The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Who are you competing against?

My oldest son’s cross country season ended this past weekend on a cold, rainy day. When we got home from the meet, I asked him if he knew what made me most proud about his season? He asked if it was the improvement in his time as the season went along, or the races where he scored points for the team. I told him it was neither; that those were simply outcomes of what made me proud. I explained to him the change I saw in his effort throughout the season. He was a sixth grader on a middle school team composed of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. At the beginning of season, he was only concerned with beating his other sixth grade friends. As long as he was the top sixth grader on the team he did not care about his performance. What made me the most proud this season was when he started to compete against himself. When he started to push himself to his best, regardless of where he compared to others his age.

I explained to him what an important life skill he was developing. We had a good conversation about not just trying to be better than those around you, but always giving and doing your personal best. Our discussion reminded me of this short comedy routine.

Brian Regan - I Walked On The Moon

Too many times our ego steps in and we want to be like the guy in this video. Life becomes about “one upping” those around us rather than focusing on our own improvement. Our ego causes us to make excuses, or to get defensive, when things might not go our way, instead of taking an objective look at the situation for opportunities of growth. Like my son at the beginning of his season, he did not care about being his best, he only desired to beat his friends. This attitude led to mediocre performances and running in the middle of the pack. Once he decided the only person he needed to compete against was himself, he drastically improved his performance. He switched from focusing on the outcomes of beating his friends, to focusing on the process, giving his best. He realized the power of what he could really accomplish in running once he was only concerned with giving his best each race.

It is interesting how many situations in my life come back to this concept -- focus on the process, give your best, and let the outcomes take care of themselves. I believe if we all applied this concept in our lives, we would not only dramatically improve our performance in life and work; we would be much happier. Our satisfaction would not be measured by how we stack up to those around us, but rather by how we feel about ourselves. Much like my son, we are many times too focused on the outcome -- winning, doing better than a teammate, being right in a conversation...the list goes on and on. Yet, if we focus on process, give our very best, treat every situation as an opportunity to learn and grow our lives will be better because of it.

These ideas are challenging, they are not always attractive, and they are definitely not easy. It is a struggle, but life is a struggle. I can tell you when I fight against that struggle; when I view everything as an opportunity for growth; when I show gratitude in every situation -- my life is better because of it. My attitude is better because of it. My family is better because of it. My work is more productive because of it.

It all depends on who I am competing against -- others or myself? So I will ask you -- who are you trying to be better than today?

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Thank you to everyone for your amazing efforts to start the school year. Our first break has arrived, and the rest you will get over the next two weeks is well deserved. Thank you for all you do to make SMS an amazing place for students!!
  • Thank you to Kelly Harmon, Janette Collins, Lori Farnworth, and Kristen Jordan for presenting yesterday at our staff meeting.

Penguin Awards

Brain Heerdt - Some might think it is difficult to display students work in Physical Educaiton, but not Brian Heerdt. Brian's active use of Twitter and Instagram multiple times a day, is an amazing way to recognize student work in a performance based class setting. He posts short videos, pictures of students' being active, and recognizes high performers through Social Media. You use these links to follow Brian on Twitter or Instagram to see how he recognizes students through social media.

Anne Manning - It is very easy to get comfortable in your classroom and your content. After teaching the same content for years, your confidence level with the students and your instruction is high. But, that comfort zone was somewhere Anne Manning wanted to stay. Anne wanted to challenge herself with new content and a new school. I was excited during the summer when Anne showed interest in coming to Southport Middle School. It was a big risk for Anne to make this move. We are excited to be part of our staff. We not only got an amazing teacher, we got an even better person. Anne, thank you for becoming a Cardinal!!


Week 11 Grateful Friday Challenge

Like you, I am very proud to be affiliated with Southport Middle, and I am proud to know I am making a difference in the lives of students. There are many things I am proud of at Southport Middle, here are a few of them:

  1. We treat every student with respect and dignity.

  2. We work hard to accommodate and celebrate the diverse needs of our students.

  3. We not only support students academically growth, but emotional and social growth as well.

  4. We have been recognized as an “A” school from the Indiana Department of Education.

  5. Our teachers work tirelessly to ensure the success of every student.

  6. Our school runs smoothly each and everyday because our amazing support staff, clerical staff, custodial staff, and cafeteria staff work diligently behind the scenes.

  7. I am proud to have the privilege to work with the best students and staff anywhere.

  8. I am proud of our growing music department and their gold medal ratings.

  9. I am proud of the successes of our fall sports coaches and athletes.

  10. I am proud of the compliments we receive anytime we have a visitor from another school.

I would love to hear what makes you proud to work at Southport Middle. Before you leave for break, take a few minutes, click on the Google Form link below, and share with me what makes you proud in regards to our school! You have space to share one thing or twenty-five things -- or somewhere in between.

Reasons To Be Proud Of Our School


Caine's Arcade


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.

Micheal Tygrett

Students in Mr. Tygrett’s class have been ranking 9 families by standard of living. Students have been looking at data points along with the personal family account of their lifestyle. This includes looking at their GDP of the country, GDP Per Capita, Literacy Rate, Life Expectancy, and Years of Schooling. Using Google Docs students were looking at just the data points in order to rank best to worst standard of living, and why. Finally, students had to create an argument against their own order.

Sharon Ancelet

Sharon Ancelet is a master teacher at Southport Middle School. One of her responsibilities is planning and facilitating weekly professional development. Today, she was working with science teachers as they were analyzing student work, looking for trends in student performance, and determining strategies to help students improve on specific skills. Mrs. Ancelet’s contributions to support growth is a valuable part of students success at Southport Middle School.

Ashley Koontz

Each day Mrs. Koontz Geometry students follow the same classroom routines. After some direct instruction my Mrs. Koontz, the students split into two groups. One group goes through some guided practice, while the other group completes a writing activity. The groups then switch and complete the other task. Today, students were working with triangles and writing if, then statements about a variety of different triangles.

Georgina Mayorga

Ms. Mayorga, Mrs. Koontz, and Mrs. Weiss took their level one EL students on a field trip today to Uno's Pizzeria and Grill. Students have been working on their speaking and listening skills this week in class as they have reviewed menus and practiced ordering. Students then took the trip to Uno's placed their orders, recorded costs of each item, and had a wonderful meal. When students returned they evaluated their ability to order correctly from the menu and worked with Mrs. Koontz to calculate their bill including sales tax and tip. This opportunity was made possible by a Perry Township Education Grant. Thank you to PTEF and Uno's for supporting this field trip -- student success is a team effort!

Michelle Swan

Ms. Swan's eighth grade Pre-Algebra students are reviewing how to calculate the area of different three dimensional shapes. To make this review a little more exciting, students were divided into teams and were playing Connect 4. Each team was presented with a different shape to calculate the area. If the team was correct, they were able to place a new game piece on the playing board. The winning team was not just the team who got the most correct answers, but those who also used some Connect 4 strategy!


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