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Old 04-07-2008, 04:39 PM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 6,186,269 times
Reputation: 913

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Aries, that's a really interesting post. I guess this discussion should really be on the Middle schools thread you tried to start. Sorry, my fault for quoting you on this thread.

About Mabry losing the physical middle school model due to expansion, my daughter entered grade 6 right after the expansion, so she never experienced the previous model. However, I do recall much enthusiasm expressed by the administration and parents of existing students, that the food would be HOT in the big new cafeteria, since it wouldn't have to be transported to the separate commons areas. I guess things like tepid food can make the model unpopular!

When my daughter started 6th grade, I remember the homeroom lists being posted by Pod. We haven't hear a lot of Pod talk since, but that could be because my daughter is privileged to be in all AC/accelerated classes for her academic core subjects. This has meant that she has experienced Mabry as part of a fairly cozy sub-community of advanced students. I suspect this family atmosphere is what the middle school model is intended to deliver, but our schools may not always be achieving.

One of the great things that my lucky daughter has experienced, is that her superb 7th grade math and science teachers (the wonderful Mrs A. and Mrs C.) moved up from 7th to 8th grade with their classes last fall. It's rare for kids to enjoy this kind of benefit, but the teacher continuity was really excellent for the kids, I think.
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Old 04-07-2008, 05:20 PM
 
12 posts, read 53,756 times
Reputation: 12
Default Middle School questions

Hi, I have been reading for a while now and had posted a question on schools a couple of months ago when I learned we would be relocating to Atlanta.

For our purposes, as parents of middle schoolers, and facing commutes, we have chosen to live inside the perimeter, concentrating on Henderson Middle and Lakeside High. I have read the concerns of other posters about DeKalb County schools and personally visited both schools. I also visited Shamrock. I am a middle school teacher (in fact, am only certified to teach middle grades). While I am not an expert by any means, I do feel being a parent and teacher of middle schoolers gives me some inside knowledge.

I agree with Aries about middle school education. It is a very difficult time in these young students' lives. I have taught at both urban, low socio-economic schools and suburban, affluent schools. Some things are the same everywhere. Peer pressure is powerful at any school. I am very nervous about uprooting our children at this age, but really had no choice. If a child at this age has a solid, core group of friends (that you as a parent are comfortable with), that is half the battle.

The original poster seems to be on the right track of staying involved with her child. The number one indicator of success in a young person's life is parental involvement. I can't comment on the Atlanta schools since we are not there yet (end of school year will see us moving down) but in regards to the concept of middle schools I have asked at all middle schools, "Do you team?" Middle School is seen as a transition. Teaching the children to accept more responsibility for their learning while working as a team of teachers to best meet each child's needs.

Good luck to the OP. Hope this makes since, I don't have time to proof, as I have to go pick up one of my teens...

Baercubsmom
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Old 04-07-2008, 05:36 PM
 
46 posts, read 214,592 times
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@baercubsmom,
Can you please share your experience and impressions when you visited Henderson? What is it about Henderson that makes you comfortable with it? Why did you settle on areas zoned for Henderson as opposed to Shamrock?
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Old 04-07-2008, 05:47 PM
 
14,433 posts, read 23,125,470 times
Reputation: 5141
Quote:
Originally Posted by RainyRainyDay View Post
Aries, that's a really interesting post. I guess this discussion should really be on the Middle schools thread you tried to start. Sorry, my fault for quoting you on this thread.

About Mabry losing the physical middle school model due to expansion, my daughter entered grade 6 right after the expansion, so she never experienced the previous model. However, I do recall much enthusiasm expressed by the administration and parents of existing students, that the food would be HOT in the big new cafeteria, since it wouldn't have to be transported to the separate commons areas. I guess things like tepid food can make the model unpopular!

When my daughter started 6th grade, I remember the homeroom lists being posted by Pod. We haven't hear a lot of Pod talk since, but that could be because my daughter is privileged to be in all AC/accelerated classes for her academic core subjects. This has meant that she has experienced Mabry as part of a fairly cozy sub-community of advanced students. I suspect this family atmosphere is what the middle school model is intended to deliver, but our schools may not always be achieving.

One of the great things that my lucky daughter has experienced, is that her superb 7th grade math and science teachers (the wonderful Mrs A. and Mrs C.) moved up from 7th to 8th grade with their classes last fall. It's rare for kids to enjoy this kind of benefit, but the teacher continuity was really excellent for the kids, I think.

Hello Rainy--

Quoting on this thread is fine.

You actually outlined one of the points. There is not much "pod" talk these days. They really exist in name only. I was at McCleskey the other day and the 6th graders were talking like "yeah, I'm in pod B, but I have two classes in A, two in C, and one in B..." What? What's the point of having pods/teams then?

Another change in the middle schools (in Cobb Co. at least) has been the advent of the AC classes. This is so not true middle school (junior high or better yet, high school anyone?) There is way to challenge advanced kids (and have some pull-out for truly designated gifted kids) without all of the pure tracking. Cobb County gave in and took the easy route.

A good point is that your daughter was able to loop with some teachers...this is great for the middle school level.
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Old 04-07-2008, 06:08 PM
 
46 posts, read 214,592 times
Reputation: 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmills View Post
As a parent, my first question would be, how would moving my child away from his friends affect him? Wouldn't he be less affected by bullying/less likely to fall into a bad crowd/more able to concentrate on his own grades if he was able to continue to the next school while sticking with some of his grade-school friends?

Why throw the burden of being the new kid in his lap?

(This is, of course, assuming he has attended the same grade school for at least a few years and has some friends there.)

I applaud you being concerned about his attending the best schools, but there's a lot more to consider here.
In response to your reply about moving my child away from his friends...my child is very resilient. From my observation, he adapts well to change and tends to see the positives of a new situation as opposed to the the negatives.

I want my child to receive the best education possible. I have little concern about trying to keep him at the same school as his 'friends'..especially when that school has pretty low test scores. Shamrock has a 5 out of 10 on greatschools.net. Many people here seem to toss test scores out of the window, but this is something that speaks volumes to me. If one is not to judge a school by its test scores, then please tell me what other wonderful factors I should be taking into consideration that carry so much more weight than test scores.

No matter what school my son attends I don't think that he will have a problem making new friends. My main concern is getting him situated in a middle school with strong test scores that feeds into a high school that possesses the same.
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Old 04-07-2008, 06:28 PM
 
3,972 posts, read 11,291,826 times
Reputation: 1439
Does your son have high test scores? Is he in the gifted program?

Because, quite frankly, the highest scoring schools in the state generally have the fewest resources to pull kids up. Their resources are almost always exclusively targetted to the top.

If you want high scoring, look in East Cobb, N. Fulton and some parts of Gwinnett. Peachtree Middle in Dunwoody sticks with the team (pod) concept pretty religiously, but gifted students have a far superior experience than those who are not. Henderson and Shamrock mix up the gifted kids, I think, Peachtree does not.
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Old 04-07-2008, 06:45 PM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 6,186,269 times
Reputation: 913
Default Gifted kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by aries4118 View Post
Another change in the middle schools (in Cobb Co. at least) has been the advent of the AC classes. This is so not true middle school (junior high or better yet, high school anyone?) There is way to challenge advanced kids (and have some pull-out for truly designated gifted kids) without all of the pure tracking. Cobb County gave in and took the easy route.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lastminutemom View Post
Does your son have high test scores? Is he in the gifted program?

Because, quite frankly, the highest scoring schools in the state generally have the fewest resources to pull kids up. Their resources are almost always exclusively targetted to the top.

If you want high scoring, look in East Cobb, N. Fulton and some parts of Gwinnett. Peachtree Middle in Dunwoody sticks with the team (pod) concept pretty religiously, but gifted students have a far superior experience than those who are not. Henderson and Shamrock mix up the gifted kids, I think, Peachtree does not.
I was a gifted kid who was "skipped" some grades. Socially, it was a miserable experience and I didn't want that for my child. The "tracking" approach has suited her well.

Back home in British Columbia, gifted kids get no pull-out and no tracking. The attitude is that they're very fortunate, and their presence will help the other kids, and the resources all go to the special needs at the other end of the spectrum.

I don't want to be greedy and say my kid's group should get all the resources. It bothers me that other populations may not be so well served. Yet my kid is of course extremely important to ME, and the AC classes and accelerated math have served her well - better than the pull-out program in elementary, I think.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:21 PM
 
12 posts, read 53,756 times
Reputation: 12
Default Middle Schools

KM08,

As a middle school teacher I knew what questions to ask. When my husband and I first visited the school, we were told that school tours had been held in the last few weeks and no more were scheduled. I knew to ask to speak to someone in Guidance and we were very pleased to meet with one of the counselors. My children were slated to take some high school level classes next fall, elegible for Carnegie units towards graduation, and they were very concerned about what would happen when they moved to GA. The guidance counselor was able to explain everything to our satisfaction. We had a very informative interview, discussed test scores, ratings, etc. Then, she asked if we would like to see the school? I explained that we knew tours had already been held and we had missed them (being from out of town) and she said, "come on and let's go see the school."

We had a wonderful tour. I saw many engaged students, active learning, etc. Students were walking in line to attend a school play. Some students were at lunch in the cafeteria. Students were respectful, quiet in the halls (as much as middle schoolers can be). All in all, it was a very comfortable, inviting atmosphere. I commented on the dress of the kids since my children have to wear a "uniform" (at their current public school). Apparently Dekalb used to have uniform dress codes in some schools but they did away with that. That is one negative in my book since I like uniforms, both as a parent and teacher.


The counselor was very nice about introducing us to faculty members that my children might have and I was able to have some very informative conversations with them. All in all, I felt Henderson would be a good choice for us as a family.

We also visited Lakeside, met with a counselor there, had a very nice tour, discussed test scores, where kids go to college, etc. Again, just as at Henderson, we had missed scheduled tours but were welcomed and escorted all over the campus.

While both buildings are older, they seem to be well-kept. I looked in the girls' restroom (a place I try and avoid as much as possible ) and it was clean and serviceable. We have lived in towns where school buildings are well over 100 years old and I have taught in old buildings as well as new. While I certainly appreciate the newer buildings, I certainly did not mind the older buildings. Both schools have been wired for current technology needs.

Henderson is our choice over Shamrock due to a number of things. One being ratings, and yes, I do give GreatSchools some weight. While you can't compare schools across state lines you can compare within the same state since you are using the same criteria for comparison for each school. Also, we liked the location of the neighborhoods in the Lakeside district better...and we can't afford Druid Hills. We strongly considered City of Decatur but the middle school does not offer French and that is a must for one of my children (honest, she has had two years already and doesn't want to lose it).

I have spent the last few months reading these boards and had real concerns about Dekalb Co. Schools (still do) but recognize that not every school within a district is the same. I had my concerns addressed at Henderson and Lakeside and have spoken with parents at both. I feel comfortable with our decision. Now, if I can just deal with the whining and complaing about moving from my two teenagers...sigh.

I know this was long, hope not too long. I have really, really appreciated this board and want to thank everyone for taking time to help us newcomers. I can't wait to get there!

Baercubsmom
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:21 AM
 
46 posts, read 214,592 times
Reputation: 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by lastminutemom View Post
Does your son have high test scores? Is he in the gifted program?

Because, quite frankly, the highest scoring schools in the state generally have the fewest resources to pull kids up. Their resources are almost always exclusively targetted to the top.

If you want high scoring, look in East Cobb, N. Fulton and some parts of Gwinnett. Peachtree Middle in Dunwoody sticks with the team (pod) concept pretty religiously, but gifted students have a far superior experience than those who are not. Henderson and Shamrock mix up the gifted kids, I think, Peachtree does not.
My son earns top grades and tested extremely well on the CRCT. His current school (Sagamore Hills) does not offer a program for gifted kids. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:25 AM
 
46 posts, read 214,592 times
Reputation: 48
Your post is very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to post.


Quote:
Originally Posted by baercubsmom View Post
KM08,

As a middle school teacher I knew what questions to ask. When my husband and I first visited the school, we were told that school tours had been held in the last few weeks and no more were scheduled. I knew to ask to speak to someone in Guidance and we were very pleased to meet with one of the counselors. My children were slated to take some high school level classes next fall, elegible for Carnegie units towards graduation, and they were very concerned about what would happen when they moved to GA. The guidance counselor was able to explain everything to our satisfaction. We had a very informative interview, discussed test scores, ratings, etc. Then, she asked if we would like to see the school? I explained that we knew tours had already been held and we had missed them (being from out of town) and she said, "come on and let's go see the school."

We had a wonderful tour. I saw many engaged students, active learning, etc. Students were walking in line to attend a school play. Some students were at lunch in the cafeteria. Students were respectful, quiet in the halls (as much as middle schoolers can be). All in all, it was a very comfortable, inviting atmosphere. I commented on the dress of the kids since my children have to wear a "uniform" (at their current public school). Apparently Dekalb used to have uniform dress codes in some schools but they did away with that. That is one negative in my book since I like uniforms, both as a parent and teacher.


The counselor was very nice about introducing us to faculty members that my children might have and I was able to have some very informative conversations with them. All in all, I felt Henderson would be a good choice for us as a family.

We also visited Lakeside, met with a counselor there, had a very nice tour, discussed test scores, where kids go to college, etc. Again, just as at Henderson, we had missed scheduled tours but were welcomed and escorted all over the campus.

While both buildings are older, they seem to be well-kept. I looked in the girls' restroom (a place I try and avoid as much as possible ) and it was clean and serviceable. We have lived in towns where school buildings are well over 100 years old and I have taught in old buildings as well as new. While I certainly appreciate the newer buildings, I certainly did not mind the older buildings. Both schools have been wired for current technology needs.

Henderson is our choice over Shamrock due to a number of things. One being ratings, and yes, I do give GreatSchools some weight. While you can't compare schools across state lines you can compare within the same state since you are using the same criteria for comparison for each school. Also, we liked the location of the neighborhoods in the Lakeside district better...and we can't afford Druid Hills. We strongly considered City of Decatur but the middle school does not offer French and that is a must for one of my children (honest, she has had two years already and doesn't want to lose it).

I have spent the last few months reading these boards and had real concerns about Dekalb Co. Schools (still do) but recognize that not every school within a district is the same. I had my concerns addressed at Henderson and Lakeside and have spoken with parents at both. I feel comfortable with our decision. Now, if I can just deal with the whining and complaing about moving from my two teenagers...sigh.

I know this was long, hope not too long. I have really, really appreciated this board and want to thank everyone for taking time to help us newcomers. I can't wait to get there!

Baercubsmom
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