Redbird Roundup, Vol. 7

Friday, September 27, 2019

Our Mission and Vision

Norris Middle School prepares all students for their future by providing a safe, caring, and diverse school environment that maintains high expectations, academic excellence, and respect for all. Success, achievement, respect…It’s a Redbird thing!

La Escuela Secundaria Norris prepara a todos los estudiantes para su futuro ofreciendo un entorno escolar seguro, atento y diverso que mantiene altas expectativas, excelencia académica y respeto para todos. Éxito, logro, respeto…Es una cosa de los Redbirds!

Principal's Greeting

Happy Friday Norris Staff!

It has been another great week in Redbird Nation. It's hard to believe we are over halfway done with first quarter. There are lots of things happening in October and the near future.

We kicked off our school fundraiser this week, and it is always a great opportunity to earn money for our school. Our fall sports are also continuing to have great success!

We held our first Clubs Day on Wednesday. While we still have some procedures to iron out, it was a great day for our students to be exposed to different activities and opportunities.

Please check out the calendar below for other important events!

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Carr

September 30-October 4

Monday, September 30: Learning Walks in Teams; Classroom Support Day (Jacquie here); NAC Meeting after school

Tuesday, October 1: Team PD canceled; VB home vs. Lewis and Clark

Wednesday, October 2: Schedule Committee after school; JV VB at McMillan; XC at Davis Invite

Thursday, October 3: Varsity VB home vs. Monroe

Friday, October 4: FB vs. Buffett

Staff Introductions

This week we get to know Katie Leland, Kris Swanson and Camille Wakefield.

Katie Leland-Intro to Careers

Name: Katie Leland

How many years have you been teaching/in education? Eight years. I started at Burke as a long term for one year and the last seven years at Norris.

What is your favorite thing about Norris Middle School? I really like my curriculum and I get to teach students I had in 6th grade again.

How would your friends describe you? “She’s never on time.” and “A Clean Freak”

What website/app do you use most often? Spotify-vintage or true crime podcasts and of course music.

What is something we would never guess about you? Teaching is my second career, I worked in sales at InfoGroup and sales at Complete Nutrition before teaching. I talk in my sleep…a lot.

What is the worst food you ever ate? Rhubarb is gross.

What TV show would you binge watch if you had the time? Curb Your Enthusiasm

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? Honolulu and Pearl Harbor Memorial in 2004, which was a very sobering experience. I was there for an NJCAA softball tournament with my IWCC teammates.

What would you sing at karaoke night? Ballroom Blitz by Sweet, thank you Wayne’s World!

Kris Swanson, 7C Science

Name: Kris Swanson

How many years have you been teaching/in education? This is my 24th year at Norris. I taught 3 years at a Jr. College in Chicago previously.

What is your favorite thing about Norris Middle School? I love the feeling of family and community that exists between the students and the staff

How would your friends describe you? I am a total Enneagram 9

What website/app do you use most often? I listen to a lot of podcasts. Two of my favorites are “Happier” and “On Being”

What is something we would never guess about you? I used to stun rats (it’s not pretty) to feed to snakes.

What is the funniest thing you have ever seen a kid do? Asked me if Winston was Ms. Churchill’s (former PE teacher) first name after reading a Winston Churchill quote in my room.

What is the best thing that happened to you this week? Saw some amazing sunrises and sunsets. What a gift every day!!

What is the worst food you ever ate? Some sort of organ meat at a Sudanese wedding.

Would you rather go 30 days without your phone or an entire lifetime without dessert? 30 days without my phone would be heaven!!

What TV show would you binge watch if you had the time? Will and Grace

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? Jonskoping Sweden

What would you sing at karaoke night? Brick House or Paradise by the dashboard light.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Why or why not? Doesn’t matter….a hotdog is one of my favorite foods.

Camille Wakefield-Librarian

Name: Camille Wakefield

How many years: 28!!

Favorite thing about Norris: Norris is really just a great place. We have diversity, a caring staff, and a sense of community and family here.

Where is the farthest you have ever been from home? I'm an Air Force BRAT and we lived in the Philippines as a kid. So beautiful. Second place would be Newfoundland. Best camping trip I ever took and maybe the friendliest people.

What is something we would never guess about you? I have a bad temper when it flares up - which is very rare.

What TV show would you binge? Downton Abbey for sure. The movie was so good!!

What the worst food you have ever eaten? Onions. Yuck.

What is the best thing that happened to you this week? Both kids were home this weekend for my birthday. 51!!

Up Next Week in the Redbird Roundup

I do three staff introductions each week. You'll be getting an email from me with questions. Even if you have done it before, please participate and do it again! Please respond and include a picture by Thursday! I will do the first week.

Up next: Dave Dinslage, Jenn Moore, and Anna Vetter.

Wellness Word to the Wise

Put the power of health apps to work for you. Download calorie guides, recipe ideas, carb counters, or apps that help you track your activity and exercise.

A few personal favorites: My Fitness Pal and Sleep Cycle

Powerful Practices

Learning Goals in Action

Ms. Novakoski does an awesome job stating and unpacking her learning goal in Math. She posts it, then has students copy it. She then unpacks by explaining the different components of a bar graph and having students identify. Awesome job!

One other amazing thing, Ms. Novakoski and Ms. Parker constantly give positive feedback to kids. They doesn't say a sentence without saying, "Nice job! Way to go! Kiss your brain!" The positivity just radiates in that classroom.

More Learning Goals!

Mrs. Swanson rocked her unpacking of learning goals in her Science lesson on Wednesday. After students wrote the LG down, they highlighted the science, engineering, and cross-cutting concepts in 3 different colors. She clarified academic vocabulary for students and quickly but effectively reinforced important terms, and reminded students of what they had done the previous lesson. Amazing job!

Emely Diaz, Student Teacher in 6D Math

We have been so lucky to have Emely with us since the start of the year. She has been student teaching with Ms. Vega in DL Math, and will go onto Marrs to student teach in Science. She has been a great addition to our Norris staff this fall!

LOL :)

Ms. Leland is teaching students about formatting text in her Computer Applications classes, but she uses common texting phrases to practice each skill. For example, bold LOL, strikethrough TTYL etc. Great way to make the concept relevant.

National Council for Teachers of Mathematics

We had four teachers (Burse, Kohlhaas, Miro Porta and Schumacher) head to Boston for the NCTM conference this week. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with others and get new ideas, and of course, see some sights!

Student Leadership

The Redbird Student Roundtable met during our first round of Clubs time, along with many other groups. In a new format, I had coaches and activity sponsors nominate students to be a part of the group. I genuinely always love their positivity and feedback. They are such a wonderful group of students!

Explicit Procedures and Routines

Ms. Reid is incredibly explicit in all of her procedures and routines. This includes bellwork, work time, asking for help etc. She verbally reminds students of the expectations and procedures each time. She puts the ownership in the hands of the students to ask for help and complete tasks. Amazing!

Norris Staff and Students Seen and Heard


I truly love our Wellness Day. It starts with a great breakfast and time with our colleagues. We offer a variety of activities throughout the morning with the goal of each staff member doing whatever they need to meet their own personal wellness. This year we offered volleyball, walking, art activities, meditation activities, healthy cooking, and #KeepNorrisBeautiful. I heard laughter and saw colleagues working together and on their own, and really getting a lot out of this time. Thanks for a great day.

No Place for Hate

Mrs. Zermeño's No Place for Hate group was rocking Wednesday afternoon! Students participated in a variety of teambuilding activities to understand roles and leadership, setting a great foundation for their year ahead. Awesome job!

MidTESOL Visit

We hosted 12 visitors from the MidTESOL Conference on Thursday to visit our DL/ESL classrooms. They were beyond impressed with the amazing things happening in our programs. Thank you to our DL/ESL teachers for always welcoming guests and rocking it!

World's Finest Chocolate

Our schoolwide fundraiser kicked off on Tuesday with assemblies for all three grade levels. There are some neat new prizes this year (claw machine??!!) and students were really excited to learn about this fundraiser. Mr. Schnabel and Mrs. Greco have gone to a ton of work to coordinate and organize this so Norris gets the most bang for our buck. Thank you for all your support!


Instead of buying one or two candy bars from every kid who asks, I buy the first box from the first student who asks. This year it was Maddie Solorio, and she was pretty excited :)

Final Thought

I'm back to my good friend George Couros for today's final thought. He shares about tapping into the knowledge of our students, who are so incredibly smart and talented. Please enjoy.

Tapping into their knowledge was a way to save time and showcase their expertise.