Dodgen Dateline Letter: Download Ptsa 1.9.09
Dodgen Dateline Letter: Download Ptsa 1.9.09
I enjoy a challenge. Submitting monthly entries for the Dodgen Dateline, for example, has the potential to become an exercise of torment. The occasional dilemma rests not with a concern over a scarcity of topics; quite the contrary. Students, teachers, staff, and parents who make up the Dodgen community and create the best possible learning environment provide for me many opportunities for inspiration. The occasional challenge comes when I choose to write about potentially boring topics such as I have for this column.
When I say School Improvement Plan (SIP), do you lean forward and wonder with great anticipation and unbridled excitement, scarcely able to wait to read the next word? I didn’t think so. More likely, you have the urge to cease reading my article and move on to the next interesting entry in the Dateline? Keep reading. I offer no guarantee of excitement, but I think you will at least learn something of which you were not aware.
Dodgen’s SIP consists of two major goals. Our student performance goal states that all students will be proficient readers and writers. The school performance goal stresses the importance of developing collaboration among all staff members that will lead to increasing student achievement in all disciplines, with an emphasis on literacy. A school’s SIP consists of several major parts. With the limited space allowed, I would like to focus on the section referred to as the School Profile.
Very few, if any, middle schools in the state have experienced such drastic changes as those that have occurred at Dodgen over the past several years. Our profile in the year 2002-2003 included an enrollment of 838 students with 2.98% participating in the free/reduced lunch program. Of those students, 92% met or exceeded standards in English/Language Arts (ELA) on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), while 95% met or exceeded standards in math. Fast forward to the 2006-2007 school year and you will find a net growth of just under 250 students for an official count of 1079. Free/reduced lunch program participation increased sharply to 9.17%. Figures show that 97% and 93% of all students met or exceeded standards on the CRCT in ELA and math respectively. The current 2007-2008 school year finds us with a current enrollment of 1142. The CRCT is administered in the spring each year, so there are no results to report for our current students. If the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), which was administered to 8th grade students earlier this year, is any indication, our students and teachers continue to impress. The composite score for our 8th graders ranked in the 77th percentile. This was up three points from last year. I am also proud to note that while the overall county score in math went down one point, Dodgen’s went up by the same margin.
There are two primary reasons for the changes in our student population. Beginning with the 2004-2005 school year, and ending last year, students from five middle schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) were allowed to transfer to Dodgen. We have welcomed a little more than 200 students over the course of three years as a result of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. We welcomed an additional number of students as a result of the redistricting effort with a neighboring middle school.
As you absorb the statistics shared in the paragraphs above, I hope that you can appreciate their significance. I am very proud to note that such a change in our enrollment over the past few years has been met with a consistent, stable, and nurturing learning environment. Students continue to receive a rigorous instructional program from teachers and staff determined to help them achieve. I find myself welcoming in the new year counting yet another blessing as I work beside these dedicated professionals.
As I sit here contemplating the topic for this month’s edition of the Dodgen Dateline the first thing that comes to mind is to take inventory of the things for which I am thankful. It is, after all, that time of year. First, I am thankful that my list includes items such as a wonderful family, adequate food and shelter, and employment at the best middle school in the United States.
Of course I could go on for many more pages. I am blessed indeed. How about instead, I share some things from my list that I am sure you would not have guessed?
The baseball that has scrawled on it the words “I love you very much!,” comes to mind. The words were written by my son when he was in Kindergarten. He placed it in a bucket along with all of the other baseballs we used for fielding practice. When I found it I immediately and permanently pulled it from the bucket. It now rests in the ash tray of my vehicle so that I can look at it every day. I don’t smoke, so the ash tray makes a perfect trophy stand.
And then there is a section of the ceiling upstairs at our home that is missing some plaster. The small damaged area is about the size of two business cards. It is located about twelve inches from the pull-down stairway that leads up to the attic. You see, when my son grew tall enough he could not walk past the cord that hangs from the stairway without reaching up to give it a good swat. This in turn caused the knot at the end of the cord to make contact with the ceiling, which caused minor damage to the plaster. Okay, I know what most of you are thinking. Why in the world didn’t you just tell him not to do this? I wonder how the leading child psychologists would weigh in on the question; not that it would change my mind. Truth is it did not occur to me that it would cause damage. Swatting the cord was not an act that was done with intent to destroy property. Bottom line, life is too short to stress about the little things. Some of you reading this may argue that this is not a little thing. We will just agree to disagree.
Oh well… Now that my son has gone off to college I am especially thankful for those little things. The baseball; maybe I can throw it with his kid one day. The area of missing plaster; I think of him every time I walk past.
ATTENTION 8TH GRADE STUDENTS AND PARENTS:
It is only 105 days until the 8th grade dance! But who is counting? Seriously though, the time is going to fly past, and May 5th will be here before we know it. As you (and your parents) plan for the dance you must remember a few very important points:
We (PTSA volunteers, teachers, administrators) look forward to this event. Your cooperation will help to ensure that it is a special evening for the 8th grade class.
Happy New Year! I hope that you have enjoyed your holiday. Okay, back to work. I should have highlighed this event on my web log weeks ago. December 21, was SMART Fair day! SMART Fair is a Science, Math, Art, Reading, and Technology workshop that provides all Dodgen students with a half-day of interactive, hands-on, creative educational experiences. The Dodgen PTSA Arts in Education Committee hosted this event for the sixth year! Marie Canning and Katherine Williams co-chaired the event. Katherine is pictured above as she registers presenters for the day. What a wonderful and productive way to spend the last day at school before the holidays! Check out the SMART Fair photo album for more pictures.
The following letter was written for the upcoming edition of the PTSA Dodgen Dateline newsletter:
The last letter that I wrote for the Dodgen Dateline included the names of eighteen staff members who are new to Dodgen this school year. I would like introduce four more individuals who have joined our faculty this past month. They are in alphabetical order Lisa Boardman, Clerk; Joan Eaton, 6th Grade Science; Bobby Hurley, 6th and 8th Grade Math; and Terri Sullivan, 7th Grade Science. The increase in our enrollment will also allow for the hiring of an additional Guidance Counselor. We are indeed fortunate to have these outstanding folks on the Dodgen team!
Our student enrollment has now leveled at 1,079. This is about 230 students above what we had last year. Most everyone who is reading this letter is aware that the extraordinary surge in population is a result of two factors; redistricting and school choice. Perhaps you do not know, however, that this is the third year that families have been able to choose to come to Dodgen if they live in an attendance area where a school is considered by the state to be in need of improvement. This, of course, stems from the law that is a part of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). During the course of those three years, we have been fortunate to receive over 200 precious children.
I am happy to report that all of us seem to have adjusted quite well. The staff has perfected the process of welcoming students into our family. They do so without sacrificing any of the characteristics of rigor that have made Dodgen Middle School the best all-around school in the business. Can you tell I am proud?
Dodgen Middle School's Meet and Greet date is Thursday, August 10, 12:00-5:30PM. We hope to accomplish several objectives during this extended time frame. Lifetouch photography will be on hand to take student pictures for example. We also plan to get as many vision screenings done as possible. The idea is to take care of some of the tasks before school starts so that there is less instructional time lost during the school year. Suggested times for grade level visits are:
6th Grade: 12:00-1:30PM
7th Grade: 2:00-3:30PM
8th Grade: 4:00-5:30PM
If you are not able to visit during these suggested times, you may visit at your convenience between the hours of 12:00-5:30PM. This flexible time should allow parents with students at both middle and elementary schools to visit both. Also, we will need plenty of volunteers to work shifts during this lengthy time period. If you can help, please contact one of these PTSA volunteer coordinators:
Terry Clark: 770-509-3900, firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Fernandez: 770-578-9501, email@example.com
Dodgen Middle School's PTSA sponsored a Health Fair on Saturday that featured a variety of health and safety professionals from around the area. Among other things parents were provided the opportunity to have an echocardiogram examination administered on their child. Ultrascan Incorporated has joined with Georgia Pediatric Cardiology to create a program called Heart Screens for Teens. The purpose of the echocardiogram is to determine whether or not a child has a condition known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) or an enlarged heart. HCM has been determined to be a cause of sudden cardiac death in otherwise healthy young students. Well over 100 students were screened on Saturday. Thanks to Cheralee Rater and Dodgen PTSA for pulling together this important event. Ms. Rater is pictured above (pink shirt) with our school nurse, Mary Ortland.
Briana, a sixth grade student at Dodgen MS, learned recently that she was selected to receive a scholarship in the amount of $500. She applied for the scholarship via the Education GO Get It program. Briana is the only middle school student in Cobb County to receive such an award. You may recall that Dodgen MS was the first middle school in Georgia to house a GO Center. The GO Center was initiated by our PTSA under the leadership of President, Mary Winther. It is located in our media center. Ms. Winther sought a mini-grant offered by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia which ultimately provided the resources for our GO Center at Dodgen MS. The ribbon cutting for our center took place on October 12, 2005. GO Centers were originated with the goal of improving Georgia's high school graduation rate. Congratulations to Briana for being one of the first middle school students in Georgia to have already earned a scholarship for college. Briana is pictured at left with one of her teachers, Mr. Vanden Bergh. He provided the application for his students.