EE: STW Program through the eyes of a teacher…
by Gloria Hoffer
Shortly after receiving the Essential Elements: Schools-to-Watch recognition back in 2010, our staff was asked to participate in a training session in Albany to evaluate other middle schools around the state who also were applying to be considered an EE: STW school. We remember being so excited to take part in this opportunity and was very interested in doing something different and something that we truly believed in!!! It turned out that two of us were interested and spent the next few years being invited to go with the evaluation team to various schools around the state. We learned a lot, shared a lot and had a wonderful time witnessing what other schools are doing for students. This experience has proven to be so educational and inspiring, as well as an eye opening. Also most importantly, we were able to realize just how wonderful our own middle school is educating students to the best of our ability. The criteria to obtain the EE: STW award is rigorous, yet so incredibly important to what students need to succeed and achieve at this crucial age. We truly are excited to be a part of such a program. It is a real honor.
Our middle school was just honored with our second re-designation this February 2016. We have had several changes in our administrative staff since 2010. We are on our third Principal, second Assistant Principal and a new Superintendent. The main constant in keeping our designations going is the fact that our school believes so strongly in this Essential Elements: Schools-to-Watch program. We have educated every new administrator and staff member about the criterion required to be considered an EE: STW school. Each new administrator has been so excited to be part of such a great program and all of them have been so supportive in working with us to continue to show our progress in each application process. They have helped us to involve the entire staff to share what they have been doing in each of the curricular areas to show growth in each of the sections of the application rubric.
One of our greatest accomplishments was working with our school improvement team to involve them in the application process. At these meetings we shared the essential elements rubric and spent time on a round robin activity adding to the components of the rubric with the amazing activities/programs we do at our school. Our new Principal also gave us several staff meeting times to have teachers continue adding to the rubric and also rate ourselves. Giving staff time was crucial to putting together a thorough and complete picture of exactly what we do here at Merton Williams Middle School for students.
After gathering all of this information, we spent time dividing up the application and working on the parts that we could contribute to most. We spent time on our own writing and trying hard to capture what our middle school is all about. We eventually took time to read one another’s contributions and made comments and completed each section. Finally, we shared the draft with the whole staff for a final review and comment. It was truly an effort done by the whole school. Our new administration was very excited to see that we have a real interest in keeping our award current and found it helpful to understand and learn as much as possible about Merton Williams from completing and reflecting on the rubric which so perfectly describes our school.