Thursday, July 30, 2009

NROC truly Rocks!

What is NROC?

The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is a growing library of high-quality online course content for students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement*. This non-profit project, supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is an Open Educational Resource (OER) and facilitates collaboration among a community of content developers to serve students and teachers worldwide.

Click the image to view the NROC Library Overview (pdf).
Courses in the NROC library are contributed by developers from leading academic institutions across the United States. All courses are assessed to ensure they meet high standards of scholarship, instructional value, and presentational impact. NROC works with scholars and contributes resources to improve course quality and to provide ongoing maintenance. NROC courses are designed to cover the breadth and depth of topics based on generally accepted national curricula and can also be customized within a course management system.

NROC content is distributed free-of-charge to students and teachers at public websites including HippoCampus. Institutions wishing to use NROC content are invited to join a fee-based membership organization, the NROC Network. Organizations serving disadvantaged students can become members of the NROC Network at no cost.

Click here to find out more:

Thanks to Lisa Katz for this information.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Duncan Challenges Principals: Release Your Inner Warrior!

From guest blogger Lesli A. Maxwell:

In his campaign for turning around the nation’s worst public schools, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan this morning called for a cadre of “warrior principals.”

Speaking to principals from across the country, Mr. Duncan said that without strong leaders, any effort to dramatically transform the thousands of public schools that have failed for decades would be futile. He challenged the leaders to “take on the toughest job in America.”

“We need a team of warrior principals to leave the easier places and go into the most underserved communities with a chance to build a new team,” Mr. Duncan said to the roughly 350 principals who are in Washington this week for the annual meeting of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and National Association of Secondary School Principals. Mr. Duncan said he would need to enlist about 1,000 principals a year, over the next five years.

The secretary has been pushing hard for turning around thousands of failing schools, and has already implored other groups of educators, including the charter school movement, to get involved in that work. Mr. Duncan also asked the principals to work on fixing the “broken” teacher evaluation system by developing evaluations that are “fair, thoughtful, but meaningful.”

The principals peppered him with questions that reflect a wide range of concerns among school leaders. One question, from the executive director of South Carolina’s principals association—who made the room roar with her joke about Gov. Mark Sanford’s peccadilloes—was about the secretary's position on school vouchers.

“I’m a big fan of choice,” said Mr. Duncan, who said he doesn’t object to private philanthropy being tapped as a way for poor children to attend private schools. But government-sponsored vouchers, he said, “pull out one to two percent of children but leave the other 99 percent to drown. As a federal government, we have to be more ambitious than that.” The principals LOVED that response.

And, of course, Mr. Duncan used the school choice question as one more opportunity to push for turning around failing schools. “We have to save more than one percent to sleep well at night," he said. "That’s why the turnaround effort is so important.”


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why Teaching Music Is Important?

“During the Gulf War, the few opportunities I had for relaxation I always listened to music, and it brought me great peace of mind. I have shared my love of music with people throughout this world, while listening to the drums and special instruments of the Far East, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Far North, and all of this started with the music appreciation course that I was taught in a third-grade elementary class in Princeton, New Jersey. What a tragedy it would be if we lived in a world where music was not taught to children.”

Retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
United States Army

“The things I learned from my experience in music in school are discipline,
perseverance, dependability, composure, courage and pride in results. . .
Not a bad preparation for the workforce!”

Gregory Anrig
President, Educational Testing Service

“Music is an essential part of everything we do. Like puppetry, music has an abstract quality which speaks to a worldwide audience in a wonderful way that nourishes the soul.”

Jim Henson
Creator of the Muppets and puppeteer

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Five Unwavering Truths About Disciplining Middle Schoolers

1. Discipline means "to teach" - it does not mean to punish. Accordingly, it should be done as way to instill the idea of continuous self-improvement.

2. Consistency is the key. No matter what the approach you use to discipline, it's crucial to be consistent about it. In other words, the morning rules should also apply in the afternoon.

3. Be patient. No discipline strategy works all the time - but that doesn't mean the strategy isn't working overall.

4. Middle schoolers need and want limits. Effective Discipline doesn't stifle kids - it gives them a strong, dependable foundation from which to grow and mature.

5. Discipline isn't just about correcting what your child does wrong - it's about celebrating what he/she does right. The more you praise and reinforce the good things he/she does, the more he/she will want to do the right things.

Adapted from information from the Parent Institute.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.

Jim Rohn

Howard County Middle Schoolers Win National Debate

Written by John-John Williams of the Baltimore Sun

Nikitia Datta, 11, did not know what to expect when she headed to San Antonio late last month for the 2009 Middle School National Debate Championship.

Sure she had practiced for hours each week since September, and she knew that she had a passion for debate - especially the rebuttal - but she was still slightly intimidated by the competition.

Datta, a rising seventh-grader at Lime Kiln Middle, and her partner, Viveka Advani, who just completed eighth grade at Burleigh Manor Middle, quickly got over their initial anxiety and became the first Howard County students to win the competition in its 10-year existence.

The duo won the Public Forum Debate category beating the reigning national champions from Lanier Middle School in Houston to win the title.

"It was exciting," Datta said. "When I went there, I didn't expect to win anything. It was intense. The other team almost knew they were going to win. It was tough to go up against a team that thought they were going to win. But we did our best in the debate."

In addition to the championship team, Howard County students also excelled in the Policy Debate category. Srinidhi Muppalla of Burleigh Manor and Niran Lakhanpal of Clarksville Middle tied for third place with Madeleine Houck of Folly Quarter Middle and Vivian Wang of Burleigh Manor. All just completed eighth grade.

Muppalla was named Top Speaker in the Nation, which was also a first for Howard County. He scored 149 out of a possible 150 points to win the title. Wang finished second; Lakhanpal finished fourth; and Houck finished fifth.

The students all belong to Capitol Debate, a nonprofit based in Ellicott City that coaches students in debate techniques and strategies.

"The national champions and the entire team worked extraordinarily hard," said Ronald Bratt, CEO and founder of Capitol Debate. "They did a lot of work and put a lot of effort into this national championship."

The students were advised by Cayman Giordano, the debate coach at Howard High School who also works at Capitol Debate, and Les Phillips, a coach with Capitol Debate.

Datta, who favors the actual debate over the research and writing aspect of the competition, said she plans to defend her title next year. "It's a lot of fun," she said.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Tiger Sharks?

So why was the Tiger Shark chosen as our mascot?

According to the former principal, students were given the opportunity to choose a mascot several years ago and selected the Tiger Shark through an election process. As I begin to review all of the traditions and symbols of our school, it has become clear to me how powerful and inspiring our mascot can be...

Just like sharks, we want all our students to be strong, independent, intelligent and able to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.

So, I need your help. What are other characteristics of sharks that make them a good mascot for a school?

The Wilde Lake Middle School Mission

The Home of the Tiger Sharks!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Make-Over at WLMS!

Wilde Lake Middle School is receiving a summer make-over in preparation for the new school year. Both the interior and exterior are being painted and we are getting some other upgrades to enhance the learning environment for all students and staff.

Here are some pics taken this past week:

More updates will follow!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Advice From A Great Writer

Read, read, read.

Read everything –

trash, classics, good and bad,

and see how they do it.

Just like the carpenter

who works as an apprentice

and studies the master.


You’ll absorb it. Then write.

If it is good, you’ll find out.

If it’s not, throw it out

the window.

William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Nobel Prize winner in Literature

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The ABC's of Education

The ABC's of education are:
Academics, Behavior and Character.

Schools should help all students achieve academic success,
behave appropriately and develop a positive character.

Art McCoy

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Genius' Quote







Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

I am a proud graduate of Albert Einstein High School!

Go Titans!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Success in the Middle Act Reintroduced in Congress

Renewing an effort to strengthen middle level education as a way to increase high school graduation rates, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) have reintroduced the Success in the Middle Act. NASSP worked with the National Middle School Association, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, and a number of other education groups to draft the Success in the Middle Act that was first introduced in 2007. Included in the current bill would be $1 billion annually for grants to local school districts to improve low-performing schools that contain middle grades, as well as an additional $100 million to facilitate the generation, dissemination, and application of research to identify promising practices in middle grades education.

Source: NASSP Principal's Policy Blog, 6/25/09

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Advice from Oprah!

“What I know for sure is that

if you want success,

you can’t make success your goal.

The key is not to worry about being

successful; but to instead work toward

being significantand the success

will naturally follow.”

Oprah Winfrey
television personality

Allow Me To Introduce Myself!

Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Friends of Wilde Lake Middle School,

Hi, my name is Tom Saunders and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share my excitement about being assigned as the new principal of Wilde Lake Middle School. As some of you may know, I was the Assistant Principal at Wilde Lake Middle before taking on the role of Principal at Elkridge Landing Middle School in 2001. Now, after an 8-year absence, I am returning home to lead a school that I love. I know WLMS has had a long history of focusing on student learning, a commitment to high expectations, innovation and collaboration. It is my intention to carry on these important traditions and help the school to become even better.

Today, marks my first official day on the job, however, I have been working here at the school since last week. I want to thank Mr. Conroy for his friendship, support and help during this transition period. I know he will be missed here at WLMS and the Lime Kiln Middle School community is fortunate to be getting such a good man to lead their school.

Over the past week, I have met with Ms. Smithson, the Assistant Principal, Ms. Mussaw, the Administrative Intern and other talented members of the staff to learn more about what has been happening here at the school since I was last here. I have invited each staff member to talk to me about what is working, what could be improved and what part they will play in making our school the best. These conversations are just the start in creating a collaborative roadmap for the school’s future. In addition, I look forward to meeting with the students and families over the coming months to hear your ideas about what we want for the future of WLMS. I think you will find me to be open, honest and caring. I look forward to earning your trust and respect.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with Ms. Kafami, the WLMS PTSA President. We had a great conversation about the many ways the PTSA and the school can work together to enhance the learning environment for our students. After meeting with Ms. Kafami, I am even more excited to be joining this special community.

As the summer progresses, I have plans to meet with the PTSA Executive Board and to attend an ice cream “meet and greet” event that is being planned for me in August. This activity is doubly exciting for me, I cannot wait to meet the community, and, as my family knows, ice cream is my favorite food group! More details about these dates and times will be coming soon.

In the meantime, I am continuing to hire staff, supervise the painting of the of the building, review safety issues/concerns and develop a plan to welcome nearly 500 students back to school in August. If you would like to contact me, the best way is to email me at or to contact Ms. Yetter, my secretary, at 410 313-6957.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!


Tom Saunders