Thursday, May 27, 2010

It was a very good year!

One of my favorite Frank Sinatra songs is “It Was a Very Good Year.” I love how Sinatra goes through the progressions we encounter as humans from young love to middle age to “the autumn of life”. One thing that helped make it a very good year for our school was the wonderful parent volunteers who helped in so many ways including Cheryl Howard, Tanya Lattin, Kathy Vargas, David Vargas, Frank Wirtz, Mary Ann Kay, Gary Cosper, Tiana Crollett, Anna Garcia, Marcos Diaz, Carlos and Sarah Torrebiarte, Sarah Sherk, and the countless band, chorus, and orchestra parents who volunteer their time to help our programs.

While I think this year was successful, I think another Sinatra lyric - “The Best is Yet to Come” - expresses my hopes for the future. Next year, we will:
• Combine 6th grade parent night with the 7th-8th grade parent night to have a single “Meet the Teacher Night” in late August- (Date TBA).
• Create a Parent Resourced Center in our Library where parents can access the Internet and a library of resource materials
• Use Title One monies to pay for fingerprinting and criminal background checks for 20 parents who want to volunteer here at Taylor.
• Create more signage in both English and Spanish.
• Use Title One Parent Involvement funds to provide food for two parent nights during the school year.
• Offer conversational English classes for parents who want to improve their English skills.
We want all parents to feel welcome at Taylor. We are your community school and we are here to be of service. Thanks to Title One funding, we are going to be able to offer new services we could not provide this year. We will share more information about these ideas at registration.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy teacher appreciation week and Mother's Day

One of the singular joys of being a middle school principal is seeing new life emerge at your school. To wit:
• The newly planted elm, ash, and desert willow trees sending forth leaves and providing the first shade on our western quadrangle.
• Our newly reestablished girls’ soccer team finishing the regular season undefeated and then coming within a whisker of winning the Metro Middle School Soccer Tournament before losing in the last minutes to Cleveland.
• Seeing new clubs and activities such as Builders Club, Razzle Dazzle, and AVID be made available to our kids.

A bumper sticker on the back of a Taylor teacher’s car reads as follows: Those that can DO; those that can do more TEACH! Growing up, I heard the version of this saying that said that those that can’t do teach. I now realize that this is a grossly unfair and ridiculous statement. Teachers really sow the seeds of democracy in our children and lay a strong foundation, in cooperation with parents, for civil society. I would like you to consider some quotations about teaching and teachers:
• “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”. – Alexander the Great

• “He who opens a school door, closes a prison”.—Victor Hugo

• “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others”. – Author unknown

• “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”. – Henry Adams

• “Smartness runs in my family. When I went to school I was so smart my teacher was in my class for five years.” – George Burns

Speaking of the importance of teachers, it is commonly acknowledged that mothers are their children’s first teachers. Children who grow up with strong maternal support and instruction generally become stable productive adults.

Interestingly when a student ends up in the principal’s office with a discipline referral, 9 times out of 10 they want me to call their mom (or grandma or auntie). Why? Because they know mom loves them and will ALWAYS love them. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, I encourage all of you to reflect on the important role moms play in our lives and in our society. Thank you to all Taylor moms, grandmothers, aunties, great grandmothers, and foster moms for the powerful impact you have on our students.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No news is good news

There are times in life when it is wonderful to see your name in the paper but believe me there are times when it is nice to not see your name in the paper. Wednesday was such a day. This was the day when the Albuquerque Journal published the list of APS principals who had been reassigned to different schools. Several parents called frantically to say they had heard a blurb on the Tuesday evening news about principals being transferred. They asked if Pam or I was on the list. I was pleased to report to the parents that we were to remain at Taylor next school year.

The good news is this will allow us to provide leadership continuity into next school year as we move to the new six period schedule. We have made strides this year to increase extracurricular activities and we hope to continue to make improvements each year. We continue to believe that Taylor is the best middle school in town and we want to become even more responsive to the needs of our students and parents.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Planting trees for the future

Have you scheduled your child’s student-led conference yet? I hope so because these conferences are important to your kids and to us. By way of explanation, the APS Board of Education directed all APS schools to have fall and spring conferences at which the student leads the conference. We had our first conferences in October. Our spring conferences will be next Thursday and Friday. Students will not attend classes these two days. Your child’s advisor should have already contacted you to arrange a convenient time on one of these two days.

During the conference your child will share with you his or her academic progress report, test scores, areas of career interest, and (for 8th graders only) the Next Step Plan. In addition, each child is asked to put two pieces of school work of which s/he is proud. Finally, we have asked teachers to write a personal letter to the child describing his or her strengths and an area that needs growth. Conferences will last 30 minutes and will be conducted in the advisor’s classroom.

Warren Buffet said “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” There are a lot of applications of this sage wisdom but I like to apply it to how we work with our kids and their education. Planting a tree could involve helping your child learn a difficulty math skill. Or planting a tree could be sharing a love for poetry or chemistry or geography.

I once heard a speaker say that love is spelled T...I…M…E…and this nowhere truer than with our kids. The time you devote to helping your children succeed in school is a tree that will shade your grand kids and beyond. So make time for your child’s student-led conference. You’ll be glad you did.

Leadership in a time of crisis

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” –Steve Jobs

My middle school principal colleagues and I spent an hour on Tuesday morning with APS Superintendent Winston Brooks discussing the budget crisis facing our district. During our meeting, Winston spoke frankly about the difficult choices facing the Board of Education and his leadership team. He patiently explained the options on the table and the impact of each choice on middle schools and the district at large. He calmly delineated the pros and cons of each alternative and he thanked us for our help in leading our schools in the midst of arguably the most difficult budget year in several decades. He did not point fingers, make excuses, or scapegoat. He explained that tough decisions had to be made – the toughest of his career – but that we would get through the crisis if we all worked together. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with his honesty and humility. I believe all of those principals present understood just a little better how truly difficult it must be to be in his shoes.

When asked when we might know what our budget amounts were for 2010-2011 we were told we may get them as early as next week. But Mr. Brooks indicated that he wanted to be certain every avenue was explored rather than releasing the budget too early. At this point, I do not know exactly what our budget for Taylor MS will be for next year. It is my sincerest hope that we do not have to cut staff. I will do everything possible to economize in other areas before we cut people. Once we have our budget amounts, I will work with our school leadership team including our instructional council to prepare a budget that maintains electives, keeps class sizes at manageable levels, and supports the high quality of education you have come to expect at Taylor.

In the midst of the gloom surrounding the budget, there are more than a few rays of sunshine. Consider:
• The Taylor girls’ soccer team was unbeaten in conference play and will be the #1 seed entering tournament play. The Taylor boys’ team had a winning record and also qualified for tournament play.
• The Taylor track team is undefeated and has been simply stellar according to our coaches.
• Our landscaping project is complete and looks magnificent. All that remains to be done is the final district inspection. Please drive by and check it out.

Finally, I strongly encourage parents, grandparents, and guardians to attend our spring student-led conferences April 29 and 30. Your child’s advisor should be in contact with you in the next week to arrange a conference time. There won’t be school those two days. I believe you will find these 30 minutes to be time well spent. Thank you!

Quality of education survey

Each spring, APS surveys parents about the quality of education in their child’s school. The survey is 20 questions long and we get to choose five of those questions. Surveys were sent home with your children on Monday and we hope they arrived home. If you did not get one, please call the office and we will arrange to send you another one. The specific Taylor questions are: (agree/disagree)
1. I would recommend that parents send their child to Taylor Middle School.
2. My child feels good about attending Taylor MS.
3. My son or daughter has opportunities to challenge him/herself at Taylor.
4. I would like students to be able to wear jeans more than one day a week.
5. I feel welcome at Taylor.
All surveys are due back to the office by April 23. Thank you in advance for your participation. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is your child at risk for suicide?

When a young person takes his or her life, we all cringe because we immediately recognize the tragedy. Today’s paper had a brief article about a James Monroe MS student who attempted suicide in the boy’s restroom at school. Thankfully school personnel were able to revive the student and transport the child to UNM Hospital. But the article reminded me that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As pressures build on our children, sometimes the problems become overwhelming and suicide emerges as a workable solution in their minds.

According to the 2007 NM Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS) students in grades 9-12 reported:
Survey Question APS Students NM Students
Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness in the past 12 months. 29.2% 30.8%
Seriously considered suicide. 18.1% 19.3%
Made a suicide plan. 13.4% 15.1%
Attempted suicide. 12.9% 14.3%
Injured in a suicide attempt. 5.4% 4.8%

Consider these facts:
• Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds nationally and in NM. The first two leading causes are accidents and homicide)
• New Mexico has the 3rd highest suicide rate in the nation for 15-24 year olds.

Adolescent depression is a increasing at an alarming rate. Recent survey data indicates as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for appropriate treatment. Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because we adults may expect teens to act moody. This is compounded by fact that many teens don’t feel comfortable discussing their feelings with adults.

Symptoms that may indicate depression, particularly when they last more than two weeks include: poor performance in school, withdrawal from friends and activities, sadness and hopelessness, lack of energy or enthusiasm, anger or rage, overreaction to criticism, or substance abuse.

If you suspect your child may be depressed or at risk for suicide, take action. Remember suicide is the number one preventable cause of death. You should consider:
• Having an honest discussion with your child
• Have them see a physician or psychologist
• Speak to your school counselor

Suicide is not a victimless act. My family suffered when my father took his life at the age of 53 after his clinical depression went undiagnosed and untreated. Had we known back in 1983 what we know today, we might have been able to prevent it. If you suspect your child may be at risk, please get him or her help. Don’t wait until it is too late! May you all enjoy a blessed Easter weekend.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Taylor's New Schedule for 2010-2011

The Principal’s Corner by Mr. B

Taylor will be one of a dozen APS middle schools to pilot one of two new schedules next school year. The district offered middle schools a choice of a:
• Six-period “traditional” schedule which has five 60-minute classes and one “skinny” class for advisory, remediation, and enrichment.
• Five-period “block” schedule which has four 75-minute classes and one “skinny” class for advisory, remediation, and enrichment.
Our Instructional Council listened to a presentation from me on February 10 about the pros and cons of the two schedules in comparison to the seven-period schedule we currently have. We asked the Council to discuss the two schedules with their constituent groups and submit their vote to IC chair Margarita Smith by February 19. I also met with the PTO board and presented both proposals for PTO consideration. The results of the balloting were as follows:
 Six-period schedule – 7 votes
 Five-period schedule – 5 votes
Both PTO votes were cast in support of the six-period schedule.

Based on this vote, I submitted a request that Taylor be allowed to pilot the six-period schedule next school year. On Wednesday, March 10 we received notice that our request was approved by APS leadership. While there is no perfect schedule, I do believe that the six-period schedule will be an excellent fit for our school.

Here are some key features of next year’s six-period schedule:
• Math, science, social studies, and language arts meet every day for 360 minutes per week of instructional time in each class each week.
• Elective classes meet every other day on an alternating A/B schedule. For example, a student might have band and PE for electives. Band would meet Monday/Wednesday/Friday one week and Tuesday/Thursday the next week and so forth. One week, the student would get 180 minutes of band class and 120 minutes of PE. The next week it would flip-flop. Overall, the student gets 360 minutes elective class per week.
• The “skinny” class meets every day for 45 minutes and will be either:
o a third elective for students who don’t need remediation, or
o an extension of a core class such as math or reading to help your child catch up on basic skills

Placement decisions about what skinny your child gets will likely be based on his or her DBA results in math and reading. Students who score at beginning steps will likely be assigned to a skinny class to help them improve in math and/or reading.

One additional feature of the six-period day is built-in time for teacher collaboration in professional learning communities (PLC). We will structure these PLCs by grade-level which we will help us better support your student’s learning and social development.

I think the six-period day offers students the advantage of seeing all core teachers every day. I also believe it provides a daily rhythm that works best for middle school kids. This year will give us a chance to pilot the schedule for APS. I am excited that we were chosen for the pilot and I sincerely believe it is going to be a big success for our kids.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can you help Ashley?

Let me tell you about a special Taylor 7th grader Ashley Cano in the words of science teacher Margarita Smith:

“Last year Ashley needed three blood transfusions a week because she had renal failure. Over the summer, she received a kidney transplant but since then has had to travel to California to have biopsies done to check if everything is okay. The first time they went out there, Ashley got sick and they had to return home with no results (the trip had been in vain). Although she does have medical insurance, her medicine is expensive, travel costs and many other health related costs are not covered. Her mom has fallen behind on rent, had their car repossessed (which she finally got back) and has trouble paying bills. Now Ashley needs a liver transplant too!”

Mrs. Smith has organized a fund raiser to help pay some of Ashley’s bills. The fund raiser will be conducted in first period classes from Friday, March 5th through Friday, March 12th. The class that collects the most money will win breakfast burritos from Little Anita’s Restaurant. This money will be added to $301.50 that was already raised by Nathaniel Lattin-Montano, Kwentin Howard, and Khalen Howard.

Please help us help Ashley Cano and her family. Checks can be made out to Taylor Middle School. Thank you for your support of this worthy cause.

Monday, March 1, 2010


This week I am throwing together some odds and ends into what my mother used to loosely call a casserole. Not really leftovers – just not enough of any one thing to be considered a main dish.

Item: Albuquerque Journal; Wednesday, February 24, 2010 – “APS MAY CHANGE SCHOOL START TIMES”.
According to the Journal, APS is considering changing starting times for our schools next fall. According to the article, the
• Elementary school day would last from either 7:30 am to 1:55 pm or 8 am to 2:25 pm.
• Middle school day would start at 9:15 and end at 3:45
• High schools would start at 8:35 am and end at 3:10
The new schedule would replace the district’s “current hodgepodge” of 82 start times according to the Journal which went on to quote APS Superintendent Winston Brooks as saying, “We really want to have a discussion with the Board about this.” Parents and grandparents who want to weigh in on the matter should notify board member Lorenzo Garcia ( or PTO president Tanya Lattin ( . The matter will also be on the agenda at the next Board meeting on March 3.

Item: Taylor Students Experience Temporary Amnesia:
A growing number of students appear to have forgotten a few key points in the Student Handbook about IPods, cell phones, and dress code. So I want to take this opportunity to refresh everyone’s collective memory:
• Cell phones – allowed outside before and after school and at lunch only. Otherwise they must be powered off and stored away. (Agenda, page 6)
• IPods – not allowed on campus, period. The reasons: they are easy to steal, hard to trace, and a nuisance in class. Students who bring them do so at their own risk. (Agenda, page 10-11)
• Dress code – 95% of the kids are model citizens. It is the other 5% whose excuses make me chuckle:
o “What do you mean nylon gym shorts don’t count for Denim Wednesdays?”
o “I thought plaid was a kind of denim!”
o “What’s wrong with sagging? I still have boxers and gym shorts underneath them!”

Item: Taylor Athletic Teams Dominate:
• Basketball: Our very tall and athletic 6th and 7th grade boys’ basketball team is undefeated this year. Our girls’ team has played very hard and shown great sportsmanship in this rebuilding year.
• Soccer: Our newly resurrected soccer teams shut out the boys’ and girls’ teams from Garfield on Wednesday. Both teams are 1-0 in district play.

Finally, I hope you will support our Chorus as they appear at the Festival de Bellas Artes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center tonight (Friday, February 26) from 6 – 8 pm. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DBA results

Our students take the District Benchmark Assessment three times a year (fall, winter, spring) to assess progress in mastering the NM Content Standards and Benchmarks. The test gives us a good idea how our kids stack up. The winter math DBA results show our kids doing extremely well compared with the district average.
Grade Taylor- Math APS Average
6th 61.9% correct 59.3% correct
7th 57.1% 54.4%
8th Algebra 55.3%
66% 49.9%
Our reading scores were also competitive
Grade Taylor - Reading APS Average
6th 64.3% correct 65.2% correct
7th 59.9% 59.97%
8th 70.5% 67.6%
These tests provide teachers with a standard-by-standard analysis of each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Teachers have been working in departments to analyze these data. In reflecting on the data, I am pleased that math scores exceeded district averages and that reading scores were competitive. As teachers review data, they will make adjustments and we will continue to see scores rise in the spring. Parents play a key role in helping your kids succeed on these tests by encouraging them to do their best. The DBA test is important within the district because it gives us a snapshot view of what standards we need to reteach. Accurate data leads to accurate re-teaching. Accurate re-teaching leads to improved learning. Parental support is crucial to helping your kids do well on this assessment. Have a great week!

Dress code updates

One way that middle school students express their individuality is through their clothes. One way that school leadership helps provide an orderly environment is through the school dress code. These two aims- expressing student individuality and ensuring a safe distraction-free learning environment – can at times conflict. That has been the case with some frequency this spring. Allow me to say that 95% of our kids follow the dress code day in and day out without exception. Kudos to these kids and their parents for supporting our dress policies and helping enforce them. But there are few who like to push the envelope every day. The most frequent dress code problem is saggy pants on guys. Mrs. Meyer and I have just started a crusade to eliminate sagging at Taylor by writing up chronic saggers. Saggers will receive one day of lunch detention for the first offense and repeat offenses will lead to stiffer consequences. The second most frequent “wardrobe malfunction” is failure to wear a polo shirt. Students know by now that polos are required. Failure to have the proper shirt will also lead to lunch detention. Students have been asking me to declare a Dress Down Day next week. I am pleased to report that we do want to recognize the efforts of students to comply and we are announcing a dress down day for Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Recruiting trips

I am a fanatical college football fan (Oregon Ducks) and this week is a high point of the offseason because this is the week high school seniors sign letters of intent. It is the culmination of months and even years of recruiting young men to play football for their team. Coincidentally, this week is also a high point in my school year because I too spend considerable time and energy recruiting 5th graders to attend Taylor. Monday night we hosted a gym full of fifth graders and parents showing them the delights of attending our artistic and energetic school. Wednesday I spoke to all the 5th grade classes along with counselor Michele Chapman at Corrales ES about why they should attend Taylor. Thursday Mrs. Chapman and I paid a recruiting visit to Los Ranchos Elementary. Today we are off to Alameda ES and next Tuesday we will conclude our recruiting tour with a visit to Seven-Bar ES. Our message is simple: At Taylor you will receive a well-rounded education in a safe rigorous school committed to the fine and performing arts. I thoroughly believe in our school and am committed to attracting the best and brightest from our feeder elementary schools. Thank you parents for sending us such great kids!

Friday, January 29, 2010

But I didn't mean it!

Sex! Sex! Sex! Aargh! I am sick and tired of seeing pictures of APS teachers making headlines for admitted or alleged sexual activity with students. Other New Mexico educators have also been accused of having sex with minor students. Last weekend’s Albuquerque Journal had an in-depth article on this disgusting and troubling trend. While what these teachers did to their students is criminal (if true) they aren’t the only people in our schools misbehaving when it comes to sex. I am saddened to report that an increasing number of your children behave badly in the related area of sexual harassment. The new APS website ( has a link to the district’s handbook on sexual harassment which I excerpted below:

“Physical sexual harassment is any unwanted sexually oriented physical act:
 Purposely bumping or rubbing against someone
 Kissing or holding a person against his or her will
 Blocking someone’s movements or preventing someone from moving freely
 Grabbing or touching someone, especially his or her private body parts
 Tearing or pulling at someone’s clothing”

“Verbal sexual harassment means offensive words and comments, spoken privately to someone or in front of others:
 Comments about body parts or rating someone’s body
 Sexually suggestive jokes
 Using sexual orientation (homosexuality or bisexuality) as an insult
 Sexually suggestive threats
 Spreading sexual rumors or stories”

“Nonverbal sexual harassment:
 Displaying obscene sexual material or placing it in someone’s locker or on someone’s desk or computer
 Writing someone’s name along with sexual remarks, suggestions, or drawings in public places, e.g., bathrooms or desks
 Staring or pointing at someone’s body or body parts
 Making obscene gestures”

In the past few weeks, I have suspended a number of male students for both verbal and nonverbal sexual harassment to other male students. Typically this involves one of more of the bulleted items listed above. The most frequent complaint we receive is from boys who are being called names referring to sexual orientation, making fun of body parts, or intimating lewd acts. When confronted by a principal, the boys often admit the behavior adding “But I was just kidding, I didn’t really mean it”. When I explain to the child that this is sexual harassment whether he meant it or not and the consequence is a one day out-of-school suspension the boys often panic and start to cry. I then call their mother with the child present and read the exact words or remarks their child said to the victim. Then the mothers start to cry or become very angry or embarrassed at their child’s behavior. I explain to parent and child that sexual harassment is against federal law (Title IX) and APS policy. I have yet to have a parent question my decision to suspend their child for this behavior. I suspect this is because we as adults know how demeaning it is to be harassed.

As I said in the beginning, we know this behavior is becoming increasingly prevalent among middle school students. The reasons why harassers do this are as individual as the harassers themselves: ignorance, poor formation, and peer pressure. But one 6th grade boy told me that he did it because he “wanted to be seen as cool by his friends and the older kids”. He tearfully told me he “was stupid for talking like that and had learned his lesson.” That is good and well and I certainly hope he did learn his lesson. But if it is true that up to 35% of students nationwide have been harassed, Mrs. Meyer and I are only scratching the surface. We need your help to deal with this behavior. Please talk to your child about sexual harassment and its consequences. Remind them it is against the law and the consequences if caught will be severe. Let them know it’s never funny and that the excuse that “I was just kidding” or “I didn’t mean it” will never hold up when they visit my office.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Fundraisers in the works

I am so impressed by our staff and students! This morning Mark Williams, our illustrious 8th grade science teacher, approached me with a proposal from some kids to sell cupcakes to help Haitian earthquake victims. Then a few minutes later, Alyssa came by the office with an idea she dreamed up. Her idea is to sell tickets to students for a Dress Down Day with the proceeds going to earthquake relief.

I met with Taylor Student Council officers and sponsor this afternoon and we worked with Alyssa's idea. As we discussed it, we expanded it until we arrived at the following:

1. Students may purchase a ticket next week during lunch for $3 which will allow them to have a dress down day on Monday, January 25.
2. Students may also purchase a ticket for "Hats On for Haiti" for $2 to allow them to wear hats on January 25 too.
3. Student Council members are developing the tickets and fliers to publicize the event.
4. Council members will sell tickets next week during lunch.
5. All funds will go to the Red Cross.

My thanks to our awesome students and teachers who see a need and take action to alleviate it.

Kids say the darndest things!

Is anybody else old enough to remember Art Linkletter? Art was a TV host and author in the 1950’s and 1960’s who wrote a book entitled “Kids Say the Darndest Things!” Anyone who has ever raised kids or worked in middle school knows just how true this title is. I mention this because I was visiting with students about their report cards on Wednesday in the cafeteria. One student proudly showed me his report card with 5 A’s and 1 B. “Wow”, I exclaimed, “That’s a really great report card. Did you know my grades in middle school were never that good?” And the kid stopped, looked at me, and asked, “Then how did you ever get to be principal?”

I laughed as I told him that grades are not always a great predictor of future success. I explained that I was bored in much of middle school and high school and that it wasn’t until college that I finally got serious about learning. It wasn’t until I saw that education had a purpose beyond just filling up reams of notebook paper with notes that I would forget as soon as I turned them in. It wasn’t until I took classes from some passionate professors who ignited my smoldering fuel that I grew to love learning. Thankfully every Taylor student is not the underachieving slacker I was. I can attest to the fact that many of your kids want to learn. And our teachers are eager to teach them. So it is with great joy that we honor our straight A and 3-5-4.0 honor roll students next Friday. I hope you will be able to join us as we celebrate their accomplishments.

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity”. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's new at Taylor?

With spring just around the corner, a not-so-young man’s fancy turns
to thoughts of master schedules, educational plans for student
success, and soccer.

Master Schedule Changes Proposed by APS: Superintendent Brooks
convened a study group in September to look at the feasibility of
having a single master schedule for all APS middle schools. The two
schedules under consideration are a six-period day and a five-period
day. The six-period day would feature:
• Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and one
elective every day of the week for 60 minutes.
• The sixth class would be known as META (maintenance-enrichment-
tutorial-advisory) and would last 45 minutes.
The five-period day would feature:
• Math and language arts every day of the week for 75 min.
• Science and social studies every other day for 75 minutes.
• Two electives every other day for 75 minutes.
• META every day for 45 minutes.
A selection is expected by the Superintendent’s Office in February.

EPSS: The Instructional Council reviewed the CLASS survey results
from parents, students, and staff. They distilled the following keys:
Parents indicated Taylor’s strengths were: (1) respectful relationships
with parents, (2) stresses importance of student achievement, and (3)
students are treated with equity and fairness. The main opportunity
for improvement was providing timely feedback to parents regarding
a child’s progress. Student surveys indicate the following strengths:
(1) students appreciate how teachers allow different ways to
demonstrate proficiency, (2) Spanish speaking students feel positive
about their relationships with teachers, (3) disciplinary rules are in
place and are stressed, and (4) students feel they are treated
respectfully and fairly. They said opportunities for improvement
were: (1) teachers could do a better job of helping all students
including ELL and special education students to learn, and (2) reteach
content to students who do poorly on tests. Staff members
indicated that they taught Taylor’s strengths were: (1) classroom
based practices, (2) quality of curriculum, (3) content knowledge, and
(4) opportunities to demonstrate proficiency. Areas for improvement
included the need for grade and department level collaboration and
training in continuous classroom improvement practices.

Soccer: Due to popular demand, we will be starting boys’ and girls’
soccer teams this spring. We are finalizing who will coach and the
schedules. We realize we have some extremely talented soccer
players among our students and we want to give them an
opportunity to showcase their talents against other middle schools.
We will be having an after-school meeting in the near future to share
information with students and parents.

That’s it for this week. Next week I will be sharing information about
the projects at Taylor to be funded by the bond. Stay tuned! ;o)