Parent Newsletter

Jan. 13th - 17th

Week 2 - Thanks for a great start

Parents and students,

Thank you for a great start to the second semester. We had a great week with students and we are excited for a great start to the third nine weeks. Check out more information about all that is happening at Jefferson Middle School this week below:

- A Look at the Week Ahead

- STEM Grant from Isotek

- Naka Japan Exchange (Current 7th grade students)

- Upcoming Events Week of Jan. 13th

- STEM Night is 2/20/20

- Finding Winter Weather Information

- Success in the 3rd Nine Weeks

- Learn more about Microsoft OneNote

- Counselors Corner

Thanks for a great start to the second semester,

Phil Cox, Principal

Chris Layton, Vice Principal

Jenifer Laurendine, Dean of Students

Reminder: No School Monday Jan. 20th in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

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A Look at the Week Ahead


B day


Discipline Assemblies-JPAC 1:00-5th Grade, 1:50-6th Grade

Environmental Club (McCullough) Rm 310 2:45-5:00

Chess Club-Library 2:45-3:45

Master Builders Lego League Team Meeting (Scott) Rm 102 2:45-4:30

Atomic Eagles Lego League Team Meeting (Shanafield) Science Wing 2:45-4:45

RadioActive Brix Lego League Team (Davis) Rm 223 2:45-4:30

Basketball vs. Pigeon Forge Middle School @ Home GJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00

ORDTTA Dance Team Performs at halftime

Board of Education Meeting-SAB 6:00


A day

5th/6th Grade Morning Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 7:00-7:30

Knoxville Opera 8th grade —JPAC 1:50

Interact Club Meeting (Painter) Rm 311 2:45-4:00

Atomic Eagles Lego League Team Meeting (Shanafield) Science Wing 2:45-4:45

Master Builders Lego League Team Meeting (Scott) Rm 102 2:45-4:30

Robotic Sumo Bot Team meeting (Franco) Rm 316 2:45-4:30

5th/6th Grade After School Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 2:45-3:30

Boys Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00

Girls Basketball Practice 5:00-7:00

7th/8th Grade Chorus Concert—JPAC 7:00


B day

Ski and Snowboard Club to Ober 12:55-8:45 (if weather and slope conditions are favorable)

CPR/AED certification for limited 8th graders (see Ms. Painter or Mr. Goldberg for list)

Cheer Practice 1:00-3:00

Boys Basketball Practice 1:00-3:00

Girls Basketball Practice 3:00:5:00


A day


5th/6th Grade Morning Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 7:00-7:30

Spelling Bee-JPAC 8:30

Math Club (Tracey) Rm 203 2:45-4:00

Robotic Sumo Bot Team meeting (Franco) Rm 316 2:45-4:30

RadioActive Brix Lego League Team (Davis) Rm 223 2:45-4:30

5th/6th Grade After School Homework Help (Martin) Rm 319 2:45-3:30

7th/8th Grade Tutoring (Hondorf) Rm 301 2:45-3:30

Library Club 2:45-3:45

Basketball vs. Eagleton Middle School @ Home BJV—5:00, GV—6:00, BV—7:00

8th Grade Night


B day

Youth for Christ-JPAC 7:30

Boys Basketball Practice 3:00-5:00


Atomic City Invitational-First Lego League @ JMS 8:00-5:00

Upcoming Events Week of Jan. 13th

Week of Jan. 13th

Monday Jan. 13th

Basketball vs. Pigeon Forge at Home JV starts at 5 pm

Tuesday Jan. 14th

7th and 8th grade Chorus concert (rescheduled from before break) 7 pm at JMS

Thursday Jan. 16th

Basketball vs. Eagleton at Home JV starts at 5 pm (8th grade Night)

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Thank You Isotek for your support for STEM Grants

A special thanks to Isotek for their most recent donation to JMS of $ 1800 to help the JMS Library Makerspace buy a new set of Ozobots. The Ozobots are great tools that help students learn about writing code, and work through computational skills to operate their device. The students of JMS often use the Ozobots and create various projects and activities for the ozobots. Thanks to the help of Isotek we are now going to be able to update our fleet of ozobots and continue to grow our Makerspace.

The current set of first generation Ozobots were purchased 4 years ago. These bots still work, but they are out of date and not able to do all the coding features that the new Ozobots offer. The old bots still have educational value and will continued to be used. A new set of current generation of Ozobots would allow us to write code, load the code on the Ozobot from their device, and run the code. Our current set allows us to only draw the code on paper.

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Attendance Matters

As we move into the second semester a few notes for students and parents in reference to attendance:

- School begins at 7:40 am each day and being late to first period consistently can have a major impact on lost instruction. Please make all efforts to be to school on time.

- Please be aware that your child's tardy count does not reset for second semester. In order to maximize learning, students need to be on time for school and are expected to be on time for each of their classes.

- Missing school may happen due to various reasons, but it makes a major difference if a student is chronically absent. Make efforts to be at school, we want you here, and you need to be here to gain information and skills you need.

STEMNight2019 Revised 2.19.19

STEM Night is 2/20/20

STEM Night: 2/20/20 We hope to see you there

This is a message to Save the Date for STEM Night which will be from 6 pm - 8 pm on Thursday February 20th at Jefferson Middle School. The goal of STEM night is to invite our families and students in to our school to learn more about STEM, careers in STEM and applications both at JMS and the world in which our students will work, live, and thrive in their futures.

If you have any resources or you work for a group that may want to be a part of the STEM night, please contact either of our STEM coaches Callie Painter at or Alex Goldberg at

We will keep reminding everyone of this date as we hope to have a HUGE turnout like we did last year!

Special Thanks to Dr. Trisler at East Tennessee Orthodontics for sponsoring our Staff t shirts designed to help promote the event. This is the second year Dr. Trisler's office, East Tennessee Orthodontics has provided the shirts for the JMS staff. Dr. Trisler's office has been very generous to provide these shirts to our staff and we are very grateful for their efforts.

List of great movies that are STEM related

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Naka Japan Exchange (Attention Interested 7th Graders)

Attention 7th Graders:

Five JMS students will be selected to represent the Oak Ridge Schools and the City of Oak Ridge as participants in the 30th Anniversary Naka-shi Student Exchange Program. Selected students along with chaperones will travel to Japan in July to explore parts of Japan and the Japanese culture.

Since it is an exchange program, the same students and chaperones who travel to Japan will in turn offer their Oak Ridge home and hospitality to a Japanese exchange student for a short time in August.

Applications for the Naka-Shi Student Exchange Program along with the parent permission and questionnaire forms are now available and may be picked up in the guidance department. Once the completed applications are in, the student interviews with the selection committee will begin.

Completed forms must be returned to the guidance office by Tuesday, January 21, so interested 7th graders should pick up the forms.

Winter Weather Information

It's that time of year where the winter weather can have an impact on school days. As we go through the winter months of January and February going into Spring Break, please remember the information below about Winter Weather and Oak Ridge Schools:

1. If a snow day is called by the Oak Ridge Schools, parents and staff members will receive an automated phone call from Oak Ridge Schools to inform them. In addition at JMS we will update through our Twitter account @JMS_Eagles.

2. You can also check the Oak Ridge Schools website

3. We are "Oak Ridge City Schools", so when checking on the status of a snow day, please do not confuse with Anderson County Schools

4. With bitterly cold weather we are having students go into the building to their respective areas (5th/6th to gym and 7th/8th to lobby) upon their arrival to campus for the mornings with bitterly cold temperatures

5. On non-delay days Supervision of students begins at 7 a.m. including car riders. The bus riders arrive between 7:00 am - 7:10 am, when buses are in the bus loop cars should not enter the bus loop. For a one hour or two hour delay please add the appropriate times (8:00 am for 1 hour delay; 9:00 am for 2 hour delay)

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Transportation Safety for Students

Please check out the above and below information about school bus transportation. In our most recent discipline assembly, we spent time helping students understand the importance of appropriate bus safety and bus behavior. It is important for our students who ride the bus to know that the expectations are in place in order to keep them safe. If your child rides the bus, please review these documents with them and talk to them about bus expectations. We want to make sure all of our students are safe on their way to and from school each and every day.

For car riders, please make sure when you are dropping students off each morning to be cautious as this time of year the early morning still remains dark. Also, please note that the bus loop is for buses only from 7 am - 7:15 am. After 7:15 am, all of the buses have made their morning run to the school and the bus loop is open to cars from 7:15 am - 7:40 am.

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Success in the 3rd Nine Weeks

Students received their 2nd Nine weeks grades this past Wednesday. As we complete the first semester of the 2019 - 2020 school year there are a few key tips for students and parents to maintain and continue to work towards success:

1. Organization is critical - For many students the first step to success is often difficult because organizational skills can be challenging. Often we have students who miss assignments, fail to submit assignments, or forget they had been assigned. We often work with students to help them with organizational skills including planners, use of Canvas, working to help students understand how to use Microsoft Office products etc.

2. Submission of ALL assignments - We work to encourage students to TURN in ALL Assignments. We focus on this idea as a part of our Grit, Perseverance, and Growth Mindset series as well as through our newsletter, success assemblies, and through our school announcements and tv's.

3. Take advantage of redo's - There are many classes where students have the opportunity to retake a quiz, make test corrections, resubmit an assignment or even turn in an assignment late. Often students do not take advantage of these opportunities until the end of the nine weeks and sometimes never. Some points are better than no points, and working to improve low scores can greatly benefit your grades.

4. Prepare each and every day - When students have a passion, an art, a sport, a game, a hobby etc. that they wish to excel at they work again and again and again to make their best efforts to improve. The same is needed in the learning process. We work through the growth mindset, perseverance and promotion of Grit to help students learn how to be relentless in their pursuits of knowledge and skills.

OneNote in Education: Organizing, Note-taking, & Homework Made Easier
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The Impact of a Zero

For some students if they simply do not complete something, they do not submit anything. In the previous example, if a student were to submit their assignment and receive a 50% on the assignment it would make a dramatic improvement in their overall score.

We want to help our students understand that homework, quizzes, projects, tests etc. are a type of assessment being made by a teacher to find where a student may need help. For a student to simply not submit, complete or finish something, it only serves to provide for a negative on their average. Submit your work, if it's wrong, your teacher can help you learn from your mistakes.

For many classes, the math is simple. Total points achieved divided into Total points possible. The example here shows a student with Two A's, Two B's and a Zero. It is eye opening to see the damage the Zero has done to the student's average.

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The 3rd Nine Weeks

For many students, the first two weeks of each nine weeks is very successful. As students get back into the groove of school following a break they work to keep up with assignments, deadlines, and often there are very few major tests, quizzes or projects etc. Students need to take advantage of the first few weeks of a nine weeks to complete all tasks, prepare for future quizzes, tests and projects. It can be more stressful as the nine weeks moves into week three and four. By the end of week five, students will receive midterms, which are a measurement of where there grade is at that current time.

We plan to spend time during the 3rd nine weeks to help students keep up each week, review each week and reflect on what they have to do that week. For some students, it requires taking each task one day at a time, completing it, and looking for the next task. For some students, when they get behind, the future quizzes, assignments, tests and projects can seem like an insurmountable amount of work and it is easy to quit. We often see this impacting students by the midterm and then seeing students looking to improve in the last two weeks of the quarter.

Our goal is to help reflect each week, take a moment to prepare for the upcoming week and work to make sure we are completing all of our tasks. Students may want to create and design a system that helps remind them including checking Canvas weekly to see assignments that are due soon and those that are upcoming.

New Vaping Policy

To effectively address and discourage student vaping, Oak Ridge Schools board of education has approved the following addendum to the 2019-2020 Oak Ridge Schools Discipline Code. This addendum will go into effect January 1, 2020, to allow us to communicate specifics to students and families.

Video information about the new policy shown to students on Friday Jan. 10th.

Read the updated policy below or at this link.

Students who are vaping or found to be in possession of tobacco or tobacco products on school property including smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, will be assigned the following consequences:

. First Offense – Student will be assigned five days of out of school suspension, receive a tobacco citation and be required to attend a tobacco/vaping education class. The length of the suspension may be reduced pending the successful completion of the tobacco/vaping education class.

. Second Offense – Student will be assigned seven days of out of school suspension.

. Third Offense – Student will be assigned a long term suspension (10 days or more).

Students who are found to be distributing tobacco or tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes, will be assigned the following consequences:

. 1st Offense – Student will be assigned seven days of out of school suspension, receive a tobacco citation and be required to attend a tobacco/vaping education class. The length of the suspension may be reduced pending the successful completing of the tobacco /vaping education class.

. 2nd Offense – Student will be assigned a long term suspension (10 days or more).

Vaping products containing THC – Student activity involving possession or distribution of products containing THC will be addressed as a Zero Tolerance Offense.

Counselors Corner

Communicating with Your Middle School Child

Welcome back to school from the counseling department! We hope that you all had a safe, restful and relaxing break. Coming back from break brings us to January, which is going to mean something different for our monthly theme. This month we want to concentrate on communicating effectively. Having the ability to be effective communicators does not just happen overnight, or come easily to everyone. What does it even mean to be an effective communicator?? According to, effective communication can be defined as, “communication that is clearly and successfully delivered, received and understood. Learning the skills of effective communication can help people to resolve differences while building trust and respect. Some skills associated with effective communication include being a good listener, using and recognizing body language and non-verbal communication, taking control of emotion and stress, and understanding and empathizing with others. Applying these skills to everyday communication can help people to better connect with their family, friends and classmates.”

1. Being a Good Listener

This week, we will be discussing the first skill that needs to be practiced when trying to be better communicators: being a good listener. This can be a simple, but difficult skill to master. People often focus on what they should say, but effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate.

There is a saying that talks about how we hear what others are saying, but we do not always listen. There’s a BIG difference between engaged listening and simply hearing. When you really listen (when you’re engaged with what’s being said) you will hear the subtle cues in someone else’s voice that tells you how that person is feeling and the emotions they are trying to convey. When you are an engaged listener, not only will you better understand the other person, you will also make that person feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between the both of you.

By communicating in this way, you will also experience a process that lowers stress and supports physical and emotional well-being. If the person you are talking to is calm, for example, listening in an engaged way will help to calm you, as well. Similarly, if the person is agitated, you can help calm them by listening in an attentive way and making the person feel understood.

If your goal is to fully understand and connect with the other person, listening in an engaged way will often come naturally. If it doesn’t, try the following tips. The more you practice them, the more satisfying and rewarding your interactions with others will become.

Here are some strategies we can use to achieve being better listeners:

  1. Give the Speaker Your Undivided Attention – Notice the body language, tone of voice and other nonverbal cues in order to determine emotions related to what is being said.
  2. Favor Your Right Ear – Because the left side of your brain is the primary processing center for both speech comprehension and emotions, try turning your head so that your right ear is slightly in front. This will assist in picking up those higher frequencies.
  3. Avoid Interrupting or Trying to Redirect the Conversation to Your Concerns – “If you think that is bad, let me tell you about my day…” is the last thing someone wants to hear. Do not plot your comments or what you are going to say or come back with as it takes your attention away from the speaker.
  4. Show Your Interest in What is Being Said – Respond to the speaker with brief responses to show them you are interested. A simple “okay”, “sure”, or “uh-huh” goes a long way.
  5. Try to Set Aside Judgement – Just because you are listening to someone does not mean that you agree, or have to agree with what they are saying. However, it is best to set aside judgements and withhold criticisms and blame. The most difficult discussion could lead to the most profound connection with someone.
  6. Provide Feedback on What You Have Listened To – Make sure that you are listening and understanding everything that is being said by paraphrasing what you have been listening to. “What I am hearing is…” or “From I have heard…” are great ways to lead into these confirmations. Be careful to not repeat verbatim or redirect the conversation.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, administrator, counselor or student you can always practice being a better listener. Discuss the strategies listed above with your child(ren) or students and have them practice being good listeners. Have them repeat what you are saying back to you, and have them explain how they think you are feeling about what you say.