Eagle Eye JMS Parent Newsletter #13

October 24-29

“The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.” – Ray L. Wilbur

Hello Jefferson Middle School families and parents!

We never want to miss an opportunity to express our gratitude to all of our parents and families. With the season of thanksgiving not too far away, we are reminded of blessings, and we believe our community of family support is second to none! Thank you so much for your support, your labor, your love, and your advocacy for our JMS students. We hope that you will always know and sense how very appreciated you are to all of us here!

Monumental Moments this past week

  • Wednesday SEL Zero Period!
  • Basketball has begun with fervor and discipline!
  • We reconnected and reignited to continue SOARING academically!
  • Data Snapshot meetings in Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies. (see details below!)

Kick-off for Term 2 has been incredibly productive! Students all across the building were engaged from the start on Tuesday! We have wonderful happenings for students this term, including the Pre-ACT for 8th graders, some exciting labs in our Science classes, some great musical concerts, the start of our Basketball season and SO MUCH MORE!

Staff began engaging in meaningful benchmark data meetings to inform instruction as we continue to set concrete goals in Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies for every student, every grade level here at JMS! Teachers are keeping an intentional, passionate momentum to ensure that all of our students are growing and achieving!

We appreciate and encourage all of our families to reach out with any needs, questions, or concerns.

Have a wonderful evening!

Phil Cox, Principal, pcox@ortn.edu

Ben Fowler, Vice Principal, bjfowler@ortn.edu

Brian Tinker, Dean of Students, bjtinker@ortn.edu

Elizabeth Leavitt, Instructional Technology Coach, ealeavitt@ortn.edu

A Word About Benchmarks

I have had some parents and community members ask me about the Benchmarks. Some worry that we are just preparing for the state exam. Others worry about the frequency of high stakes testing.

Teachers in Oak Ridge Schools often speak of how we don't teach to the test-- words that have come out of my own mouth often as a teacher, and even on Thursday this past week I said it during our data snapshot meetings where our core content collaborative teams, the vice-principal, the instructional technology coach, and the professional learning community coach discuss current progress, short and long term goals, and student differentiation. And I still believe it.

In years past, I would teach, self-assess, do a practice test, and then my students would take the state exam. I would get data back in October in the fall of the following year while I was already 3 months into a new school year. The lag time on the feedback about my success as an educator was much too long. Often I was so deep in that year, that any changes could be difficult to integrate until January. If my own self-assessment was inadequate, I might not know my own effectiveness until it was long past fixing with my former students. On the other hand, teaching to the test sometimes means students had knowledge that would allow them to be successful on the test, but would then be unable to apply that knowledge to practical, real world problems or to progress in complexity to the next level of that course. As part of our vision-- Every student prepared for college, career, and life success -- we want our students knowledge not to be trivia competition winning (though many a fine pizza or hamburger has been paid for out of such winnings), but applicable to building their best futures and the world’s. There is a balance between teaching standards, skills, and knowledge and being able to engage that knowledge to pass a standardized test. Our benchmarks help us achieve that balance.

The benchmarks give teachers clear data about the progress of their students’ progress on their standards. So, when we talk about our benchmarks at JMS, we really are taking point in time snapshots of where our students stand on the standards that we are teaching and their ability to communicate that on a standardized test. Our teachers, in their collaborative teams, then break down what instruction is working or not, what kids need differentiated remediation, and what content or skills need to spiraled back into our review. Our students, for the most part, do take these tests seriously, because they recognize we take them seriously. If students are struggling with a particular method of demonstrating knowledge, our teachers will do a bit of test taking skills.

It is what we are asking students to do with this knowledge that is more important. . Our lessons, our labs, our projects are all about developing not just understanding of the content but a fluency in it. We are asking students to examine their own data in a way that is having a major impact on our students. The benchmark is formative, and we take these tests and the individual student reports back to kids in the form of individualized meetings, where we talk goal setting. We work with students to develop intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning. We are building the skillsets to empower them to take on their own learning. Our recent success as a reward school, both before COVID and after, stems from our usage of data to grow our students-- on the standards which are assessed by the state and the real-world problem solving we ask them to engage in.

Granted, it is middle school, and our young men and women are just beginning to mature into the successful adults we work so hard to see them become. The benchmark is very much a tool, one of many, to help our JMS students accomplish that.

Mr. Fowler, Vice-Principal

Wednesday Zero Period and Social Emotional Learning

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We are witnessing growth and community among out students through our SEL mentoring sessions on Wednesday during our Zero Period.

Coming back from break, students were engaged in discussion and activities with these topics!

5th grade: Meeting New People & Get to Know Your School

6th grade: Understanding Emotions

7th grade: The Story of Values

8th grade: Overcoming Obstacles

2022-2023 JMS Student Handbook

Week at a Glance!

Monday, October 24, 2022

  • Cheer Practice 3:00-4:30
  • Chess Club Library 2:45-3:45
  • Atomic Eagles Meeting Science Wing 2:45-4:30
  • RadioActive Brix Meeting Rm 223 2:45-4:30
  • Girls Basketball Practice Gym 3:00-5:00
  • Boys Basketball Practice Gym 5:00-7:00 Board of Education Meeting SAB 6:0

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

  • Atomic Eagles Meeting Science Wing 2:45-4:30
  • Master Builders Meeting Rm 102 2:45-4:30
  • RadioActive Brix Meeting Rm 223 2:45-4:30 Boys Basketball Practice Gym 3:00-5:00
  • Girls Basketball Scrimmage vs. Harriman MS @ Harriman MS JV-6:00, Varsity-7:00
  • Costume Concert ORHS 7:00 5th/6th Grade Chorus 6th Grade Band

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

  • Homework Help 1:00-3:00
  • 5th/6th Grade Party Gym 1:00-3:00
  • Wilderness Connections to Big South Fork 1:00-10/28 3:30
  • Gardening Club 1:00-2:00
  • Japanese Video Pen Pal Club Meeting Library 1:30-3:30
  • Girls Basketball Practice Gym 3:00-5:00
  • Boys Basketball Practice Gym 5:00-7:00

Thursday, October 27, 2022

  • Girls Basketball Practice Gym 3:00-5:00
  • Boys Basketball Practice Gym 5:00-7:00

Friday, October 28, 2022

  • Youth for Christ-Band Room 7:10
  • Ms. Kala’s class to Home Depot 1:45-2:00
  • Student Council Food Drive Innovation Center 7th period
  • Girls Basketball Practice Gym 3:00-5:00
  • Boys Basketball Practice Gym 5:00-7:00

Saturday, October 29, 2022

  • Basketball Foothills Tip-Off Classic (Varsity ONLY) @ Eagleton Girls vs. Webb-11:30, Boys vs. Gresham-Noon

Sunday, October 30, 2022

  • Basketball Foothills Tip-Off Classic (Varsity ONLY) @ Eagleton Girls vs. Maryville-2:30, Boys vs. Maryville-3:30


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We are distributing picture proofs to your child's homeroom teacher on Monday, October 24th. Orders are due no later than Wednesday, November 2nd .

Make-up pictures and group picture day is scheduled for November 30th. If you have questions, please email Mr. Mitchell at: jjmitchell@ortn.edu


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K-5 Turkey Trot!

ORHS hosting Trunk or Treat!

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5th and 6th Grade Party!

Student Council is planning on having the 5th and 6th grade party after school on Wednesday, October 26th, from 1:00-3:00 in the gym.

    • Admission is $5.00
    • Concessions will be open—Bring extra money for the concessions (Sweets, candy, drinks)
    • Parent pick up is 3:00. You must have a ride arranged home promptly at 3:00!
    • School rules apply (no cell phones)

New digital sign board coming!

You may have noticed our sister school Robertsville has a new digital marquee, and late last week, we started the installation of our own at JMS. Contractors should finish early next week and we should have a fantastic and frequently updated news board for families driving past in the morning, day, and early evening.

For years, our sign board was frequently updated by Mr. Randolph, our JMS head of maintenance, and we thank him for the many hours he spent making sure our messages got out to the community. We offered him access to the sign board when it comes online, but he politely declined. We are very excited to have a new way of communicating with all the stakeholders of JMS.

PORTRAIT of a GRADUATE October Focus: 4 Cs: Communication

4 Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity

FOCUS: Communication

Teaching students that communication can come in many ways is important. It is not just speaking verbally with someone to communicate but can also be non-verbal cues such as hand gestures and facial expressions as well as written emails, presentation materials, and more. Now that we live in such a digital world, it is also important to teach children how to navigate digital spaces with responsibility.

CHALLENGE: One aspect of communication from our 4 Cs rubric: "I shared an analysis of the main message to interpret, synthesize and/or evaluate the meaning of what was read or heard and how the message was achieved (e.g., use of techniques, tone vocabulary, gestures) to draw a logical conclusion about the topic."

Ask your child to share their analysis of a show or presentation they watch with you and encourage them to meet aspects of that rubric.

October Character Trait: GRATITUDE


We want to congratulate our Student of the Week winners, nominated by their teachers. We are so proud!

  • 5th grade- Hadlee Tarwater and Lillian "Ava" Vallecillo

  • 6th grade- none
  • 7th grade- Malia Barnes, Kutler Green, and Phoebe Eastgate
  • 8th grade- Dominic Bravo

The Reading Eagle - Messages from Ms. Haverkamp!

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Athletic Update:

The Eagles and Lady Eagles basketball teams are gearing up for their first basketball games of the season next week in a pre-season tournament at Eagleton Middle School. Their first home game is on Thursday, November 10th. Go Eagles!

Go Eagles!

Our BASKETBALL schedule is below!

Coach Katie Bolling

Counseling Corner

Ms. Candie Price (5th and 7th Grade)

Mr. Paul Sudderth (6th and 8th Grade)

Please contact our school counseling department with any other questions at 865-425-9302. Ms. Amy Myers, school registrar, is happy to assist with enrollment, withdrawal paperwork, transportation, Skyward, school updates, etc.


Character Strong Update: October is Gratitude Month!

This month our district wide SEL curriculum is focused on Gratitude. Character Strong, defines Gratitude as “choosing to appreciate the people and things in our lives.” Practicing Gratitude can increase our well-being and our happiness. Throughout the school, students will be working to develop skills with emotion regulation, positive self-talk and stress management.

Fun Family Challenge #1:

As a family, what are some small, specific things that you are grateful for? Maybe it is your favorite water cup, the way the cat sleeps on the chair or when your grandma bakes banana bread. Spend some time as a family trying to think of at least 10 small things that you have gratitude for and then choose to notice them this week with a smile.

Fun Family Challenge #2:

Review Gratitude as a family! Remember that Gratitude is choosing to appreciate the people and things in our lives. Find a place in your home to display a glass jar. Cut up small slips of paper and place them next to the jar. Use the jar to collect special people, places, events, and memories that your family is thankful for. Find a time each week to add slips of Gratitude to the jar and assist students in writing or drawing gratitude as needed. Having a gloomy day or a challenging time as a family? Pull out the slips of Gratitude and read them aloud together as a reminder of your Grateful moments.

Clothing Closet Accepting Donations

JMS is pleased to offer support for students in need through our “clothing closet”. We are accepting clean, gently used clothing items for students in need. Please make sure all donated items meet JMS dress code policy. Donated items can be dropped off in the JMS Counseling office. Thank you for your support!

ORHS Trunk or Treat

ORHS is hosting a Trunk or Treat on October 24th from 5pm-7pm. The event will take place in the school parking lot (on the Turnpike side). Future Wildcats are welcome to participate.


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Student Success Assembly Information


The Tennessee Department of Education announced today the 2022 Reward and Priority schools, which are two key designations under Tennessee’s school accountability system. The Oak Ridge School district is proud to share that four schools have been named Reward Schools: Linden Elementary, Glenwood Elementary, Willow Brook Elementary, and Jefferson Middle School. Reward status is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee. Reward schools are those that are improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and for student groups, and they are identified annually.

Dr. Borchers states, “The Oak Ridge School District focuses on growth and improvement, even in times of instability, and because our students are much more than the sum of their test scores, we will continue to focus on the Oak Ridge Schools’ Portrait of a Graduate which can be found on our district website at www.ortn.edu/pog. The Portrait of a Graduate was developed collaboratively with the community and focuses on achieving college and career readiness for every student by developing a shared vision among all key stakeholders regarding the key competencies that students need to be successful in work, citizenship, and life.”

WEDNESDAY Homework Help has ARRIVED!

Wednesday Homework Help is in FULL SWING. If students have questions about an assignment, need guidance about their homework, or are looking for a quiet place to work, Mrs. Huddleston and Mrs. Ozcan will be available in the Innovation Center on Wednesdays after dismissal. Students will need to be picked up by 3:00 pm. All grade levels are welcome to attend. Please e-mail Mrs. Huddleston (cdhuddleston@ortn.edu) or Mrs. Ozcan (mozcan@ortn.edu) with any questions.

SIGN UP for CANVAS to See What Your Child is Doing Each Week!!

Reminders about Drop Off and Pick Up

Remember when dropping off/picking up your student:

  • JMS's weather policy is to load busses and release car riders during most weather events EXCEPT lightning or severe rain/wind. When lightning is present we will push our students back to the building and delay releasing students. We have had three major lightning issues and a major wind/rain events during our releases over the first term, and we wanted to reiterate what our hold policy is. We thank our parents for their patience as we do our best to keep our students safe.
  • DO NOT enter the bus loop when buses are present!
  • Please pull your vehicle all the way up so we can keep as many cars as possible off of Fairbanks Road.
  • When dropping off AFTER 7:30am, students will be directed towards the main entrance. Go ahead and pull all the way up.
  • Make sure your child is ready to exit the vehicle and doesn't have to access the trunk for items, as this holds up the line.
  • DO NOT park or leave your vehicles in the neighborhoods across the street from Jefferson. Traffic is heavy during pickup and drop off and parking on those streets only increases the danger to our students and parents attempting to navigate the traffic.
HOMEWORK HOTLINE: Monday-Thursday 5-9 PM

Did you know Tennessee has its own Homework Hotline only for students in Tennessee? This is a free service offering live online tutoring, an interactive whiteboard, along with help resources for every subject and grade level! Click the link ABOVE!