FYI, Issue #011 — 2007 Middle School Principal of the Year


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FYI, Issue #011 — 2007 Middle School Principal of the Year
September 12, 2006
Hello Again –

… FYI –
July 20, 2006
Issue #010


Presenting education discussion items – For Your Information

Build School Spirit !
After all… It’s all about the kids….

| News |

Congratulations !

Music Themes – New Addition

Dress Code Violations

Cell Phones in Your School Too ?


Congratulations !

Military Base’s School Principal Honored

Ellen Minette, principal of a middle school on a military base in Heidelberg, Germany, has been named the 2007 Middle School Principal of the Year.

She is the first principal from a Defense Department school to take the top prize in the annual award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, co-sponsored by Metlife.

Minette was praised for creating a strong climate of learning and collaboration at Heidelberg Middle School, where 30% of the students are new each year. Her prizes include a $5,000 grant.


Music Themes

Where are your music themes..?
…I was asked by a few subscribers some time ago.

Well, I didn’t have any ! So I went to work finding out where the best resources are for teachers to add music themes to their cirriculum. Thus, Music Themes is our latest addition.

We’ve often said School Themes are Ideas in Motion… and they deserve to be fun!

So we’ve embarked upon an effort to bring you more school themes. In this special Party Theme addition we’ll try to zero in on all the fun ideas you can imagine.

Stay tuned – and we’ll let you know when they’re ready. It shouldn’t be too long.


Dress Code Violations

Did you happen to catch the article from Hammond, Indiana expressing one principal’s frustration with student clothing on the first day of school ?

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) – Classrooms were a little less crowded at Morton High School on the first day of classes: 128 students were sent home for wearing the wrong clothes.

Fed up with inappropriate outfits, the principal suspended the students for one day Wednesday, minutes after doors opened at the school. Those suspended represent more than 10 percent of the 1,200 total students.

The offending attire – including baggy pants, low-cut shirts, tank tops and graphic T-shirts – are banned from classrooms. Students were also cited for cell phone use.

“This was the worst year I’ve seen in a long time,” said Principal Theresa Mayerik. “It’s gotten out of control, and we needed to send a message that we’re not messing around.”

The Hammond school usually has 20 dress code violations a day.
Mayerik said the infraction would be removed from students’ records in 12 weeks if they had no other in-school violations.

School board members said they support Mayerik and the mass suspensions. “I’d be supportive if half the school was sent home, because 99 percent will get the message our schools are for education,” board president Rebecca Ward said.


Cell Phones in School ?

An article from a school in Indiana sharing their views and policies on cell phone use during school hours.

KOKOMO, Ind. — When Molly Baldwin begins her junior year at Maconaquah High School, she already knows her cellular phone has to stay in her locker.

Maconaquah, like other Kokomo-area schools, has policies in place to keep cell phones from being used in the classrooms. Principals mostly said the rules are to prevent classroom disturbances, rather than to keep students from cheating through text messaging.

The penalty for using a cell phone during school hours ranges from confiscation of the phone to expulsion.

Baldwin, 16, said she doesn’t mind being unable to use her phone during school hours, and added that she can’t get reception in the high school building anyway.

“You don’t really need them during class anyway,” she said, adding it’s more important to have her phone when she’s driving.

Most of her friends have cell phones, and so do her parents, so her phone is pretty important, she said.

“If I want to go somewhere and [her parents] are not home, I can call them. You can do more things because they can call you and you can tell them, ‘I’m going here,’ rather than not knowing,” the student said.

Maconaquah Principal David Noonan said cell phones fall under the school’s policy that does not allow any electronic device, such as an MP3 player, in the classrooms. He said the rule can be difficult to enforce.

“Practically, do we know they have them on them? Yes, we know that. We’ve never had a big problem with them going on. If [a student] takes it out and the teacher sees it, the teacher takes it away from them. If it rings, the teacher takes it away,” he said.

Noonan estimates 80 percent of the school’s students have cell phones.

On a first offense, the student gets the phone back at the end of the day. A second offense means a parent has to come retrieve the phone, and if a student is caught a third time, Noonan would keep the phone for the rest of the semester.

“We’ve never gotten to a third offense,” he said.

Noonan said he’s heard some schools have had trouble with students text messaging test answers to each other, but he’s not heard of any problems with that at Maconaquah.

Taylor High School Principal A.D. Little said students must turn off phones during the day and leave them in their lockers. She said that rule is enforced hard at the beginning of the school year, trying to reduce the problems with them.

“The tendency is to carry them in their pockets and text message each other … We do have problems with kids following this policy. However, for safety reasons such as after school activities, we hate to abolish cell phones.”

At Western High School, students may carry their cell phones, but may not use them during the day, Principal Charles Wolf said.

“If they need to use them to call after school is over, or if they have a practice and need to call a parent to pick them up, that’s fine. During the school day they are to be turned off and not in sight,” he said.

He said the policy regarding cell phones was developed by a committee that included parents, teachers and students, and there have not been many complaints about students trying to use phones during class.

Wolf said he doesn’t know how many students have cell phones, but “I’m sure the percentage is high.”

David Driggs, Tri-Central High School principal, thinks students need phones because the school is rural, to call for rides home after practices.

Before this school year, no cell phones were allowed on campus, but the rule has been relaxed.

“In today’s society, it’s just something that’s accepted and needed after school is over,” he said. Students must keep their phones in their locker and turned off between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Anne-Marie Bailey, Tri-Central’s assistant principal, said students caught using a cell phone during school hours go to Saturday school for a first offense. A second-time offender is placed in in-school suspension. The third time is a one-day out-of-school suspension, with three days on the fourth offense.

Student caught more than four times are subject to longer out-of-school suspensions, Bailey said, because that is flagrant defiance of school authority.

She added, though, that students rarely ignore the rules more than once.

“I usually only see the cell phone once, maybe twice,” Bailey said.

According to the Kokomo High School student handbook, students may be expelled for using a cell phone for non-educational purposes during school hours.

Northwestern Principal Tim Edsell thinks phones are important so students can reach their parents in case there are cancellations or school has to close early due to weather. He agrees, though, with the school policy that phones be turned off and in the locker during school hours.

“There’s good positive uses for them,” he said. “They just don’t need to use them during the day.”

Eastern Principal Ron Matas said students may bring phones to school, but “the cell phones need to be in the locker or out of sight and turned off during the day.”

He said cell phones are not allowed during the day both because of potential for disrupting classes and potential to use a camera phone to photograph a test and share it with another student.

Matas said he’s heard teens can buy a ringtone that is allegedly audible only to teens, and he addressed that issue with students, reminding them having the phones at school is a privilege, not a right.

“If they don’t comply, we can deny them the right to have a phone because they’re abusing the privilege. For the most part the students are respectful of it.”

As a parent, it’s important to Mary Lindgren that her daughter Rachael, a sophomore at Eastern High School, has a phone.

“Especially when students are active after school, it is the only way that a parent can reach them, or vice versa.”

She also likes being able to send Rachael a text message if the family’s plans change.

“I know kids may misuse the phones during the day, but it is essential to me.”


Our goal is to share strategies for serving students… and we have prepared some school theme ideas to help you invest in their future.

Thank you, and until next time… FYI – Out !

Build School Spirit !
After all… It’s all about the kids….


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