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New MHS program helps motivate freshmen

by Larry S. Chowning

Several Middlesex High School teachers informed the county school board on Nov. 10 of a new program used to help “at risk” freshmen students orient themselves to high school life.

The program is called “The Freshmen House,” and it is designed to motivate freshmen to succeed, provide inspiration to stay in school, and give needed enrichment skills.

Seven Middlesex High School teachers currently are working with nine girls and 13 boys in the program. “The main purpose of the program is to provide a smooth transition from middle school to high school,” said teacher Melvina Robinson.

The program uses a team strategy to help students. Students are taught positive resolutions in handling disagreements, and how to exhibit positive behavior. 

Conferences with students are held to review academic progress and goals are set at the first session. The goals are designed to encourage students to assume responsibility of their academic performance.

Teachers provide tutoring, a homework camp and provide encouragement for students to excel. “We celebrate the students’ success with a pizza gathering, and we end the semester with a bowling celebration,” said Robinson.

High school teacher Pam Kurz noted the main purpose of the program is to show that “we care.” She said statistics show that students who have one adult “who cares” and helps them through school has three times the success rate of those students who do not have the same encouragement. 

“All of us constantly show them that we care about them,” said Kurz.

In another matter, MHS held a “paperless instruction day” on October 22 and assistant superintendent of schools Rashard Wright said it was a “tremendous” success that taught students and teachers new ways of learning.

Instead of traditional teaching from books, the day was filled with Powerpoint exhibits, photo stories, the use of web-quests, united streaming, smart-boards and other innovative learning styles.

Third grade teacher Wendy Paige gave a demonstration at the school board meeting of the way she used the computer on paperless day to teach her students.

Wright also reported that the sixth grade class at St. Clare Walker participated in the Urbanna Oyster Festival Education Day on November 6, and that other administrators attended and were impressed with the activity and the learning experience that it offered.

In other matters, the board:

• Approved a policy that no one may sell, or offer for sale, within the school, on the school grounds, or at school-sponsored activities any product or service except when the sale will benefit the educational program of the schools.
Solicitations for contributions to charitable organizations, dues for employee organizations, contributions for the benefit of professional or school organizations may only be made during non-school hours. 

• Approved a second vote on a policy allowing service animals in a school building, providing the owner or handler of the animal submits to the school principal or building supervisor a request along with documents showing that the animal has all its shots and other health certificates.

• Approved by a 4-1 vote to ban any music with lyrics of any kind at sports events, with the exception of the National Anthem. School board member Elliott Reed was opposed to the change because he said he feels lyrics in music often inspires athletes. The school board agreed to revisit the issue in a year.

posted 11.19.2008

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