Ram Nation News

Week of October 1, 2018


A middle school that cultivates scholars to be catalysts of change, life-long learners, innovators, and competitors in a global society


At Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, our mission is to empower our students to become

college and career ready by providing them a culture of excellence through challenging

opportunities, powerful relationships, and strong community partnerships.

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As we work on analyzing the results of our common assessments, see our students' work, and students work on profiling, it is crucial for us to reflect on their work and our teaching practices. Refer to the picture above as you continue to have discussions with our students.

  • For many people on the outside, they just see the SUCCESS that students may be accomplishing.
  • We know that any success accomplished, it is the fruit of the efforts, sacrifices, hard work, dedication, and all of the other items, to name a few, depicted above.
  • We all have worked hard the last few weeks; however, we know that our students have had different experiences in the past few years and have many gaps. Therefore, it is critical for our students to know, and for us to keep in mind, we must continue to stay focused, set goals, and work hard to make progress.

Have you stopped to think what is our students' perspective regarding success and what are the keys to their success? What are our action steps to ensure our students reach and feel success? Overall, we may refer to the keys of success as principles, elements, steps, factors, or something similar. However, commitment and hard work are crucial for everyone to succeed in any area of life. We must have focused and consistent work. We must be willing to say no to distractions for a long time, we must be patient and believe in the process; embrace growth mindset and changing our approach and strategies, and trying new things while being rooted in our core values, initial vision and always keeping them in mind.

Success does not happen by chance!!! It takes strategic actions in the right direction to get there. It does not happen overnight either. We know that there are many failures during the journey and how we react to those failures will determine our course and final result. At the end of the day, it is all about how hard we have worked on the right thing, the one which will get us closer to our goal. But to be willing to invest our precious time, energy and focus, we all need to truly understand exactly why hard work matters. Our mission is to empower our students to become college and career ready!

This year, we continue to engage in professional development, PLCs, and implement the planning of our lessons with the end in mind;

  • We have used STAAR released questions to ensure that our learning objective and instruction is at a high, rigorous level.
  • We are planning rigorous lessons addressing high leverage TEKS preparing our students for the next grade level keeping in mind milestones such as common assessments, ACPs, and STAAR.
  • This week, we will be able to meet by grade level and subject to discuss common assessment data and to dig deep into high leverage TEKS to see what the students should know and be able to master this content. Also, we will be able to collaborate and plan a reteach.

I am very proud of the work done and grateful that each one of you has embraced the challenge of accelerating transformation for our students who need and deserve the best.

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Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn. It is awesome to see all of our students being on time to school. Let's continue to support our students in transitioning in an expedited manner from class to class. The following is the percent for attendance for the week of 9/21 - 9/27: 6th Grade - 97.29%; 7th Grade - 96.92%; and 8th Grade 96.94%.

Way to go 6th grade team!!!! Our "little guys" have taken the attendance challenge very seriously and have the highest attendance of the school for 2 week in a row.

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


  • Ms. Saucedo for continuing to support our teachers' efforts and support our campus by recruiting and coordinating volunteers. Last week, our school logged 56 hours, 22 more hours than last week, and recruited 1 new volunteer, adding to 60+ registered volunteers.
  • Mr. Brown, Ms. Buitron, Ms. Maloy, Ms. Trent, Ms. Jackson, and Ms. Martin for their flexibility and support for the common good of the school as they have made adjustments to their schedule and assignments to cover areas of need during Mr. Guillory's absence.
  • Mr. Proctor for his support and commitment to provide meaningful opportunities for our kids. Some of our students had the opportunity to participate in the Microsoft YouthSpark Live Dallas 2018, had a great time, and learned tons as they engaged in various STEM-based activities.
  • Mr. Howlett for his commitment to our staff and students as he is very attentive and responsive to the various requests placed by all of us. Also, he helped setting up Ms. Guerra's office and moving furniture by himself.
  • Ms. Galvan, Ms. Saucedo, and Ms. Zuniga for their dedication as they worked on distributing 250 jackets to our students. Our Rams looked professional and we will be able to be more consistent enforcing dress code.

Instructional Practices

Collaboration, Learning, and Support

Ms. Bush-Wells, Mr. Geiger, Ms. Tucker, and Ms. Guerra participated in the ACE Super Saturday training to strengthen our implementation of re-teach lessons and aggressively monitoring. It is great to see our staff members collaborating and learning in various settings, with each other, and other leaders across the district!!! Kuddos for their dedication to continuous improvement as we work on our shared responsibility for the total development of students and collective responsibility for students' success.

Climate and Culture

Special Education Department Update

  • Please, bring your IEP binder to our staff meeting on Monday, October 1, 2018.


  • Conduct conferences with each student so that they know what mistakes they made as they took the common assessment. Also, set goals so they know what they need to do to achieve and make significant progress. (TEI 1.2 and 1.5)
  • During transitions, let's make sure to have 100% participation and hold each other accountable to be present in the hallway supporting students. Our goal is to narrate the positive and have at least 10 positive interactions each transition. APs, CICs, and counselors will be working with each one of you to provide individual support. (TEI 3.3 and 3R Positive Attitude/Enthusiasm).
  • Engage learners throughout your lessons and ensure we incorporate bell-to-bell instruction (see below for more details). It will support the increase in student achievement and reduce disruptions. While students are more familiar with engagement strategies such as Think Pair Share, we need to ensure that we have taught, modeled, and practiced these skills in order for effective implementation (TEI 2.4, 3.1, and 3.3).
  • As we work on documenting the progress our students are making, remember our policy regarding failure rates and the various opportunities needed to ensure our students are successful. EIA (Regulation) (TEI 2.2, 4.2, 4.5)
  • Be very consistent in the effective implementation of various practices discussed during our TEI orientation and lesson alignment conversations. With regards to Alignment (learning objective), the proficient rating states: Focuses students at the beginning and throughout the lesson, by clearly stating (TEI 2.1)
    • What they are learning
    • Why it is important
    • What mastery looks like
    • How to connect it to prior knowledge and their own lives and explaining to students
  • Submit lesson plans by Thursday at 6:00 p.m. (TEI 4.2)


Monday, October 1-
  • B Day
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • Homecoming Spirit T-Shirt Sales begins (Ms. Addison).
  • Breast cancer awareness t-shirt sales (Ms. Lewis) and ticket sale for October 5th dance (Mr. Patel) continue.
  • 4:45 Monthly Staff Meeting - Library.
  • 6:00/7:30 football game at Franklin Stadium against Tasby MS.
  • 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Volleyball game at W.T White HS against Marsh MS.

, October 2-
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.

Wednesday, October 3-
  • Calibration Walks - We will be walking classrooms checking for alignment, exemplars, and aggressively monitoring.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Teacher of the Year reception at Frontiers of Flight Museum - Ms. Perez, Ms. Davis, and Mr. Cordoba
  • 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Reception and Conversations with Honored - The Home of Cecilia and Garrett Boone - Ms. Vargas and Mr. Cordoba

Thursday, October 4-

  • 8:00 - 5:00 p.m. Dallas Baptist University educational conference - Ms. Lewis, Mr. Thornton, Ms. Woods, Ms. Wells, Mr. Rivera, and Mr. Salazar.
  • Department Collaboration PLC - Department Chair and AP/CIC
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. Feeder Pattern Meeting - Mr. Cordoba
  • 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. SBDM training -Selected Personnel with Mr. Alrich Smith from the Office of Family and Community Engagement.
  • 6:00 - Lesson Plans Due

Friday, October 5 -

  • 10:00 - 1:00 p.m. School Leadership Working Group Meeting at United Way - Mr. Cordoba
  • 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Latin Dance benefiting the Spanish Club - Mr. Patel.

Saturday, October 6 -

  • 10:00 a.m. Cross Country Meet - W.T White Longhorns Invitational at Brookhaven Community College - Ms. Rendon

Upcoming Events

October 9 -

  • Principal for a Day - Alexander Bourdeau, Solutions & Analytics Lead - Sense360
  • Parent Conference Night - 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Dinner provided for parents and staff. Let's promote dinner served to parents!! This will help with parent participation.

October 12-

  • Professional Development Day - No school for students

Homecoming Week -Thursday, Oct. 11st -Thurs., Oct. 18th. - See email from Coach Addison for details about activities.

October 15-

  • Homecoming Game Vs Cary MS at Franklin Field.

October 17-

  • CILT sessions 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. - Location TBD.

October 19 -

  • Fair Day - No school

Red Ribbon Week -Week of October 22, 2018 - email and flyer from our counselors is forthcoming for details about activities.

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TEI Teacher and Administrator Perception Survey

Please, access the memo to learn more about the TEI survey that will be administered via SurveyMonkey from September 24 - October 5. The purpose of the survey is to collect feedback from teachers and administrators. It is voluntary and confidential.

Bell-to-Bell Instruction

Place emphasis on maximizing the limited time teachers have with students and communicate high expectations for on-task behavior.

  • Greet students at the door.
  • Post "do now" for students to begin immediately.
  • Have materials needed by students and teachers readily available.
  • Plan for smooth transitions between instructional activities.
  • Build in opportunities for movement and active student engagement.
  • Check regularly for student understanding and focus.
  • Have an active summary activity in every learning segment.
  • Present and link the day’s objective to previous learning or homework.
  • Use teacher-directed instruction to clarify or introduce new material.
  • Use student-centered learning activities requiring active student engagement.
  • Use summary-reflective dialogue to check for mastery and establish links with future learning or homework.
  • Plan for four learning segments of about the same length during a class period to help with pacing


Ms. Vargas for her leadership and dedication to our students! She has been selected to assist the STEM Math department in writing model lessons and tasks for our K-12 math curriculum. We are very excited for her about this opportunity!

Welcome to Rusk!!!

Ms. Valdez joins the custodial staff as support custodian in the evening shift. Please, take some time to greet her, get to know her, and make her feel welcome.

Happy Birthday -

We want to wish you the best and many blessings for the years to come.

1 – Ms. Herrera

8 – Ms. Vasquez

10 – Ms. Buitron-Irani