Ponder Junior High

June 2023

Total Enrollment - 379

6th - 118

7th - 126

8th - 135

**Looking forward to 2023-2024

Total Enrollment - 348

6th - 104

7th - 118

8th - 126

Honoring our PJH 2022-2023 Retirees

This year, it was very difficulty saying farewell to two of our PJH family members that have been with the district for over 20 years each. These candidates both raised and watched their own children graduate as Ponder Lions and continued to poor into our students for many years after. I have been honored to work alongside both of these teachers. Please help me congratulate Linda Laughlin and Mark Low. We are forever grateful for your years of service to Ponder Junior High.

Teacher & Paraprofessional of the Year

Paraprofessional of the Year: Stephanie Syrock

Mrs. Syrock has been at the Junior High for one year. She has an incredible servants heart. Every task and responsibility is done with a smile and enthusiasm. I want to share a few words from her colleagues:

  • Mrs. Syrock exemplifies patience in the classroom even when met with pushback. She never slacks and is always willing to help.
  • Ms. Syrock is an all around rock star who has taken on many responsibilities in her role at PJH. Not only is a huge support for inclusion with our special populations, she takes her job as lunch monitor seriously as she should.
  • Mrs. Syrock is very dedicated to making sure her students are completing assignments and understanding in class. She goes above and beyond by typing up notes for absent students and ensuring they have what they need to succeed.
  • She is cheerful, cam, kind and fair. She is a coworker that I can depend on. I am proud and thankful to work along side her.
  • She is just an all around good person. She always has a smile on her face and never complains about anything.
  • I nominate Mrs. Syrock because how can I not? Her first day in my classroom started with the vibe of "what can I do to help ensure and encourage the academic success of the students?" I completely stopped in my tracks for meeting an individual that matched my energy of always wanting and willing to help others. What I at times see as an extremely difficult demand, she looks at as DONE and what's next. Mrs. Syrock has a bubbly and happy attitude every day when she enters my room and is always willing to work for the students. She maintains professionalism at all times and communicates effectively with faculty, staff, students and parents. Did I mention that she has two jobs??? Mrs. Syrock is a Bus Driver and Paraprofessional for the district. HOW AWESOME IS THAT??! I'm thankful not only for her assistance in my classroom but for safely driving the students to school. Thank you, Mrs. Syrock for your constant communication with me regarding assisting the school numerous times due to substitute shortages and for making me laugh! You truly deserve this honor!

Teacher of the Year: Linda Laughlin

Mrs. Laughlin is an amazing educator who has made it her life's mission to pour into our students. Mrs. Laughlin goes above and beyond for all stakeholders. She has served as a science teacher, TMSCA Coach, UIL Science Coach and Student Council Coach. I would like to share some words from Mrs. Laughlin:

My Story

As I look back on my 21 year career as an educator, I have mixed emotions. My decision to teach was made when I walked in m son's 1st grade classroom in the mid 90's. The rain was pouring and I needed to bring him something. I made my way to his portable and went in. The room was relaxing and students were all at work. I made my decision then and there that I wanted to teach. Little did I know that most days there is no silence and sometimes very little work is happening, but it is ALWAYS exciting! I have seen many changes in education come and go. I've also seen principals and superintendents come and go, but one thing that never changes in that kids need us. I think now more than ever.

The transition through Covid and after has been a particularly difficult one, but watching the dedicated educators who have hung in and lead students and colleagues through the storm have come out stronger on the other side. The media has turned out attention to safety in the classroom, but this has not stopped the educator in all of us from doing our best to lead our students back to the main purpose, which is education and helping kids. These distractions pull us off center over and over again, but we all do our best to pull out our compass and head back to the classroom.

There are times of frustration and times of joy, sometimes all in the same day (or maybe the same period). Sometimes we struggle to get going in the morning or make it to the end of the day, but the heart of a teacher is stamina and perseverance because they need us. We are building and shaping the future. We will probably never know how each have affected the lives of the students, parent and colleagues we interact with over the years, but we have. We do our best to leave positive, lasting impressions.

As I clean out my many years of living in my classroom and working day in and day out, I have come across lessons and pictures that bring me back to why I do what I do, and once again I am reminded I do this because they need me and I need them. As I move on to a different set of daily routines, I know classrooms will change and evolve, but the heart of a teacher will remain the same.

2023-2024 Schedule Pick Up

All returning 7th and 8th grade students will be able to pick up their 2023-2024 schedules on Thursday, July 27, 2023. New students to PJH and 6th grade Orientation will be Thursday, August 10th.

Get Your Teach On National Conference

On June 25th-28th a group of Ponder educators from the junior high and elementary campuses were able to attend the Get Your Teach On National Conference at the Gaylord Convention Center. Get Your Teach On is a one-of-a-kind experience for Pre-K-12th grade teachers and school administrators! We spent time with "Team Get Your Teach On" and they shared their PASSION and ENTHUSIASM for education and shared their tips, tricks, best practices, and teacher secrets to building a successful, ENGAGING, & RIGOROUS classroom. We all left feeling EMPOWERED, motivated, and prepared to create dynamic lessons that will challenge our students and leave them hungry for more. Get Your Teach On was unlike any other educators’ conference that I have ever attended. Just under 7,000 teachers and administrators were present, eager to learn and grow to help ensure we are providing the best education to our students as possible. I would like to say a very big thank you to the Ponder Education Foundation for approving the grant that made this experience possible.

Changes to Accelerated Instruction

The previous requirements of House Bill 4545 have changed. The new House Bill 1416 updated accelerated instruction requirements from House Bill 4545 by:

  • Removing the requirement for Accelerated Learning Committees while requiring Accelerated Education Plan after student fails to achieve approaches or higher on two consecutive assessments in the same subject area
  • Limiting tutoring to 2 subjects and no longer including optional assessment administrations
  • Increasing student to tutor ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 ratio for tutoring group size
  • Reducing minimum hour requirement from 30 to 15 for some students*
  • Providing student to teacher ratio waivers for use of approved online curriculum (approvals available spring 2024)

**PJH administrators will participate in a webinar offered on July 13th to learn what supports are available for implementation. Our master schedule will include AEC Reading & Math classes in all grade levels to help provide the additional academic support.