Staff Newsletter Week 8
Hope you have a great week! Thanks for all you do!
Kelly Sample - Spanish
This week we are excited to feature Ms. Kelly Sample, who teaches Spanish at JMS. In speaking about her career Ms. Sample said, “I have taught in Ohio, Louisiana and Tennessee. Robertsville and Jefferson both have been my teaching home in Oak Ridge, and I have also taught high school Spanish, in other states. Middle- school aged students are my favorites.”
As far as her motivation to become a teacher Ms. Sample explained, “I wanted to share my love of Spanish with others. My Spanish education began in high school and was a pretty traditional program; I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to speak the language until I studied in Spain. I want to help my students to use their Spanish in real-life contexts and help them connect with native speakers as much as possible.”
Ms. Sample is an excellent Spanish teacher and we are very fortunate to have her here at JMS. In addition to her time as a Spanish teacher, she also serves as our teacher representative for our PTO. Ms. Sample is a graduate of Miami University (Ohio) where she did her undergraduate work and also her Masters from Wright State University.
Ms. Sample gave some advice for her students and future students specifically about speaking Spanish. She commented, “Don’t be afraid to speak Spanish; it doesn’t need to be perfect. The more you practice, the easier it will become.” A great piece of advice as most reports show the increased rise of Spanish as a major language today and for the future in the United States.
Outside of school Ms. Sample shared her hobbies and favorite things to do. She said, “I love to read (English and Spanish), cook, and spend time outdoors with my family.” She also added that as a teacher one of her favorite units of study was about the family. She said, “I love teaching about family, and the food unit is also great. These two units are personal to the students and bring out real-life context for them.”
We are very thankful to have Ms. Sample as a part of the JMS staff. We know that every day she gives a great effort to help our students think critically, analytically and take on new challenges to learn Spanish. She explained about her passion for learning by saying, “Learning is life-long. I learn from my students and the world around me all the time. Learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom.” We agree with that sentiment and we know that with teachers like Ms. Sample we can continue to have this lifelong learning at JMS.
John Beard - 7th Grade Science
One of our featured teachers this week is Mr. Beard, who teaches 7th grade science at JMS. Mr. Beard has a lot of experience in education in a few different places. He explained, “I taught 9th grade physical science at Plainview High School in West Texas for one year. Next, I taught 6th grade for two years at Ash Learning Center in Plainview, TX. This was an all 6th grade campus. In 2003 my family moved to Duncanville, TX outside Dallas where I taught 6th grade for two years at Brandenburg Intermediate School. Being originally from Tennessee I got the opportunity to come back to my home state where I taught 6th grade for one year at Norwood Middle School in Oliver Springs, TN. Finally, I came to JMS to teach 7th grade. This is my 12th year at Jefferson.”
Mr. Beard shows his love for teaching all the time through all the amazing things he does. He said about his choice to become a teacher, “Even in high school I enjoyed teaching opportunities I received in Jr. R.O.T.C. I did not realize it at the time, but teaching suited me. I particularly like nature and the outdoors and enjoy sharing those passions with others. It is rewarding to see students absorb knowledge and be able to demonstrate their learning.
Mr. Beard has had a lot of training to help him become an amazing teacher. He began with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, TX. He then continued to receive a Masters of Education from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN and also a Education Specialist Degree from LMU.
When talking about students you can tell Mr. Beard has a passion for helping students. He also gave some advice he believe would help students. He said, “Never stop learning. Become a lifelong reader. Reading will help you in so many aspects of life. Being a well-read person shows in conservations you have with others. It is very impressive. Learn to become a good communicator through writing. Most jobs will require you to write formally or at least semi-formally and texting language won’t get it done. Get as many different types of experiences as you can. It is invaluable to your total knowledge and understanding of the world. Educators call this total knowledge “schema”.
When Mr. Beard is not teaching in school he said he likes, “Spending time with my family is definitely my favorite. I have a wife of 24 years, 15-year-old daughter Emma, and 11-year-old son Will. We like to play card games like Rook, play board games, watch movies, play outside, take hikes, fish, swim, shoot bow and arrow and visit with our good friends in Knox County. We are also very active in our church, 2nd Baptist Church in Clinton where we regularly serve and minister to others (especially young kids). We also love to travel to Albuquerque, NM to visit family and go to the International Balloon Fiesta.”
Mr. Beard is also a big fan of the outdoors. He explained, “I personally love to hike, backpack, fish, shoot skeet, participate in men’s Bible studies, serve in my church, and just be at home. Eating foods like barbeque, baked beans, pizza, shrimp and key lime pie also ranks among my favorite activities.”
In addition to his role as a classroom teacher, Mr. Beard also sponsors an outdoor club called Wilderness Connections. He explained, “I also sponsor a program at JMS called Wilderness Connections. We take a group of students on a three day backpacking adventures and learn about nature/science, conservation, regional geography, and local history and culture. Its goal is to connect kids with nature and instill a love and respect for it. I hope to help students learn independence, be a team player, learn the value of overcoming challenges, and develop a land conservation ethic. The intangible benefits of this wilderness experience are almost limitless.”
Mr. Beard loves teaching science but specifically he said he enjoys teaching genetics. He said, “Genetics is my favorite unit. Typically, students get interested in heredity because it is about them and their family history. It is fun to help students see how and why they look and even act the way they do. Students are always surprised about several aspects of genetics. Some will do extra research about heredity or ask their parents questions about various family traits.”
Mr. Beard summarized his beliefs of education by saying, “All students can learn and be successful. Experiences play a large part in someone’s overall education. Learning should be visual, hands-on, participatory, and make connections with personal experience as well as other disciplines. I hope to help kids realize their potential, communicate effectively, be a team player, serve/help other, and learn how science is part of their larger world.”
Melissa Fox - 5th Grade English Language Arts
I knew at an early age that I wanted to become a teacher because I have always enjoyed the company of young people. I earned my degree in Elementary Education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Soon after graduation, I began my teaching career as a 7th grade math and science teacher at Clinton Middle School. I continued to teach there until 1992 when I had my first child, Jake. That is when I decided to take a leave from my career and become a stay-at-home mom. Four years later, I gave birth to my daughter, Bailey. After both children were in school, I began to substitute teach. In 2007, we moved our family from Clinton to Oak Ridge, and that is when Bailey and I became members of the JMS family. Bailey enrolled in 6th grade, and thanks to Mr. Cox, I began substitute teaching at JMS. In less than two years, a 5th grade Language Arts position became available, and I applied for the job and was hired. It was then that my fulltime teaching career resumed thanks to so many wonderful mentors and friends at JMS.
I look forward to being with my students every day. We enjoy reading about various topics such as spiders, the skeletal system, Einstein, Houdini, Stonehenge, Paul Revere, and Loch Ness just to name a few. Reading an informational text simply sparks our interest and often leads us to dive deeper into the topic. With so many online resources, the reading often progresses into a study including projects and creative writings.
Weaving the standards into lessons the students enjoy is certainly rewarding. Last week, I used a text on cicadas while studying main idea and supporting details. Then, we observed pictures of their various colors and created origami models. We even listened to recordings of the sounds cicadas make during this time of year in East Tennessee. Of course, bagged cicada shells hang from my board because we enjoy hunting and sharing specimens from own backyards. Our students are discovering that a text offers endless possibilities, and watching their enthusiasm is extremely gratifying!
The Counselor Corner
Teachers and Staff—
Hello from the School Counseling Office! In this month of conflict resolution and problem solving, we thought that it would be great to pass along some helpful and, hopefully, useful information, tools, practices and ideas. As you all know, middle school is a time of conflict. The students are in conflict within themselves, and they are in conflict with the others around them. We hear the words “drama”, “rumors”, “bullying”, etc. on a daily basis, and friends change quicker than what anybody can keep up with. This interesting dynamic does not stereotype to different parts of the school building (yes, the bathrooms, cafeteria and hallways are a breeding ground for issues to begin. That’s true!), and we know that you are all faced with this within your own classrooms. The links below contain some strategies to try both on the run or if you can spare some time to present this to the students and work with some problem solving skills. And, if we can ever do anything for you, for your classes, or for the students please let us know! That’s what we are here for! Have a great week!
What is Mystery Skype? Could it work for your classes? Maybe Eagle Time?
Mystery Skype is a 45-60 minute critical thinking challenge that your class takes part in while Skyping with another class somewhere else in the world. Your students' goal is to guess the other school's location (country, state, city, school name) before they guess yours. We do this by asking yes and no questions.
If you are interested in this idea, please see Ms. Henderlight and she will gladly help you set up an opportunity for your students. This is a GREAT Eagle Time experience and can help fit in many state standards.
Here is the link to the Mystery Skype site
Canvas Tools for Teachers
Thank You for ALL that you do for the students of JMS every single day! It truly is Great to be an Eagle
The Power of Positive Thinking and Attitudes
"I like it at Jefferson Middle School because teachers are willing to help you"
"I appreciate that my teachers are willing to teach me at the level I am on and work to help me learn to move on"
"I appreciate that my teachers care about helping me"
"My teachers work hard and help me every single day. I don't always tell them, but I really like that they do that for me"
THANK YOU! Thank you for all that you do for our kids on a daily basis. Whether it's your time in the class, helping with clubs after school, sporting events, tutoring before school, after school, calling parents to help students, holding students accountable, learning new strategies to help your students etc. You are the foundation of what makes JMS special for all 723 students who come in our doors. In the video you will watch below, you'll see what a difference our interaction with kids can make. The staff at JMS approaches students in a positive manner, like the second part of the video, and that makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for being that positive influence.