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

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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

Teaching…….really?

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?

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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

THIS IS US: Lewisburg Edition

Lewisburg teachers have a special sense of pride in our school and community. We have often referred to LMS as our “second family” making this one of the many intangible factors that makes Lewisburg such a unique place.  It has often been said that if you choose a job you LOVE, then you will never work a day in your life.  Obviously, I love my kiddos, but I also love my coworkers. The 7th grade teachers have a pretty tight-knit bond that is woven here at school.  Our lunch period (25 minutes) is often filled with hysterical laughter, life milestones, and stories about our own families and friends. Last year, many of the 7th grade teachers started watching the greatest show EVER.  If you haven’t seen This Is Us, please set your DVR to record in on Tuesday nights. You can thank me later.  Anyone that watches will agree that you “know” one of these characters.  Similar to The Wonder Years (oldie but goodie), this show tugs at your heartstrings and seems to teach a life lesson in every episode. Our 7th grade teachers are hooked on this show and anticipate the Tuesday night episodes (and group-text frenzy).  The show sparks some rich, wholesome lunch conversations.  You should check it out!

 

Mrs. Lawrence – 7th Grade Special Education

6th Grade Social Studies

6th grade Social Studies has been studying the United States government. The students enjoyed seeing how a bill becomes a law in a game where they were able to mimic the process by creating a lunch menu and having it approved or vetoed by another group (President) and finally approved by yet another group, the nutritionists (Supreme Court).

We are starting a unit on citizenship to see how they, as juveniles, can help their community at even a young age.  We will be doing a project in the spring to raise awareness of others in need and hopefully invoke generosity in our students.  We will choose a project to raise money for a needy person/group in our community.

Mrs. Coker – 6th Grade