My inspiring visit at Cold Springs Middle School, the Districts only school with fifth through eighth grade students, started out with Principal Roberta Duvall and me making a video announcement to the school regarding my visit. I was able to let the students know how excited I was to be visiting their wonderful school. I also encouraged them to say hello when I saw them during the day. And, I am pleased to let you know that many students did say hello to me. They also gave me high fives, took selfies with me, and told me how wonderful their school is. My brief interaction with these kids was definitely a high point of the visit to Cold Springs Middle School.
I had a chance to learn all about the school culture and dynamics of the school, students, families, and community from the administrative and counseling team. We talked about the value of teaming and how it positively impacts both students and teachers. We talked about the assessment results for their students and the Tier 1 focus for all of their teachers. They have put in a lot of effort and have received support for their math curriculum that include training in “Intensive Math” and a math coach that helps greatly. They talked about the diversity of the student population and the vast area from which they draw students. Some students are on the bus for well over an hour just to get to school in the morning.
In addition, I learned about their work to recruit and retain teachers at Cold Springs and how well their vertical team works together to support students as they transition. We talked about the great work being done in PLC’s and how they are breaking down data to build interventions to best support students. We also had some very deep dialog about issues facing the students and families in this community that include long drives to jobs, poverty, mental health issues, lack of resources near-by, and unemployment. I am so proud of all the staff at Cold Springs for the work they do each and every day.
I really enjoyed talking to the fifth grade students in Chuck Quiriconi’s STEM Lab. It is wonderful that these young learners are able to take advantage of an elective class that is not usually available in younger grades. The students told me how much they loved the class and opportunities they have at Cold Springs. They asked me questions about the variety of jobs within WCSD. They also asked about my personal career path and which schools I have visited this year.
During my visit, I was able to watch the annual Special Olympics Basketball game between the students from Cold Springs and Traner middle schools. The Cold Springs fans made signs for both teams and cheered for each and every basket. And, there were a lot of baskets made during this event. The joy on the students’ faces when they scored was priceless. It was such an exciting event and I was so happy to be able to attend and cheer for all the students.
Akasha Iaulualo’s fifth grade students were doing a social studies lesson comparing constitutional and dictorail governments. They were working on the pros and cons for each style of government and having rich dialog with their group about it. When I was visiting with the groups, several of the students shared with me that they love Cold Springs Middle School (as fifth graders) because they are more challenged and teachers treat them well.
I re-visited with some of the special education students from the basketball game in Shelly Tresley’s home economics class. I saw how the lesson used math, science, and writing as it related to baking. The students were making easy drop danishes and having a lot of fun making this tasty recipe.
The students in Chris Ewald’s seventh grade science class were engaged in a reading and writing lesson. They read articles about continental drifts and tectonics. The lesson involved reading the article, coming up with at least three questions that pertain to the article – some groups were shooting for five or more questions, and then writing a summary paragraph about the article. The kids were excited to talk to me about the articles that they read and explain the details.
Paul Heller was joined by Mr. Soliz, a brand, new long-term substitute math teacher, in his social studies class. The students were working on a writing assignment on the Civil War. The students were having meaningful discussions in their groups and with their teachers as they were getting ready to document their thoughts.
I was joined by thirty-five diverse and attentive eighth grade students for lunch in the library. We talked about what they are doing to prepare for high school and how their educational journey at Cold Springs has helped them. We talked about how perseverance and believing in yourself will serve them well as they finish their secondary education. The students talked about the great relationships they have with teachers and adults at their school. They recognize how important this is. We also had a lengthy and meaningful discussion about lockers versus laptop computers for students. I was intrigued by their thoughts and questions on this topic.
After lunch, I was able to visit Jennifer Cubrilovic’s CLS class where I sat with every child in the classroom while they read a story to me. They were delightful students and I enjoyed having this one-on-one time with each of them. Not only did each of them read a story but we had the chance to talk and I got to know a little bit about each of these students.
During my visit to Cold Springs Middle School, there were so many students that greeted me and treated me like a VIP. The school culture and climate is so warm and welcoming. All of the students were friendly and polite through the hallways, cafeteria, and classrooms. I was impressed with the skill set of students I talked to and also how willing they were to talk to me about everything! Many thanks to everyone at Cold Springs for a wonderful and inspiring visit.