It’s been a long time since I was home in the middle of the day on a Thursday.  It is overcast outside with misting rain but the wind is light and variable.  My house is abuzz with family who evacuated from Carolina Beach, ahead of Hurricane Florence.  The Weather Channel blares on the television, too loud for me, but providing much-needed information about home for my sister.  We text with our brother, who elected to ride out the storm in Sea Breeze, alternately worried about him and grateful for his updates about conditions at Carolina Beach.  We talk about where Jim Cantore is reporting from and lean forward to look closely at the television when we see The Weather Channel reporting from our parent’s home at Olde Towne Yacht Club, which we know is in Beaufort, North Carolina but the reporter insists is in Morehead City, North Carolina.  Our phones buzz with questions and comfort from family and friends.  The WCPSS Chief of Staff emails principals about the district plan for assessing campus conditions during and after the storm, and I am momentarily transported back into the role of middle school principal, tasked with leading a school, responsible for students and staff and facilities.  Then my sister laughs, the meteorologist talks about storm surge and rainfall totals and once again I’m at home in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

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One of the character strengths identified in the Positivity Project is Gratitude.  Our students and teachers explored this strength during the 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving.

As I listened to students express gratitude and talk about gratitude, I realized how much I have to be thankful for in my life.

I am grateful to lead West Millbrook. I am grateful for the talented teachers who care deeply about their students’ learning. I am grateful for the supportive West Millbrook school community – parents, community partners and churches that join with our students and faculty to create the fabric that is our school. I am grateful that we are a magnet school, and I am grateful for the many new opportunities the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme provides. I am grateful for health, for sushi, for good friends and for laughter!

 

 

 

Every year parents, students and even some teachers are surprised to learn that I work during the Winter Break.  One incredulous student recently asked me “but what do you do when students aren’t here?”  While I prefer working when students and teachers are at West Millbrook, there is an incredible amout of work that I do when they aren’t here.  During this Winter Break, I’ve interviewed 6 candidates.  It’s a great time to interview veteran teachers because they don’t have to take time away from their current students and school to come in for an interview.

It’s been an exhilarating few weeks as West Millbrook begins the transition from a traditional school to a magnet school. On October 17 the WCPSS board of education voted to magnetize West Millbrook.  West Millbrook will offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) for all students in grades 6-8, beginning in August. Authorization is a multi year process as we implement the IBMYP to international standards.

I’m excited to lead this work and about the many new opportunities the IBMYP will provide our students.

Stay tuned for updates about the new and exciting happenings at West Millbrook Magnet Middle School.

For many people January 1 marks the start of the new year.  However, for those of us in education, January 1 is the middle of our year, the school year.  I celebrate the ‘new year’ each August as we usher in a new school year and a new group of students.  So what about January?

This year as I reflected on the new year I did make some resolutions  for the rest of this school year and for my ‘new year’ in August.

I resolve to spend more time in teachers’ classrooms, celebrating the learning and magic that occurs there.

I resolve to more intentionally assume positive intentions.

I resolve to encourage teachers to give our students and themselves a true academic break by not assigning homework, projects or reading over spring break.  And I resolve to intentionally create academic breaks for our students and our teachers during the 2017-18 school year by delineating Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break and Spring Break as true academic breaks free from academic assignments and grading.

I resolve to read more, and to share what I am reading with my students and my colleagues.

I resolve to laugh every day, for laughter is as essential to me as air!

Happy Mid Year to my students and teachers and Happy New Year as we embrace the possibilities that lie within 2017!

KA

 

 

 

Every day is exciting in middle school but as the holidays approach middle school becomes even more fraught with energy and excitement.  The halls and classrooms are teeming with students who, while ready for the winter break, are also very proud to share their work with us.  Today our 7th graders were dressed for success as they presented projects in Ms. McCoy’s healthful living classes.  The Junior PBIS Club served cookies and cocoa to teachers to warm us on a cold day!  Ink blot papers are the hallmark of 8th grade ELA students this week and they’ve been eager to share their thinking with me!  Our student council is busy planning the annual food drive and their leadership makes West Millbrook a better place to learn!  Dance Company rehearsals are underway in preparation for the winter concert.  Boys and girls basketball practice and cheerleading practice are filling the gym and 6th graders are at the whiteboard solving math problems during after school math tutoring.  The 5:15pm carpool line extends down Strickland Road as parents wait for students to finish the myriad of after school activities in which they participate.  My FitBit registered 10,000 steps before 10am this morning and I haven’t had lunch!  But, I wouldn’t trade this time in the lives of our middle school students for anything else.  Today (and every day) I laugh, I learn, I lead  and I love this job!

Throughout the school year I am always grateful when a parent sends an email or a note to thank a teacher for being special.  Sometimes the teacher shares these positive missives with me.  Often parents will copy me on an email.  Each time I recognize the value of letting teachers know they are appreciated.

As the principal of West Millbrook, I strive to express my gratitude to the teachers in my school for all the things – large and small – that they do to positively impact our students.  It may be a teacher make phone call after phone call to parents, late into the afternoon, to express her concern and to share their successes.  Sometimes its creating unique opportunities for students to showcase their learning.  Often its the simple acts of listening closely to our students as they share their triumphs and trials or simply making one more copy of the worksheet that’s been misplaced again.  For each of these efforts, and for the many, many ways in which West Millbrook teachers reach out, and up, and down to our students, I find ways to show how much I appreciate the professional job that they do!

This year, our administrative team – Mr. Daniels, Ms. Corbett, Mrs. Price, Mr. Barnes, Ms. Harris and myself – wanted to connect our Teacher Appreciation Week efforts to this year’s school theme:  One Team, One Race!  So we’ve saluted our colleagues who Go the Extra Mile, and are Great TeamMates!  We’re going to celebrate those who are All In as we complete this 180 marathon that we’ve run together!

As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week 2016, let’s commit to show our thanks to our teaching corps not just during this week, but more often.  Let’s agree to be more aware of the many ways teachers influence our children, their students, and to say “thank you,” “I appreciate you,” “great job,” and “you are valued.”