Parent Newsletter

Nov. 19 - 23

Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 21st - 23rd

Week 6...

Last week midterms were sent home with students. Remember that the midterm is just a glimpse and a look at how students have performed up to this point in the nine weeks. This week starts the second half of the nine weeks. Check out this week's topics:

- A look at the week ahead

- Helping students post midterm to finish strong

- Teacher Feature

- Homework Help to share with students

- Tools to Understand: The 7 Keys for College and Career Readiness

- STEM Night and STEM resources

- Counselors Corner

Hope you have a great week,

Phil Cox, Principal

Chris Layton, Vice Principal

Jenifer Laurendine, Dean of Students

JMS Night at Zaxby's Nov. 27th

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JMS Night at Zaxby's


Tired of turkey? Eat at Zaxby’s on Tuesday, November 27th, from 5-8. This PTO sponsored event will earn JMS 10% of sales during the designated time. Come out and enjoy a meal and support JMS!

A look at the week ahead


A day

Chick-fil-A Breakfast for winning class of food drive

ASAP Survey during 6/8 grade PE classes

Chess Club 2:45-3:45

Environmental Club 2:45-4:00

First Lego League Atomic Eagles Meeting 2:45-4:45

Franco Lego League Team Meeting 2:45-4:30

Basketball vs. Jacksboro Middle School at Jacksboro MS

Boys JV 5:00, Girls V 6:00, Boys V 7:00


B day

ASAP Survey during 6 & 8 grade PE classes

Homework help for 5th/6th graders 7:00-7:30-Room 219 (Corrigan)

Library Club 2:45-3:45

First Lego League Atomic Eagles Meeting 2:45-4:45

Scott Lego League Team Meeting 2:45-4:30

Franco Lego League Team Meeting 2:45-4:30

Homework help for 5th/6th graders 2:45-3:30-Room 319 (Martin)


No School


No School Happy Thanksgiving


No School

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Oak Ridge Schools have partnered with Gaggle to provide features that will help keep our students safe while using district Office 365/OneDrive and Google Drive sites. Oak Ridge Schools will use Gaggle Safety Management to further promote student and educator productivity in a safe and controlled educational environment.

Gaggle Safety Management combines our district technology with expert safety representatives who continuously review content by identifying inappropriate words and images in Office and Google products used for educational purposes. Trained professionals then apply consistent, school- or district-approved policies for positive intervention, alerting school officials if there are imminent threats to student safety.

Gaggle Safety Management services will be used in the near future for students in grades 5-12 as part of the Oak Ridge Schools’ Access Oak Ridge digital technology initiative. Our district administration is pleased that such programs are available to monitor and provide another layer of internet safety for our students.

Gaggle has been a provider of student online safety learning solutions for the K-12 market since 1999. The company’s focus on protecting students allows parents and educators to have the confidence their learners can take advantage of current technology for communication and collaboration in a secure environment. To learn more about Gaggle, visit

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PTO Meeting Coming Soon! Next PTO meeting will be Tuesday, November 27 at 7:40 am in the Eagles Nest. Please join us to hear the latest updates about JMS and upcoming PTO projects. Refreshments will be served.

Mark Your Calendars: Tuesday, November 27 JMS will hold a Zaxby’s Spirit Night. 10% of sales between 5 - 8 pm will benefit JMS so come enjoy a night off from cooking dinner while helping our school!

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 Mr. Dodson’s art classroom. Students in Mr. Dodson’s class have been learning about Pop art. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol, celebrate commonplace objects and people of everyday life, seeking to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art. Students used clay purchased by the PTO to design and sculpt iconic images such as candy bags and soda cans. Thank you JMS families!

If you have questions about how you can get involved with PTO at JMS, please contact Sandy Pelletier

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Helping students finish the 2nd half strong

Maybe you didn't have the success you wanted in the first part of this nine weeks. The great thing about the midterm is that only signifies half of the nine weeks. Below are some strategies, goals, and ideas to help improve for the rest of the nine weeks. Remember, giving your best effort each and every time is not only a great goal for success in school, but also a goal to help you be successful for your future. As we work to help focus on 21st century skills we also want to help students and families focus on the 7 keys for college and career readiness. One major goal for ALL students should be to work to the best of their ability and refuse to have zeroes on assignments not submitted. Work the rest of nine weeks on the following goals below and turning in ALL of your work. Check out the picture below to learn more about how these goals and attributes apply to skills you will need when you finish school.

Step 1: Create Goals for yourself

Create a goal and make it one you know will challenge YOU. It's YOUR goal, not your friends goal. Make it personal, share it with a friend, your parents or keep it to yourself, but make a goal.

Example: "I won't make less than a B this nine weeks" or "I won't have any missing assignments this nine weeks" etc.


You have your goals, now it's time to achieve. It will take work, true hard work and it will take time to continuously work to reach your goals. This is Grit! A continuous pursuit of your goals and constantly adjusting to new goals once you reach your first goal.

What does "Best Effort" look like?

1. For no reason, should you allow yourself to NOT submit any assignment. You should care more about yourself, your grade, your success, and your goals than to have a ZERO in your academic progress.

2. You should try EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM, QUESTION etc. EVERY SINGLE TIME! You may fail, but remember to FAIL is to have a "First Attempt In Learning"

3. Don't use Excuses because you fear Failure. Take a chance and have a "First Attempt In Learning". This means you have to try, you have to ask questions, you have to take responsibility.


In order for YOU to achieve, YOU have to start with taking responsibility. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. If you have a zero for an assignment YOU never turned in, it's on you! Not your teacher, not your device, not Canvas, not your laptop.....You have to begin to focus on you. What can you do to submit that assignment? How can YOU remind yourself? Can I write it in my planner? Can I check my Canvas Calendar?

2. Ask for help, it's okay, you will probably find something someday you will need help with. Who do you ask?

- Your teachers

- Your parents

- Your friends who you KNOW understand the topic

- Find Educational resources to help you understand

- Communicate what you don't understand

- If you don't understand or you have a question, take the time to find an answer. This is a part of Growth Mindset

3. When you FAIL (First Attempt In Learning)....figure out why and try it again! If you have a teacher who allows you to make corrections, DO IT! Don't dwell on how "your teacher didn't teach it the way you like it!" or talk about "how it's someone else's fault you didn't prepare or study". Roll up your sleeves, study your mistakes, put in effort to make corrections, ask questions, seek answers and give it another try. GRIT! Never Quit!

Save the Date: February 19th STEM NIGHT at JMS 6 pm - 8 pm

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STEM Night and STEM resources

This is a message to Save the Date for STEM Night which will be from 6 pm - 8 pm on Tuesday February 19th 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!

There is an alternate date in case of inclement weather that will be set for Feb. 21st

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Teacher Feature

Callie Painter

I started my teaching career teaching third grade at Farragut Intermediate School. After a couple of years, I moved up to fourth grade at FIS. Then, I was given the opportunity to help open a brand new school at Northshore Elementary School as a fourth grade teacher. After half a year at Northshore, I was offered the position as a System-wide Gifted and Talented Instructional Coach serving both Northshore and Corryton Elementary. The following year, I added Dogwood and a district day to my schedule. This is my third year as the Gifted Teacher at JMS and I love it! I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and played “school” daily when I was younger. When I was in middle school, I was impacted by a school counselor and briefly considered a career in counseling instead. In the end, I decided that teaching was the best of both worlds. I get to help students learn new things every day, challenge them, and hopefully have a positive impact on their lives like my school counselor did all those years ago. I am extremely lucky to get to do what I always wanted to do! If my students hear anything I say, I hope it is that they should always be themselves and they should push through the hard things. You do you!

Kevin Webb

I decided to become a teacher while I was on my way to becoming something else. A combination of experiences changed my mind. In college I took an elective literature class that required me to spend some time in a local classroom. Shortly thereafter, I did some volunteer work that placed me back in a class setting as an instructor. I enjoyed it enough that I decided to pursue teaching full time. After short teaching stints in a rural school system and the Knox County alternative school, I came to Jefferson in 1989. Although I’ve taught every subject except Science in 5th and 6th grade, I currently teach 5th grade Language Arts.

Jefferson has changed quite a bit since 1989. We were a chalk and chalkboard school then. Eventually we had a television to share on each floor, and whiteboards slowly became an envied advance in each classroom. The rise of the internet brought Jefferson a computer lab, and ultimately we became a one-to-one laptop school system. That brings me to what I would offer as advice to Jefferson students. As a 5th grader, I began reading through a series of biographies in my school library. That led to a lifelong interest in reading non-fiction (and watching documentaries). I would encourage students to not allow online access to everything become a replacement for the singular focus of reading for enjoyment. Technology is great, but it requires critical thinking and the sort of deciphering skills that reading develops. Too often I notice students will accept the first response the internet will connect, and it doesn’t always work that way. You still have to be able to connect the dots for yourself by digging in and reading the information. I have always felt like Jefferson students have a long tradition of being avid readers and fans of the library, and I think that will serve them well moving forward.

Drones Take Flight at JMS

Back in September we shared that a few of our staff members had participated in a drone training. Recently Mr. Mitchell's classes have worked to fly the drones they have worked to build in the gym and the hope is to take them outside next week for a flight. From the article back in September Mr. Mitchell described the program idea and his excitement to start introducing students to drones and how to build and use them.

On Friday Sept. 21st, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Jaeger, Mr. Wright and Ms. Henderlight were all able to participate in a Drone Training and learn more about the use of drones. The training provided our CTE teachers with an opportunity to learn more about how drones are being used and ways to help expose students to careers and pathways for future jobs. Mr. Mitchell provided a glowing reccomendation of the training and also working to build his programs with more drones.

He said of the training, "It was one of the best trainings I have ever been to!! There are many applications with drones that I had never thought of and many of these can be done with students. Some of the applications we learned about are:

-equipping drones with infrared cameras (FLIR) and measure heat escape from roofs/windows as well as measuring fires in Gatlinburg

-real estate pictures and movies

-agricultural uses (flying over fields to measure water retention in rice fields, viewing crops that may have blight/other issues, spraying pesticides)

-interactive/virtual tours of state parks

-3D/Photo modeling of buildings and surrounding areas (Free app for this)

-storm damage images for insurance adjusters

-photo imaging of dams/buildings for minute cracks and potential hazards (Maryville College chimney, dams across Tennessee)

-checking gutters for clogs

-many more

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Understanding the Midterm Grade and moving forward

It's hard to believe, but we are getting closer to the midterm of the second 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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Checking Canvas and Skyward

Remember as we head into the second part of the second nine weeks that checking Canvas and Skyward are critical to help support students. Each of these tools provides parents and students with a weekly look at grades as well as assignments. Check out the information below to learn more about Canvas and Skyward.

Let's start with Skyward......

Skyward (This is worth checking weekly)

Skyward -

For the 2018 - 2019 school year parents will be able to check out student grades in Skyward. Teachers will work to keep the grade book up to date weekly. This will help to have a better idea of student's progress weekly. Around 4.5 weeks into the nine weeks, students will get a midterm report sent home and at the end of the nine weeks.

Canvas (This is worth checking weekly. Also look at information below to learn more about how to set up Canvas to make it easier to monitor)

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

OneNote (posted in previous newsletter)

Imagine being able to see the notes shared, discussed and provided for students in class. OneNote is being used by many of our teachers and they are literally sharing the daily lessons, notes, and information for students here. It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on in your student's particular classes.

Have you heard your student talk about OneNote? Have you wondered what it is and how it can be used? Check out the following information about OneNote and how it can help students stay organized, stay informed and have access to class information to be better prepared. The video below gives a great description as to all of the tools that can be utilized in a classroom through OneNote.

Remember the days of taking notes? Did you ever miss some items? What if you had access to them again after class? OneNote allows teachers to post notes to their Canvas page and allows for students to have access to information on their devices as it is being given to them. One goal of this is to allow students to have deep discussions, ask questions, and work to review as they learn content.

Check out the video resources both above and below to get a better idea and feel for how you can check with your student and their OneNote in order to get a better feel for materials from their classes. In addition, if you have questions you can contact Ms. Henderlight our Instructional Technology Coach to learn more about how you can engage with OneNote to help support student learning. Her email is

Thanks to TN Bank of Oak Ridge for their partnership

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Leadership in Action Award

John Smith

Mr. Smith works to help students, teachers, parents and the JMS community on a daily basis. His efforts go far beyond just their role as a teacher and working in their classroom. He exhibit a willingness to work with their colleagues in a very collaborative manner and effort designed to help support the goals for all students. Mr. Smith's efforts to support students goes beyond just their classroom as they work with multiple stakeholders to help provide support, resources and ideas that are designed to support student learning. In addition to his efforts to support students in the classroom he also work to support our student athletes be successful both on the field and off the field. His efforts with their colleagues to help enhance instructional strategies and data have had a major impact on helping the success for student learning. Mr. Smith has also worked closely with their PLC to help support student data and design a system to help student achievement with positive rewards and reinforcement for setting and achieving goals. He is a leader in our building in many capacities including their roles within the building and outside of the building working with staff at SAB. We are pleased to present Mr. John Smith with the Leadership in Action award for the month of November.

Alex Goldberg

Mr. Goldberg has shown a great effort to help support the mission of Jefferson Middle School and Oak Ridge Schools including the STEM vision for 21st century learning. His efforts with his classes to help support student learning including modeling and exhibiting practices of both grit and growth mindset to help differentiate and personalize opportunities for students. He has also taken a leadership role within the building and district to help support colleagues. His efforts to work in a collaborative manner with all stakeholders has made a positive and impacting difference within our building and has helped us move forward as a school to help support all students and prepare them for college and career readiness. Mr. Goldberg is a level 5 teacher often due to his efforts to work to support students and the growth process. He has worked closely with his PLC to reflect upon data and to find ways to utilize data to help support students, including having students set goals and working to help them attain those goals. In addition, he takes the time often to forge bonds with students who need encouragement and help as an effort to help support them academically, socially, and emotionally. He is a true advocate for students and embodies the belief of working to support the whole child. We are pleased to present Mr. Alex Goldberg with the Leadership in Action Award.

Digital Tools to help students and parents

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Homework Help

Homework Help

Students attending afternoon homework help will need to arrange their transportation from school according to the schedules below. Transportation must be pre arranged before staying for homework help after school.

5th/6th grade homework help

Mr. Corrigan and Mr. Martin will offer homework help on Tuesdays and Thursdays

AM session

7 am - 7:30 am for 5th and 6th graders in Mr. Corrigan's room in the 5th grade second floor wing

PM session

2:45 pm - 3:30 pm for 5th and 6th graders in Mr. Martin's room in the 5th grade third floor

7th/8th grade homework help

Mr. Hondorf will host afternoon homework help on Tuesdays

7th and 8th grade homework help will be on Tuesdays with Mr. Hondorf from 2:45 - 3:30

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Tools to understand: 7 Keys for College and Career Readiness

The following video below is designed to help students and families understand the district goals of the Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness. In large part, as we focus to help our students understand content knowledge as well as life skills for the 21st century we also focus as a district on these Seven Keys. We know that research shows that these Seven Keys play a vital role for student success while in school and also after they complete their studies. We want to share this information with our students and families so that we can work together to help support all students. Check out the video link below to learn more about the 7 Keys to College and Career Readiness.
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Counselors Corner

Good Evening from the Counseling Office! This week we would like to focus on a few items are we approach the end of Term 2. As the weather changes so do our health. Be sure to follow some of these important tips to communicate with school, teachers and attendance office if your child will be out for several days. Also, we have included some apps that can be downloaded to helo teach some grade-specific skills.

Some Tips to Help your Child Get Caught up After an Absence

1. Familiarize yourself—and your child—with the school’s attendance policy and the rules for getting assignments and making up work.

2. Your child may be able to get assignments through an e-mail to their teacher. Be sure to check Canvas and communicate with the attendance office if your child will be out for several days at (865) 425-9301.If not, try to find a neighborhood “buddy” who can pick up and deliver missed homework. Your child will be only too happy to return the favor when it’s time.

3. Most teachers will give at least 3 days to make up assignments but be sure to ask.


4. The road back after a few days away might be bumpy at first. Encourage your child to stay after school or meet with the teacher during lunch to ask questions he might have about the material. This will also help the teacher evaluate just how many gaps he/she has to fill before getting back on pace.

5. It’s not easy to make up homework while also keeping up with current work. If your child seems overwhelmed by a long to do list, help break up the assignments into more manageable chunks. A small reward (even an ice cream cone will do) is good motivation to get it all done well.

6. If your child is still recovering from an illness, it’s important to ramp up slowly. Help him/her prioritize and come up with a schedule for doing the work. This will help decrease stress and pave the way for a smooth transition.

Grades 3-5

Crazy Gears ($1.99; iOS)

It’s never too early to learn about physics and mechanics. Crazy Gears introduces children to these concepts through 60 increasingly challenging puzzles that teach physical science while encouraging logical thinking.

Manic Math ($0.99 and up; Android, iOS)

Manic Math is a Tetris-style game that teaches your child how to think on his feet and improve the speed of his basic math comprehension. Players tap the numbers and function symbols on the screen that create a formula for the result shown at the bottom of the screen. Numbers and symbols continue to fall on top of each other until they build to the top, when the game ends.

Spelling Monster ($1.99; Android, iOS)

While many spelling apps have their own word lists, Spelling Monster enables you to import your child’s list from school. The games are colorful and interactive, such as Word Traffic, in which your child must guide a car through lanes of letters to spell a word while dodging incorrect letters.

Word Creativity Kit ($2.99; iOS)

Word Creativity Kit aims to make creative writing fun while also reinforcing grammar rules. The app presents a series of words from seven categories, such as space or fantasy, as prompts to form sentences. Kids add their own words to finish the complete thoughts that these words have inspired.

Grades 6-8

Barefoot World Atlas ($4.99; iOS)

Barefoot World Atlas helps kids learn about geography and world cultures with a touch of the screen. Each region features an array of subtopics, from wildlife and natural features to native people, landmarks, and architecture. These facts and illustrations are delivered in photographs, sounds, and hundreds of mini videos.

Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers (free; Android, iOS)

Kids can learn the basics of computer coding with Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers. The app makes learning JavaScript fun by incorporating robot combat into the mix. Your child can play on her own or in battle mode against friends.

iTooch Middle School (free; Android, iOS, Windows)

With a wide range of math and language arts activities, iTooch Middle School offers your child more than 10,000 exercises to choose from. The lessons and summaries, examples, figures, hints, pictures, and detailed explanations are all geared toward keeping education fun for middle schoolers.

My Grades & Homework ($0.99; iOS)

A combination of a grades and homework tracker, My Grades & Homework can help your child stay organized and on top of her progress in school. A convenient calendar and course list format offer a glance at your child’s assignment schedule that she might not normally get from standard homework planners.

Enjoy your break!