Congratulations to the 2015 Michigan Schools To Watch!
As the administrator for Michigan Schools To Watch, the Institute for Excellence in Education would like to congratulate Kingsley Middle School and White Pine Middle School on their selection as a 2015 School To Watch for their commitment to continued progress and achievement.
Teams from both schools will be honored this June at the National School To Watch Conference in Washington, D.C.
Developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, the Schools to Watch program is a national, state-operated model school identification and school improvement initiative focused on recognizing high-achieving schools serving students in grades 5-8. Schools identified as a School to Watch are high-performing middle-grades schools that are academically excellent, developmentally responsive, socially equitable, and have developed organizational structures that support the school community’s continuous improvement efforts.
For more details on the Schools To Watch criteria, check out:
Kingsley Middle School
Kingsley Middle School, located in Kingsley in Grand Traverse County and part of the Kingsley Area School District, serves 430 students in grades 5-8. The Schools To Watch Site Visitation Team found that the staff at Kinglsey have created and maintain a warm, nurturing environment where students are eager to attend and are focused on their learning.
Examples of the many exemplary programs and practices in place at Kingsley Middle School include: cooperative learning structures being used in most classrooms, including physical education; utilization of a full-range of formative assessment tools, including learning targets, student self-assessment, exemplars, student evidence, feedback and test redos; and students are given significant process time during lessons to understand their progression toward learning targets. One example of the school’s dedication to the developmental responsiveness of middle-schoolers is through their “Building Character” wall. Here, students’ positive character traits are celebrated as teachers post notes detailing positive actions they’ve observed from their students.
Teachers at Kingsley Middle School are provided common planning time and participate in instructional rounds with both external and internal observers. Strategy Tasking Calendars are used collectively throughout the school to focus progress on their school improvement goals. In addition, the staff has been trained in Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators (FAME), Cognitive Coaching and Adaptive Schools.
Overall, the team at Kingsley Middle School is a group of dedicated professionals committed to their students’ social, developmental and academic success, with a steadfast devotion to continuously improve their students’ achievement.
White Pine Middle School
Located in Saginaw Township, White Pine Middle School serves 1,138 students in 6th-8th grade. White Pine has an 8-year history as a School To Watch as they were first awarded the title in 2006 and received their first redesignation in 2010. 2015 is the second redesignation of White Pine as a School To Watch.
Students at White Pine have clear expectations for what is required of them as every student has an individual binder and folders with information for each class. Standards, rules and academic expectations are posted in every classroom. Reading and literacy is emphasized throughout the building as each classroom posts reading strategies, has books available for student use, and teachers have daily conversations with students to promote their reading comprehension. Literacy and writing processes are used across all content areas and students carry writer’s notebooks for their classes. In addition, White Pine provides an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
Professional Learning Communities are sustained and nurtured at White Pine. Teachers are regularly provided team time to collaborate, plan instruction and analyze data, and have been empowered to offer input on schedules and other building decisions. Even the District’s superintendent stated that “time for dialogue” among teachers was the way the school has sustained their success. The school regularly collects and analyzes their data, which is then used to drive their decisions on what is best for their students.
The team at White Pine Middle School has a history of supporting their students in a variety of ways and have developed practices to maintain their positive culture and climate over the years. Sustaining their high-quality of education as a School To Watch for the past 8 years requires an ongoing focus and commitment from their faculty, staff, administration and parents.
Congratulations to Kingsley Middle School and White Pine Middle School! We look forward to your continued growth and success, and the impact you will make on middle-grades schools across the country.