re also capable of engaging with something that interests them. CEOs can talk about leading a business. Nurses can talk about saving lives. Carpenters can talk about making something with their own two hands. Every career has a valuable kernel of truth within it, and the individuals in those careers can express it to students. If you want, you can take the spotlight for yourself for a few minutes to talk about how you went into the career that you did. But at the end of the day, classroom speakers are lacking a major quality that students need to really get interested in a career. In-person, hands-on discovery.

4. Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is the practice of getting a student (or group of students) to follow someone in their day-to-day work for a couple of hours. Job shadowing can take place with any career and in any setting, as long as a business can guarantee the safety of minors in their workplace. For students interested in being a mechanic, they can spend some time watching one work in a garage. Students interested in foodservice can observe meal preparation in a commercial kitchen. An IT manager can show tech-minded students the company’s server room. The potential for students is limitless in job shadowing, and it’s an incredible way for them to learn more about a career path. This is where they can learn more about the specific story behind each career’s representative too. Did the mechanic go to a career and technical center? How long did it take a chef to eyeball measure ingredients like that? What went into the IT manager getting her Master’s degree? This is the kind of insight that job shadowing provides in a career awareness environment. And while it’s definitely an “activity,” it doesn’t take place in your classroom! But there’s still one final option you have for career awareness activities that can make an impact on your middle school students. In fact, this one can change the course of their whole lives.

Aspire Set for November 13th and 14th

The ACT Aspire Test for the 8th grade students will be taken on Wednesday, November 13th and Thursday, November 14th beginning at 7:50am. The ACT Aspire is an assessment system that measures academic achievement in English, math, reading, and science in 8th grade. ACT Aspire is linked to the ACT College and Career Readiness Standards, research-based information that makes test results meaningful by connecting a student’s ACT Aspire score to specific skills and knowledge important for college and work success. In our district, we use these scores to assess student progress up to 8th grade and properly place students in classes as they transition to the high school. This test will be administered on hard copy this year. Also, please make sure that your 8th grade student gets a good night sleep, has had an opportunity to eat breakfast, and is to school on time so testing can begin promptly at 7:50.

Again, Jefferson Middle School will be conducting the ACT Aspire Test on Wednesday, November 13th and Thursday, November 14th beginning at 7:50am. We look forward to a successful morning for all involved. If you have any questions about the ACT Aspire, please contact the Counseling Office.

Community Information:

- Family Resources Fair (flyer below) November 18th 5 pm - 7 pm at Oak Ridge Boys and Girls Club

- CASA of the Tennessee Heartland is a non-profit that provides court-appointed special advocates for children in the court systems of Anderson, Blount, and Scott counties. CASA has fundraising events every other month so they can to raise more money for our organization so that we can reach more children that are in need. They are having an event on December 14th this year called Waffles with Santa at the Centennial Golf Course in Oak Ridge. More details on time to come later

How can a child aspire to a career they don't know exists? | Ed Hidalgo | TEDxKids@ElCajon