Pacific Grove Middle School

November 2020 Newsletter

Principal's Message

Hello PGMS Families,

I’d like to take a moment and detail our plan for hybrid learning. Our plan will look familiar in that it is essentially the same schedule that we have now. However, we will host students on site two days a week, with the remaining two days of instruction being asynchronous. This plan is a 50/50 model, meaning that PGMS will host half of our students at a time, in order to ensure adherence to the state and county health guidelines. Classes will be divided in half alphabetically with cohort A (half of all students) attending school on site on Tuesday and Wednesday, and cohort B (the other half of the students) attending on site Thursday and Friday. The consistency of this plan is important, as it’s a schedule we’re all familiar with currently, and students will continue to participate in all their classes. Our current Monday schedule will remain unchanged, and will consist of an Advisory class (which remains virtual) with the rest of the day to finish up any necessary assignments in preparation for the school week.

Strengths of the Plan

  • Allows for face to face instruction two days a week

  • Mirrors our current schedule, ease of transition

  • Allows for a seamless transition to/from full Distance Learning if the need arises

  • Students would maintain a continuity of learning, they would continue to see all of their scheduled classes

  • Continues to afford students access to our Character Strong program in Advisory

  • Continues to schedule students for an asynchronous Monday, ensuring additional time for students to complete assignments and prepare for the week.

Cons of the Plan

  • Lessens the synchronous time between teacher and student from 160 minutes to 80 minutes and increases the amount of asynchronous instruction to 160 minutes weekly.

Big picture
I think it’s important to bear in mind that Monterey County is currently in the Purple tier, and in order to consider a Hybrid Model of instruction, our county must transition to the Red tier. There is not a waiver process for secondary schools, thus we must do our best to flatten the curve and improve the county health statistics that dictate when we can return to hosting students on site. Please stay engaged as I’ll be passing along more information as we get encouraging health data. Wishing you good health!

Cameras On!

By Jason Tovani, Assistant Principal

After going a full quarter of the year letting students choose whether they will turn their camera on during class, or not, PGMS has become convinced that Distance Learning is better - for both students AND teachers - with cameras ON. That’s right, we are asking that ALL STUDENTS attend class with their cameras ON starting no later than Monday, November 2.

As a staff, we have noticed that students with their cameras on tend to be more engaged, more productive, and more successful in distance learning. Perhaps it is that students feel more accountable with their camera on. Perhaps it is the feeling of community that develops when students can actually see the classmates they are talking to and collaborating with.

We recognize that a small number of students may be more distracted and less engaged with their camera on, than they were with their camera off. These students may feel vulnerable, or exposed, sharing their rooms with their classmates, and we understand and respect that. We ask that these students give it a try, as many students report that keeping the camera on gets easier as they get used to it. Some students may be open to having their camera on, but lack the technical capacity to do so. The two-way streaming of video demands a significant amount of bandwidth, perhaps beyond what is available to some students, and that is absolutely okay. For these students, cameras on means a weaker connection to school. Please contact the school to let us know if your student’s situation makes “camera’s on” a bad idea.

We are excited to see the faces of our students, and see their smiles and what they look like when they are learning. When we see them work, we learn a LOT about what is working for them and what is not, and we can better decide what to do more of and what to let go of in our teaching. Ms. Foster summarizes this important factor well:

Here are just some of the many reasons I am encouraging your child to turn their webcam on:

  • It can eliminate some distractions (it is much easier to tell if a student is on task and present if their camera is on) and hold students more accountable for being focused during class. When distractions are reduced students are more focused, and the whole class can discuss subjects more deeply and quickly.

  • It creates a more realistic and less isolated classroom environment, something all the students benefit from, versus staring at a screen of icons. It also can benefit students to see each other's facial expressions, body language, or answers (when we are voting during class).

  • It helps me gauge how each student (and the class overall) is feeling/comprehending material and respond accordingly. (For example, is it time to take a stretch break, are students understanding, is one student looking confused, are all students looking down because they are writing, etc.)

  • If a student is having a tech problem (like they can't unmute) I can tell that they are trying to press the unmute button and I can then type in the chat or speak to help them. If their camera is off I don't know if they are not responding due to a microphone issue, because they have left the room, or for some other reason.

  • It allows me to assess the class non-verbally (for example by asking students to show me on their hands how many protons are in hydrogen or to tap their nose if they think water is an element). Again, this gives me feedback on the class overall as well as individual students.

  • It allows me to acknowledge students for having positive responses or behaviors ("Thank you Billy for starting to write already," "Sasha has the right number of fingers up," etc.)

  • There are times when I ask students to show me something on camera (for example hold up their notes, or go find an example of a non-living thing).

  • Students can notify me that they need help or have a question at any time by raising their hands.

When we returned from Fall Break, and held our parent conferences, many parents were thrilled with the idea of requiring cameras on. Feeling supported in doing so, many teachers began asking students, a bit more convincingly, to turn their cameras on in class. There has been little resistance from students, and virtual classes are starting to feel a little more familiar; a little more like school.

We think that a “cameras on” policy, starting on November 2, will make for a better experience for all involved -students and teachers - and that it will lead to higher quality distance learning. Please reach out to PGMS Administration if you feel that your student can not or should not be expected to have their camera on in class.

Share Your Story - Become a Guest Speaker!

  • Do you have a job that you LOVE?

  • Did going to college make all the difference?

  • Do kids think what you do is amazing, fascinating, or just cool?

  • Have you overcome obstacles and/or the odds to make it to where you are in your life or career?

  • Has your work ethic, mindset, or passion for your work helped you accomplish your goals?

Share your story and inspire AVID Students at PGMS!

The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) classes are sending out an all-call to anyone interested in becoming a guest speaker! AVID encourages students to expand their horizons of what it would take to earn a college degree and enhance their lives to seek out greater career opportunities beyond what they have ever imagined.

If interested, please submit a brief biography, including a brief summary of your education and career journey (and anything related to the prompts at the top of this article) to Jason Tovani, PGMS AVID Coordinator and Assistant Principal, at

The AVID Team will reach out to you to pick a date and time for you to join the class and share your story. Not you? Feel free to share this opportunity with friends and family that might be interested. Thank you for considering this opportunity!

Big picture

Hey Breakers! Got any lunch plans?

How about next Wednesday, got any plans then? Friday?

If you are looking for something to do at lunch time, or are looking to meet students with similar interests, check out the PGMS Virtual Lunch Clubs page.

There are TEN active Lunch Clubs, and you are welcome to join any one of them. Check out the information below. To join a club, just email the Club's Advisor! If you are interested in creating a Lunch Club, please visit PGMS website, Lunch Club Requests.

Hello from our new Yearbook email!

If you or your students have pictures for possible use in the 2020 yearbook, please send them to this email address below from now on. Be sure to label the pictures with who is in them and what the event was. Also, pictures need to be 300dpi or higher resolution to be used.

Yearbook email address:

Thank you for submitting photos in this 2020 school year. This is the only way we can create the yearbook, with everyone's help in documenting the unusual events of this year. The yearbook staff is looking forward to seeing all your photos!

8th Grade Baby Photos

The yearbook has a "Guess Who" section, which contains the 8th grade baby pictures. Please submit your student's baby picture at a dpi of 300+ with the student's first and last name to the Yearbook Committee,, no later than Friday, December 4.

Thank you!

Thank you to our wonderful PGMS PTSA for providing the donuts, apples, water bottles, and posters with positive messages to our students on their picture days! The PTSA had a great time connecting with the students and parents. It was the highlight of the day for most of our students. We are thankful the PGMS PTSA sprinkled a little happiness on their hearts with some yummy goodness in their tummies.

PGMS Counseling Update

With so much uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus, many parents feel at a loss for how to help their kids . An important step we can take to help our teen is actually surprisingly simple (with a little practice). What your teen needs most is someone who listens. Actively.

There are 5 important steps to being an active listener :

1. Listen with intent: put your phone away, far away.

2. Demonstrate interest: watch your body language-is your body relaxed and open? Are you making eye contact? Does your body language tell your child you want to hear more?

3. Don’t interrupt -when in doubt, don’t say it.

4. Listen mindfully -as hard as it is, refrain from judgement. Being heard and respected is more empowering to your child than giving them your advice.

5. Ask thoughtful questions -ask questions in a way that encourages your child to think or look at the situation in new ways.

To read more about the five steps to active listening with your teen, visit the full article here:

Join the PGMS Counselors on Monday, November 9, from 6:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. for an evening Coffee with The Counselors.

We will continue discussing communicating with our teens, active listening, and difficult conversations.

Janie Lawrence, School Counselor

Zoe Roach, School Counselor

Sonda Frudden, School Counselor

Veteran's Day Holiday- No School

There is no school on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, in observance of Veteran's Day Holiday.

Class Schedule for the week of November 9- November 13

During the week of November 9-13, we have the Veteran’s Day holiday schedule for Wednesday, November 11. Our schedule for that week will be:

Monday November 9

Regular Synchronous Schedule Periods 3, 5, 7

Tuesday November 10

Regular Synchronous Schedule Periods 2, 4, 6

Wednesday November 11

Veterans Day, No School

Thursday November 12

Regular Synchronous Schedule Periods 2, 4, 6

Friday November 13

Regular Synchronous Schedule Periods 3, 5, 7

PGMS Library

Our PGMS Library has its own Google Classroom with tons of resources and e books for your pleasure. The link to join this class can be found here: PGMS Library Classroom

Class Schedule for Thanksgiving Week (November 23- November 27)

On Wednesday, November 25, will be a Monday asynchronous schedule, so students’ only class will be Advisory, from 10:10 a.m.- 10:45 a.m.

Monday November 23

Regular Synchronous Schedule Periods 3, 5, 7

Tuesday November 24

Regular Synchronous Schedule Periods 2, 4, 6

Wednesday November 25

Minimum Day: Advisory only at 10:10-10:45

Thursday November 26

Thanksgiving Holiday, No school

Friday November 27

Thanksgiving Holiday, No school