Welcome to The Exciting World of Our UAS MS!

What an exciting first week of school we had at the UAS Middle School – WOOHOO!!  Our students are certainly an energetic and enthusiastic bunch, and that’s a fact! During the course of week #1, our awesome students engaged in a “boot camp” – as they became acclimated to their new grade levels for the New Year, they participated in a fabulous community building event at Hub Zero, and they were introduced to our new phone policy.

Having a stricter phone policy this year was born from conversations held with both teachers and parents dating back to last school year. The fact is that phones, in and of themselves, are not “bad”.  Most of our students, and all of the adults in the MS have mobile phones.  Phones are simply part of our daily existence, and they have made our ability to communicate faster and easier.  That said, phones also have the capacity to be very distracting as students anticipate incoming messages, play games, or wait to message their friends, etc.

In making our decision about the new phone policy, we read lots of articles and looked at research about the topic.  For you to gain some insight into our thought process, please feel free to read the following excerpt from an article entitled: 13 Critical Pros and Cons of Having Cell Phones in Schools by Philip Yiga (January 24, 2017)

Cons of Cell Phones in Schools:

  1. Cause Distractions at school:with the usage of cell-phones at school, students can easily get distracted from their studies because cell-phones enable someone to gain access to a lot of unnecessary content and this in turn makes it much easier for kids to lose focus when in the classroom. For example, if a student gets bored when a teacher is carrying-out lessons, then he/she (student) can easily pull-out their phone and begin playing games, chatting on Facebook or WhatsApp, or do other things that distract. This means some students won’t be able to pay attention to what is being taught.
  2. Cell-phones can be used for cheating on exams in schools:students can easily use cell-phones to cheat on exams when at school and this is possible especially if a student sneaks his/her cell-phone into the classroom during an assessment. In fact, this is a great challenge for schools today because they won’t be able to know whether students used their brains or technology-devices to earn their grades.
  3. Access to inappropriate content: although schools may limit the availability of websites to be accessed by students when using a school-network, some students can still find loops in the school-network and gain access to inappropriate content like violent online-games, thus causing a great distraction when at school. On top of that, some students can even decide to access the internet without using the school-network and this gives them access to all types of inappropriate content.
  4. Cyberbullying:cyberbullying is actually an increasing online-issue today and allowing students to have access to their cell-phones at school can accelerate this habit.
  5. Mobile devices disconnect students while at school: Allowing students to have phones at school encourages students to be disconnected from face-to-face communication and activities. Students use social-media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to communicate and this greatly disconnects them from their surrounding environment and from adults within their school-environment.

You can find the complete UAS Middle School phone policy by clinking on this link.

Here are some other important tidbits for you this week:

Microsoft Office Installation: The time has come to install Microsoft Office on computers if the program has not already been installed. Each student at UAS is allowed to install Microsoft Office on 5 different devices using their unique UAS email address. Please follow the directions on this Google Doc to install the Microsoft Office Suite for free. Students must install this at home and NOT at school.

CAT 4 Testing This Week: Students Need Headphones: On Monday and Tuesday of this week, our grade 8 and grade 6 students will take the CAT 4 test. All students must bring their own earbuds or headphones to take this assessment.

Thank you so much for your continued support of our school, our staff and your wonderful children.  Together we are building a vibrant learning community, and I couldn’t be more proud to be the Principal of this extraordinary school!  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and peace be upon you.

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Important Calendar Items:

  • Sunday, September 17 – MS Week Without Walls parent information session: 5:00 – 6:30 PM in the MS/HS Library
  • Monday, September 18: Grade 8 CAT 4 testing
  • Monday, September 18: MS/HS Instrument Zoo: 6:00 PM in the MPH
  • Tuesday, September 19: Grade 6 Cat 4 testing
  • Tuesday, September 19: UAS early dismissal @ 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, September 20: MS Counselors Coffee: 8:00 AM in room #1119
  • Monday, September 25 – MS Back to School Night (BTSN)

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!! WOOHOO!

The first day of the 2017-2018 school year is finally here, and I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you to the exciting world of the UAS Middle School.  The MS teachers have been working hard this past couple of weeks to make the school a welcoming place for learning.  Our MS team is very talented, and your children are very lucky to have these dedicated educators guiding them this year. There is truly a positive energy and optimistic enthusiasm in the air that is very contagious, and frankly speaking, I can’t wait for this school year to begin!

Here are some important points regarding the upcoming “New Year”:

  1. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to help your student by collecting the necessary school supplies ASAP. Please see my previous BLOG post that includes the links to the supplies lists for each of our 3 grade levels. You should note that the back to school supplies include a MacBook and the proper school uniform. You can click on this MS uniform policy link for complete details. Your student will certainly feel much more secure and comfortable if they have the items they need during this first week of school.
  2. The UAS Middle School will be introducing several new policies and practices this year. These policies and practices will include a new phone policy, parent/student online access to student grades, and a revamped and improved version of our Week Without Walls program. As the year unfolds, there will be multiple opportunities for you to learn more about these new policies and practices.  You can continue to read about the many happenings within the MS through this BLOG post, and you can also attend one of several meetings where topics will be shared and discussed with parents.  Please refer to the important calendar items listed below for complete details.
  3. We will host a Week Without Walls (WWW) parent meeting on Sunday, September 17 beginning at 5:00 in the MS/HS Library. This year’s program offers a wide range of exciting options for our students, and includes an exceptional variety of in, and out of country learning opportunities.  I hope you can join us to learn more!
  4. Finally, I do want to share that we will once again be taking our entire student body on a field trip on Thursday, September 14. The students will be provided with the details for this exciting, community building event during the opening assembly on Monday, September 11.  There will be a fee involved that will help cover the cost of the bus transportation as well as entry into the venue. Please stay tuned for more details.

Important Calendar Items

  • Sunday, September 10 @ 10 AM – New student orientation – Room 2200
  • Monday, September 11 – first day of school – WOOHOO!!!!
  • Thursday, September 14 – MS field trip – location to be announced on Day 1!
  • Sunday, September 17 – MS WWW parent information session: 5:00 PM in the MS/HS Library
  • Monday, September 18: MS/HS Instrument Zoo: 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, September 20: MS Counselors Coffee: 8:00 AM
  • Monday, September 25 – MS Back to School Night (BTSN)

There will be more news, events, and activities to share in the coming days and weeks, so I encourage you to continue referring back to this BLOG for all things Middle School.  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

Happy New Year!!!

Hello parents and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your family! WOOHOO!!!  I am happy to admit that I had a fabulous summer in America with family and friends, but I am now enthusiatically back at the helm for another exciting adventure at my favorite school on the planet – your UAS Middle School!

As the first day of the 2017-2018 school year approaches at lighting speed, I wanted to take this opportunity to offer some pre-first day advice and highlight several upcoming dates for your personal and family calendars.

First of all, here are some tips to help you and your Middle Schooler prepare for this New Year.

  1. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to collect school supplies as soon as possible. Your student will feel much more secure if they have all of the items they need for their classes.  Of course the back to school supplies should include a MacBook and the proper school uniform.  You can find the supplies lists by clicking one of the following links:
  1. Listed below are some important beginning of the school year dates. In particular, I want to draw your attention to the date for the MS Back to School Night (BTSN).  Though your child may express to you that “it’s no big deal” if you participate, I’m telling you: IT IS A BIG DEAL if you attend!  Your attendance sends a clear message to your child that you think their education and their school is important.  In addition, you have a golden opportunity to meet the teachers who will mold and shape your pre-teen in the coming year.  By attending, you are also sending a positive message to the MS staff that you value what the MS has to offer your child. Think of your attendance as the beginning of a meaningful partnership.
  2. Once your student has received their 10-day class schedule, I suggest you take a picture of the timetable with your phone. Because we operate on a 10-day sequence, the classes your child attends will cycle differently every school day. During the first days of school, the staff will encourage the students to take a picture of the schedule, and post a hard copy in their lockers.  If you also have a copy of their daily timetable, you are sending a positive message to your child that their daily routine is important to you, and it helps you discuss their daily routine with them when the school day has finished.
  3. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the other side of the planet during the month of July, I am grateful to be back to work, re-establishing routines and daily habits. Keep in mind, that while routines are definitely important for you and I as adults, routines are even more important for our students.  As the first day of school approaches, I encourage you to help your child begin adjusting to the daily life of school, by tweaking bed time hours, and considering a healthier food regimen. More sleep, and healthier food choices can help your child be better prepared for the rigors of MS that lie ahead.

Important Calendar Items

  • Sunday, September 10 @ 10 AM – New student orientation – MS/HS Library
  • Monday, September 11 – first day of school – WOOHOO!!!!
  • Sunday, September 17 – MS Week Without Walls parent information session: 5:30 PM
  • Monday, September 18: MS/HS Instrument Zoo: 6 PM
  • Thursday, September 21: MS Counselors Coffee: 8 AM
  • September 25 – MS Back to School Night (BTSN)

I do hope this message finds you and your family happy and healthy.  May you enjoy the last days of summer with your kids and relish the opportunities you have to spend quality time with them.  Your children will grown up very fast, and every moment spent with them is precious.  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

End of Year Reports on the Portal

Dear Middle School Parents!

Happy day to you and greetings from the AMAZING confines of your UAS Middle School!

I wanted to share that the end of year report cards are now available via the Parent Portal. Please note the following points regarding this end of the year reporting:

1. If your student has not completed all of their school work or assessments, you will find a mark of “INC” or incomplete on the report card. You would need to interact with the teacher directly to determine the root cause and/or details of this situation. Remember that we utilize a 1 to 7 grading scale. The scale does not include a “0” as a mark for work not yet completed. Thus, incomplete work will result in an “INC” mark posted on the report card.

2. If you are unable to open the Portal, your child’s account may be blocked. The block could be due to a non-returned library book, a damaged textbook, or an unpaid fee. Please contact the accounts department directly and inquire as to the reason for the block.

Student supplies lists for the 2017-2018 school year will be available in the coming week on the MS BLOG. In addition, hard copies can be obtained by contacting Ms. Hana in the MS office.

Here’s hoping that you and your family have a fabulous summer holiday. May your adventures be many, your travels be safe, and until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

The Sun is Setting on the 2016-2017 School Year!

Greetings parents from the exhilarating world of your UAS Middle School!!! WOOHOO!!!

As the 2nd year of the MS comes to an end, I want to pause and give thanks, and I want to share some highlights of the work being done to make ready for the 2017-2018 school year.  This truly has been an extraordinary school year, and I can’t thank you enough for the support you have provided our leadership team, our awesome staff and your amazing children.  Together we have formed an amazing learning community of which we can be very proud.

While we give thanks for what we have accomplished during this school year, please allow me to also reflect upon some of the exciting changes that are coming to our remarkable school.

  • Week Without Walls (WWW). The WWW program at UAS is under new leadership in the form of Dylan Carter and Kurtis Trottier, with strong support from Sarah Ghanem. This team has done a masterful job of preparing an extraordinary list of viable options – both in country and out of country – for our young people.  Moving forward from the incredible success we enjoyed from our out of country options last year, each grade level cohort will once again have an exciting curriculum based option in 2018.  The grade 8 students will once again trek to Kenya and continue their support of disadvantaged school children in need of lights.  Our grade 7 students will shift their focus to Nepal next year, with a new trip offering that promises to be extraordinary, while the grade 6 students have found excellent curriculum connections and will be making their way to Sri Lanka.  Please stay tuned for complete details!
  • Student Led Conferences. A Middle School task force was created in order to continue a tradition already established in the UAS Elementary School.  This task force was charged with creating the system by which we could host parent conferences managed by students next year.  Our students will be trained in a method of assessing and describing their own learning and progress, and will be prepared to host our first ever student led conferences in April 2018.
  • Refining our assessment practices. The UAS Middle School has leaders who are in charge of vertical teams of curriculum area teachers.  Thus, we have curriculum leaders in charge of math, English, science and social studies that span our three grade levels (6, 7 & 8).  These leaders have been meeting with Lisa Gibson, our school wide curriculum leader to more clearly define our assessment policies and practices.  We are working hard to build consistency across the grade levels and between each of the curriculum areas.  We also want to enable students to be better informed about their own learning and what they can do to continue improving their own growth. More details will follow in September.
  • On-line gradebook. One of the founding goals of the UAS Middle School was to have a grade book program that would provide students and parents online access to current and ongoing assessment details – for both summative and formative assessments – as well as grades.  That day is about to dawn!  We will be piloting an online gradebook for student and parent access in the fall of 2017.  The exact details are still a work in progress, but rest assured, once school has resumed, we will make this information available as soon as possible.  WOOHOO!!!

Students received their final check-out forms on Sunday, June 11.  We expect students to complete this simple check-out procedure and return the slips to their homeroom teacher by Wednesday, June 14.  Any student with an outstanding debt, a library book or missing musical instrument, etc., will have their report card blocked until the situation is resolved.  Kindly help your student by making sure they take care of these details before June 20.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Please note we will be operating with a shortened and revised schedule on Tuesday, June 20. The adjusted timetable for the Middle School on the last day of school will be as follows:

Period

Start Time

Ending Time

Length

Period 1

8:30

8:55

25

Period 2

9:00

9:25

25

Period 3

9:30

9:55

25

Period 4

10:00

10:25

25

Period 5

10:30

10:55

25

Grade 6 & 7 COA

11:00

12:00

60

Grade 8 Activity

11:00

12:00

60

Dismissal

12:00

   

Assessments and Classwork/Homework (published previously)

The last day of the school year for our students is June 20, and all students across the school will be dismissed @ 12:00.  Between now and June 20, there is still curriculum to cover, and learning to measure.  While the shorter school days may bring about a reduction in the amount of homework – at the discretion of the teacher – there will still be assignments given, and assessments assigned in the coming week. I have asked the MS teachers to advertise assessments dates in advance, so that students (and parents) can plan accordingly.

Students Who Travel (published previously)

Finally, if parents are planning to have their student leave school prior to the end of the year, please communicate with Ms. Lisa Scott in attendance, Ms. Hana in the MS office, and with individual teachers.  If students are absent, it is still their responsibility to complete school work and finish all assessments as assigned.  The best plan is to have your student be aware of all subject area assessment dates in order to avoid a mark of Incomplete “INC” on the quarter 4 and/or end of year report card. Communication is the key!

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Important Dates and Activities:

June 14:         Grade 8 COA @ 12:30 in the MPH

June 19:         Middle School report cards posted on the Parent Portal

June 20:         Grade 6 & 7 COA @ 11:00 in the MPH

June 20:         Last day of school – early dismissal @ 12:00

I do hope this information is helpful for you and your Middle School student.  If you have any question or concern about any of these details, please do not hesitate to write or call at your convenience.  Until our paths cross again, may your travels me safe, and your adventures be many.  Please take good care and may peace be upon you.

 

Ramadan Timetable and Details

Greetings once again from the exciting world of your UAS Middle School!!! WOOHOO!!!

As you are well aware Ramadan will begin in the coming week, and I wanted to share some points regarding our daily timetable and what students/parents can expect during the last 3½ weeks of school this year.

Time Table

The adjusted Ramadan Timetable for the UAS Middle School will be as follows:

Period Start Time Ending Time Length
Period 1 8:30 9:10 40
Period 2 9:15 10:00 45
Homeroom + Break 10:05 10:25 20
Period 3 10:30 11:15 45
Lunch 11:15 11:55 40
Period 4 12:00 12:45 45
Period 5 12:50 1:30 40

Students who are not fasting will be allowed to eat in the cafeteria, but will be asked to not consume food or water in school hallways/classrooms, or in any outside area.  In order to keep students safe from the excess heat and humidity, all outside play areas will be closed beginning May 28, and no students will be allowed to play football on the pitch or basketball on the outside courts. Students will be allowed to be outside if they wish, but they will not be allowed to exercise or play sports. We will make inside air conditioned spaces (classrooms) available for those students who are fasting.

In addition to the time table information listed above, I am glad to share 10 tips/points about Ramadan as presented to the staff by the UAS Islamic and Arabic departments:

  1. Ramadan is a special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world, beginning with the sighting of the new crescent moon. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives, and the third “pillar” or religious obligation of Islam.
  2. The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.
  3. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. This means not consuming food or drink, including water, during the daylight hours. Smoking is also forbidden during fasting.
  4. Muslims arise early in the morning during Ramadan to have a pre-dawn breakfast meal, known as “Suhoor”. At the end of the day, the fast is completed by taking the “Iftar” meal, which usually includes dates, fresh fruits, appetizers, beverages and dinner. Later in the evening, Muslims attend special night prayers called “Taraweeh” at their local mosque.
  5. Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur’an, giving charity, purifying one’s behavior, and doing good deeds. As a secondary goal, fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate, and learning thankfulness and appreciation for all of God’s bounties.
  6. Not only does fasting have spiritual benefits, but abstaining from food periodically will aid the body in cleansing itself from impurities. Fasting allows the body to rid itself of poisonous substances that can lead to serious illness and disease.
  7. The good that is acquired through the fast can be destroyed by: the telling of a lie, slander, denouncing someone behind his back, a false oath, or greed. These are considered offensive at all times, but are most offensive during the Fast of Ramadan.
  8. Fasting is not an excuse. Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from other duties and responsibilities. Muslims believe they are rewarded for continuing to work during the fast. Therefore, fasting does not excuse students from completing their school work or taking assessments as planned.
  9. Keep in mind that Muslims are fasting joyously, and in fact, Muslims wait the entire year to celebrate the Holy month of Ramadan.
  10. After the end of Ramadan, a very festive and joyous holiday is celebrated by Muslims, known as Eid-ul-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast. On the day of the Eid, Muslims attend special congregational prayers in the morning, wearing their nicest clothes and perfumes. Muslims greet and hug one another, saying “Eid Mubarak”, which means “Holiday Blessings.” Muslim families visit each other’s homes, and have special meals together. Children are often rewarded with gifts, money, and sweets.

Assessments and Classwork/Homework

The last day of the school year for our students is June 20, and all students across the school will be dismissed @ 12:00.  Between May 28 and June 20, there is still curriculum to cover, and learning to measure.  While the shorter school days may bring about a reduction in the amount of homework/classwork – at the discretion of the teacher – there will still be assignments given, and assessments assigned.  I have asked the MS teachers to advertise assessments dates in advance, so that students (and parents) can plan accordingly.

Students Who Travel

Finally, if parents are planning to have their student leave prior to the end of the school year, please communicate with Ms. Lisa Scott in attendance, Ms. Hana in the MS office, and with individual teachers.  If students are absent, it is still their responsibility to complete school work and finish all assessments as assigned.  The best plan is to have your student be aware of all subject area assessment dates in order to avoid a mark of Incomplete “INC” on the quarter 4 and/or end of year report card.

I do hope this information is helpful for you and your Middle School student during Ramadan this year.   Please take good care and may peace be upon you.

The Incomplete (“INC”) Story

Greetings once again folks from the electrified world of your UAS Middle School!!! As the days get fewer and fewer, and as we race quickly toward the end of this school year, I wanted to take the time to explain our Summative Assessment Policy (SAP) and practice.

The goal of this assessment policy is two-fold: We aspire to hold our student accountable for completing all of their assessments, and we want to provide a grade (1 to 7) for all assessments completed.  In short, a student can no longer earn the mark of “0” for an assignment not yet finished.  In order for a student to earn a final grade that is posted on their report card, they must complete all of their assignments and assessments. If a student performs poorly they will earn a low grade.  If a student does not complete the assignment at all, then we cannot assign a grade because we have no evidence of what the student has learned, thus the student will earn an “INC”, or incomplete.

Our policy as last revised on March 14, reads as follows:

UAS Middle School Summative Assessment Policy

Students are expected to complete all summative assessments on time as prescribed by the classroom teacher.

  • Any summative assessment not completed and submitted by the teacher assigned due date will be recorded in the grade book as an incomplete (INC).
  • A student who does not complete a summative assessment on time will be expected to attend a compulsory session in the After School Learning Center (ASLC) until the summative assessment has been successfully completed. The assessment must be completed in the presence of a teacher.
  • In addition:
    • The student is expected to complete the assessment during one ASLC session. If the student has multiple assessments to complete, arrangements can be made for the student to attend the ASLC on multiple occasions.
    • If the student fails to attend the ASLC in order to complete the assessment, the student will be expected to complete the assessment in the presence of a teacher in a Saturday Morning Summative session.
  • Regarding the end of the quarter:
    • Students must complete all summative assessments by 7:45 AM on the last day of the quarter. During quarter 4, the last day for completing assessments is on June 15 – the last Thursday of the 2016-2017 school year.
    • Any summative assessment that is not completed by 7:45 AM on the last day of the quarter will earn the mark of incomplete (INC) in the grade book, and thus an INC for that class on the report card.
    • The lowest mark a student can earn on their report card is a level “1”

Please Note:

  • Any summative assessment completed beyond the Synergetic deadline in the company of a teacher will be accepted and graded. While not changing the incomplete status of any quarter grade on the report card, the graded summative assessment will be used to determine the full year grade.

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At the end of the school year, students will receive a report card that contains 5 grades for each year long class, and 3 grades for any semester/half-year class.  For example, students will earn a grade for their core classes (math, science, English, social studies, and Arabic, etc.,) in quarter 1, 2, 3, and 4, plus they will receive a Full Year grade. Any student who has not completed all of their summative assessments or assignments will earn the mark of “INC” on their Full Year mark.  The responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the student to complete their assignments when assigned.  If the student did not finish the assessment when prescribed, it is the responsibility of the student to make arrangements with the teacher to complete the assessment as expected.  The completion of the assessment is the only solution to erase an INC mark from the report card

If you have any questions or concerns about an incomplete mark that appears on your child’s report card, I encourage you to speak with your child first.  Secondly, I encourage you to coach your child to speak with the teacher in order to make a plan for successfully completing all assessments, so that the end of year report card can be free of “INC” marks.

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Important Dates and Activities:

May 15:          MS Band and Choir concert @ 6:30 in the MPH

May 18:          MS Counselors Coffee @ 7:45 – location TBD

May 18:          Grade 8 student social/celebration

Until our paths cross, please take good care, and remember, Middle School students matter!!  May peace be upon you.

The MS is Energized for an Awesome Week!

Welcome to May and greetings to from the UAS Middle School!!!  WOOHOO!!

There continues to be lots of activities and excitement in the hallways and classrooms of the UAS Middle School!  One could argue that the energy generated within our awesome school is indicative of any middle level school. While that statement is probably quite true, I of course believe that our students and staff are extraordinary, and thus the enthusiasm produced is likewise exceptional!

There are two parallel activities upon which our school wide community is focused this week:  Teacher Appreciation Week and Respect Week.

Respect Week:

Sponsored by our very own MS Student Voice Committee (SVC), these amazing students have created a wonderful program for our students and staff on May 8, 9, and 10.  Monday, May 8 is Student Voice Day.  Students will participate in student-led discussions about our learning community.  They will have the golden opportunity to share their voice, and discuss with one another ways which we can make our school even more terrific!

During Technology Tuesday, students will focus on how to respect themselves and others while using technology.  Students will be role playing in a controlled chat room activity and then discussing appropriate interaction strategies.  To raise awareness for the day’s activities, Tuesday will also be a dress down day.  Students are encouraged to dress as their favorite device, wear a logo from a technology company, or dress as a technology celebrity.

Wednesday, May 10 will complete the Respect Week activities, with the SVC sponsoring Career Day.  Students will be able to attend one of 13 amazingly interesting presentations about what the professional world is like. We are so very fortunate that 13 members of our community have agreed to talk to our students about their jobs and the path they had to take to get to where they are today.

Teacher Appreciation Week:

Our staff is absolutely amazing!  I am truly grateful and blessed to have been an educator for 35 years, and during this time I have had the good fortune to have worked with many outstanding educators.  That said, I believe the current group of MS teachers is truly excellent and I am so very proud to be their principal.  The fact is, your children are lucky to be in their care! J As a result, I would encourage you to reach out to any one or the group of teachers that serve your child and say thank you.  For me, this week is not about buying gifts for your child’s favorite teacher, but more about showing your appreciation and regard for the difficult work they do.  Trust me, teaching is a challenging, yet richly rewarding job.  Our staff teach because they love working with young people – your children!  Feel free to contact them and say thanks this week, or at any point during the last few weeks of the school year.  Rest assured that a “pat” on the back will go a long way to continue building mutual trust and respect.

In addition to these two activities this week, you are also cordially invited next week to the Middle School Band & Choir Concert on Monday, May 15th, 2017 @ 6:30 pm in the Multi-Purpose Hall. Each of the grade level bands and choirs will be performing 3 pieces and one mass piece. The choir students will be singing classical, pop, and African pieces in multiple languages! The band students will be playing some favorites including “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, the main theme from “Star Wars”, as well as more complex piece you might not know yet! There will be choreography, clapping, narration by students, and two wonderful finales!

Over 100 middle school students will be involved in this concert. It’s a fantastic night, and we would love to have you join us. Come and see what the MS Music Program is all about! Admission is free, and the concert will last approximately two hours. If you have any questions about the concert, please contact Emma Gordon, the Middle School Band & Choir Teacher (egordon@uasdubai.ae).  We hope to see you there!

Last but not least, please remember the Fringe Festival on Tuesday, May 9 @ 6:30 PM in the Library, highlighting the artistic gifts of our talented students!

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Important Dates and Activities:

May 7-11:       Teacher Appreciation Week

May 8 -10:      Respect Week, sponsored by the MS Student Voice Committee

May 9:            Fringe Festival @ 6:30 in the Secondary School Library

May 15:          MS Band and Choir concert @ 6:30 in the MPH

May 18:          MS Counselors Coffee @ 7:45 – location TBD

May 18:          Grade 8 student activity – stay tuned for more details

 Until our paths cross, please take good care, and remember, Middle School students matter!!  May peace be upon you.

Parent Teacher Conferences Have Returned!

Welcome back once again to the exciting world of the UAS Middle School!  WOOHOO!

On Wednesday, April 26 and Thursday, April 27 we will host the second installment of our annual parent-teacher conferences.  These meetings provide a golden opportunity for parents, teachers and students to gain a better understanding of how we can work together to raise the academic achievement of our most precious commodity.

While making plans for the conferences at the end of this week, I came across an excellent article to help guide parents as they make ready for this batch of “check-ups”.  I have inserted some of my own thoughts along with the author, but I do hope you enjoy this articled entitled:

8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences, by Lori Garcia

It’s time again for parent-teacher conferences, when home and school join forces for the betterment of our students.  For some, parent-teacher conferences will be one of the few times you’ll speak with your child’s teacher, while for others this meeting marks another in a string of conversations you have already had during the current school year.

If you greet parent-conferences with a twinge of anxiety, know that you’re not alone. I’ve had years where I knew I wasn’t going to like what I was about to hear. I’ve had years where I’ve even cried a little. And this year, even with both of my kids finally on behavioral track, I’m nervous for what this week’s parent-teacher conferences will bring.

Nerves aside, it’s our job as parents to support our young learners with the help of their teachers. Let’s take a look at 8 ways we can get the most out of parent-teacher conferences to support our children.

  1. Manage your expectations. Your parent-teacher conferences are designed to give you a general idea of your child’s academic and behavior performance. With each conference lasting 10 minutes in length, standard conferences don’t allow enough time to tackle deeper issues. If you have specific challenges and concerns you wish to discuss with your child’s teacher, use this opportunity to schedule a follow up meeting.
  1. Be punctual. With only 10 minutes allotted per parent, your child’s teacher doesn’t have a moment to spare. Arrive on time and silence your mobile devices to give your child’s teacher the attention they deserve.
  1. Talk to your child before, or, consider bringing your child with you to the conferences. I don’t like surprises, so I preface every parent-teacher conference with a conversation with my child. “Is there anything I need to know before meeting with your teachers, because I’d rather hear from you first.” As much as I dislike putting my kids in this awkward position, I can’t tell you how many times they’ve sheepishly admitted to behavioral wrongdoings and a poor test score or two that never made it home. Knowing these things prior to your conference will better prepare you for what your child’s teacher has to say. In addition, I strongly urge you to consider bringing your child with you to the conferences.  After all, the meeting is about their learning and progress.  Feel free to have these conferences be “student involved”.
  1. Come prepared. With only 1 quarter of the school year remaining, perhaps you are still scratching your head because of a few points. For example: Is my kid supposed to bring a book every day to REGAL? How do I look at the Google Classroom? Where do I find the grade level assessment calendar? Jot down your questions so you won’t forget to ask when the teachers offer to answer any of your questions.
  1. Listen with an open mind. Arguably the hardest part of having school-aged children is hearing your child’s teacher mention anything less than complementary about your kid. However, out of respect for your child’s teacher and their professional authority, we owe it to our students to listen with an open mind. Remember, you and your child’s teacher possess the shared vision of your student achieving their personal best.
  1. Take notes. Hopefully, nothing your child’s teacher reports will come as shocking information, but you’re certain to learn a few things about your child’s academic progress that you didn’t know. Especially if your child is unable to attend the conferences with you, take notes to discuss the points with your child after the conferences and be sure to inform your child of the good stuff along with areas for improvement.
  1. Show respect. It can be difficult to show respect to a teacher who has less than favorable details to report – particularly if the chemistry between child and teacher is rocky. Mutual respect between parent and teacher is vital for the success and academic development of your child. It’s as simple as this, when parents and teachers work together, students win!
  1. Ask what you can do at home. If your child’s teacher advises that additional practice is needed, inquire about specific resources available. As an academic professional, your child’s teacher is a wealth of information who will gladly point you in the right direction.

Here’s hoping these tips will help you better prepare for your child’s annual “check-up from the neck up”.  On behalf of the entire teaching staff and leadership team of the UAS Middle School, we look forward to hosting you on April 26 from 1 to 6 PM, and again on Thursday, April 27 from 8 AM to 12 PM.

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Important Dates and Activities:

April 24: Quarter 3 Celebration of Achievement @ 10 AM in the MPH.  If your child is earning recognition, an invitation was sent last week.

April 26:  Early dismissal @ 12 PM for students.  Parent/Teacher conferences from 1 to 6 PM

April 27: Parent/Teacher conferences from 8 AM to 12 PM

May 1, 2, 3 & 4:  MAP testing

May 9:  MS “Fringe Festival” – 6:30 PM in the Secondary School library

May 15:  MS spring band and choir concert – 6:30 PM in the MPH

Until our paths cross, please take good care, and remember, Middle School students matter!!  May peace be upon you.