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

I had a colleague ask me this week about why I take the time to write a weekly blog. He asked, “How do you know if anyone even reads what you write?” I think my answer might have caught him by surprise. My response to this question wasn’t focused on others reading my blog, it was focused on my own personal reflection. I went on to explain how my blog posts help keep me focused on my personal: reflecting, learning, and sharing. These three elements, I believe, are key to my leaving each day better than when I started it.

Reflecting. I challenge myself to write a blog post once a week, which requires consistent reflection on what I am doing. Over the past year, since I have started blogging, I find my daily focus has shifted. I go into each week unsure when, and where, the inspiration for my next post will present itself. Therefore every experience, could be my next post if I keep an open mind. I am more thoughtful about what I am doing and why I am doing it. I look at challenges differently, as I try to always find the positive in each situation. This reflective practice is my first step in learning.

Learning. Reflection focuses me on finding the learning opportunity in every situation. Turning my reflections into a blog post is the catalyst in the learning process. Sometimes the writing helps me make sense of a challenging situation, other times it just gives me an opportunity to think about my personal beliefs. Either way, my focus is on learning. Each week, I am challenged to look for and think about ideas, topics, or beliefs on which I can write. Therefore, I am constantly questioning how things can be better or challenging and fully vetting a personal belief. I write to learn; I write to grow; I write to find ways to leave each day better than I started it.

Sharing. Now for the scary part, sharing my personal thoughts. There is a great deal of vulnerability in leadership. Sharing my thoughts is not always easy, but it is a vital part of reflecting and learning. Blogging provides transparency. No one has all the answers, and we all have something to learn each day. Blogging models this belief in learning, as I share my challenges, thoughts, and learning with the world. The role of principalship can be a lonely position at times, and it is easy to become isolated in our own schools. So, it is refreshing to read blog posts from other educators. Reading other posts from those out there learning and growing, helps me to remember that I am not alone in my struggles.

So, blogging is really not about others, what they think, or even how many people are reading my thoughts each week… it’s about my personal growth. Don’t get me wrong, I do hope others read and find inspiration in my thoughts. I appreciate comments left on my posts or when staff or community members comment about what I wrote. My thoughts are my thoughts, they challenge me to be better and I hope if you read my posts, you question your own practices and find ways to improve. Keeping reflecting, keep learning, and keep sharing. I would love to hear your thoughts!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog

Damar Christmas Party

Saturday, Dec. 6th, 1:30pm

6067 Decatur Blvd

Indianapolis, IN

We would love for many of you to join us at DAMAR this Saturday at 1:30pm for some singing, bell ringing and gift giving.


  • Thank you to Kristi Mendel for hosting her annual Thanksgiving luncheon. The students do a great job decorating the room. This a a great event to welcome students' parents into our building.
  • Thank you to Stephanie Quinlan for setting up the Giving Tree and organizing our Christmas celebration at Damar this coming weekend. Kindness is our strength!
  • Amy Gaisser and Georgina Mayorga are hosting a EL parent day at SMS on Saturday. Thank you for finding a way to get our EL families involved in the school, even though that means giving up a Saturday because it was the best time to get parents in the building.

Staff Christmas Party

Saturday, Dec. 13th, 7:30pm

851 Richart Ln

Greenwood, IN

Come join us as we celebrate all the great things in our lives. If you are interested in attending RSVP with Sharon Chaney by Tuesday, December 9th.



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.


Southport High School students are presenting THE PEERS PROJECT to our 7th grade health students this week. Ben Tierney brought these ‘PEERS’ (Alexis Odle, Luis Torres, Adam Coomes, Chloe Marsh, Jacob Bledsoe, Roberta Thompson) to guide our students to avoid making poor choices when approached with risky behavior that can affect their lives.

Thanksgiving with Mrs. Mendel

A Thanksgiving Lunch was prepared for some special guests in Mrs. Mendel’s CIP classroom on Tuesday. CIP students made placemats and set the table while Mrs. Mendel and her helpers prepared and served the food. Her students invited their families and some Perry Township celebrities to feast on a classic holiday meal. We are thankful for our SMS students, families and staff.

Natasha Bynum

8th grade language arts students are continue to examine argumentative writing a new genre introduced with new state standards this year. Students in Ms. Bynum’s class analyzed an article about the benefits of teenagers holding jobs to cite specific textual evidence supporting the author’s argument. Students are working on argumentative writing in both literacy and writing classes.

Lori Farnworth

Students in Mrs. Farnworth’s 7th grade language arts class had a guest teacher today from the Victorian Era. The students were introduced to their new novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Students learned about the author and time period from a Victorian perspective. Students will be reading the novel over the next few weeks before Winter Break.

Brandi Battinau

One of the best ways to become a better reader is to spend time reading. 8th grade students in Mrs. Battinau’s language arts class focus daily on improving their reading ability. Students have recently started the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Students also complete an independent reading, reading logs, and computer software each day to focus on readings to improve their Lexile.

Chris Stevenson

Instead of a prep period, Mr. Steveson meets with a group of 8th grade students daily to learn through technology. Students learn about writing scripts and video editing during the time in class. Students also make videos for our morning announcements. Currently, students are making a 2:30 minute autobiographical video about an important moment in their lives.

Jeff VanMeter

7th grade students are roller skating in Mr. VanMeter's PE class. Students of all levels find ways to participate in this fitness activity. Students have been focusing on skating safely and have determined whether the T-stop or toe drag is the most efficient way for them to stop.


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