Superintendent's Notebook 
Mike Johnson
 
BMS Implementation Committee Helps Out
Superintendent's Notebook
by Dr. Mike Johnson
Mike.Johnson@BexleySchools.org

September 8, 2016
 
Last spring, when our Board of Education approved a grades 6 – 8 Bexley Middle School, we asked for parents and faculty to volunteer for a committee that would help us implement the best possible school program in fall 2017.

The resulting group representing all five Bexley schools meets monthly, with members giving us valuable feedback and providing their unique perspectives and points of view. Our district continues to move forward thoughtfully, keeping this committee’s recommendations top of mind.

To date, we have talked about topics like curriculum, service learning, schedules, Honor Roll and how best to prepare this year’s fifth and sixth graders. At our July meeting, for example, the group addressed transitions and traditions. Everyone wants to make this school year memorable for students and provide meaningful traditions to help ease the transition to a grade 6 – 8 school.

Our committee members suggested that, when fifth grade students visit Bexley Middle School in the spring as part of their orientation, they come on their own. The sixth graders would take a separate trip over to the Cassingham Complex. The elementary principals plan to join our group’s next gathering, on September 20, to talk about this subject and more.

In addition, anticipating that the social and emotional needs of incoming sixth graders will be unique and require a new approach, our BMS staff members have begun working on an initiative supported by a District School Climate grant: WEB or “Where Everybody Belongs” (boomerangproject.com) training is coming to district counselors this winter in time to teach next year’s eighth graders how to serve as mentors and establish meaningful relationships with incoming sixth graders.

Another aspect our committee is addressing has to do with staffing. All Bexley staff members will keep their jobs, confirmed BMS Principal Jason Caudill, with the Middle School adding a second full time counselor starting in school year 2017 – 2018. Some staffing adjustments are already underway, with BMS having increased a secretary’s position to full time and Montrose adding a sixth grade math teacher now who will move to Bexley Middle School next year. Early notice about transfers and staffing plans means that teachers can collaborate and take part in professional development now, in advance of sixth grade students arriving at BMS.

Committee members have asked us some hard questions that we are exploring, like whether fifth graders should be changing classes at their elementary schools in preparation for BMS. They have suggested ways that the fifth graders can have the opportunity to lead in their elementary schools.

Perhaps the most important contribution our committee has offered has been helping us address students’ safety and welfare. In this context we have talked about the middle school’s open lunch and procedures and whether open lunch should continue. In the coming months, we expect to survey parents/guardians to get feedback on this topic.

Listen for information about the survey as the year progresses and expect more news coming out over the course of this year about our committee’s findings and recommendations. Updates will also be shared when Principal Caudill makes his annual school report to the Board in February.

We appreciate the commitment and the work that our group has invested in easing the school community’s transition to a grades 6 – 8 school.
 
This piece was originally published in This Week Bexley News.
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