The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Thoughts from a Middle School Principal

Recently, the school I have an honor to lead, Southport Middle School, received an “A” letter grade from the Indiana Department of Education. This has been a goal we have been striving to reach for years. Past years have left us scoring a letter grade of C or D; while we knew there were better things going on between the walls at SMS that these grades reflected. Yet, each year we struggled to get our students to the level in which we knew they could and should perform. The best part of our school grade this year was not the fact that we got over 90% of our students in math to pass, or over 75% of our students in Language Arts above the line, but more importantly and more impressively, we saw amazing growth from our students. Our student body received three out of the four possible bonus points for growth. So, how did this happen? How did a school that has never met state expectations, whom has never received a grade higher than a C become an “A” school? The answer lies in the dedicated staff that walks the halls of SMS. I mentioned in a blog post from a few weeks ago, “Our goal ... is to not just to align our thinking but to align our beliefs. Thinking the same will help us achieve our goals, but believing the same will make opportunities for success endless.” So, what’s the difference between thinking the same and believing the same? Thinking the same has helped us to provide quality instruction to students. We come in each day, do our jobs, and do them well. This had lead to our current success. But, success over time, and the sustaining of this success, is our true goal. Achieving an “A” this year is an outstanding accomplishment, but greatness comes in achieving this success year after year. Greatness takes time. We believe student success is a team effort. This is not just something we think, it is something we believe. Believing the same means we not only provide an excellent education at SMS, but we are unwavering in our commitment to do this for every student, every day. We believe all students can be successful and therefore run our decisions through the filter of: “How will this impact our students?” If we continue making decisions based on students first, we will find greatness. The more we strengthen this belief in our staff and continue to hire those who believe the same, the sky's the limit. Although achieving a letter grade of an “A” is exciting, and we all should be extremely proud, it is not the most exciting thing happening at SMS. What I get excited about each day is preparing our kids for the future, focusing on teaching skills that will help our students be successful in life, and watching a community of learners grow on a daily basis. I truly believe we have not even come close to reaching our potential as a school. I am excited to continue to serve and lead the amazing staff and community at Southport Middle. Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Keep moving forward Southport Middle, I am not sure where the path will lead us, but I am confident it is to great places!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog

Teacher of the Month

The Texas Roadhouse Teacher of the Month is Brian Heerdt. Brian was nominated for having perfect attendance in October, his leadership in the PE department, and for recognizing student effort through his Twitter and Instagram accounts (follow Mr. Heerdt @WorldofHeerdt on Twitter or search for worldofheerdt on Instagram)


  • The RAMS team took a field trip on Thursday to see "The Water Carriers" at Butler. Thank you to Kristen Jordan for finding this opportunity for our students.
  • Thank you to the cafeteria staff for preparing sack lunches for the RAMS students on their field trip.
  • Thank you to the music department for coordinating the Veteran's Day Program this afternoon.
  • Congratulations to Iana Allen who recently found out she is expecting her second child in the spring.


  • Eric Sheninger, a National Digital Principal, gave a TED Talk that really made me think this week about our educational system. It is worth the 15 minutes it takes to watch it.
  • Check out this article on Student Blogs. It gives some pros and cons of blogging from a student point of view. I found it interesting to see what the kids thought about the process.


Each day we share a story of learning taking place at Southport Middle on our 180 Days of Learning Blog. Below are this week's stories of learning.

Terri Reed

Students in Mrs. Reed's math class continue their work on solving equations. Today, students were working with multiplication and division on one-step equations. Students practiced individually and then shared their learning with the rest of the class.

Meghan Sefton

After completing a test in 7th grade health, Mrs. Sefton's students began to look at societal body image perceptions. Students watched a short video about how women viewed themselves and others and then completed a writing prompt about how the video made them feel. This is a very important topic covered in health, especially with middle school girls!

Jessica Pilarski

Ms. Pilarski's 8th grade language arts students are working on a suspense research project. Students chose a suspenseful film that is based on a true story to research. The students then used their Chromebooks to find a film synopsis and three non-fiction articles that included details about the true story. In the upcoming days, students will write an analysis comparing what the filmmakers decided to change and what they kept true to the original story.


The RAMS team took a field trip to see a The Water Carriers at Butler today. The Water Carriers is a play about a group of refugees attempting to flee Africa and correlates with Social Studies standards taught in 7th grade. Students are also reading books about similar topics in their classes. The students had a great experience attending a theatrical performance. Click here to read more about The Water Carriers.

Music Department Students

The music department and their students have been working diligently to prepare for this afternoon's Veteran's Day Program. The students are excited to be part of honoring our Veterans. We appreciate all the hard work from our students and staff to make this program happen!


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