Falcon-ready: Welcome game plan set for new middle school

September 2016 Posted in School
Silverton Middle School Dean of Students April Murphy has a game plan to welcome students and staff and make school a fun place to be and learn.

Silverton Middle School Dean of Students April Murphy has a game plan to welcome students and staff and make school a fun place to be and learn.

By Kristine Thomas

Silverton Middle School Dean of Students April Murphy understands and acknowledges there is some apprehension from students, staff and parents about the new Silverton Middle School.

From navigating unfamiliar hallways to having sixth graders with eighth graders to worrying about safety, Murphy has heard many concerns.

Calmly and confidently, she replies, everything will be OK and not to worry.

That’s because for months, Murphy has invested a great deal of time and energy thinking how to make the new middle school a safe and fun place for students to learn and staff to work.

Along with members of her Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports team or PBIS, Murphy has studied the building and created ways to ease the flow of traffic. The halls have been labeled with a school colors, green, silver, black and white. Each student will be given a map of the school and there will be maps and other signs to help students and staff posted throughout the school.

“We created visual cues to make it as simple as possible for students to find their way around the school,” she said.

Eric Rappe has been hired as the campus hall monitor, Murphy said, adding he will be responsible making sure students get from one point to another safely. Other safety measures have been put in place to let students know what areas are off limits.

She also understands the biggest fear for the sixth grade parents is having their students around older students.

That, she said, is where PBIS training for students and staff kicks into gear. Eighth-graders will help with back-to-school day and other duties.

“By using PBIS, we get to empower the eighth-grade students to be leaders. We believe we can teach them to be peer mentors and empower them to lead in a positive way,” Murphy said.

From day one, all students will be taught the three school rules – To be safe, responsible and respectful, she said.

When students start on their first days of school, Murphy said they will begin by meeting in the gym for “Kick-Off.”

Silverton Middle School
Schedule for the First Week

Tues, Sept. 6th: 8th Grade Only
Wed, Sept. 7th: 6th & 7th Grade Only (No 8th Grade)
Thu, Sept. 8th: All Students Report
Fri, Sept. 9th: All Students Report.

Murphy said the staff is performing a “fun dance,” hosting a drawing for prizes and playing games. It’s a chance to teach students how they can be successful in school and to celebrate the new school family, she said, adding students will meet their AG teachers.

Along with their AG teachers, students will visit stations throughout the school to learn what PBIS behavior is expected of them in the library, gym, classroom, and cafeteria.

“The idea is to make the goals consistent so everyone knows what is expected,” she said. “We are giving students the tools to be successful in school.”

Murphy, who is studying to receive her administrative license and attended a PBIS training session this summer, said PBIS is also being taught at Mark Twain, Butte Creek, Scotts Mills and Robert Frost elementary schools.

“The idea of PBIS is empowering students to solve problems and to understand there are consequences for their behaviors,” she said.

Murphy said PBIS gives staff and students a way to successfully navigate in their school and the community. Even when students visit Roth’s market with their AG teachers, students will have guidelines for how to behave and be respectful in the community. There will be PBIS rules at the store.

As a parent of two young children, Murphy said everything she has done to prepare for students at the new middle school she has done thinking of it from a parent’s perspective.

“It’s my hope parents know that a lot of thought has gone into this, from creating an ease of traffic to ensuring safety to having a friendly staff,” she said. “Every minute detail has been thought of to make this a place kids want to be.”

Her goal is clearly communicate with parents and staff. If there is something she or her team hasn’t considered or if someone has an idea, she welcomes people to share them with her. She also encourages parents and community members to volunteer or find ways to be involved at Silverton Middle School.

A Parent Open House will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13. A Community Open House is on First Friday, Oct. 7, 5 to 6:30 p.m. Murphy invites parents and community members to stop by the school and see what is happening.

One thing she emphasizes is attitudes are contagious. If parents and teachers are stressed out or worrying, the students will pick up on that and their behavior will be similar.

“Positivity is contagious,” she said.

Having done her homework and implementing PBIS, Murphy is ready for a “great year at great school.”

“We are emphasizing to our students that they will be the first students to attend the new middle school and to encourage them to have a sense of ownership and pride in their school,” she said. “The kids are the reason we are here. It’s our goal and our job as teachers, staff and parents to cultivate a place where our kids are excited to be.”

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