To honor the men and women who have served in America's Armed Forces, Dodgen MS set up what is referred to as "America's White Table." Health teacher, Roberta Fletcher, came to me with this unique idea. With my enthusiastic approval, she set a table in our school cafeteria. This is the 2nd year that Ms. Fletcher has provided this wonderful display. The little white table we have set for Veteran's Day at Dodgen MS is just like the ones that have stood in American dining halls of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy. A small table is used to show one soldier's lonely battle against many. It is covered with a white cloth to honor a soldier's pure heart when they answer their country's call to duty. A lemon slice and grains of salt are placed on a plate to show a captive soldier's bitter fate, and the tears of families waiting for loved ones to return. An empty chair is pushed to the table for the missing soldiers who are not here. A black napkin is placed on the table to reflect the sorrow of captivity. A glass is turned over to symbolize the meal that will not be eaten. A white candle is placed on the table to reflect peace. A red rose is placed in a vase and tied with a red ribbon in the hope that all of our missing will return one day. It is difficult for us to understand the suffering that adults sometimes must go through to protect their families and friends that make up our great country, America. The little white table should serve as a meaningful reminder to all of us, young and old.
We are well into the new school year and I am happy to report another great beginning. I feel fortunate to work with such an outstanding group of educators! Our office staff has done an incredible job of placing scedules in the hands of students on day one. Teachers and support staff have created a nuturing learning atmosphere that is complete with appropriate academic rigor. And our maintenance team has provided an environment that is clean and healthy.
Here are a few random facts that might that might be of interest to you as we begin the year:
Student enrollment continues an upward trend. As of the first week of school our population was at 1,120.
Some exceptional staff members have joined us in the past couple of months.
Fall technology literacy pre-test results for 8th grade students from 2007-2008 indicate that 89% (highest in the county) were proficient; post-test results from the spring indicate that 96% of our 8th grade students were proficient! I've not heard how this compares to other schools. There are nine areas throughout the building designated as technology/computer labs that are available for teachers to utilize with their students. This does not include the the two labs that are part of the Connections curriculum.
There are almost thirty clubs and activities available for students. Check out pages 11 and 12 in your child's agenda/planner.
And a few reminders:
Car riders should load and unload from the sidewalk at the front entrance area. Vehicles should pull as far forward toward the gate as possible before loading or unloading students. Students should enter and exit vehicles from the passenger door/side so that they do not step in front of another vehicle.
Please do not drop students off at school before 8:15am unless prior arrangements have been made with a specific teacher/staff member. We have made arrangements to supervise students from 8:15-8:45am; but the actual school day does not begin until 8:45.
Communication is a key to success for your child. Check your child's agenda/planner daily. Check teacher web logs often. They should be updated at least weekly. Call, email, or write a note if you have questions.
"Oh no! Summer break is gone! I gotta go back to school!" Sound familiar? I hope not, but I suspect so. Since I know that your child does not read the principal's web log, I will have to depend on you to relay my message of good cheer:
Dear Dodgen Student,
Your teachers and I look forward to welcoming you on Monday morning. I suppose that some of you are sad, some are happy, and all are anxious. I have been at this as a teacher/administrator for 30 years (yes I am older than most of your parents), yet I always think of how I felt as a kid. Just know that regardless of how you feel, we are glad you are coming to Dodgen Middle School! We will have a great year!
Elections for School Council were to be held at Meet and Greet on Thursday. Suzanne Lynch was the only nominee. Welcome to the Dodgen Middle School Council Suzanne!
I am sure you are aware that the A+ Education Reform Act of 2000 established School Councils in Georgia. One of our parents will be rotating off of the Council this year so it will be necessary to elect a replacement. Parents and guardians of children who are enrolled at Dodgen MS are invited to nominate a parent or guardian who would be interested in serving on our School Council. Click this link Download Download school_council_nomination_form_2008.doc to obtain a nomination form. Nominations will be accepted until August 5, 2008. The election ballot will be created on August 6, 2008, to include the names of nominees. Any name submitted as a nominee after August 5, 2008, will have to be entered as a write-in candidate. The School Council election will take place at the school on Thursday, August 7, 2008, from 9:00am-4:00pm. In order to vote you must be the parent or guardian of a child who will be attending Dodgen MS during the 2008-2009 school year.
With great anticipation, I look forward to the rapidly approaching 2008-2009 school year. As I proudly wish our rising ninth graders well in their high school experience, I enthusiastically welcome our rising sixth grade class. On June 25 I will have the privilege of meeting many of our new sixth grade students at our summer orientation day. I can say with confidence that these boys and girls will make a positive contribution to the successful tradition of achievement at Dodgen.
On a somewhat less enthusiastic note, have you heard much about the Critereon Referenced Compentency Test (CRCT)? Of course you have. The results that have been reported from around the state appear dismal. I believe that most educators find it frustrating that so much emphasis is placed on a single standardized test. "U.S. students are over-tested but under-assessed," charges Douglas Reeves, director of the Denver-based Center for Performance Assessment. Believing this to be the case, I also fear that too often the scores from these tests fail to capture the true measure of an individual student's learning. Oh well; so much for my soap box. I must defer to the wisdom of those who make the decisions that effect the lives of educators and the students they teach. So how did Dodgen students fare on these high-stakes tests? Reading and math are the two subject areas of greatest accountability for schools. Our percentage of students who meet or exceed standards are as follows:
Not bad, huh? My comments from the preceding paragraph probably suggested that I was preparing you for the worst? Attempting perhaps to justify a poor showing on the CRCT. Just trying to make the case for a better system for determining accountability for students and teachers. Thank goodness for the influence of our outstanding teachers and staff. Thanks also to the involvement of parents/guardians.
We will offer an optional orientation/activity day for students who will be new to Dodgen MS for the 2008-2009 school year. Students will have an opportunity to learn more about the school and make new friends. This orientation session is not required. You can pick up a registration form at the front office, or click on the following link if interested Download summer_orientation_2008.doc
Dodgen students (pictured at left with coaches) traveled to Georgia State University this past Saturday to compete in the regional Science Olympiad. Our students placed 1st AND 4th in the competition! The top four teams will travel to Augusta to compete in the state competition. Each school can only send one team to state, however, so our 4th place team will have to yield to the 5th place team. What an achievement! Thank you to the many parent volunteers who assist our students! And a special thank you to teacher coaches Debbie Amodeo and Jeff Miller.
Staff member, Benedette Moore, has been supervising students interested in playing chess for several years. The chess club meets almost every Friday morning in the media center at 8:15am. Recently, a group of Dodgen students who are interested in competitive chess traveled to Alpharetta to participate in the 2008 Western Regional Chess Tournament. Our students came away with the 3rd place trophy! These students earned the right to travel to Gwinnett County to compete in the state tournament! Parent volunteer, Craig Thompson, has been gracious enough to coach the team. Check out the impressive trophy in our case at the front entrance.
Okay...when I signed on to be an educator almost 30 years ago nobody told me that my job description would include such a diverse range of responsibilities. Don't get me wrong, I do spend a significant amount of time taking care of the more predictable responsibilities such as those associated with the title "Instruction Leader." I have grown accustomed over the years, however, to roles less commonly associated with the job description of principal. I probably know, for example, enough legal jargon to do fairly well on the state bar exam; while also boasting the ability to stop the constant running of water in the urinal of a boy's restroom. From attorney to plumber and many tasks in between, I thought I pretty much had it covered. Well...a particular cat chose a particular tree that just happened to be located on a particular plot of land on a particular campus that falls under the responsibility of a particular principal. And so the fun begins... Day one, I figure the cat will come down on his own and I try to forget that I ever saw him. Day two, someone else saw him. I reaasure her that cats must be able to get out of trees on their own. I did contact some folks in nearby neighborhoods to get the word out that somone's pet was in a tree. Day three, yep...the cat is still there. Okay, by now more folks know about the cat, but no one is coming forward to claim responsibility. There's that "R" word again. Seems that the cat has now firmly become MY responsibility. Folks are even saying to me, "YOUR cat is still up in that tree!" Day four, you guessed it. Still there. The kids have now started getting on my case. One more call to my neighborhood contacts yeilds the fruitless results I expected. We had already tried calling the fire department (which understandably cannot offer this service), and a few other departments such as animal control. No luck. With a school building full of anxious cat lovers, and the impending threat of cold rainy weather on the horizon, I knew that it was time to call the experts. Marietta Tree Experts to be exact. After calling several tree services listed in the yellow pages, Marietta Tree Experts (770-425-2644) took an interest. I think it would be safe to say that this is not a part of their business that they are trying to expand, they took the challenge none the less. At 3:15pm on January 31, Bill Rhodes arrived on the scene. By 3:30pm he had the cat in the bag, so to speak. This company was good enough to cut the school a break in the interest of our kids and only charged us the cost of fuel to get to the school. If you need tree service, give these guys a call. Well...what now? Not knowing what else to do I took the cat home with me for the night. He actually got along very well with my Golden Retriever and two other cats. Day five, happy ending! After posting pictures of the cat on scrolling announcements (our school-wide TV announcement system) students recognized the cat to be none other than Carson who belongs to one of Dodgen's 7th students named Courtney. And everyone lived happily ever after.