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MRH Parents, School Officials Discuss Students Transition to High School

They met at an annual parent dialogue night at the middle school.

A smooth transition to high school for both parents and students was the topic of Monday night’s dialogue meeting held for parents.

Questions centered around topics such as orientation nights, scheduling and a student's ability to choose classes. Other concerns included how students can ease the pressure of choosing one subject over another by properly scheduling electives such as AP biology and music.

Many parents asked how they could help their kids maneuver the high school system with confidence. Middle school Principal Bob Dillon proposed allowing time for middle schoolers to shadow their high school peers.

“What I don’t think has happened in the past, and what we’re trying to build on, is … what we can do to get kids into the high school," Dillon said. Doing that would gradually make them more comfortable in an unknown setting, he said.

Students should also start preparing for ACT testing in middle school, he said. In the spring, eighth-graders will take the Explore test, the first of a three-part ACT testing regimen.

“It provides a nice roadmap for both parents and for kids to start saying, ‘This is a really important number.’ There aren’t many tests we take in our lives that dictate as much as something like that does,” Dillon said.

The test is meant to assess where a student stands in order to set goals for improvement in high school.

Teresa Lunte, a mother of two MRH students, has received similar test scores for her children. She said she found the data confusing.

“When I was reading the numbers, I kept thinking, 'Well, that gave me a bunch of information, but now I don’t know how to digest that information.'”

Issues like those are all part of making the jump from middle to high school, Dillon said.

“Sometimes you really have to show them the context of why it’s important,” he said.

Other dialogue highlights:

  • Math teacher Lauren Fleischer received recognition during the meeting for her diligence this year. For the first time, eighth-grade algebra students had an additional incentive to pass the first semester exam in the 80th percentile: If they succeeded, they would receive high school credit. Every student in the class passed, Dillon said.
  • The middle school’s Expedition Program may soon offer educational tree climbing, canoeing and kayaking.
  • Summer school incentives in 2011 will include the use of laptops for “blended learning online," Dillon said, with opportunities to create online book e-club blogs to support kids who have a passion for reading and writing.
  • Parent input is needed on ideas such as electronic learning portfolios, which would allow students to catalog and save important concepts they learn over time, Dillon said.
Jeff Kiefer February 08, 2011 at 10:29 PM
There is a paradigm or practice called "AND Thinking" where you attempt to do two typically opposed objectives. Like improve summer school programs AND cut 150K from the fiscal budget. The MRH district practices creative "AND Thinking" on a regular basis. And Dr. Dillon's work on the MS summer school program is recent evidence of this. The fresh perspective to create a new program from scratch using technlogy to advance learning while limiting the cost of teacher supervision is excellent. The way the district is using technology is worthy of a future talk on TED someday...I can't wait to see one of our MRH staffers on a TED Talk. It's bound to happen. The district was very wise in hiring Dr. Dillon and he was worth the wait...he's a very strong "AND thinker". Thanks to the board and Dr. Dillon for the dialogue last night.
Brooke Rintoul February 09, 2011 at 03:41 AM
Thanks, Jeff...great comments. I agree, Dr. Dillon is a true asset to MRH. He has the rare ability to see the big picture, then break it down into the smaller pieces that are not only necessary, but also manageable. As a board member, I have the opportunity to witness highly talented faculty, staff, and administrators stretch the boundaries of not only our students' minds, but their own. There is a culture within our district that learning is exciting, worthwhile, and life long. Thank you to Michelle for attending the mtg. last night.
Michelle Blodget February 09, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Jeff, Brooke, thanks so much for the comments. I hope to revisit and learn more about the innovative ideas discussed at the meeting - I was touched by how thoughtful and involved Dr. Dillon, the parents and the Board are at MRH. It made me wish I was in middle school again so I could be a part of it! Seems like you all have an exciting year ahead of you. Thanks again!

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