The Merrill Minute

Oct. 25, 2018

Wildly Important Goal

Greetings, Merrill Families,

I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to be at Merrill Middle School. Our students are kind, funny, smart, creative, and curious. And you, the Merrill Community, have supported our work in a myriad of ways – with your resources, with your support at home and at school, and with your trust in what we do. Thank you!

Our mission for Des Moines Public Schools reminds us that we exist so that graduates possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful at the next stage of their lives. As we work toward our vision of becoming the model for urban education, we've had to confront some realities about how our system hasn't worked for all students.

Our administrative team, led by district leadership, has been digging into the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. The author defines a Wildly Important Goal or “WIG” as a goal that makes all the difference. To determine a WIG, we must ask ourselves, "If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?"

Through deep dives into our data and discussions around our mission and vision, DMPS is committed to the following Wildly Important Goal:

Black males will meet or exceed the performance of all other groups within three years in those areas identified as LEARNING outcomes.

At the middle school level, one measure of learning is the MAP assessment. Students complete this assessment in August/September, in December/January, and then again in April/May. While it is not our only measure of learning, it serves as a gauge for how we are doing as we progress through the school year. We will keep a keen eye on the MAP data to see if our improvement efforts help us to close gaps by elevating the learning of all students.

Our improvement efforts this year at Merrill focus on strengthening literacy and learning in an inquiry-based, IB learning environment. Inquiry based learning asks that - along with regularly gaining new skills, processes, and information - we foster students’ curiosity and understanding of the world. Through inquiry we aim to empower student voice, support students in critical thinking, and embrace our students as active members of our community.

This feels like a quick overview of quite complex work, but I'm looking forward to our continued partnership on this journey. Thank you for the role that you play in supporting each one of our students as they become courageous, caring, and knowledgeable young adults who will no doubt make our neighborhoods, communities, and the world better and more peaceful places.

Go Mustangs!


(515) 242-8448

MAP Data Key

1st Column of Numbers = % of Students NOT At-Risk by Group

2nd Column of Numbers = % of Students College and Career Ready by Group

Color Coded RIT Percentile Bands = % of Students in each Quintile from Lowest to Highest

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Join a Club or an Activity!

One of our goals at Merrill Middle School is for 100% of our students to be involved in a club or activity beyond the normal school day.

Clubs and activities offer students a chance to try something new in a healthy and safe environment, build community across grade levels or with others who they may not interact with during the school day, and take on leadership roles and develop strength areas in a little bit different setting.

Currently we have 85.9% of our student body involved in an activity beyond the regular school day. We anticipate that number to continue to rise as we are just getting ready to roster students for winter activities.

Looking at our November calendar, we have students in History Club, Yearbook, Earth Club, Ultimate Frisbee, Girls' Voices, Best Buddies, Recycling Club, Gay Straight Alliance, Journalism Club, Coding Club, Bridge Club, Verse, Basketball, Swimming, Break Dancing, Battle of the Books, Sign Language Club, Student Council, Sisters for Success, Everyone Can Change the World Club, Meme Club, Merrill Ambassadors, Science Fair Club, Mustang TV, Mock Trial, and Wrestling! Whew!

A huge thank you to the Merrill staff and several community members who volunteer their time to sponsor and coach these groups. We appreciate YOU!

For more information on clubs and activities, please click here and then click on the club or activity on the right for more details.

Need Transportation after Clubs and Activities?

You Can Catch the Late Bus at 5:15!

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Thursday, Nov. 8 - Science Fair

Wednesday, Nov. 21- Friday, Nov. 23 - No School - Thanksgiving Break

Tuesday, Nov. 27 - PTA Meeting @ 7:00 PM in the Media Center

For a full calendar of daily events, please click here.