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St. Clare Walker Middle School receives national recognition

From left, St. Clare Walker (SCW) Middle School special education teacher Ashlie Beard, SCW principal Tracy Seitz, and SCW dean of students Jamie Wynberry participated in the Schools to Watch conference in Washington, D.C.

Sharing firsthand knowledge of how to create and sustain a successful middle school, St. Clare Walker (SCW) Middle School staff members joined educators from middle schools from across the country that have been nationally recognized as Schools to Watch through the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

SCW principal Tracy Seitz, dean of students Jamie Wynberry, and special education teacher Ashlie Beard traveled to Washington, D.C., June 27-29 to participate in the Schools to Watch conference and shared real-world success stories, strategies and information about successfully raising student achievement and supporting positive student development in the middle grades. Sessions featured research-based practices from Schools to Watch sites; current strategies on effective practices to raise student achievement; tips for creating supportive cultures; and suggestions for advocating for young adolescents.

The conference provided Seitz, Wynberry and Beard not only with an excellent opportunity to learn from and network with their peers, but also gave them an opportunity to share their firsthand knowledge on best practices and recently introduced legislation, titled “Success in the Middle,” which is focused on improving low-performing middle schools. Seitz, Wynberry and Beard highlighted the primary purpose of the bill, which is to target resources to the lowest-performing middle grades schools in a state to help ensure that all students exit the middle grades prepared for success in a high school with an academically rigorous curriculum that prepares students for post-secondary education and the workplace.

“I applaud the work of the talented educators recognized by the Schools to Watch program who work tirelessly to provide an environment for their students where they will not only succeed academically, but also prepares them for success in high school and beyond,” stated Deborah Kasak, executive director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. “Success in the Middle presents a tremendous opportunity to improve middle grades schools across the country and it is my hope that policy-makers will listen to the experiences and knowledge of those in the schools who are succeeding at reaching and making a difference in the lives of adolescents.”

The Schools to Watch program identifies and honors schools nationally so all might learn how to achieve academic success through best practices for all young adolescents. Schools identified as Schools to Watch initiative are: academically excellent, challenging all students to use their minds well; developmentally responsive—sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence; and socially equitable—democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources and supports. In order to achieve this level of performance, high-performing schools establish norms, structures, and organizational arrangements to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence. They have a sense of purpose that drives every facet of practice and decision-making.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of over 60 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations committed to promoting the academic performance and healthy development of young adolescents. To learn more, visit or

For more information, contact Deborah Kasak, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, at 217-351-2196 or .

posted 07.24.2013

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