The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

Have a restful, relaxing, & rejuvenating Winter Break!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Thoughts from a Middle School Principal


I grew up in a house where both my parents were teachers, and then married a wonderful teacher who was the daughter of two teachers. So to say the least, teachers and teaching have always been a big part of my life. But as age provides perspective, I have come to realize that teachers are more than that central theme -- teachers are my heroes. When I looked up the word “hero” in the dictionary, I found the definition: A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. I also found that the origin of the word hero can be traced back to the ancient Greeks in stories of Hercules or Achilles. Greeks told stories of said heroes, who in the face of danger and adversity, showed courage and self-sacrifice while accomplishing great feats. What the world views as heroism, courageous behavior, and self-sacrifice, is what I see happening every day in our classrooms. This is why teachers are my heroes. Students come to schools everyday with a variety of needs. Some come from great environments, with support systems and strong moral values; while some come to school hungry, tired, lacking self-confidence, or with limited English proficiency Whether students come from a home of: poverty or wealth, chaotic situations or nurturing environments, negative influences or positive role models; teachers push these students to be their personal best because they know that each child has the ability to be great. Everyone has been effected by a teacher. Teachers hold the future in shaping the minds of young men and women everyday. Teachers inspire students, who never thought they could, nor dreamed that they might be able, to do amazing things and to be successful. Teachers push the brightest to accomplish more and do more than they realized they could. Teachers provide love and encouragement to the lowest achieving students to let them realize that they too can follow their dreams. Teachers are often so giving of themselves, they spend more time with other peoples children than they spend with their own. Teachers spend long hours helping students learn and grow, finding ways to make the knowledge meaningful, and dreaming up ways to help students achieve. Teachers make connections and form relationships with students. Teachers build our future one students at a time.

One of my dad's favorite sayings is: "When you are up to your armpits in alligators, don't forget you came to drain the swamp." I try to remind myself of this daily. The process of imparting knowledge is what is important; teachers should never forget their mission and why they chose to do this job. Teachers grow with students through their most difficult times, finding opportunities for success and self-worth in students lives. Most teachers got into the teaching profession to serve others, realizing that their efforts will pay off in the long run, long after the students have left their classrooms. Teachers many times never get to see the end product of the students they inspire. Their kindness, dedication, and selflessness, many times will go unthanked, and seemingly unappreciated, but they continue to show up each day with a passion to change the world. Teachers are heroes for their students every day! If these traits do not sound like the courageous or noble attributes of a hero, then I don't know what does.

If you have not done so lately, take the time to thank a teacher who made an impact in your life. Whether it be one from your school days, or just a fellow educator down the hall, take the time to show your appreciation. I promise you, it will be the best gift that teacher gets during the holiday season!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • The Discovery Team hosted it's annual penny war to support a family in need at Christmas. Thank you to the Discovery Team members for your efforts to support our families!
  • Thank you to Paula Swengel for organizing our yearly custodial lunch. We appreciate your efforts to support our custodial staff.
  • Thank you to all who brought food for the pitch-in lunches this week. It was great to take a break and enjoy each others company during lunch.


  • Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs explains why “follow your passion” was the worst advice he had ever received. Click here to read. This is an interesting point of view, it really made me think.
  • I try to read a fitness article about nutrition or exercise each day. I found this short read interesting. There are lots places in our lives this can apply, not just in workouts. One Quick Tip to Get Through That Tough Workout


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.

Music Department

Music programs have been hard at work this semester thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Radomski, Ms. Levin, Mr. Hulfachor, and Mr. Radomski. Recently, students in each of our music classes have been preparing for their holiday concerts. Tonight, orchestra, band, and 8th grade choir had performances. Our music department staff did an amazing job showcasing the talents of the young men and women who are part of the SMS music programs. Great performances tonight!

Tanya Johnson

Students in Mrs. Johnson's Spanish class are reviewing vocabulary from first semester. Students were charged with the task of creating a interactive review game that will assist in remembering the vocabulary. Students created a variety of options during this process. Then in groups, the class rotated playing each game and evaluating the creator on the design of their game and how effective it was in helping to remember the vocabulary. Students had a great time creating, playing, and reviewing vocabulary through the games.

Georgina Mayorga

Ms. Mayorga's EL students have been working on writing and illustrating original Holiday children books. Students took their finished product to Clinton Young Elementary today and read their stories to a 1st grade classroom. These stories focused on students' writing and speaking skills as they are learning a new language. The activity was also a positive way for SMS to partner with our neighboring elementary school. Student success is a team effort!

Brooke Nelson

8th grade science students spent the last day before winter break coding. To promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Ms. Nelson's students learned basic coding techniques that allowed them to program. Students signed up for a free account at and then had the period to try to complete all 20 levels so they could earn the Hour of Code certificate!

Yancy Crawford

Mr. Crawford's 8th grade Language Arts students are singing the blues. Students learned about writing blues songs and then created their own song. Each student had the opportunity to perform their original piece as Mr. Crawford played his guitar.

Chris Stevenson & Casey Pennington

Mr. Stevenson's and Ms. Pennington Language Arts students are reviewing inferences and context clues. Students traveled to the media center to play board games that focused on these specific skills. This was a fun and interactive way to review content before Winter Break!


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