The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - All the Small Things

I was reminded multiple times this week how the little things make the biggest difference. As I was running one morning before school, a rock somehow got into my shoe. It only took about 15 or 20 steps before I had to stop to take my shoe off and remove the boulder that was causing me so much distress. As I was taking my shoe off to dump out the massive stone that interrupted my run, I was amazed when a pebble about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen fell out. How could something that small, feel so big?

George Couros discussed the idea of small things making a big difference in a blog post (that I read earlier this summer) titled: Greatness is Often in the Smallest of Details. He states, “The ‘small stuff’, sometimes is the most important stuff we do; we have to learn when focusing on the little things will make all of the difference.” I want to give a few examples of how the “small stuff” made a big difference this past week.

First, a personal story from my wife, Nikki, who also gets up early before school to get in her daily workout. One morning as she was running, a car passed her by and the driver rolled down the window and yelled, “Way to go, keep it up!” This small word of encouragement prompted my wife to send out this tweet.

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As she got to school that day, one of her former students came up to her in the hallway and said, “that was my mom who yelled out the window at you today.” She went on to tell my wife that her tweet of appreciation made her mom happy. A small word of encouragement, turned into a tweet of appreciation, which turned into a positive moment for a mother and daughter, and then a touching moment between a teacher and student. Wow!

The next example I want to share happened during my daily cafeteria duty. A group of students, I talk to on a daily basis, called me over to their table. They said, “Mr. Knight, I bet you cannot go through an entire day without smiling.” I asked them why I would want to go through a day without smiling. The students told me that I am always smiling, so they thought it would be really hard for me not to smile. As I continued to talk to the students, they said that one of the reasons they love our school is because teachers smile all the time, and that makes them feel better as they spend each day at school. Something, as simple as a smile, helped these students love coming to school each day.

Last example, a teacher in our building spends time at the beginning of each year showing our students how to use their school email. Her class discusses the difference between an email that would be sent to friends and one that would be used in a business setting. To practice lesson, she asks the students to send an email to one of the administrators in our building. The students usually tell us something they enjoy about middle school and then pose a question. We (some of the other administrators and I) each took time that day to reply back to each email and answer any questions asked. Each email does not take a great deal of time, but we felt it was important to validate each student by responding. The day after this lesson, the classroom teacher sent the administrators who participated the following email:

I have to take a moment to thank you for your time in answering my student's emails. I wish you could see the look on their faces when they found an answer from you....Keep in mind some of my students struggle daily with academics and home life. Getting an email from the top admin at SMS made them feel special.

All of the small examples I gave in this post, a pebble, a word of encouragement from out a car window, a tweet, a smile, an email, are small things that took very little time and effort. But, each of these small things changed someone's day for the better. In the words of Kid President, “If you want to be a world changer for people everywhere, be a day maker for the people right next to you.” Although I agree, we should not let the small stuff worry us; we also need to realize the power of a small act of random kindness to change someone’s day. Do something to make someone’s day better today! The world, our schools, our homes, would be very different places if we each went out of our way to make one person’s day a little better in a small way.


Keep learning, keep growing, and keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog

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  • Thank you to our Language Arts teachers for giving up some classroom time yesterday to participate in the Smekens training. It was a good day, I am sure our LA teachers would be happy to share ideas they learned if you ask.
  • Thank you Post-It Note Bandit for making our day a little better! (see the pictures below)
  • Thank you the Rams team for showing each student they are an important part of your team. (see the picture below)


Week 4 Grateful Friday Challenge

High Five Friday: Give at least 50 high fives today. A good high five makes everyone feel better!

Note: For the perfect high five look at the other person's elbow while you making contact. Don't believe me...try it!


First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy


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.

Josh Madden

Mr. Madden's students are finishing up the Metric Olympics. The Metric Olympics give students the opportunity to predict a measurement using the metric system, and then test their prediction for accuracy. In the picture below, the poster with the stickers is of students, in period 3, who predicted and tested the exact amount. What a great way for students to apply metric measurements!

Rejeana Overmyer

We want to welcome Ms. Overmyer to Southport Middle. Ms. Overmyer has worked with our 6th grade bands students for the past two years. Due to higher student enrollment in our middle school band programs, she will start working with Mr. Radomski in our 7th and 8th grade band classes as well. Today, Ms. Overmyer was working with students to perfect specific measures in a new piece. Students practice specific tones and rythms on these measures. We are excited to have Ms. Overmyer at SMS and look forward to seeing our band program continue to grow.

Amy Vaught and Janette Collins

Ms. Vaught's 8th grade science students are starting a research project today. Students will research a topic on an environmental disaster and issue of their choosing. To start the project, students spent the day in the Media Center with Mrs. Collins learning about the Big 6 research project. Today's focus on asking good questions to start the research process. Students looked at different environmental pictures and generated questions they would want to ask about the picture. The students then refined their question list to identify the most interesting question. Asking the right question is a vital part of the research process!

Natasha Bynum

Ms. Bynum's 8th grade Language Arts students also visited the Media Center today. Students in her class were on a informational text scavenger hunt. Students used various informational texts, such as: newspapers, magazines, and restaurant guides, to find specific information. Students learned how to best manage and find information in these different media publications and are now more capable of making sense of the information world around them.

Smekens Education and the Language Arts Deptartment

Southport Middle Language Arts teachers took part in a training today from Smekens Education Solutions. Eighth grade teachers participated in the training in the morning, and seventh grade teachers came in the afternoon. Teacher refined and discussed their teaching methods around the 6 Traits of Writing and argumentative writing. Smekens Education is providing training for all Perry Township teachers this year to help create a common conversation about writing in all classrooms. Smekens Education will be back at SMS second semester to provide training for writing in other content areas. We look forward to improving our classroom teaching based on these training!

Post-It Note Bandit

At SMS, we say everyday that kindness is our strength. Today, someone put that motto into action as the post-it note bandit showed up again. The 8th grade hallways were littered today with positive post-it notes. Although this is not a typical story for our 180 Days of Learning Blog, it is uplifting when you see evidence of the life lessons you try to teach kids every day taken to heart. Thank you post-it note bandits for making everyone's day a little better today! Our school is a better place because of your efforts today!


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