A Letter from the VCMS Principal – November 2022

Dear VCMS Families,

Ever wonder how teachers use their in-service time? This year we are focusing on the accreditation process, looking at what we learned during the COVID-19 years, and reassessing our department (content area) and school-wide goals. These goals set the foundation for the accreditation process. Specifically, how does VCMS support the success of each and every VCMS learner as stated in our mission statement? While there are limitations to what our program can offer, accreditation is the time where we review the limitations, see where they need adjustment or changes, and set a clear 3 to 5 year plan to focus on essential elements for continuous improvement.

Part of this process includes professional development in a variety of areas. This professional development includes lessons for the staff as well as for our eighth grade students. Our eighth grade students missed the opportunity to watch student leaders in the classes above them, and they did not have the opportunity to start with smaller student-leader positions before undertaking the roles of school-wide student-leaders. For this reason, time has been dedicated to teach every eighth grade student the basic skills for leadership – whether that is in a visible role (such as a member on Student Council) or a project-lead for a class assignment. As the year progresses, we will incorporate versions of the lessons into the seventh and sixth grade curriculum as well. 

So far this year, middle school staff and students have studied the power of our words, using The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz stressing different ways of sharing our thinking. These include lessons based in the Neurosemantic Language Learning Theory (Arwood), learning how to express ideas clearly using improvisation (Alda), and realizing the importance of having a balanced working relationship (Collins)

Many lessons feed into the theme of leadership development, but also guide students to navigate a post-COVID-19 world. To improve student outcomes, staff began working on underlying factors that need to be considered as we work with a different type of student (post COVID-19). So far, the staff has reviewed work about Grit: The power of passion and perseverance (Duckworth), Developing a Growth Mindset (Dweck), A Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth (Mraz & Hertz), and Creating a Culture of Reflective Practice (Simeral & Hall).

We will continue to share the focus of our professional development as it pertains to your child. We are committed to providing the best possible education for your child, using seminal authors to help guide and inform our practices, and we will continually review stakeholder feedback. You can help by taking the surveys we will send this year. Surveys are one of the best ways for us to hear from the parent community and learn from many perspectives.