Parent Newsletter

Week of Dec. 2nd - 6th

Three Weeks Left until Winter Break: Finish Strong

This week we are working to help push our students to give their best efforts and Finish Strong. We have three weeks left in the 2nd Nine Weeks and before students go on Winter Break. Check out more information in this week's newsletter:

- A Look at the Week Ahead

- Why do we need 21st Century Skills?

- Helping Students Finish Strong

- Utilizing Canvas and Skyward in the last three weeks

- What is Problem Based Learning? A Guide for Parents

- Counselors Corner

Thank you for all that you do to help support JMS,

Phil Cox, Principal

Chris Layton, Vice Principal

Jenifer Laurendine, Dean of Students

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A Look at the Week Ahead


A day

Chess Club-Library 2:45-3:45

Atomic Eagles Lego League Team Meeting (Shanafield) Science Wing 2:45-4:45

RadioActive Brix Lego League Team Meeting (Davis) Rm 223 2:45-4:45

Master Builders Lego League Team Meeting (Scott) Rm 102 2:45-4:30

Cheer Practice 2:45-3:30

Boys Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00

Girls Basketball Practice 5:00-7:00


B day

5th/6th Grade Morning Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 7:00-7:30

RTI Winter Screener-ELA STAR

Interact Club Meeting (Painter) Rm 311 2:45-4:00

Atomic Eagles Lego League Team Meeting (Shanafield) Science Wing 2:45-4:45

Master Builders Lego League Team Meeting (Scott) Rm 102 2:45-4:30

5th/6th Grade After School Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 2:45-3:30

Basketball vs. Coalfield Middle School @ CMS BJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00

5/6 Grade Chorus Concert-JPAC 7:00

Wednesday-4 A day

RTI Winter Screener-ELA Writing

National History Day Club Competition Prep 12:45-6:30

CPR/AED Certification 1:00-3:00

Cheer Practice 1:00-3:00

Boys Basketball Practice 1:00-3:00

Girls Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00


B day

5th/6th Grade Morning Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 7:00-7:30

RTI Winter Screener-Math STAR

Math Club (Tracey) Rm 203 2:45-4:00

RadioActive Brix Lego League Team Meeting (Davis) Rm 223 2:45-4:45

JMS Robotic Sumo Bot Team meeting (Franco) Rm 316 2:45-4:30

Library Club 2:45-3:45

7th/8th grade tutoring (Hondorf) Rm 301 2:45-3:30

5th/6th Grade After School Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 2:45-3:30

Basketball vs. Soldier’s Memorial Middle School @ HOME BJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00


A day

Youth for Christ-JPAC 7:30

Truancy Meeting-RMS 10:00

Boys Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00


Girls Basketball JV Play Day @ Clinton MS

8:30 vs. Clinton JV, 9:15 vs. West Valley JV

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Lieutenant Governor McNally to Visit JMS

On Friday December 6th Jefferson Middle School will host Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally along with other state leaders to learn more about the amazing things happening at Jefferson Middle School. The JMS admin team will meet with Lt. Governor McNally and the other guests to discuss the efforts that are made each and every day to help support our students needs and growth.

As a rewards school last year our guests want to learn more about how we work to identify student needs, build student supports, and facilitate learning opportunities to achieve both great growth and achievement. We look forward to sharing all of the amazing resources, lessons, and ideas that help promote student achievement and growth every day. We will have a recap of the visit in the newsletter for Sunday Dec. 8th. We look forward to sharing all of the amazing efforts the students, staff and stakeholders at JMS make each and every day to help support our students.

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Upcoming Events After Thanksgiving Break

There are several events that are upcoming at JMS after Thanksgiving Break. Please check out the list below to learn more. For specific information about concert ticket prices, program schedules and details please check with your student's teacher:

Week of Dec. 2nd

December 3rd - Basketball at Coalfield

December 3rd - 5th and 6th Chorus Concert at Jefferson Middle School at 7 pm

December 5th - Basketball vs. Soldiers Memorial at Jefferson JV starts @ 5 pm

There are several events that are upcoming at JMS after Thanksgiving Break. Please check out the list below to learn more. For specific information about concert ticket prices, program schedules and details please check with your student's teacher:

Week of Dec. 9th

December 9th - Basketball at Lafollette

December 10th - 7th and 8th grade Chorus Concert at Jefferson Middle School at 7 pm

December 12th - Basketball at Episcopal School of Knoxville

Week of Dec. 16th

December 16th - Basketball at Jacksboro

December 16th - 5th and 6th Orchestra at Oak Ridge High School starts at 7 pm

December 19th - Basketball vs. Norris at Jefferson Middle School JV starts at 5 pm

December 19th - 7th and 8th Orchestra at Oak Ridge High School starts at 7 pm

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PTO News

Donations Needed for Upcoming Teacher Luncheon: Our next teacher luncheon will be Thursday, December 12. Click here to signup to bring your favorite holiday dish or family favorite dish. We are feeding approximately 85 staff members so your donations are greatly appreciated!

STEM Night is 2/20/20

STEM Night: 2/20/20 We hope to see you there

This is a message to Save the Date for STEM Night which will be from 6 pm - 8 pm on Thursday February 20th at Jefferson Middle School. The goal of STEM night is to invite our families and students in to our school to learn more about STEM, careers in STEM and applications both at JMS and the world in which our students will work, live, and thrive in their futures.

If you have any resources or you work for a group that may want to be a part of the STEM night, please contact either of our STEM coaches Callie Painter at or Alex Goldberg at

We will keep reminding everyone of this date as we hope to have a HUGE turnout like we did last year!

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Why 21st Century Skills?

We are bombarded each and every year, month, week and day with new ideas, resources, strategies in education. It feels as if there is a constantly moving target. As we continue into testing we often see student frustrations rise, anxiety increase and overall stress peak for students and staff. Often as the new ideas for education particularly those in technology unfold we often forget to apply a critical question, "why?". This week we wanted to share the following video below as a glimpse of the future workplace and economy that many believe is inevitable for our students. The video itself helps to show "the why?" and helps to explain the need for the amazing things you do as educators every day.....the things well beyond a standardized test!

You challenge students to think, design, innovate, collaborate, communicate, think critically, creativity, pursue new ideas, solve problems etc. The video highlights what industry leaders and companies envision the future of work force with the advent of AI and Machine Learning. At first glimpse, the appearance is that many jobs will be replaced and human beings will be out of work. However, one perspective to keep in mind is that we have seen shifts in society due to technology before and often where one market closes a new one is created. Many company owners, corporations, industry leaders and market predictors have compiled the skills needed for future employees as we often discuss "the 4 C's of 21st century learning".

As you watch the video, on the surface you see things that show replacement of human jobs. However, beyond that we can begin to see that much of the AI and machine learning will need humans with new skills in order to make it all work. As Henry Ford once discussed as he worked to design a vehicle, he referenced the fear that horse shoe fitters would lose their jobs. His comment to that idea was that horse shoe fitters could learn to fix engines. The video highlights this idea as it shows the Easter Parade in 1900 vs. the Easter Parade in 1913 and the growth of automobiles as the main mode of transportation.

The Future of Work: Will Our Children Be Prepared?

What is Problem Based Learning?

You may have heard about PBLs or even possibly read about PBLs, but we want to take some time to help you learn more about PBLs. The acronym PBL can really be attributed to two different terms in education, Project Based Learning or Problem Based Learning. Both ideas are becoming a growing idea and concept in education as they work to help increase student engagement and application of knowledge into real world issues and problems.

One of the leading educational institutes that promotes and works to help students and teachers with PBLs is the Buck Institute. They promote PBLs as the following:

Project Based Learning’s time has come. The experience of thousands of teachers across all grade levels and subject areas, backed by research, confirms that PBL is an effective and enjoyable way to learn - and develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career, and civic life. Why are so many educators across the United States and around the world interested in this teaching method? The answer is a combination of timeless reasons and recent developments.

  • PBL makes school more engaging for students. Today’s students, more than ever, often find school to be boring and meaningless. In PBL, students are active, not passive; a project engages their hearts and minds, and provides real-world relevance for learning.
  • PBL improves learning. After completing a project, students understand content more deeply, remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply what they know and can do to new situations.
  • PBL builds success skills for college, career, and life. In the 21st century workplace and in college, success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
  • PBL helps address standards. The Common Core and other present-day standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of success skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL is an effective way to meet these goals.
  • PBL provides opportunities for students to use technology. Students are familiar with and enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit with PBL. With technology, teachers and students can not only find resources and information and create products, but also collaborate more effectively, and connect with experts, partners, and audiences around the world.
  • PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding. Projects allow teachers to work more closely with active, engaged students doing high-quality, meaningful work, and in many cases to rediscover the joy of learning alongside their students.
  • PBL connects students and schools with communities and the real world. Projects enable students to solve problems and address issues important to them, their communities, and the world. Students learn how to interact with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces and adult jobs, and can develop career interests. Parents and community members can be involved in projects.
  • PBL promotes educational equity. All students deserve PBL, since a great project can have a powerful effect and help them reach their potential, and even be transformative for young people. A project that makes a real-world impact can give students a sense of agency and purpose; they see that they can make a difference in their community and the world beyond it.

Our teachers are working to learn more about PBLs and finding ways to implement them into their curriculum and lessons. In addition, as our teachers work to learn and grow through modeling a growth mindset one major topic for many of our teachers is to find ways to build a PBL into the state standards they teach.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Community Information

- CASA of the Tennessee Heartland is a non-profit that provides court-appointed special advocates for children in the court systems of Anderson, Blount, and Scott counties. CASA has fundraising events every other month so they can to raise more money for our organization so that we can reach more children that are in need. They are having an event on December 14th this year called Waffles with Santa at the Centennial Golf Course in Oak Ridge.

The event is run by our non-profit organization CASA of the Tennessee Heartland that advocates for children in the juvenile court systems of Anderson, Blount, and Scott County. The event we're hosting is called Waffles with Santa and is on Dec. 14th from 10am-12pm. There will be waffles with tons of toppings, as well as Santa that parents can have their children take photos with. It will be held at Centennial Golf Course here in Oak Ridge. Tickets for children 5 and older will be $5.

OR Schools Students helping with Masquers Spring Musical

Are you interested in trying out for the musical Little Mermaid? ORHS Masquers is holding auditions for young male and female community members from 3rd - 8th grades to play various characters in the show. Auditions will be held on Wednesday, December 11th starting at 2pm. A parent or guardian MUST be present with each child who auditions. Please see the chorus teacher Ms. Wilson on the 1st floor or Mr. Fowler on the 3rd floor for a detailed information flyer

Counselors Corner

Good Evening from the Counseling Office! We hope that you had a nice break with your families and made it home safely. As we are getting closer to Winter break we need to think about a few things to help our children be more appreciative of what they have.

Here are 4 tips that can help:

It’s easy for children to be excited with the magic of the holidays. A vacation from school, sweets and spending time with friends, there’s a lot to like. But with the freedom and excess of the season, sometimes kids can get a little carried away. For most families, there will be a point when children can get greedy about presents, or would rather play a video game and play on their cell phone than talk to other family members. Here are some tips to keep kids happy and ready to enjoy whatever the season brings.

1. Gifts, gifts, gifts: Getting presents is a high point of the holidays for any kid, but they shouldn’t be the only focus. As adults we know that giving presents can be just as rewarding as getting them, and we shouldn’t wait to teach that lesson to our children.

Even when kids are too young to buy a present, they can still make one, or help you pick out something. Volunteering, participating in a local toy drive, or giving each of your kids a little money to give to a charity of their choice are all great ideas for getting children in a more generous mood.

Also, remember that the best gifts that you give your children probably won’t be the material ones. Taking time for the whole family to get together to play a game, watch a movie, or decorate sugar cookies, these are the things that kids remember as they get older.

2. Let them help out: There’s a lot of extra work to do around the holidays, putting up decorations, cooking big dinners, throwing parties. The Martha Stewart in all of us can take over, but it’s important to take a step back and make sure our kids are included, too.

Children can help set the table, decorate the house, and wrap presents. They can help by holding down the paper or getting the tape ready, there’s always something kids can do. And at holiday time, the preparations are often as fun and as meaningful as the end product. Plus, this way kids won’t feel left out, or be glued to their cell phone or game system for hours.

3. Keep routines: We love the holidays because they give us a break from the everyday, but that can also make them stressful, especially for kids who find routine comforting. Try to keep some things constant. Kids still need special attention from you, and they still need a chance to unwind.

4. Remember they’re kids: Some holiday traditions depend on kids being on their best behavior: lengthy services, parties with lots of strangers, elaborate meals that may not appeal to picky eaters. Try to keep those to a minimum and customize festivities for your kids’ frustration level. Don’t schedule more than one demanding event in a day, and make sure to include physical activity and plenty of downtime. Your kids will be grateful — and so will you.