Good news from Adele Harrison
In February I had the honor of attending the ninth annual California Middle Grades Alliance (CMGA) recognition and appreciation luncheon, in Sacramento, with Sonoma Valley School District trustee Gary DeSmet. The CMGA, which is a partnership of organizations that focus on improving student achievement, sponsored the luncheon as a kick-off to the California League of Middle Schools 2012 annual conference. The event honored selected governance leaders who are effectively working together and using the California Department of Education’s “12 Recommendations for Middle Grades Success” to ensure success and close the achievement gap for all of their middle grades students.
The luncheon featured a keynote presentation by Robert Balfanz from the Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education at John Hopkins University. His speech was titled, “What Does it Take to Put All Students on the Graduation Path?” One of the many enlightening statements he made was, “We need to match the emerging academic requirements for success in the 21st century with the acknowledgement that a middle grade student is 12 years old.” He also spoke about post-secondary success strongly related to a strong ninth-grade year.
District Superintendent Louann Carlomagno, and our board of trustees, were among 20 other district representatives honored for their support of Middle Grades Success. The qualities their award highlighted were leadership, relevance and partnerships.
At the end of the lunch, Adele Harrison Middle School was recognized by Assemblymember Jared Huffman. We were presented a certificate of recognition honoring Adele Harrison Middle School’s designation by the California Department of Education as one of “California 2012 Schools to Watch,” an important recognition that highlights the impressive strides taken to advance educational excellence.
Adele Harrison has been fortunate to offer many exciting programs for our students. Specific Academic Enhancement (SAE) allows students intervention, study hall and enrichment opportunities throughout the year. Student-led conferences empower the students to set goals and take charge of their education. Ninety-six percent of our families attended both the fall and spring conferences. Our After School Matters! (ASM) program, funded partially by the Sonoma Valley Fund, offered students three five week sessions of algebra/math support, career exploration and enrichment classes such as Lego Robotics, drama, art, dance, digital s crapbook, and more.
Multi-age Projects and Dual Immersion are two programs that continue to offer choice to students, along with the myriad of elective options. We were also fortunate to receive a grant from the Sonoma County Office of Education’s Career Exploration Program, and we are able to provide college field trips to all our students. The seventh grade visited Sonoma State University last week, the sixth graders will be visiting Santa Rosa Junior College this week, and the eighth graders will also visit Sonoma State University in May. We are excited to bring the college world to students, further supporting the preparation for college/career readiness at the high school.
Despite budget constraints, it is an exciting time to be an educator in Sonoma Valley Unified School District and the Adele Harrison Middle School faculty and staff are honored to be educating your children.
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Karla Conroy is principal of Adele Harrison.