Friday, September 25, 2009

26 thoughts from 26 days

It was another great week in middle school at Providence Day. I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching student council candidates put up signs, campaign, and give speeches. I enjoyed talking with the 6th graders about harassment, and I loved watching the kids enjoy themselves at our first dance. The school year is already flying by, and I thought that a good way to share my experiences was to highlight 26 small tidbits about my first 26 days in middle school. Here goes:

1. Middle school students possess boundless energy...and it somehow gets lost when they are juniors & seniors (at least in my teaching experience).

2. Middle school students enthusiastically say hello to you when you say hello to them...sometimes they even say hi first.

3. 6th graders are very literal. When you tell someone that you "need a pass to leave school," they won't leave without the pass (even if you know that their parents are picking them up for an appointment).

4. Middle school students ask LOTS of questions in class.

5. Middle school teachers at PDS are gifted teachers and special people...and have a considerable amount of patience.

6. The most popular food selections for middle school students are as follows: pizza, whatever is on the grill, and ice cream. Last on the list would be vegetables.

7. Middle school students are great with technology...age clearly doesn't give you any advantage in this area.

8. I love how middle school students "dream big" when it comes to careers (i.e. "i'm going to be an orthopedic surgeon OR a botanist" and "I'm going to be an interior designer if I don't make it as an actress."

9. I love how many of the 6th graders have no idea what their parents do in their careers. When asked, I got answers like "I don't know, but my dad wears a suit and my mom doesn't." It makes me realize as a parent what really matters to my kids.

10. I love how middle schoolers decorate lockers for birthday celebrations, and shower each other with cupcakes, donuts, and gifts.
11. Axe is very popular amongst the middle school boys. I don't remember having so many great options for deodorant and cologne...this stuff sure beats my dad's Old Spice.
12. Middle school kids can dance, and there are far less "wallflowers" during dances than I expected.
13. Middle school kids still "go out" with other classmates. I find myself saying the same annoying thing to the students that my own parents said to me: "where are you going?"
14. Songs that were popular when I was in middle school are still popular now (loved watching kids dance to "Don't Stop Believing" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," and doing the Electric Slide last night).
15. I noticed that middle school kids text a lot...even when they are standing next to each other:)
16. I don't know of another time in school when students so close in age are so developmentally different than with 6th and 8th graders...its one of the many things that make middle school special.
17. Many middle school kids manage to eat lunch in 10 minutes and play for the other 35 minutes.
18. Contrary to popular belief, middle school students do like to read...jut ask them about Twilight or the Last Olympians.
19. Although they might not admit it at home, middle school students are proud of their siblings and their families...and love to talk about them.
20. Middle school students are capable of higher level thinking.
21. The flu preparation assembly has clearly worked for middle school students. I stopped counting the number of times that students have reminded me to "gel in and gel out. "
22. Staying organized appears to be a consistent challenge for many middle school students, especially the boys.
23. Being a K-12 campus is beneficial to middle school students. It provides them with a daily example of not only where they've been, but where they are going.
24. You need a strong sense of humor to work with middle school students. There is no way that you can make it through a day without laughing...or you'll go insane.
Well, I didn't make it to 26, but I hope the 24 I've provided give you an idea of how exciting my middle school experience has been thus far. The picture is from Max Patch, a beautiful mountain near Hot Springs, NC. It has absolutely nothing to do with PDS or middle school life, but I love the picture of the setting sun (my wife, Samantha, took it). Have a great week and thanks for reading,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Camp Cheerio

I just returned from a fantastic trip to Camp Cheerio with our 6th graders. The beautiful setting in Roaring Gap, NC provided the backdrop for three days of fun!! I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I'm confident that the kids did, too.

I'm quickly realizing that middle school students possess the wonderful quality to find enjoyment in the most challenging situations, and in completing tasks that the typical adult (or older student) might find boring or totally "uncool."
I was thoroughly impressed when my group of 31 students and 5 chaperones completed a 4.5 mile hike near Stone Mountain in a downpour and not one student complained. Instead, they sang along as we hiked, stopped for a good 5 minutes to admire a small turtle, and waded in the cold water beneath the waterfall.
I was thoroughly impressed with the energy students displayed when asked to complete dance routines ranging from "ice cream and cake" to "Istanbul." Next Friday's dance will surely be a a fun and exciting experience:)
I was thoroughly impressed when students (girls AND boys) continued to practice their stomping routines long after they were taught on Wednesday evening.
I was thoroughly impressed when my Choctaw cabin dwellers vowed to complete their dinner cleanup responsibilities as quickly and efficiently as possible...and did a fantastic job.
I was thoroughly impressed when most of the students decided to try the mudslide even though it was cold and caused to you get very wet and muddy.
In my opinion, this trip is a prime example of benefits of a class trip even in the time of financial distress. Ann Parker & the 6th grade team put together a special trip that was superbly planned, and well-executed by our chaperones and the professional staff at Camp Cheerio. I am convinced that there is so much to be learned when students are asked to leave their comfort zones and experience something new. It might be hard to quantify, but if our goal is to prepare our middle school children for the challenges of the future, then the Camp Cheerio trip is a resounding success.
Thanks again for reading, and for your support of our middle school students at PDS. It is such a pleasure working with your child. Have a great week,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Little Bit About Me

Thanks for reading my Blog. I thought it would be appropriate for my first official post to share some information about my family. I'll apologize in advance, because I've been known to talk in great detail about my wife and children. I guess that I can't hide how much joy they bring to my life, and I always find myself sharing the fun stories associated with a life that includes 10, 5, and 2 year-old children. Parenthood is the best "job" in the world. Where else can you work 24/7/365? Where else do you combine moments of pure elation with those of serious frustration? All kidding aside, one of the biggest gifts of parenthood is that I'm confident its made me a better person and a better educator.
On to Middle School life here at PDS. It would be an understatement to say that middle school kids are energetic because they clearly possess something more than simply energy...maybe boundless energy would be a better description. I have always enjoyed my time here at PDS working primarily 9th graders in the upper school, but there is something truly special about middle school children here. Over and over, I find myself commenting to colleagues and family (my entire family is involved in education) about how nice middle school kids are, and how they really do combine the best of both worlds...the enthusiasm and ability to dream big like lower schoolers and the thoughtfulness and independence of upper schoolers. This is not to say that there aren't "bumps in the road," but its to be expected given the emotional and physical changes that they are undergoing. This leads me to my 2nd point...the teachers and staff here at PDS who work with our middle school students.
This is truly a special group...just ask the middle school kids. ALL of the conversations I've had with students about middle school teachers and advisers include statements like "I love my teachers, " or "my advisor is really nice." They provide our young people with the perfect combination of love, consistency, and structure leaving the students feeling safe and appreciated at all times.
Thanks again for reading. Please feel free to leave comments and call (704-887-6097) or e-mail ( if you have any questions or concerns about middle school life at PDS.


Thanks so much for visiting my newest Blog.  My other Blog ( provided me with a way to capture my thoughts while on a 12-day, 11-night trip across the South to investigate the Civil Rights Movement.  I view this Blog as an opportunity to reflect upon some of the wonderful things that are happening here in Middle School at PDS.  Thanks for your comments,