As we navigate through the first semester, I have become further aware of the positive involvement the parent community has with the everyday activities of the middle school. If you read this previous sentence like I think you will, then please read further: your involvement in the daily life of your student is vital and expected considering your financial and personal investment into St. Thomas’. I want each of you to know how your child is being educated. I respect and honor this right; the high standards at St. Thomas’ will continue to be our focus as we navigate the various changes and stabilize during the turbulent moments of this school year. Further, I feel it necessary to comment on the changes we face, both past transitions and ones just up the road. In every single case, we could not be more excited about the positive impact the new teachers will have on your students. While we never mean to hide these changes, understand that full-disclosure may not be possible either. It is my hope that this post fills in some of the gaps that may be present in your understanding of what has transpired this year.
Middle School Spanish
After a few weeks in August and September, we found it necessary to elevate our expectations and standards for the middle school Spanish program. Never in a million years would I have expected to find Beth McCarty waiting in the wings. Beth has brought an expectation of excellence to our students while inspiring fun and excitement for learning a new language. Although the change in teachers proved rough at first, students have been able to reimage their perspective of the Spanish elective and recognize the time necessary to learn the language. The goal of middle school language electives is to prepare students for second-level high school courses, meaning a comprehensive knowledge of vocabulary and fundamental concepts. Sra. McCarty is working hard to ensure your child will achieve this goal.
6th Grade Math
I cannot start this conversation without first requesting your continued prayers for healing and strength to Dorothy Flato and her family. We are most grateful for every moment she was able to impact our students in and out of the classroom. Similarly, we have been blessed by the devotion and love Cettina Halsey has shown our students, first as a once-a-week fill-in and now as their long term substitute instructor. St. Thomas’ is very excited to have her as a part of our family; while she will move to other areas of our campus in the future, we are indebted to the knowledge and care she imparts to our young men and women.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Shawn Ackerman has been selected as our full-time 6th grade math instructor beginning this January. While we interviewed numerous candidates during this selection process; Shawn stood above and beyond the pack with his abundance of energy, passion for teaching and learning, and love of the Lord. We are thrilled to welcome him into our middle school family. As a former 6th and 7th grade math teacher, I feel his passion for education and interest in our students will create an incredible academic environment. Mr. Ackerman will begin shadowing Dr. Halsey and Mrs. Miller during the last week of school. He will have a welcome letter and class expectations sheet available upon his arrival. It is our plan to have Mr. Ackerman available for a “meet and greet” during the week he will be on campus this month. Please help me in welcoming Mr. Ackerman to St. Thomas’.
6th/7th Grade English
As I stated in a letter to the community: I was disappointed and saddened to announce the loss of leadership in our 6th and 7th grade English courses. While we wished to prevent any further trauma to the students this semester, this change proved unavoidable due to extenuating circumstances. Mr. Cusack and I both agree that the turnover in leadership will benefit the teaching and learning that goes on in the English classroom. In the short term, I am thrilled to see Kristine Hrncir fill in as our substitute teacher for 6th and 7th grade. She and I have walked through the remaining school days together, and we hope to provide a seamless finish to the semester. Know that all grading is complete save for those who have assessments outstanding; we will organize and schedule make-up work for these students to ensure all grading will be complete prior to ending the semester. I am extremely thankful for Mrs. Hrncir’s investment into the life of your child. She is a true asset along the bumpy road we are navigating together.
We are actively searching for a full-time solution, and we have already begun interviewing candidates. It is my hope that I can welcome a new, full-time English teacher prior to the start of the next semester. I appreciate your patience as we work through our search process; I hope you join me in viewing this opportunity as a beginning of something truly exciting in the middle school.
We have so much for which we are thankful this semester. I will post a wrap-up post after we finish on the 20th; however, there is much left to do. Thanks for your support, and please stop by with questions or concerns.