2012-01-05 / Youth

EDUCATION NOTES

Getting it right at BMS

A few months ago I got an email from a former National Geographic photographer, De- Witt Jones: A beautiful picture with the message, “Celebrate what is right with the world.” I read it, pressed “delete” and went to “next e-mail.” A few weeks later a new picture with the same message arrived in my inbox from DeWitt Jones. Again I admired it and hit “delete” and “next e-mail.”

About the third time this same message arrived with yet another new photograph, I actually took extra time to admire the art and really reflect on the printed message. That is when I decided this should be the message on my screen saver, and the theme for this week’s Education notes.

Here is what I believe to be right in the daily lives of middle school students:

Middle school students receive assistance as they explore the career options they have ahead of them. The Brundrett Middle School career investigation class, under the leadership of Jeri Franco and Patt Coeckelenbergh, recently took a field trip to Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. While touring the campus, the BMS students had the opportunity to see firsthand course offerings in culinary arts, helicopter maintenance, fire science and health service.

Arrangements are already under way for next semester’s career investigation students to visit a different area college to help them make informed decisions about their future education.

Middle school students are motivated to develop needed skills to reach their fullest potential. Students in the seventhgrade Texas history classes were seen exiting the building before the Christmas holidays proudly carrying their Indian unit displays.

These student products had been on display in the library since their completion earlier in the semester. Besides using the displays to demonstrate what the students learned during the Indian unit, teacher Brian Flack in the classroom provided the students with the opportunity to make their own choices as they planned and designed these displays based on their own research.

As coaches, both in class and on the courts (whether basketball or tennis), Flack, Dante Cage and Javier Mendoza encourage responsibility and strengthen independence in our middle school athletes.

Brundrett Middle School students are surrounded by a very generous and caring community. The most recent example of this was last month during the Port Aransas ISD Science Fair. Representatives from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, the City of Port Aransas, the Coast Guard Station, the Chamber of Commerce, Port Aransas High School honor students, parents and other community members volunteered time to interview students about their projects or judge their display boards.

The interest in student success was communicated to students as they met with the volunteers to discuss the projects.

Philina Martinez’s art students also were reminded of the community’s generosity as they created Christmas gifts with the potter’s wheels and kiln that were purchased through a Port Aransas Education Foundation (PAEF) grant. (Seeing the students’ reactions as the pots were removed from the warm kiln was priceless.)

Middle school students practice strategies in class that can be applied outside of school and share with others. Students who walk into Joe Kocurek’s math classes are reminded how to solve problems during math activities.

One of the many motivational wall charts he has displayed in his room states the basic steps to follow when solving problems (identify/understand the problem before making a plan to solve the problem). The practice and repetition of these simple steps can be applied to many student situations both in and outside of school.

Students taught by Tammy Hardegree are learning to use online “drop boxes” as storage space for projects and assignments. Trained students then share online storage skills and knowledge with other BMS students and adults needing assistance with the technology.

Middle school students are supported by families that care enough to give their children the space to grow as maturing individuals, while staying close to provide support as they navigate through the challenges of young adolescence.

So when youth “trip up” (and they will), don’t let those actions overshadow all that is right in the world, but help them get back up and learn from their challenges.

Gina McKeever is principal of Brundrett Middle School.

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