The Monday Message

Office of the Principal; Monday, December 15, 2014

Gery D'Maestro

The Christmas Song | Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire(Smooth Jazz) by Gery D'Maestro

Quote for the Week!

As we reflect on the past year, we are aware of those who have worked side by side with us to shape and grow our school. Our thoughts turn to your contribution, and we would like to say thank you for your dedication. Happy holidays.

The Week Ahead

Gold Week - Classes Meet 6-2-3-4-5-2-1 / International Human Rights Month

Monday (15th) - National Bill of Rights Day, Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Admin Team Mtg (10:30am, Cafe), C-Team Basketball (A) vs. Meadow Glenn (5:30pm, MGMS)

Tuesday (16th) - G40 StuCO Mtg (7:45am, Rm. 812), Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Team Meetings (During Plannings), Department Meetings (3:45-4:45), and SIC/PTSO (5:30pm, FCR)

Wednesday (17th) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), iAM Holiday Luncheon (11:30-1:30, Lounge), Principal's Meeting (12:30-4:30, DO Board Room), Dance Concert (7pm, Gymnasium)

Thursday (18th) - No Crew Today (Exams), International Migrants Day, Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), C-Team Basketball (H) vs. Carolina Springs Middle (5:30pm, Gym)

Friday (19th) -Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), PTSO Holiday Dessert Bar (11:30-1:30, Lounge)

Duty Roster for the Week

Duty Roster

Monday - I Group on Duty (Thur PM)

Tuesday - R Group on Duty (Hutto on Duty)

Wednesday - M Group on Duty (Jackson on Duty)

Thursday - O Group on Duty (Major-Murphy on Duty)

Friday - I Group on Duty (AM), Everyone on Duty at Dismissal

Reminder - At the request of several teachers, everyone is receiving a remind message on Thursday evening of each week, calling attention to the Friday duty assignments.

Tasks to Complete This Week!

1. Teach like a champion every period, every day! Administer, Proctor, and Grade Exams.

2. Attend Tuesday's Department Meetings.

3. Incorporate the topics specified in the weekly calendar in your lesson plans and activities. Make sure you are making specific connections to the experiences of our students as well as cross curricular planning and connections.

4. Everyone report to duty as scheduled. See roster here. Everyone is on duty Friday during dismissal.

5. Read the Monday Message in its entirety (including the articles linked and inserted). Also view the video clips, reflect, and adjust your practices where needed.

6. When leaving Friday, unplug all electronic equipment in classrooms and offices to conserve energy.

Semester Exams

Monday, Dec. 15th, 8:15am to Friday, Dec. 19th, 3:45pm

Irmo Middle School

Year-Long Classes

Dec. 15th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ….. .ELA(1),Science

Dec. 16th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …. .ELA(2), Science

Dec. 17th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reading Day/Exploratory

Dec. 18th . . . . . . . . ……. . . . . . .Math, S.S.,Exploratory

Dec. 19th . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …………. . . Math,S.S.

Magnet Federal Compliance Visit

Tuesday, Jan. 27th 2015 at 12-4pm

Irmo Middle School

Please mark Tuesday, January 27, 2015 on your calendars (Google invite coming). This is our first compliance visit from representatives from an organization representing the US Department of Education. They will conduct interviews with selected students, parents, and staff members - as well as tour classrooms and randomly speak to students/teachers. They do not want a "dog and pony" show, but rather are looking for evidence of our true progress in becoming a magnet school.

Here are the key take-away points to both inform and reassure...

1. After break, we will provide a "talking points" handout with possible questions and information to help inform your answers. Anyone may be asked questions by the monitors during the visit - it's important we are all ready.

2. We are still in implementation year one (last year was planning)...they don't expect to see us fully implementing everything yet. *Sigh of relief.

3. They do expect to see the ways in which we are transforming into a globally themed magnet. As ways to demonstrate this growth: all lessons on this day should have a global connection and student work/bulletin board displays in classrooms and hallways should be updated and theme-connected.

We have done amazing work over the past 12 months - and this will be our day to show off this work.

December Staff Birthdays

Anna Inabinet, December 5th

Barry Lee, December 7th

Sandra Jensen, December 10th

Adam Jones, December 16th

Kerra Mays-Fowler, December 19th

Kathy Jackson, December 20th

Leisa McNeil, December 20th

Floyd Geiger, December 22nd

LaToya Young, December 24th

Joe Cioffi, December 28th

Vicki Williams, December 29th

Please join me in wishing these staff members a happy birthday.

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We have several shout outs this week:

1. Operation Santa, Santa Workshop Team- In the weeks and months leading up to the holiday season, several individuals on our staff worked tirelessly to make sure that local families in our community could enjoy the holiday season. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who sacrificed and gave selflessly so others could enjoy the holiday season. These contributions along with the countless acts of service align with EL Design Principles (Service and Compassion and The Natural World)- Way to go everyone who helped in this endeavor Join me in giving all the participants and coordinators a huge shout out.

2. Mrs. Odessa Hilton - As you should know, Mrs. Hilton has been working very hard this year with her students to embrace the EL spirit in her classroom. She participated in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest and put IMS on the national map once again. Click here to see the info. Way to go Mrs. Hilton. Join me in giving Mrs. Hilton a huge shout out.

3. SPED Team - Last weekend, our SPED team put on a Holiday Bazaar to generate some revenue to support their programs. The event was a huge success. I would like to commend all of our SPED teachers and support staff for thinking outside the box, giving selflessly of their time, and working collaboratively to bring continued notoriety to our programs. Way to go SPED Team! Join me in giving our SPED team a huge shout out.

4. Robert McCloy - Mr. McCloy spearheaded the PSAT back in October. He worked diligently with many teachers and staff members on campus. As a result of his efforts to prepare students and ensure that we had an environment conducive to optional outcomes, we are proud to announce that we have 57 Junior Scholars this year (based on Duke TIP scholars and achievement on the PSAT). This is seven more than last year. Way to go Mr. McCloy and team! Join me in giving Mr. McCloy and everyone else who helped out with the PSAT a huge shout out.

Please join me in giving each of these individuals a big IRMO MIDDLE shout out!

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ACT Aspire Info

In our middle school principal's meeting, we received another update on ACT Aspire. I am sharing this information with you (click here). We also received a lot of resources to share with English and Math teachers as we begin preparing students for the new assessment. Here they are:

Click here for Avocet resources

Sample Test Items

Calculator FAQ


  1. Writing (7 & 8) - 30 minutes, 1 item (7th-Expository, 8th-Argumentative)
  2. English (7 & 8) - 35 minutes, 45 items, multiple choice
  3. Reading (7 & 8) - 60 minutes, 31 items, multiple choice & constructed response
  4. Math - 7th Grade - 60 minutes, 41 items, constructed response & multiple choice
  5. Math - 8th Grade - 65 minutes, 45 items, constructed response & multiple choice

Attendance (Student) - Reminder

Continue to take your attendance "daily" during every class period. Any abnormalities, please notify Ms. Crumlin. If you have students who are accumulating excessive absences, please notify your administrator so we can begin to take the necessary actions. Remember, everyone is expected to record attendance every class period so we know where students are located. We don't want an issue where we can't find a student because someone didn't take attendance.

Attendance (Staff) - Update

Our staff attendance has been down for the past three weeks. This past week (December 1-5), the teacher attendance rate was semester low of 90% (30 absences) and the entire staff attendance rate was also a semester low of 93% (46 absences). Our goal remains 97%, so we fell short in accomplishing our goal this week. Let's rebound this week with a semester high! As always, it is absolutely critical that everyone make every effort possible to be here each and every day. I will join you in those collective efforts. When you need to be out, please follow the proper protocols and prepare excellent plans for your students. Remember, if you are on duty, that needs to be communicated to your substitute as well.

District Announcements

This week, Dr. Hefner announced two personnel moves that you need to be aware of:

1. Angela Bain selected as Deputy Superintendent - State Superintendent-Elect Molly Spearman announced members of her Transition Team on Thursday and her newly-formed staff. Dr. Angela Bain (Chief Human Resource Services Officer) has been selected to serve as one of Superintendent Spearman's Deputy Superintendents. Dr. Bain will continue to work in LR5 through January 31, 2015.

2. Don Earle selected as Director of Technology - Don Earle has been selected as our new Director of Technology. Don comes to District Five with a wealth of experience leading K12 technology programs and organizations. Most recently, Don served as the Director of I.T. Operations for Richland School District Two. He has also served in a technology leadership position in Horry County Schools. In a statement Don said: District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties has a well deserved history of success. I'm very happy to be part of a team that has such a wonderful spirit of excellence. He will arrive in the District on January 5th.

SRO Update

As you know, Deputy Lyons has accepted a promotion with the Lexington County Sheriffs Department. His last day with us will be this Friday (12/19/14). I have been in communication with the District Office regarding his replacement. As soon as I learn of any updates, I will let everyone know. I want to take a moment and publically thank Deputy Lyons for his service to Irmo Middle and School District 5. We wish him well in his future endeavors and know that he will be successful all of his future career aspirations.

Student Dress Code - Reminder

Now that the weather has turned colder, students are wearing hoodies and other head gear, especially inside the building. Let's be consistent. Headwear is not allowed in the building. Ask students nicely to remove their head wear while inside the building. When outside, they are permitted to wear head wear but be watchful. They are putting in their earbuds and listening to music outside which violates our personal electronic device policy.

Videos - Any videos (greater than 15 minutes) this week must have Mr. Hutto's approval prior to any classroom viewing. I want students to be on task taking their exams or engaged in authentic, high quality, critical thinking experiences. I expect everyone (students and staff) to be highly focused and productive all week long.

The Magnet Minute & EL Corner

Crew: Because of exams. we will not have Crew this Thursday! Use the additional time to prepare for exams, update your gradebooks, and plan for our federal compliance visit in January.

6th Grade: We are putting together the curricular framework and support structure for next year's sixth grade addition. We are brainstorming a lot of ideas as it pertains to location in the building, courses offered, teachers, schedule integration, clubs, and many others. If you are currently brainstorming ideas that you think would be amazing additions, please share those with any administrator or Mr. Schedler. You can discuss in person or send your thoughts via email.

What are you doing to integrate our magnet theme? A stroll through the hallways indicates that teachers across campus are integrating global connections into activities, lessons, units, enrichment/homeroom activities, and team procedures and norms. As we segue into October, please remember to document any global connections you make by uploading lesson plans, activities, and evidence of student work (pictures, documents, etc.) in this Google Drive folder -Magnet Theme Sample Lessons.

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From Mr. Thur

Behavior Checklist Reminder

Please continue to complete the behavioral checklists for those students who require them. This information allows the casemanager to monitor and measure student progress. Without this information, a proper judgment on mastery levels simply cannot be reached. Please let the casemanager know if you need any help with completing them, needing another google invite, logistics, etc.

Winter Break

As we prepare for break and upon returning, please continue to consult and work with casemanagers about student concerns you may have. Prior to the next semester, this may be a good time to have a staffing, or if needed, an IEP meeting to help address a student’s needs.

Oral Administration

Please continue to use the oral administration calendar for any upcoming tests you may have. With many upcoming assessments, please try as much as possible to update the calendar 48 hours in advance. This will allow us the time we need to plan and work on the logistics.

Thank you

I appreciate all the time, work, and energy you devote to the students in your classes who have a disability. I wish each of you a very happy holiday season! Enjoy your winter Break!

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From Mrs. Young

t has come to our attention that some students may be taking their Chromebooks outside during recess time. For clarification, this should not be occurring. Having devices outside during this time increases the likelihood of damage, and goes against the standards of care that we addressed with students in regards to the Chromebooks. If a student has a valid assignment that he/she needs to work on during recess, please send them to the media center with a pass.

Student Chromebook Collection - Beginning Wednesday during homeroom, Chromebooks will be collected for the following students and secured over the break. This list is being provided for your benefit in terms of planning for Thursday and Friday. Homeroom teachers will receive passes Wednesday for these students to come to the media center with their devices.

Tuesday's Technology Enrichment Lesson - Please review Tuesday's Enrichment Lesson. The website links will be e-mailed to students Tuesday morning.

Be sure to visit the IMS Technology Folder periodically that was shared. with you. This will periodically be updated with information and resources.


Closing Thoughts

This week's Friday Forecast contains a calendar to guide our week ahead, PD links, and events on the horizon. As I typically do, I reflect on the things that we are doing, what's working, and what adjustments need to be made to ensure that stay on track towards meeting and exceeding our goals. As communicated last week, I want to strongly re-emphasize two critical things:

1. The need for everyone to commit to creating and facilitating quality teaching and learning experiences every single day. Our students and families deserve nothing less that your absolute best every day.

2. Read the the EL Protocols documents linked here (and inserted below). As we return from winter break, the accountability for using EL protocols, initiatives, and note catchers and making "intentional" global connections in "all" classes will intensify. We will continue to model these practices and protocols in pd sessions, meetings, and other opportunities for professional interaction. When we return from the break, we will outline how this will be implemented with fidelity.

We’re heading into the home stretch here in 2014, and it can be one of the hardest times in which to maintain order in the classroom. Fortunately, there are ways to make the last few days count and maintain your sanity:

1. Don't build anticipation

Assemblies, presentations, and other holiday events are unavoidable in December, but you can prevent your class from getting over-excited by staying focused on daily routines instead of special activities. I list my schedule changes in a prominent place for the type of children who need to have a plan, but I don’t mention the special events at all unless we need to prepare. If a student asks when the holiday party is, I point to the schedule, then change the subject.

Right before an event, I explain what’s happening in a calm voice: “We’re going down to the cafeteria now for the chorus performance. That will take up part of our math time. When we get back, we will complete our math warm-ups just like we usually do, and then continue with our graphing activity.”

2. Resist the urge to ease up on your behavioral expectations

Believe me when I say that easing up will backfire completely. When the teacher is lackadaisical, it just adds to the environment of chaos that the students are slowly creating and makes it harder to get the class back on track. If the kids run to line up, shake your head and nonchalantly tell the whole class to sit back down and try again. “I know you’re excited about the chorus performance. But we need to line up in a quiet and orderly way, just like we always do. Let’s see which table is ready to try again. Watch Team Three as they walk at appropriate pace over towards the door. Notice how they pushed their chairs in. Do you see how they are facing forward and not talking? Excellent. Team Four, your turn to try.”

Yes, it’s December. And yes, you still have to do this.

3. Review your procedures and expectations

It’s probably been a few weeks or months since you’ve articulated and modeled some of your classroom procedures for the entire class. (Just because you tell the same four kids over and over that NO, they cannot get a drink in the middle of a lesson, does not mean the rest of the class was paying attention when you reiterated your expectations.)

A fun way to reinforce the rules is with my Class Rules Review Games: Fun paper-based & PowerPoint activities. There’s one PPT slide for each category of expectations (Papers, Homework, Moving Around Campus, Working Cooperatively, etc.), and each slide has questions about related classroom routines. The slides don’t include the answers so that the kids can supply them (bonus: you can modify your rules without redoing the PowerPoint).

This can be used as a teaching tool and to spark discussion, or can be played as a competition between teams (who knows our classroom routines the best?). I always liked to do a few slides each week during December and again when we returned in January, and it made a remarkable difference in how smoothly my classroom ran.

4. Integrate high-interest projects and group work into your regular routines

I like to finish the majority of my content instruction early in the month so that students can spend most of the last week before break just practicing and applying skills. On the last few days of December, they typically published their narrative essays in writing, completed main idea partner activities in reading, created multiplication fact houses in math, and made land form changes pop-up books in science.

These activities are interesting enough to keep the kids focused on their work, and don’t require them to be sitting still and following along with me. We did, however, continue with regular routines for morning work, reading groups, math and writing warm-up assignments, and so on, to send the message that this is a regular school day with regular expectations.

The idea is that the kids don’t notice a change in the way the day is run; only you as the teacher are aware of the subtle differences in the way content is presented and activities assigned.

5. Don't feel pressure to do all of the elaborate holiday stuff that other teachers do

So what if the teacher across the hall covers her room in tinsel and lights and creates extensive holiday-themed centers which culminate in a life-size replica of the first North Pole expedition? Don’t compare yourself, and don’t wear yourself out trying to keep up. New teachers, especially, need to resist the urge to take on more than they can handle. Figure out some simple festive things you can do that won’t create a lot of stress, and stick with those. You can always add a little more next year.

This advice goes double for buying students presents. Your teammate may choose to spend $50 on trinkets, and that’s fine. But you're not a bad teacher if you don’t.

6. Keep the last day before break low-key

Three hours before you pack up your whole family and make an eight hour trip to grandma’s house is NOT the time to plan an elaborate fraction-review-gingerbread-house-decorating activity. You’ll be distracted by your own holiday plans, the kids who actually show up to school will be too excited to follow directions, and you’ll be running around like crazy to clean up so you can leave on time.

Instead, give meaningful work assignments that the kids will enjoy completing, and enjoy the last day together. This will also help you…

7. Get prepared for January before you leave

Try to use the day before break to take down any seasonal decorations you have up, change the calendar, finalize your lesson plans and materials for the first day back, etc. There’s nothing worse than coming back to work after a week off to discover silver glitter and unwritten thank you cards all over your desk. A new year is coming. Give yourself a new start!

As we wrap up 2014, let's remember to “watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become!" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don't let our setback cause you to sit back. Each one, teach one, so we can all reach one. We Are Crew, Not Passengers; Together We are Smarter!

Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Principal

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