The staff and students at Pine Middle School gave me a warm welcome at my recent visit to their school. During the visit, Principal Brad Boudreau, his administrative team, and counselors provided great dialog, information, and fun interaction with students and staff. The administrative team and staff are 100% dedicated to the growth and development of every single student. This was evident throughout the school – in the hallways, classrooms, and lunchroom. The students were happy, smiling, welcoming, and comfortable talking to me.
The entire school is focused on the ‘Pine Pillars’ to support meeting the needs of all students on their academic journey. I was interested in learning about the scope of electives offered at Pine MS. The goal is to offer a wide variety that appeal to the students. They have developed a student schedule that works well with the core subjects, electives, and advisory classes. A component of this schedule is the weekly academic success class that supports the SEL lessons for all students. Every fall and spring, Pine students conduct their parent conference and are able to share data about their academic progress and identify areas where they need to improve. I love the work they are doing with MTSS to identify problems before they escalate and the process they have for working through issues with a focus on the whole child. I also really enjoyed hearing about their work with the Love and Logic model. The staff and students at Pine are striving to excel every day and their work is inspirational.
I visited classrooms and with student as they were passing on their way to classes. I was able to see the schools exercise room and learned about the weights elective class for eighth grade students. I wish my middle school would have offered a weights class! I watched students playing dodge-ball in PE class. I also met one of the students that built a life-sized K’Nex ferris wheel. He is part of the Lego Robotics Team, one of the many activities offered to the Pine students.
The music classes were rocking. All the musicians were practicing for an upcoming performance. In Mike O’Neill’s Orchestra class, a student gave me a quick cello lesson and I was able to make some music with the class. My lessons weren’t done for the day; in Per Rasmussen’s Band class, I learned to play the electric guitar as the class was practicing Sax to the Max. We sounded really good! All of the students in music were concentrating and working hard but they were having so much fun, too.
I learned that Pine has a Garden Science class for students. This class has a beautiful community garden on property, too. Amy Sander’s students were focused on solving linear equations. I talked to a few of the groups and they told me how they were solving the problems. I liked to hear them explain it to me since it really reinforced their level of learning.
Pine MS has a Newcomers class that works specifically with students new to our country. The class has sixth through eighth grade students. Victoria Toledo and the students are working together as they make this transition. The entire class was engaged, friendly, and having fun at school.
I joined students in Jerry Miller’s ELA class as they were stretching and warming up in preparation for their Mime in a Box skits. After warming up, they all sat down to begin their work. They were really good!
Mary Young’s Coding class students were building, designing, documenting, creating, researching, and learning. They were working in small groups and each group was working on a difference project. I enjoyed talking to the different groups to learn all about the work they were doing.
During the school visit, I met Tito, the Site Facility Coordinator. He keeps the school in great shape and this is not easy at a middle school! I also talked to the Nutrition Service staff. They were gearing up for another busy lunch for the students.
Between classroom visits, I had lunch with eighth grade students. We talked about things that are happening at their school and how they are making strides to be prepared for high school and beyond. We talked about the caring attitude of the administration and staff at Pine. The students asked a lot of great questions. They asked about class size, snow days, new schools being built in our district, CTE, and Student Voice. I always enjoy the Q&A time with students.
During my visit to Laura Dale’s GT Biology class where they were fermenting root beer, I learned about the Failure Fair that the students were working on. The students were tasked with identifying a recent failure and describing what this failure has taught them. I really liked hearing the students reflect how they were preparing for this event.
Students in Rachel Burke’s math class were working on a flipped model. The students watch a video and work on the lessons in class. They were working in groups in the classroom and there was a buzz in the class.
Next, I visited the sixth grade hall and saw teachers working hard. I visited Matthew Wiegand’s Reading class and saw students reading independently. Stephanie McMurtry’s Science students were focused on a lesson about the heart and getting ready to color and label a diagram of the heart. Students in Scot Krause’s social studies class were watching an interesting video about the Great Wall of China. Deborah Childree’s math students were learning about absolute value. All of the sixth grade students and teachers were intently focused on core instruction. I enjoyed seeing the teachers and students so engaged in their lessons.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Pine MS. They are doing absolutely amazing work and making progress. The administrative team shared so much of the good work and the hard work they are doing. I know that the students are benefiting from their efforts. Thanks to all of the Pine Patriots for a wonderful visit!