Monday, June 28, 2010

Extreme Make-Over Again This Summer

Again this summer, Wilde Lake Middle School will be getting a face lift. The enhancements this year include: new carpet, new tile and some minor renovations in the front office and in our Related Arts area. Over the next few weeks, I plan to post pictures showing the progress of our school's extreme make-over, II.

Today's edition shows how the furniture has been moved out of the classrooms and the carpet is being pulled up in the hallways. I want to thank Ms. Yetter for taking these pictures!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wilde Lake Middle School principal completes first year

By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun
June 24, 2010

Wilde Lake Middle School Principal Tom Saunders stood with his hand extended, welcoming the 161 eighth-graders to give him a high-five on the final day of their middle school career.

Many students slapped his palm with an enthusiastic crack. Others opted for a hug. And there were a number who were so overcome with emotion that they headed to the nearest adult to console them as they cried at the thought of leaving their beloved school.

Saunders was joined by the entire staff of the school Wednesday for its annual "clap out" ceremony, in which the adults line the halls leading to the school entrance to give the eighth-graders a final sendoff.

Leading into the school year, Saunders was slightly apprehensive about how he would be received by the school — especially by the eighth-grade class. He knew he was inheriting a school that was in turmoil after a 13-year-old student said she was sexually assaulted by two other students in a bathroom. The school's principal, Scott Conroy, was reassigned to another school, a move planned before the incident.

"I didn't know what my return would bring," said Saunders, who had worked as an assistant principal at the school eight years earlier. "But I was surprised by my welcome. The eighth-graders only had a year left. I was pleasantly surprised by their openness and willingness to accept the new rules."

Saunders came to the school and instituted a new set of rules and expectations he coined "The Wilde Lake Way." Hats and gum were no longer permitted on school grounds. He changed the design of the lockers in hallways, which also affected the flow of traffic between classes. He moved the bathroom where the assault took place so that it could be better monitored.

Saunders was also instrumental in getting the school two pilot programs that resulted in wireless Internet access and 180 new netbook computers. The additional computers mean that at any given time, almost every one of the school's 480 students has access to a computer. The influx of technology helped re-energize students and staff.

"I am leaving with a really positive attitude," said Jessica Wilson, a 15-year-old. "We've grown up a lot. We are ready to be in high school."

Adam Glass, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, said he and his mother have been pleased with the changes at the school.

"She's happy about the new principal," Adam said, adding that his older two siblings attended the school when Saunders worked there as an assistant principal. "She knew he was going to do a good job. I love this school. I'm sad to leave. All the staff has been really encouraging."

The staff morale is much better this year, according to Tricia Stewart, a special-education and science teacher.

"Tom really worked hard to foster positive relationships with each other," Stewart said. "The school as a whole has made a positive change in the right direction. I'm very pleased to be a part of this."

Alia N. Thomas, who teaches special education and reading, has worked at Wilde Lake Middle for the past 10 years, including when Saunders was an assistant principal.

"There's a more positive energy," she said. "He's very fair. I love the fact that he knows the kids by name. He talks to them. He has a big heart."

Saunders knows there is still much more work to be done.

"I would love to have more collaboration with parents," he said. "I would love to have more students getting on our honor roll. I want more students being recognized for academic excellence, and more staff being recognized for excellent ability to teach. And when Wilde Lake is mentioned, people feel positively about the brand."

Saunders' positive outlook was on full display as he boarded all the school buses just before they departed.

"Have a great summer everybody," he said repeatedly to the busloads of giddy, summer-bound students.

Then, Saunders gathered his staff in front of the school for a few last words.

"Thank you for an awesome year," he said.

Congratulations to Mary Mussaw!

We found out this week that Mary Mussaw, the long-time WLMS teacher and administrative intern, has been promoted to Assistant Principal of Patuxent Valley Middle School! Way to go Mary!

Mary has done an outstanding job here at WLMS and I am confident she will do a wonderful job at her new school. Our loss is definitely PVMS' gain.

Congratulations Mary... you will be missed!

New tools to monitor bullying, predators on Facebook

By John-John Williams IV

The Baltimore Sun's Inside Ed Blog

With the news of bullying still fresh on the minds of Marylanders, I thought I might pass along this article to you about new computer programs that help parents monitor bullies and predators on Facebook.

The programs GoGoStat Parental Guidance and Social Shield, are free Facebook apps that allow parents to monitor and set rules for their childrens' use of certain features of Facebook.

Parents can use the program to send alerts about abusive postings and potentially inappropriate contacts originating from a certain geographic range or from potentially questionable online acquaintances.

Here are a couple more: and safetyweb.

Have any of you tried out these programs? Do you have any other programs to recommend?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

8th Grade Clap-Out at WLMS!

Again this year, the WLMS staff continued its long standing tradition of clapping out our 8th graders as they left the school for the last time. Here are some pictures from this wonderful tradition...Congratulations to all of our 8th graders...Enjoy your summer and good luck in high school.

Pictures from the Last Day

Sunday, June 20, 2010

3 Days and Counting...

Summer vacation is almost here in Howard County.
I can almost see it, feel it and...well, you get the idea.

My first year as the Principal of Wilde Lake Middle School is almost complete. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this school and all of the support I have received this year. There are so many people to thank! Unfortunately, the list is way too long and I know I would forget to mention everyone who has helped me. However, I do want to recognize a few people who did an incredible job of supporting me this year. I want to thank Ms. Kafami, the WLMS PTSA President, for doing such an awesome leading our PTSA. I want to commend Ms. Smithson, Ms. Mussaw, the entire front office staff and the WLMS Leadership Team for helping me navigate through my first year here at WLMS. I truly appreciate your support, energy and friendship.

As I look back on each blog entry that I wrote this year, it is hard for me to believe how quickly this school year has flown by. I have enjoyed chronicling my WLMS adventures and look forward to writing more. I am already looking forward to next year and continuing our commitment to elevate WLMS's capacity to provide the highest quality education for each and every student here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Graduation Speech

This coming Friday, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to speak at a 5th grade graduation. I am looking forward to providing some words of wisdom and advice on how to be successful in middle school next year.

Since I have not completed my preparation for my you have any pearls of wisdom you think I should share? Your help is truly appreciated.

Write your advice as a comment...
If you had the chance to talk to 5th graders, what advice would you give them?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

21st Century Middle Schools: What Does Success Really Mean?

Interesting article...just remember, 10% of the 21st Century is now over. We need to act NOW to prepare students for the future!

Middle Ground Logo
April 2010 • Volume 13 • Number 4 • Pages 8-11

Written by Bernie Trilling

We've all read the reports and heard the experts: middle school is a crucial time when students grow their hopes and commitments for success in school, in future work, in family and community life—or not.

As middle grades students think more about their future and what it will take to "make it" and be successful in the world, they begin to wonder how their school experience is helping them get there. They compare their world outside school—social, connected, global, information- and media-rich, full of real-world problems and challenges, and so forth—to the world inside school, and wonder what the connection is.

There are no more important questions facing our schools, teachers, parents, elected officials, business leaders, and—most important—our students, than "What does success really mean now?" and "How should school prepare students for success in our times?"

Our world has changed dramatically, and there are wide gaps between our 21st century world and the world inside many of our schools.

  • The work world is increasingly made up of diverse teams working together to solve problems and create something new. Why do students mostly work alone and compete with others for approval?
  • Technology is more a part of children's lives each day. Why should they have to check their technology at the classroom door and compete for limited school computer time?
  • The world is full of compelling, real-world challenges, problems, and questions. Why spend so much time on disconnected questions at the end of a textbook chapter?
  • Doing projects on something one cares about comes naturally to all learners. Why are learning projects so scarce inside so many classrooms?
  • Innovation and creativity are very important to the future success of our economy. Why do schools spend so little time developing students' creative skills?

The good news is that there is a growing worldwide consensus as to what 21st century learners need for success.

The more challenging news is that it will likely mean that what goes on in your classrooms each day must shift so that students will have more of the learning experiences they need for future success.

Over the Rainbow

Books like Thomas Friedman's The Earth Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century and Linda Darling-Hammond's The Flat Earth and Education, and reports and surveys like "Are They Really Ready to Work?" where 400 business executives were asked if the U.S. education system is graduating work-ready students (their answer: "Not really"), all point to a growing worldwide consensus that

  1. The world is in the midst of a change as big as the shift from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age more than 350 years ago. This time the shift is from an Industrial Age to an Information and Knowledge Age where information, knowledge, expertise, and innovation are increasingly the main engines of our economy.
  2. Our education system, well-tuned for the Industrial Age, now needs to sync with the demands of our times and focus on building the 21st century knowledge, skills, and expertise we need for success.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a U.S. coalition of education, business, government, and non-profit organizations, has collectively evolved a compelling model of what learning needs to look like in the 21st century ( (see Figure 1).

To read the rest of the article, click here:

Quotes of the Day

True heroism
is remarkably sober,
very undramatic.
It is not the urge
to surpass all others
at whatever cost,
but the urge
to serve others,
at whatever cost.

Arthur Ashe (1943-1993)
International Tennis Hall of Fame Member

People of mediocre ability
sometimes achieve
outstanding success
because they don't know
when to quit.
Most people
succeed because
they are
determined to.

George Allen (1918–1990)
Former Washington Redskin Coach
Pro Football Hall of Fame Member