Redbird Roundup, Vol. 15

Friday, December 13. 2019

Our Mission and Vision

Norris Middle School prepares all students for their future by providing a safe, caring, and diverse school environment that maintains high expectations, academic excellence, and respect for all. Success, achievement, respect…It’s a Redbird thing!

La Escuela Secundaria Norris prepara a todos los estudiantes para su futuro ofreciendo un entorno escolar seguro, atento y diverso que mantiene altas expectativas, excelencia académica y respeto para todos. Éxito, logro, respeto…Es una cosa de los Redbirds!

Principal's Greeting

Happy Friday Redbird Nation!

This is the last Redbird Roundup of the semester. It's hard to believe the time has flown as much as it has.

As I reflect on the semester, I can't tell you how proud I am of how we as a school community have reached our goals. From hitting a 58% attendance rate at conferences, to moving from 12% to almost 80% in Institutionalization of Practice in Learning Goals, you have so much to be proud of. You have prioritized positive recognition of students through Redbird Bucks, and have refined procedures and passes to reduce students in the hallway. You should be very proud of yourselves. We will continue to press on towards our outcomes third and fourth quarter.

We have lots of exciting events next week with some field trips and our Chorus concert. Our week culminates with our annual Crockpot Exchange. We'll also be using that time to bid our farewell to Greg Gruber on his retirement. Please consider bringing toiletries to donate for his services to others.

Have a wonderful, safe, and refreshing break.

Dr. Carr

Notes from Dr. Carr

There will be no Redbird Roundup next week! I will be gone over winter break, but will still respond to texts/emails etc. if you need anything!

The building is open over break from 7-3 on the following days:

Monday, December 23

Thursday, December 26

Friday, December 27

Monday, January 30

Thursday, January 2

Friday, January 3

December 16-20

Monday, December 16-7th Grade Chorus Rehearsal Blocks 1 and 2; 6th Grade Chorus Rehearsal during block 3A

Tuesday, December 17-Chorus Rehearsal Blocks 1 and 2; VILS PD/Check-in during team time; Norris Parent Group Meeting at 6 p.m., Chorus Concert, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 18-CLUBS DAY SCHEDULE; Team Leaders meeting at 7 a.m. in room 129

Thursday, December 19-Nothing Scheduled

Friday, December 20-Crockpot Exchange during lunch times

Staff Introductions

This week we get to know Laura Aguilar, Darris Amburgey, Greg Gruber.

Laura Aguilar

Name: Laura Aguilar

How many years have you been teaching/in education? 18 years. 6 years in Spring Lake and 12 in Norris M. S

What is your favorite thing about Norris Middle School? The staff and the students.

How would your friends describe you? I think they would describe me as someone that puts her family first. Someone that likes to enjoy every minute of life and that tries to stay positive in all circumstances.

What website/app do you use most often?

What is something we would never guess about you? That I have been married for almost 31 years and my husband and I love to dance Latin music.

Would you rather go 30 days without your phone or an entire lifetime without dessert? Without a phone!! I love flan!!!!!

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? To the wonderful country of Ecuador!!

Darris Amburgey

Name: Darris Amburgey

How many years have you been teaching/in education? This is my 5th year all at Norris.

What is your favorite thing about Norris Middle School? The family feel. I have literally cried on shoulders and had fantastic times here.

How would your friends describe you? (I am teaching my people), I am just a big kid:)

What website/app do you use most often? Oh my, Amazon spends a lot of time in my face.

What is something we would never guess about you? I have ungodly amounts of platelets in my blood, the red cross loves me.

What is the funniest thing you have ever seen a kid do? Spencer Plank and I once had a student tell us “They had to rebuild the Whitehouse” I said yes it was burned during the war of 1812. She said “no tourist crashed a plane into the Whitehouse, which is why they had to rebuild it.” I said do you mean terrorists? She said “No tourist” I said you mean guys with cameras on vacation? She said “ Yes” At this point another student decided to help her out and said “No, it wasn’t the Whitehouse, it was the octagon!”

What is the best thing that happened to you this week? I was greeted with smiling faces by my wonderful BSP kiddos!

What is the worst food you ever ate? Wow, well in the Marine Corps you get lots of chances to eat interesting things, at some points anything crawling or wiggling will do for nourishment.

Would you rather go 30 days without your phone or an entire lifetime without dessert? Easy choice diabetes says, I get to use my phone.

What TV show would you binge watch if you had the time? GOT or Walking Dead.

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? 3,453 miles.

What would you sing at karaoke night? I am partial to a little Travis Tritt.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Why or why not? I would say yes, it has bread on two sides and has toppings.

Greg Gruber

Name: Greg Gruber

How many years have you been teaching/in education? Full time since 1980. Part-time 1972-74. I retire on 20 December, 2019.

What is your favorite thing about Norris Middle School? Inspiring People—both young and older... Love you all!

How would your friends describe you? Spiritual, helpful, creative.

What website/app do you use most often? YouTube Music

What is something we would never guess about you? Multiple NDE’s and a bloodline that includes: Cherokee, Roma, Jewish, African, Greek, Russian, Celtic, et al.

What is the best thing that happened to you this week? Finished furniture order for my brother, Rev. Dick Gruber.

What is the worst food you ever ate? Lobster on 23 Dec. 1974—see NDE above.... second time God sent me back...

What TV show would you binge watch if you had the time? All Star Treks....

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? Isle of Iona in Scotland.

What would you sing at karaoke night? Sinatra or Eagles

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Why or why not? Yes—in Chicago with chilli, onion, and mustard.

Up Next Week in the Redbird Roundup

I do three staff introductions each week. You'll be getting an email from me with questions. Even if you have done it before, please participate and do it again! Please respond and include a picture by Thursday! I will do the first week.

Up next: You'll find out in January!

Wellness Word to the Wise

Holidays Can Be Stressful

Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

Powerful Practices

Checks for Understanding-Stations/Questioning

Ms. Novakoski and Ms. Parker divide their students into for purposeful groups for Math. At Ms. Novakoski's station, she is teaching students about the denominations of coins. Students activate prior knowledge by sorting the coins on their own, then Ms. Novakoski models what the coins are. Students repeat in call/response fashion, and their last task (and Ms. N's check for understanding) is applying what they have learned by identifying the coins. She can use that informal check for understanding to re-teach and move onto new content.

Magnifying Effective Instruction

This is a lengthy video, but well worth the watch. Doug Fisher talks about how we set high expectations for our students, emphasize the "why" of learning (can your students tell you why they're learning what they are?), and how coaching can help move teacher practice.

I have been super impressed with our first two quarters of instructional coaching. I know it's not always perfect, but the merit of sitting down with you and having a dialogue about your teaching is invaluable. I have personally enjoyed it and seen great reflection. We look forward to resuming our coaching fourth quarter.

House Cup Updates


Norris Staff and Students Seen and Heard

Think Tank

Ms. Jacobberger took these amazing students to the district Think Tank event. They spent the day splitting into teams with other schools and developed real world solutions to problems in a variety of areas.

Spelling Bee

Congrats to our first place, Cali, and our second place, Shylaer, on their performance at our school spelling bee. Cali will represent Norris at the district competition!

Geography Bee

Congrats to our Geography Bee winner, 7th grader Kenya. She'll compete again in February.


Ms. Eskridge's carolers have been very busy this winter! They recently sang carols at the Carolyn Scott Rainbow House, which is a 56-room guest house for out-of-town families who are coming to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center from more than 60 miles outside of Omaha. I'm so proud their voices could help spread cheer there!

GSA White Elephant Gift Exchange

GSA held their white elephant gift exchange during their last meeting of the semester. They also received their cool Norris GSA shirts!

Grassroots Hispanic Leadership Developmet Program

Omaha Public Schools hosts the Grassroots Hispanic Leadership Development Program each year. Students are selected who have maintained good grades, attendance, and behavior, and are juniors in high school. During this program they learn about different components of the government, civic responsibility, job and interview preparation, and many other things! I have spoken to this group a couple of times. The first time was in October when they got to grill me about what it was like to be a principal (they were impressed when I showed them video of our Redbird Posse and a picture of me as a VSCO girl). I also was with them last night completing mock interviews. Students dressed up and had practiced their skills to prepare for interviews. Dr. Logan also helped with this event.

There are many former Norris students who participate, this is a great program for them to be a part of!

Neil Shusterman Visit

We welcomed Neil Shusterman, young adult fiction author, to speak to our students on Friday, December 13. He allowed students to ask questions, and I think we can all say we were beyond impressed with our students questions, as well as their attention during the assembly. He talked about reading, writing, and everything in between! What a cool exposure for our students!


Thank you to our Leadership Ambassadors and Tara Rechkemmer and Brittany Rossell for organizing an amazing Spirit Week! We look forward to the next one!

Final Thought

A Holiday Poem:

Roses are red, violets are blue.

The break is near, Happy Holidays to you!

I hope your time is filled with relaxation and fun,

and limited stress to get your grades done.

Please come back refreshed, ready to start anew,

2020 will be here while the first semester flew.

We'll keep giving our 100%, whatever it looks like,

to testing, our lessons, our activities and the like.

A very happy holiday from my school family to yours,

can't wait to see you in 2020 when Redbirds continue to soar.