We kicked off the 2016-17 school year at Pequot Lakes Middle School with a challenge to all of our staff. The challenge was simple; every one of our 550 students needs an adult as their advocate. We’re going to extend that same challenge to you, our households.
Join us in activity that our staff took part during Workshop Week. If I challenged you to pick up the phone and call someone who was a difference maker from your youth, who would you call? As you spend time in personal reflection, you most likely have a handful of individuals that make the list. Maybe this was a person that was inserted into your life at an opportune moment, or perhaps they assisted in attaining your goals and dreams. Was this person a teacher?
For the 2016-17 school year, our Pequot Lakes Middle School staff has adopted a goal that is looking to continue to improve our “Patriot Time” (or homeroom). PLMS is partnering with the Search Institute (www.search-institute.org) to help enhance the personality traits that will help to lead our young men and women in their post-secondary journey. The Search Institute categorizes terms like: grit, determination, perseverance, into a larger concept they have coined “Developmental Assets”. These assets are an assembly of 40 research-based, positive experiences and qualities that influence young people’s development. We are looking to help our children become caring, responsible, and productive adults. Based in youth development, resiliency, and prevention research, the Developmental Assets framework has proven to be incredibly effective in schools throughout the nation.
One of the programs provided by the Search Institute is REACH. The REACH acronym stands for: Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognition and Heart. Our first Patriot Time anchor activity was conducted during our grade level student meetings during the second week of school. This interest inventory helped to set a firm foundation for the teaching of REACH and set the stage for our teachers to gain access to information about our students’ “Spark”. A spark is defined as a talent, skill or interest that is deeply motivating for our students. We are incredibly excited about this get-to-know-you activity as it will be a mechanism for our teachers allowing them a glimpse into your student’s world, outside of the classroom.
Character education is a critical element of the Pequot Lakes ISD 186 mission and a foundational element of Middle Schools throughout the nation. Though trends in society and teaching and learning have led us down different paths, know that PLMS will continue to strive to help students to be the best version of themselves.
Beyond teachers, we also extended a challenge to our parents/guardians at Open House night. In alignment with our school’s efforts to teach and reach kids beyond the walls of the classroom is our strategic push for all of our students to be involved in a school-related extracurricular activity. There are not enough pages in the Echo to list the research standing behind this effort, but know this is a step to help our students enhance their developmental assets. For many students, Band, Choir, Tennis or Chess Club may be the primary driving force behind why they crawl out of bed in the morning. This move also helps us to connect to our students’ aforementioned “spark”.
Though our goal is for involvement in Pequot Lakes school activities by all students, know that this challenge is not limited to the traditional offerings such as the arts, clubs here at school, or athletics. Outside of the school day PLMS is excited to partner with Rich Spiczka and our Community Education team. Rich is bringing a fresh perspective to this position and we are excited to watch our community program grow. In addition, we are appreciative of Pequot Lakes Activity Club (PAC) in helping to offer a wide array of options for our younger students.
If you are looking for some less-traditional activities and love the outdoors, consider a couple of our local partnerships. Options include everything from Trap Team, where students participate in the MN State High School Clay Pigeon League through Crosslake Charter School, to Fishing Club where students can participate in the MN Junior and HS Bass League circuit.
Middle School is a time period in which we should encourage our students to branch out, explore their curiosities, and try new things. In addition, it is the time period in which they need adult mentorship the most. These formative years can be difficult to navigate.
In closing, I’d like to challenge our readers with this. What can you do to ensure the children in your life would pick up the phone and call you? Please join us as we push our kids to be the best version of themselves and guide them on their developmental journey.
-- Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal