What is STEM?

Everyone likes to say STEM when discussing teaching methods.  Questions I often encounter from parents are; how does it help my child learn?  Does it really work?

STEM is a way to teach in the classroom that allows students to be enthusiastic about research and development rather than the same ole daily routine.  Students should be able to ask questions, develop and use models, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, use mathematics and computational thinking, construct explanations, as well as many other practices.

The classroom is a new world than when I was going to school.  Science was one of my favorite subjects throughout Middle School and High School.  I enjoyed the hands on activities the most, but those type of activities were rare.  Sometimes, I would struggle to understand concepts taught because I needed other methods than just the standard textbook to grasp key concepts.  I was usually afraid to ask questions for fear of ridicule from the teacher or my fellow peers.  However, that is not the case here at Lewisburg Middle School.  Students are encouraged to ask questions, and create through imagination and planning.  Students seem to enjoy working together to collaborate on ideas and create something as well as explain the reasoning behind their collaboration.  Students become the teacher, the presenter, the analyst as well as the engineer.

STEM is an engineering Design Process with 6 steps.

  • Step One: Ask!…Find out more about the problem.
  • Step Two: Imagine…Think Big!  Consider the possibilities.
  • Step Three: Plan…Think ahead about the steps.
  • Step Four: Create…Follow your plan. Make a model.
  • Step Five: Improve…Look at the model.  Make it better.
  • Step Six: Communicate….Get feedback.  Talk to others.

The Four C’s of STEM.

  • Critical Thinking- Thinking about problems in new ways
  • Communication- Sharing thoughts and ideas
  • Collaboration- Working together
  • Creativity- Using new approaches to get things done.

This is my second year to teach here at Lewisburg Middle School, and I must say, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I taught seventh grade science last year and sixth grade science this year.  We are trying to implement more and more STEM activities into our lessons. I enjoy nothing more than to see students light up when they are enjoying what and how they are learning.  It definitely makes my job so much more enjoyable.  STEM has definitely helped with the teaching process in my classroom this year.

Misty Ferrell

6th grade Science Teacher

Lewisburg Middle School

“Teaching isn’t rocket Science, it’s harder”


The stakes are high but the rewards are life changing!

The National Junior Honor Society qualifications are very rigorous, but the rewards are life changing. In order for students to meet the first criterion of being an Honor Society candidate, he/she must have an overall GPA of a 94/A. Then each student must fill out an application of their school history, write an essay, and pass a teacher background check in order to be inducted. After all that is over, the student then must work 8 hours of community service, stay clear of any school infractions, keep GPA over 94, and help raise money for a school charity. These are many responsibilities put on a 13-14 year old; however, these students are up to the task and even consider it a challenge. The students will be rewarded at the end of the year for all their hard work with a field trip and luncheon. However, rewards of be in the National Junior Honor Society is more intrinsic than extrinsic. For example, this year we raised several hundred dollars for the charity called Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center.

Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center staff has established a closet that provides vital necessities for children removed from unsafe environments by Desoto and Tate County’s Child Protection Services.  There are no resources available for children in the first week after being moved to a safe location. They are filling that need by providing the necessities for children ages newborn-17 years old who are in crisis.

Helping people is just one of the National Junior Honor Society’s five standards we follow. This standard is known as service. Service can be established in the routine of the day’s work where many opportunities arise to help others both at school and in the community.  A willingness to work for the benefit of those in need, without monetary compensation or public recognition, is the quality we seek in our membership and promote for the entire student body.  We are committed to volunteering our time and talents to the creation of a better tomorrow.

Another standard is leadership. Leadership should exert a wholesome influence on the school.  In taking initiative in the classroom and in school activities, the real leader strives to train and aid others to reach their common goals of success.  The price of leadership is sacrifice—the willingness to yield one’s personal interests for the interests of others.  A leader is one who has self-confidence and will go forward when others hesitate.  No matter what power and resources may exist in a school, community, or nation, they are ineffectual without the guidance of a wise leader.  Leadership is always needed; thus, to lead is a meaningful and substantive charge to each of our members.

The third standard is character. Character is the force within the individual that distinguishes each person from others.  It creates for each of us our individuality, our goodness.  It is that without which no one can respect oneself, nor hope to attain the respect of others.  It is this force of Character that guides one through life and, once developed, grows steadily within.  Character is achieved and not received.  It is the product of constant thought and action, the daily striving to make the right choice.  The problem of Character is the problem of self-control.  We must be in reality what we wish to appear to others—to be rather than seem.  By demonstrating such qualities as respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring, and citizenship, we may hope to prove by example that we value Character.

The fourth standard is citizenship. The student who demonstrates citizenship understands the importance of civic involvement, has a high regard for freedom, justice, and democracy, and demonstrates mature participation and responsibility through involvement with such activities as scouting, community organizations, and school clubs. Citizenship is the character and behavior of an individual as viewed as a member of our school.

The last standard is scholarship. Scholarship denotes a commitment to learning.  A student is willing to spend hours in reading and study, knowing the lasting benefits of a cultivated mind.  We should continue to learn even when formal education has ended, for human education ends only with the end of life.  Knowledge is one great element in life, which leads to the highest success and it can be acquired in only one way—through diligence and effort.  Learning furnishes the lamp by which we read the past, the torch guiding us to understand the present and the light that illuminates the future.  Candidates have the charge to continually expand their world through the opportunities inherent in scholarship.

In conclusion, The National Junior Honor Society not only strives to make themselves better, but the school and the world better also. This blog is in honor of all those Honor Society members who perform so many duties without recognition or credit—instead just out of the goodness of their own heart.

Mr. Wiltshire – 7th Grade Science

Equity and Cultural Leadership

I have begun a course for my graduate program titled, “Equity and Cultural Leadership.” The course is designed to provoke self-reflection in relation to equity and diversity in our school culture, and bring awareness and cultivate a sensitivity to being culturally responsive. So far in the course, we have looked at our own awareness of cultural diversity, such as writing about our first experiences noticing cultural differences around us and what age we were. We are also looking at the idea that students and educators are strangers because they sometimes lack shared experiences. It was helpful to reflect on our own understanding the experiences of our students and ways we can share experiences. We must also consider some of our students’ lack of access to experiences that we may take for granted. This may require us to do more building of background knowledge in the classroom. In addition to these reflections, we are working our writing our own cultural autobiography. According to Terrell & Lindsey (2009), “Some of us are very aware of our cultural identity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ableness, faith, and socioeconomic status. Others of us, for many reasons, either are unaware of our cultural identities or reject the importance of culture in our lives.” (p 30). I think it is important to be aware of our cultural identity and how our first awareness came about. It leads us to a great appreciation of the cultures and diversity around us leading us to be more culturally proficient educators.

Terrell, R. D. & Lindsey, R. B. (2009). Culturally proficient leadership: The personal journey begins within. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.



Mrs. Newton – 8th Grade Science

Celebration/Reward Day

Here at LMS we love to celebrate our kids’ accomplishments! Based on test scores, we were deemed the #1 middle school for the second year in a row. Woo hoo! So Mr. Meadows let us come out to the bowling alley and let off some steam from all of our hard work and testing this past 9 weeks! The kids and teachers had a great time. It was a great way to start our Spring Break!


Mrs. Western – 8th Grade Math

Black History month at LMS

The month of February is black history month, and here at LMS we celebrate that in many different ways. Each teacher has a specific black history month curriculum that they present to the students.

In most of the science classes here at Lewisburg middle, the students had to do a research project. Science teachers gave the students a list of prominent black scientists who have made a huge impact on the scientific community or they created inventions that influenced society. Students researched the inventor of their choice and created posters and cubes. The posters included pictures of the scientist, pictures of what made them famous or what they invented.  The students also had to write paragraphs about the scientist’s childhood, adulthood, and their accomplishments. Then the students had to present their posters or cubes to the class. They had to explain to the other students how their African American scientist influenced people everywhere. The students really enjoy doing this project and they learned some awesome things, for instance, how George Crum invented the potato chip.

Throughout the halls, there are posters that highlight several different African Americans and how they have been a huge influence all over the world.


In 7th grade advanced English classes, they had to create a scrapbook of sorts to highlight the book they have been reading in class, “Mississippi Trial, 1955”. “Mississippi Trial, 1955” is about the hardships of racism that plagues the south during the Civil Rights Era. The book shows how African Americans struggled throughout the Civil Rights Era. The students really enjoyed reading this book and doing their scrapbooks.



Mrs. Cox – 6th Grade Special Education Teacher


Have you ever wondered why anyone would want to become a teacher? That was always my question. I could not visualize anyone wanting to spend countless and thankless hours teaching children. Then it happened, I was offered a job as an ESL tutor while living in Virginia. It was remarkable pay and only a few hours a week, so of course I took the position. How hard could it be? All I had to do was go in for a few hours, work with a couple of children and my job was over. I had no responsibilities beyond those few hours with them.

I started out working one-on-one with children that were having difficulties in reading and writing. We were in a highly populated military area and most of the students that were ESL candidates were U.S. citizens, but they were born outside of the U.S. because of their parents’ deployment. Working with that first student is when it changed for me.

The first young man I worked with was born in Africa, so he had a heavy accent. He was in the second grade, but barely reading on a first grade level. By the time the year ended, we were reading chapter books together and he was reading on grade level.

The next year when I received my new group of students, I was disappointed. I had his younger brother, but not him. I was devastated! I had invested so much time in him and we were making astounding accomplishments (remember you have no responsibilities past those few hours with them….yeah right?) I voiced my concern about not having him, and one of the reading specialists reminded me that if I did not have him, then I was being successful. He did not need me anymore? That hurt.   Those words of wisdom changed my outlook on teaching.

My family and I moved to Olive Branch, MS and I was offered a job at my children’s school after doing some volunteer work for them. I was in a similar role working with students that needed remediation in math and reading. After working in that capacity for two years, I realized I truly enjoy working with students, especially students that need more individualized attention.

I decided to continue my education and become a SPED teacher. It seems odd to be starting my first year as a teacher at my age. Most first year teachers are just graduating college and I graduated years ago, many years ago! I feel fortunate to have started my career at the number one middle school in Mississippi (2 years in a row….woot woot). I have extraordinary teachers and administrators as mentors and co-workers. After watching the interactions between different teachers and students, I have concluded that teachers that are knowledgeable in their subject area seem to be more successful. My goal as a new teacher is to provide a safe and challenging atmosphere. I will strive to remember that we may be the only stable part of some of these students’ lives. I will get to know them and their personalities so I can be encouraging and compassionate to their needs. I will be a positive influence in their lives because sometimes teachers are the only one!


Mrs. Lewis – 6th Grade SPED

A Night To Shine

For many people when they hear the name Tim Tebow, they think of the Heisman trophy winning Florida Gators Quarterback that didn’t quite live up to the hype in the NFL. He is currently an outfielder for the New York Mets and does some football commentating on the side. But that’s not all he does. Tim Tebow created a foundation that amongst other things sponsors the “Night to Shine.” This is a special night for some special people. Night to Shine is a prom for people with special needs ages 14 and up. Churches, schools, and volunteers across America and a few other countries work together to create an unforgettable evening for teenagers and adults with disabilities.

On February 9, at Longview Point Baptist Church the DeSoto County area Night to Shine was a huge hit for some of our LMS students. The Best Buddies program had collected donations in order to purchase crowns and tiaras for our special guests. Some of them volunteered to help set up and even showed up for the festivities. I think we might just have the best group of Best Buddies in the county.

There were also appearances by some of our former LMS students, central service employees, and our Superintendent of DeSoto County, Mr. Uselton and his wife. I believe the smiles on the faces of everyone involved in this amazing night are evidence of the how incredible the experience is whether you are attending or volunteering. It is definitely a night to remember and a Night to Shine.


April Kinney

8th Grade Special Education Teacher

Interactive Notebooks: The NEW Math Textbook

What is an interactive notebook? Interactive notebook– a spiral notebook that is used to organize information.  Interactive notebooks are used for class notes as well as for other activities where the student will be asked to express his/her own ideas and process the information presented in class.  The right side is used for notes provided by the teacher as well as any foldables/visual aids that will assist in meeting and understanding the objective.  The students spend time highlighting and color coding related material and making connections between definitions and examples/number patterns.  This side contains the material needed to prepare for any assessments.  The left side is used for independent practice or for students to make any additional notes or drawings related to lesson or objective.  Both the left side and consecutive right side contain material from the same lesson and skill.

There are many advantages to using interactive notebooks in the classroom:

  1. Students take ownership of their learning.  Using colored paper/pens and highlighters, students allow their notes to come alive and it becomes easier to sort and connect information.  It also allows them to know what to come back to in order to prepare for a test or quiz.
  2. It reduces clutter. It eliminates excess papers being misplaced or lost. It keeps every note and example in one designated area.
  3. The notebook allows each student to relay steps/procedures to parents with less confusion. The design of each page should give parents a good idea about the skill being covered as well as a visual or numerical explanation.  This is helpful  when completing homework, preparing for a test, daily review, or tutorial help.
  4. It is an excellent way for students to collect missed work. When absent, a student can use a peer notebook or the teacher notebook to put everything in place and not miss any important information.
  5. The notebook creates a resource to use as students continue to extend their learning. They are constantly reviewing material and making references to previous lessons.


All of the 7th grade math teachers currently use an Interactive Notebook.  Have you seen it?


Mrs. Wilkerson – 7th Grade Math

The Black Swan

With February just behind us, teachers took a day, a week, or even the entire month to celebrate the achievements by famous and lesser-known African Americans in their classrooms. Most students know about Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Harriet Tubman, but what about the lesser-known African Americans. Do you know Elizabeth Greenfield? In honor of Black History Month, I would like to give you a little history lesson on one of the lesser-known African Americans.

Elizabeth Greenfield was a black opera singer in the 1850s. At the time, only whites sang opera. This was because many whites believed blacks could only make simple music, not art. Greenfield changed how people thought about black people’s abilities to sing opera. Opera was very popular in the U.S. before the Civil War. European opera singers like Jenny Lind came to the U.S. and huge crowds went to watch them. Lind was very popular. Greenfield had a very different life than Lind. At one time, Greenfield had been a slave.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield was born as a slave in Mississippi around 1820. But her owner was against slavery and set her free. Greenfield taught herself how to sing and began to perform in New York. There, she was given the nickname “the Black Swan.” Lind’s nickname was “the Swedish Nightingale.” A man named Joseph Wood became Greenfield’s promoter in 1851. Wood was a well-known racist and is said to have supported the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. These laws let slaves be captured if they escaped and then made sure they were returned to their owners. Wood would not allow black people to attend Greenfield’s concerts. Greenfield’s African-American supporters did not like this. In the 1800s, minstrel shows were one of the most popular forms of entertainment. They combined acting, singing and dancing. The shows were performed by white people in makeup pretending to be black people. The white actors painted their faces black. This act was known as “blackface.” The shows were racist and made fun of how black people sang and danced.

Greenfield was such a great singer that she made people rethink the talents of African-Americans. Many people agreed that Greenfield was very talented. However, they couldn’t accept her talent because of their racism against black singers. One fix was to describe Greenfield as talented but not natural. Greenfield made her New York City premiere in March 1853. She performed in one of the largest concert halls. It was called Metropolitan Hall, and it was built for Lind. No black people were allowed to watch Greenfield perform. People laughed at Greenfield when she took to the stage. Even though some laughed at first, once people heard her singing they agreed that her talent and vocal power were astonishing. After her American tour, she went to Europe and had a very successful tour there. Greenfield opened the way for some whites to start realizing that blacks were as talented as whites. (Credit; By Smithsonian.com)

I still think it is important to know about Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, but I also think it is important to broaden our horizons and research those who are not widely known like Elizabeth Greenfield. I am looking forward to sharing with my students about African Americans that may get overlooked like Elizabeth Greenfield.

~Mrs. Belk, Special Education Teacher


#Raise the Bar

Here at LMS, we are #raising the bar!

It is without a doubt, the teachers here at LMS are raising the bar for our students. Teachers are indeed helping our students to increase knowledge, acquire skills and identify abilities that will set them up for success in their life.  Looking into several classrooms, one could see our teachers in action.

The Eggs-periment!

One of our 6th grade science teachers, Mrs. Ferrell, has her students fully engaged with a science experiment about safety helmets. She has successfully involved them in the learning process. Her students have to create a “helmet” for an egg that will be dropped about 3ft off the ground. Will the eggs survive?

In the end, there were a few survivors!!!!!!  These 6th grade students were determined to create and model the best “helmet” possible. #Raise the Bar  #LMSClassrooms

Mrs. Newsom – 6th Grade Special Education