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2016-2017 Parent Letter
Posted On:
Saturday, October 15, 2016
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SIMMONS MIDDLE SCHOOL

DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES

FOR EVERY STUDENT TO SUCCEED

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Simmons Middle School-Family Letter

Welcome To The 2016-17 School Year!  

I want to personally welcome all of you to Simmons Middle School.  Our 8th graders will be the class of 2021 at Hoover High School in a few short years.  I am blessed to be starting my 10th year at Simmons, and I love this school! We have great students, wonderful parents and a dedicated staff.   

Our belief statement is: DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES FOR STUDENT SUCCESS.  We believe that all students are capable of learning at high levels. Our goal is to find ways to reach each one of them.  If you see me or anyone at Simmons not living up to this promise, please call me.   My mobile number (yes, I still know this is not always a smart thing) is 205-296-3098. You may call anytime you need me during or after school.

My vision for Simmons: We will be a school where students feel safe and unconditionally loved. We will do whatever it takes to help them succeed now and in the future.

 

Our staff professional development plan this year will focus on five R’s (we added one this year to see if you are paying attention):

Relationships, Relevance, Rigor, Reflection and Responsibility.

 

  • We believe that if we have strong Relationships with parents, students and each other, we will help everyone, especially the students,  achieve at their highest levels. Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

  • We also feel that helping students see the Relevance of what they are learning is critical to their achievement. “When are we ever going to use this stuff?” is a question that deserves an answer.

  • Furthermore, we have to make their coursework as Rigorous as possible to stretch them academically. Your children, and mine, want fast answers that require as little thinking as possible. The day of “stuff their brains full of stuff”(knowledge, facts…) is long over. Your children live in a world now where their future will require them to think critically about what they are learning AND to use what they have learned. Here is what we are aiming for with your students:

To evaluate information, students need to be able to distinguish essential data from information that is simply interesting. They must be able to identify core themes, form and support opinions, and identify inconsistencies, bias, or lack of coherence or accuracy in a text. They must also be able to use background information, prior knowledge, and other textual sources to assess the validity of the text. For example, when reading a novel, students with strong evaluation skills might compare the works of two authors and offer evidence to support opinions on the author's writing style. Constructions that address the evaluation level include the following: “Do you agree with . . .?” “What is your opinion of . . .?” “How would you prove. . . ?” “How would you rate . . .?” and “How would you prioritize . . .?” The following verbs apply to evaluation activities: appraise, assess, check, compare, conclude, criticize, critique, defend, justify, and support.



  • We also want to make ourselves the best we can be professionally, by being Reflective about every aspect of our school. We will evaluate our effectiveness both academically and behaviorally as we work with your children. After we reflect on what did not work, we will look for ways to do things differently and be more effective. For example, our filter is “If the students didn’t have to be in your class, would you be teaching to an empty class?” The philosophy behind that quote is simple: make your class (our school) a place where students desire to be there.

 

  • Finally we want to take on a higher level of Responsibility for our students’ success than we ever have. We have charged our teachers to think like this:

“I will make it my mission to reach all of my students this year and help them realize that they can learn in my class. That is my responsibility.

I will take it personally when they don’t grow as a result of being in my class. I will own that, and I will help them grow. After a year of being in my class, ALL students should be dramatically better students and people because I was in their lives.”



State Testing Data

We now evaluate our success as a school primarily, but not solely, using the ACT Aspire.

 

The Aspire is a very rigorous test. It is based on the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (http://www.alsde.edu/home/General/alccs.aspx) which will help your child prepare for their future. We are preparing your child to be a better: thinker, creator, and innovator. We also are helping them become technologically savvy learners. Technology (the Chromebook primarily) is the new pencil, pen, notebook, textbook…(your kids can learn at school, in the car, ANYWHERE AND AT ANYTIME).  



 

Our staff members are guided by these beliefs:

  • Having engaging lessons

  • Building relationships with the children and parents

  • Disciplining while protecting the dignity of the child

  • Frequently and effectively communicating with parents/guardians (each team should send a weekly notification to you electronically which you can click on to read about the week’s events)

  • Being clear on our expectations and doing our best to be consistent

  • Showing  our children unconditional LOVE-helping them see no matter what they do/say…that we (and you) love them and want them to succeed.





When you have a question or concern about your child, it is best to start off with an email or phone call to the teacher or the team teachers to see if they can help. Our team program is very strong and our teachers will know a lot about your kids and what they, along with you, can do to help make this a great year for them.

Parents Please Remember:

  • All student personal technology should be in the locker and off at all times.

  • Please monitor their technology use at home-especially social media.

  • Review dress code with your child (underwear is not outerwear-we should not see underwear, keep everything covered at all times, define what “too tight” and “too revealing” means with respect to clothes).

  • Have your child write personal goals for academics and behavior (and put them on the refrigerator and look at them often).

  • The earliest you can drop your child off is 7:15 AM not PM  at the lunchroom entrance. This will be the only carpool morning entrance.

  • We have two primary expectations here at Simmons (1. Respect yourself and others 2. Attitude is everything). Talk to your students about how important it is to respect themselves and others. Define respect for them. Also remind them that their attitude is a choice, and that it shapes how they see just about everything that happens in their day.

  • Our website is Simmonsbucs.com

  • Like us on Facebook



Important Reminders from Back to School Night



  1. Check teacher websites for due dates for school work, homework, etc.

  2. Talk to your child about:

    1. Dress code

    2. Deodorant/cleanliness (cologne or perfume should not be bathed in at school).

    3. Being careful about what they say and do and how others might perceive their actions. For example, sticks and stones hurt and so do unkind words.

    4. Carpool dos and don’ts (remind yourself too please-PATIENCE is the key)

    5. Using their chromebooks ONLY for instructional reasons. I can monitor their use and have already had several awkward conversations with kids, and with some parents, about appropriate technology use. If the parent looks up something inappropriate on the chromebook, it is still a problem that I have to address.

    6. Classroom teachers have the ability to monitor student tech use too.

    7. Charge the chrome books each night.

    8. Charge all technology (personal and school) in your room, so they cannot use it all night

    9. All chromebooks need to be in a case. This is mandatory.

    10. They need to get good sleep. So have an agreed upon bed time and make sure they are asleep.

    11. Read 20-30 minutes each night. You will be amazed at what that does for their brain. Be a model for reading to your child. It is as important as eating vegetables.

    12. The Nurse’s room and the restroom are not vacation spots.




  1. PBS-Positive Behavior Support: Again this year we want to recognize what students are doing that is good. In order to get those good things (free seating, outside time, dances…) they must:

    1. Have no more than 2 unexcused absences each semester.

    2. No grades below a “C” in any class.

    3. No discipline referrals to the office.

 

  1. Requesting and picking up homework due to multiple day absences for your child: email your child’s team teachers to request work if you cannot find it on their Google Classroom. Work will be in the file outside the grade level office after 2:00 that day if that is necessary.

 

  1. For any questions or concerns that you may have about a class, please contact a teacher first. Email is the best tool since teachers don't have phones in their classrooms. Teachers can check emails on their breaks; therefore, parents should expect a reply by the end of the day.

 

  1. If parents feel that their questions or concerns aren't addressed, please communicate with Mr. Cain

 

  1. Please stay off your phones in carpool. Please be patient in carpool. Only drop off and pick up your child in the designated areas.

 

  1. Monitor kids social media usage. Remember they are creating a digital tattoo when they engage in social media. It is permanent.

 

 

This year we are using the plan below to help students take responsibility for their efforts. Use this plan with them, and talk to them about what you and we expect from them. Kids usually raise their level of performance to the expectations set up and enforced by the key adults in their lives.



Effort Continuum-

Circle the number that BEST represents how much effort you put into the assignment.

 

  1. I worked on the task until it was complete. I pushed myself to continue working on the task even when difficulties arose or a solution was not immediately evident. I viewed difficulties that arose as an opportunity to strengthen my understanding. This is MY BEST WORK

 

  1. I worked on the task until it was completed. I pushed myself to continue working on the task even when difficulties arose or a solution was not immediately evident. I can still do a little better though.

 

  1. I put some effort into the task, but I stopped when difficulties arose. I will do better in the future.

 

  1. I put very little effort into the task. I did not do the work that I am capable of doing. I will do better in the future.

 

 

Staff changes for the school year:

  • Sue Martindale-7th Grade Social Studies

  • Chavron Jackson-Lassiter-7th Grade Mathematics

  • Malcolm Taylor-8th Grade Instructional Support

  • Ashlee Webster-6th Grade Counselor

  • Keith Minisman-6th Grade Social Studies

  • Kathryn Stewart-Intervention Counselor

  • Edward Terry-Instructional Support Aide



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We need your help. Schoolwork must be a priority. Reading each night must be a priority. Getting good sleep (turn off their phones and all TV and technology) and eating healthy are priorities too.

 

Remind them that GOOD CHOICES(friends, school work, resisting temptations…).

are vital to their success

Literacy goal for this year: Try to do something that lights a fire under your child to read or write for pleasure.  Please model reading in your home. Talk about books you like. Have one night a week of NO TV and NO technology. Have a family reading night (even if it is just 30 minutes or an hour).

 

“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.” John Berger

 

“The pen is mightier than the sword”- Edward Bulwer-Lytton

 

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What do you need from us? How may we serve you and your child?

Email me Bcain@Hoover.k12.al.us let me know

 

 to help us.

 

I am looking for a group of dads/grandfathers/male guardians to help me form a group to monitor our halls with us as school starts (around 7:30-8:05). We had great success last year with this plan.

If you are interested, email me, or just show up and ask for me Bcain@Hoover.k12.al.us

 

SAFETY EXPECTATIONS: 

For safety reasons, parents we need you to have your driver’s license with you any time you come to the school. Also, in order to check out a child, the person coming to the school needs to be on the check-out list and that person needs his/her license too. Unless it is an absolute emergency, NO siblings under 19 can check out their brother or sister.

Driving around our kids:

Carpool reminders:  

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1. Follow the plan.

Our school has a designated spot to drop off your children. It is never the spot where you want to drop your kids off. Learn and accept this, and you’ll be doing many a great service. Following the rules of car lines are absolutely essential to the sanity of all parents and principals involved.

Many of us become people we are not proud of because of our impatience: Model patience and rule following for your child.

Don’t drop your kids off anywhere else but the carpool drop off (NOT on Patton Chapel for example or in front of the school, or on Hwy 31).

2. Line Cutting.

In the world of school carpool lines, this is the most egregious and self-centered act a person can commit. Don’t be this person. Everyone in line is in a hurry. Nobody in line actually enjoys being there. We are all in the same boat. Preying on the weak of the herd by force-cutting in front of them is just plain wrong and sends a terrible message to your children.

3. Being Too Nice.

 

It is impossible to be too nice. If Mr. “I am more important than you because I am performing open heart surgery at 8:02 am” tries to cut in front of you, don’t become Barney Fife and try to teach him a lesson. He has not learned it already and never will. Just let me know and I will talk to him or her. Please just wave the person ahead of you and tell them good luck with surgery.

 

4. Not Paying Attention.

This person means no wicked malice. They are just clueless as to what they are participating in. Maybe they are on the phone (NO PHONES IN CARPOOL), deep in thought, reading a great book, or just staring off into the bright sunshine, but they are holding up the line by constantly lagging behind and leaving several car lengths of distance between them and the car above them. Pay attention. Please. Our kids and staff members are out there and can get hurt.

5. The Unattended Car.

Ultra frustrating is the person that parks their car while in line and leaves it. They might be going to sign their child out or just talking with another friend in another car, but never should a person leave their car unattended. Assuredly the line will begin to move and you’ll be the one stuck behind the car with no driver, as that person casually makes their way back to their vehicle. Park your car elsewhere if you have to leave it for any reason.

6. Late Arriver.

The late arriver blows up even the best laid plans. For whatever excuse, they are habitually late and then attempt to circumvent the system any way they can to avoid the consequence. They will pass the line entirely and try to “double park” the line and get their child. Or they will park in illegal areas and have their child meet them there, putting the child in danger as they make their way through all the other cars properly in line. If you’re late…you’re late. Deal with it rationally.

Other driving thoughts:

  • Please stay off your phone on Patton Chapel and in our carpool.

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

  • When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.

  • Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

  • Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

  • Slow down. Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

  • Slow down and learn and obey the school bus laws in your state. Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:

    • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

    • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

  • AND SLOW DOWN PLEASE



Children

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.

  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus.

  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.

  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with draw strings, and book bags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors.

  • Never walk behind the bus.

  • Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.

  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.




FINALLY ☺

The following principles ground me as your principal:

 

  1. The most important role I play is a father and husband. I am committed to my family and being with them as much as possible. I am one of you. We have practices, events, homework, stresses… but we love each other deeply. So there may be times I leave school early to go see my child’s events. Jane (wife), Sarah (16 year old 11th grader) and Stephen (14 year old 9th grader) will never remember if I was a good principal, but they will remember if I was a good husband and father. Be a major presence in your child’s life. Eat as many meals together as you can. Don’t ask your kids “How was school today?” Try to be up on what is going on in their lives so you can ask them “How did the test go?”-“Who did you sit by at lunch? Do you like your teachers? What was interesting today about school?” Isn’t Mr. Cain the best principal EVER?”

  2. Forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the foot that has crushed it.” –Mark Twain---Let’s be about loving and forgiving each other.

  3. What we get from students (and each other) is generally what we expect to get. So set HIGH expectations.

  4. All kids have big hopes and dreams. Let’s nourish those hopes and dreams.

  5. Remind the students to not confuse fame with success.

  6. Build what you value into each day.

  7. Kids don’t wake up and think, “This is going to be a great day. I will really goof up today, disappoint everyone and ruin my life. Yes, that is a good plan.” –yet they often make mistakes as we all do. Help them to forgive themselves in these moments.

  8. If the Red Sox can win the World Series, our students can do anything.

  9. It is nice to be important but it is more important to be nice (Eleanor Roosevelt)

  10. You should get or give 13 hugs each day.

  11. Don’t ever give up. (There is always hope).

  12. No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

  13. We will not believe everything the kids tell us about what happens at home, so don’t believe everything they tell you about us (unless it is good).

It is going to be a great school year. Our Simmons family is here to serve you and your family.

 

Brian

 

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