Mullica Middle News

Week of October 22, 2018

Dear Mullica Middle Staff

Each week when I sit down to write this newsletter I begin by reflecting on the week before. There were some significant challenges to face last week and, as a team, we successfully navigated those events. I continue to be impressed with the professionalism and care with which our staff interacts with our students. Additionally, I am highly impressed with our students. When faced with difficult and scary situations, they know what to do. When the fire alarm went off, everyone evacuated the building quickly and waited patiently to reenter the building. When students saw an alarming list, they immediately notified administration. Our students are aware of and more importantly, act on the "If you see something, say something to an adult" message. This week, I will be visiting classrooms to discuss school safety, following school rules and emphasizing the importance of "If you see something, say something to an adult". There is a message to parents from Mr. Weber on the district webpage that I would like you to read regarding the incident on Thursday. Please follow this link: If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to me.

The social and emotional health of our students is a priority to me. As such, I am always looking for ways to teach students how to better handle the challenges they face with their peers. I read the full text of the article below in Educational Leadership last week, then the same article was featured in the Marshall Memo this week. This prompted me to share the Marshall Memo version with you. If you have time, please read the article summary below on empathy. I found it to be interesting and timely.

Have an amazing week!


Planting Seeds of Empathy in Classrooms -from Marshall Memo 757

“Empathy is at the core of everything that makes a school caring, a teacher responsive, and a society civilized,” says educational psychologist and speaker Michele Borba in this article in Educational Leadership. “When empathy wanes, narcissism, distrust, aggression, bullying, and hate rise – and schools suffer.” Borba cites research indicating that American teenagers are 40 percent less empathetic than they were three decades ago. Kids today may seem smart and self-assured, but they’re also more self-centered, competitive, individualistic, sad, and stressed than any previous generation.

Hence the focus in many schools on social-emotional skills, including empathy – the ability to understand the feelings and needs of others. A high level of empathy has been linked to better behavior, classroom engagement, communication skills, and academic achievement. Borba believes that empathy consists of nine teachable competencies:

  • Emotional literacy – “Before students can empathize, they must be able to read emotions,” she says. “Students who can recognize feelings are better adjusted emotionally and more popular, outgoing, and sensitive.” But electronic devices are stunting kids’ growth in this area, so school leaders need to maximize meaningful face-to-face connections, including advocating for classroom furniture arranged in groups and circles and teachers getting out from behind their desks, constantly interacting with students, and using activities that improve students’ ability to tune in to others’ emotions and states of mind.
  • Moral identity – This is students seeing themselves as people who value others. “That poses a problem in our culture,” says Borba, “with its increasing void in moral role models, but educators can play a central role in helping students develop strong ethical compasses.” Classes can decide on mantras, select uplifting quotes, and take inspiration from their teachers’ actions.
  • Perspective taking – This is the cognitive side of empathy, and it can be developed, for example, using technology – connecting with students in faraway places – or in the regular curriculum – imagining the American Revolution from the British point of view. In addition, restorative practices put students in the shoes of the person on the other side of a conflict – How would you feel if that happened to you?
  • Moral imagination – Books like Wonder, The Grapes of Wrath, and A Long Walk to Water, movies like Dumbo (How would it feel to be made fun of like that?), and certain paintings can be used to prompt empathetic feelings in students.
  • Self-regulation – “Managing emotions is a better predictor of academic achievement than IQ,” says Borba. Learning how to keep feelings in check frees up bandwidth to tune in to another person’s state of mind. One school in San Francisco reduced its suspension rate by 79 percent and improved attendance and achievement after introducing a twice-a-day fifteen minute meditation/quiet time.
  • Practicing kindness – This is teaching children to be more “we” and less “me” oriented: nudging them to notice, care about, empathize with, and help and comfort others. “Kindness also jump-starts a cascade of beneficial effects not only for the receiver, but for the giver,” says Borba.
  • Collaboration – “Empathy is never a solitary act,” she says; “It’s only when we let go of our self-centeredness and feel with others that our hearts open.” Orchestrating teamwork in classrooms (like jigsaw activities) promotes understanding, builds problem-solving skills, and helps students disagree agreeably.
  • Moral courage – “Upstanders” are the empathy elite, says Borba; they are ordinary people who stand up for others and stick their necks out for justice and compassion. “Mobilizing moral courage may be our best hope to stop cruelty and violence in schools,” she continues. “When kids intervene, it stops bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds.”
  • Growing changemakers – This is making empathy part of a school’s mission: being explicit about encouraging students to understand and help others, perhaps through service. “Giving – not receiving – is what makes kids happier, healthier, less stressed, and feel better about themselves,” concludes Borba.

“Nine Competencies for Teaching Empathy” by Michele Borba in Educational Leadership, October 2018 (Vol. 76, #2, p. 22-28),

Faculty Meeting Slides

As promised, here is a link to the slides I used at our Wednesday meeting.
Big picture


Please email me when your SGO is complete and schedule a brief appointment for us to review it and have it approved. Deadline for requesting an appointment is Wednesday, October 24th. These need to be approved by the close of the school day on October 29th.

As discussed in our faculty meeting, the process for SGO approval is:

Complete E Collect form in PowerSchool

Email me or Liz- arrange a review meeting (10-15 minutes)

Meet with me

SGO Form Directions

How to Return to Form

Additional SGO Guidance

Professional Development Plans

All teachers who already have their summative scores for the 2017-18 school year and new to Mullica teachers need to have their PDP completed and approved by the end of the day on October 29th. If you have a mSGP for the 2017-18 school year, you have 25 days from the date you receive your summative score to complete your PDP and have it approved. The district has not yet received these scores. I will keep you informed during this process.

As discussed in our faculty meeting, the process for PDP approval is:

Complete E Collect form in PowerSchool

Email me or Liz- arrange a review meeting (10-15 minutes)

Meet with me

Coyote Chronicle Newsletter

Please remember to submit your articles and pictures for the Coyote Chronicle. I can organize this in several ways; by subject, grade level, teacher etc. Last month, there weren’t any submissions for special areas, since this is one of the highlights of the kid’s day I think they would love to have these classes included. If you didn’t send anything last month, and even if you did, please send something for this month.

Please use the Google form below for submissions to the October Edition.

Coyote Chronicle Submissions


First-round observations are underway and will be continuing to schedule more. Be on the look-out for an email requesting that you fill out the Pre-Observation form in PowerSchool. Below, is the link to the version of the Danielson Observation tool we are using this year.

Danielson 2007 Evaluation Rubric

Calendar This Week

Monday, 10/22/18

1:30-2:15 Elementary School Youth Alliance Assembly “Destroy Illusions”

2:30-3:15 Middle School Youth Alliance Assembly “Destroy Illusions”

6:30 Family Performance of “Destroy Illusions”

Wednesday, 10/24/18

All Day: Middle School Picture Day

2:00 Project Fit Ribbon Cutting (Additional information to come)

Next Week

10/31/18 Fall Festival

11/2/18 Fall Dance