Ram Nation News

Week of May 6, 2019

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I am extremely excited about this week because it is Teacher Appreciation Week. It is a time where we are able to recognize the work done by each one of you and the impact you continue to have in the lives of our Rusk Rams.

I am happy that you are one of the staff members here at Thomas J. Rusk Middle School; I enjoy seeing you in action teaching and building/shaping our kids. You are a role model who inspires our young Rams to break the glass of the ceiling to dream high, motivates them to work hard, and provides supports to study in order to achieve greatness. We know, it is not about who and where our students are at this time, but who they will become. You are a superhero to our kids and wear many hats each and every day!!! As we work on being beacons of hope for our kids and our community, you display..

  • COMPETENCY to carry out your job, know your content, and address misconceptions that our students have so that you can support with bridging their academic gaps.
  • COMPASSION as you deal with our students and other colleagues. Compassion is linked to one of our core values, inspiring relationships!!! We must continue to give feedback and encouragement.
  • COURAGE to make the instructional decisions that we know are critical to the success of our Ram Nation. We must have courageous conversations around data and goals set to ensure our students are set for success.

Thank you so much for continuing to shape dramatically the lives of our children by providing awesome and meaningful learning experiences. Thank you for helping reach and stretch the potential of each one of our Rams. Thank you for all that you do to impact the lives of our kids!!! You rock....You are awesome....You are number one!

Attendance Review

Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn.

Check out the percent for attendance for the week of 4/29 - 5/13:

  • 6th Grade - 97.15% an improvement of 1.88% from last week.
  • 7th Grade - 97.35% an improvement of 1% from last week.
  • 8th Grade - 97.57% an improvement of 3.05% from last week and takes the lead on the attendance board!

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.

Thank You

  • Ms. Rocha, Mr. Martin, Mr. Patel, Ms. Perez, Ms. Rendon, Mrs. Brown, Ms. Miner, Ms. Ingram, Ms. Stripling, Ms. Molla, Ms. Maloy, and, Ms. Vargas for their dedication, commitment, and support as they attended Saturday School providing small group support as they addressed low TEKS and areas of improvement. I know students took advantage of this opportunity and are grateful for having your support. Also, Mr. Ramirez and Ms. Davis for opening the building and supporting in various ways.
  • Ms. Michael for her commitment to our baseball team. They had a great game and came out victorious despite the rain; what a great season!!!
  • Mrs. Mooty for her leadership in the organization and coordination of the student surveys. Shout out to Ms. Calderon and Ms. Shelby for their support with distribution and collection of materials.
  • Ms. Woods for her hard work and dedication with the Attendance for Credit initiative. She has implemented various procedures to ensure student plans and committee documentation is in place. Shout out to 8th graders who have made up a great amount of days/time.
  • Mr. Proctor for working with 8th grade students who have passed the math test. He is reinforcing science concepts as they are reviewing concepts learned early in the year.
  • Mrs. Brown, Ms. Vargas, and Ms. Miller for providing SSI targeted intervention to our retesters. Shout out to Ms. Strong and Ms. Taylor who have supported our reading groups with individual goals.

Growth Mindset

We must believe that our students can and will learn despite the obstacles they may have. We must provide the opportunities for our students to grow and shine! Also, as adults, we must model for our students learning and growing on a daily basis.

Last week, Dallas ISD hosted the Counselor of the Year ceremony where our counseling queen team was recognized. Each one of our counselors was recognized for being a Master Counselor and Ms. Calderon was recognized as a counselor of the year nominee. We are very proud of their work and impact; they continue to display excellence in advocacy, leadership, and collaboration.

High Expectations

Our students continue to rise to the level of expectations that we have set for them. We know that we also have to have high expectations for ourselves so that we can make the highest impact in our kids.

During the visit from Lubbock ISD, we were able to showcase our instructional practices, climate and culture, and systems that have supported us in achieving success. Our visitors truly enjoyed and had great feedback from their experience at our school. Shout out to Ms. Rendon, Ms. Michael, Ms. Lewis, Ms. Baker, Ms. Molla, and Mr. Johnson for allowing us to visit their classrooms and practices. Also, we were able to highlight the work done by our band led by Mr. McCann and our cheerleaders under Ms. Gray's leadership; this is great to show as we showcase building the whole child. Finally, kudos to Ms. Baker for her support and leadership with the organization of this visit.

FLS - Relevant Experiences

Under Ms. Martin's leadership and with the support of Ms. McGee, Ms. Garcia, and Dr. Bradford, our students had a great opportunity to learn more about how to care for our Earth on Earth Day as well as learn more about history, culture, and traditions as they celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Our students are having a great time as they are learning tons!!!

Inspiring Relationships

Our district's goal number four is about supporting students and the participation in extracurricular or cocurricular activities; it is great to see our students participating in the various sports and activities. Our students continue to represent our school in a very positive way; we are very proud of their accomplishments!!!

Mr. Alarcon for his leadership and dedication to our band program. Our students participated in the Sun Fest at the Colony High School competition last week; our non-varsity band received superior ratings, 1s, which is the best score that a band can accomplish. The judges were very complementary about performance, looks, and performance. We are very proud of the work done!

Model UN

Under Ms. Ingram's leadership and the support from Ms. Eddy, our students have been working in the Model UN club. This is an academic activity in which students can learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. Last week, our students had the opportunity to participate in the district wide event. Based on Ms. Ingram's words, "When students are given the opportunity to get on the microphone and ask the keynote speaker questions, our Rusk Rams scholars showed out; our students asked the first three questions." We are proud of our students for their learning and rising up to our expectations!!!

School Priority # 3 is to broaden constructive relationships with the members of school community.

Albee Schweitzer fellowship is awarded to medical students volunteering within their community to solve health problems. Our school was chosen last year to implement a cooking club (created by students) and were given $2500 to implement the program. Since last year we’ve spent over 200 hours volunteering towards crediting a cool book, blog, and short video reel to highlight our recipes. Our students will be sharing a short cooking lesson with maple lawn students later this week. Our dedicated fellow is Janie Cao. She has worked tirelessly with the kids to create the Healthy Makes Wealthy cooking program. UT Southwestern would like to thank Thomas J Rusk middle school for opening their doors to the Schweitzer fellowship and allow our graduating doctors to become a part of the community!

Let's continue to make sure we encourage parent and community participation in school events, parent workshops, and parent conferences to create partnerships to build the whole child.


We need to get our students as ready as possible for the next grade level; therefore,

  • Teach and hold students accountable for the learning
  • Challenge students by exposing them to high level tasks, HOTS questioning, and engage them in habits of discussion.
  • Be prepared by having materials and lesson plan ready, having questions available, making learning relevant, and knowing or anticipating students' misconceptions
  • Be very purposeful being focused on teaching and learning taking advantage of every single minute.
  • As we work on making sure all of our students meet their goals to finish their year successfully, let's work on tracking students' performance and progress by having students profile (use link to access two samples of profile sheets to use) and conduct conferences with students so that they know what mistakes they made as they take their daily DOL. Also, set goals so they know what they need to do to achieve and make significant progress. (TEI 1.2 and 1.5)
  • Aggressive Monitoring (see tracker and coding system if needed) should be done with at least the independent practice and DOL. Remember it is a check for understanding where all students receive feedback. You planned your pathway keeping in mind students level of achievement; then, you announce your laps, execute the pathway and provide feedback to students in the moment using the aggressive monitoring trackers and coding system. Every student receives written and verbal feedback. If you see an error or misconception clear it up immediately using the 3 Fs (feedback, fix it, follow up), show call, or modeling. (TEI 2.2)
  • As we continue to strengthen a great and solid testing environment to support the success of our Rusk Rams, use the active monitoring sheet for testing during your CDOL or any testing that may be longer than 45 minutes so that you can collect qualitative data to make instructional decisions and to have goal conversations with our students.

  • 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. (TEI 3.1)
  • 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.
  • Submit lesson plans by Thursday at 6:00 p.m. (TEI 4.2)
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Monday, May 6

  • A-Day.
  • Extended Observations and SPOTs continue
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, determine misconceptions, create exemplars, and analyze data for your students.
  • 4:45 - 5:45 - Monday Meeting - Library
  • 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. NBC broadcast showcase at Texas Theatre -Ms. Baker.

Tuesday, May 7-

  • B-Day.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, determine misconceptions, create exemplars, and analyze data for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Let's make the best out of this time being very purposeful in the material covered with students and the students who must attend your sessions. 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. As a reminder, students do not have the option to opt out; if you need assistance with parents, please let anyone from the leadership team know.
  • Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school

Wednesday, May 8

  • A -Day.
  • Algebra EOC testing
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, determine misconceptions, create exemplars, and analyze data for your students.
  • 4:30 After school program continues - Let's be very purposeful in our lessons and our recruitment of students.
  • Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 9-

  • B-Day.
  • Weekly PLC - Testing Meeting
  • 4:30 After school program continues.
  • 6:00 - Lesson plans due.

Friday, May 10-

  • A-Day
  • SLO Accomplishment Due - upload to Cornerstone following directions listed below.

Saturday, May 11-

  • Saturday School Continues - Adults 8:30 - 1:00; Students 8:45 light breakfast 9:00 - 12:30.
  • Oncor Kid's Race and Get Kidz Fit Fest at the Centennial Building At Fair Park from 11:00 a.m until 3:00 p.m. - Coach Addison.
  • Reunion Tower Field Trip - Mr Patel

Upcoming Events

May 13 -16

  • 6th - 7th Math STAAR and 8th grade Math retest
  • 6th - 7th Reading STAAR and 8th grade Reading retest
  • 8th Grade Science STAAR test
  • 8th Grade Social Studies STAAR test

May 17

  • Tentative - 8th grade activities (college field trip or museum visits)
  • 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. 8th grade dance

May 20

May 22

  • ACP Begins

May 30

June 10 - 20

  • Summer Readiness - Selected personnel has been notified. All other who applied will be notified if other opportunities come up.

June 10 - 26

  • SSI - Selected personnel has been notified. All other who applied will be notified if other opportunities come up.
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Don Johnston Learning Tools

Don Johnston learning tools: CoWriter, Snap&Read, uPar and Quizbot to support student accommodations. Great software that is available now and will have better implementation next year. Check out our website for links to learn about each one of these programs.
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We want to join Ms. Turnbull and her family celebrating the arrival of Baby Max William Turnbull. He was born on Tuesday at 3:07 p.m. He weighted 7 Lb and 2 oz and measured 20".

Happy Birthday

We wish you a happy birthday!

  • Akash Patel ………….5/7
  • Ms. Wells ……………..5/11
  • Jacey Melchiorre ..5/15
  • Adelina Vargas …...5/22
  • Timothy Martin …...5/22
  • Phylisia Rendon …..5/24