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Principal's Message

How Can I Directly Support My Student's Academic Growth?

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, One of the questions parents frequently ask teachers and administrators is how can I directly support my student’s academic growth in reading or math at home? The most important habit for children to adopt in middle school is regular reading for pleasure. Recent research from Common Sense Media states that only 27% of 13-year-old students read daily outside of school. This 27 % of students are creating a clear advantage in comprehension, vocabulary development, and background knowledge over their peers. In fact, students who read regularly over the summer actually score higher on assessments when they return to school than when they left, whereas students who don’t read experience what educators have dubbed the dreaded summer slide. Scholastic offers the following tips for parents to help their students develop a love of reading: 1. Let your child choose what to read. While you may cringe at the preferences, your child may never touch a title if it's force-fed. 2. Talk about what they read. Ask them what they think of a book and make connections with ideas or issues that are relevant to their life. 3. Subscribe to magazines that will interest them. Ask them to choose one or two titles and put the subscription in their name. 4. Read the news together. Whether it's for 15 minutes over breakfast or on weekends, establish a routine and discuss what you each read. 5. Play games that utilize reading. Word- and vocabulary-building games like Scrabble or Boggle are great, but many board games provide reading opportunities (even if it's just the instructions). Crosswords provide opportunities for learning new words and spelling practice, too. 6. Encourage your middle schooler to read to a younger sibling. Letting them take over ritual reading at bedtime once a week will ensure they read something, and they may find a sibling's enthusiasm for stories contagious. 7. Visit the library together. Try to make it an event where you share some quality one-on-one time and both choose a few books. 8. Find an outlet for your child to "publish" a book review. When finishing a book, encourage them to write it up for a family or school newspaper, magazine, or website. They could also try posting a review at a local bookseller or an online retailer. 9. Ensure they have a good reading space. They should choose where it is, but you can make sure it's well lit and inviting so they stay a while. 10. Keep up on what they’re reading. If you can, read a few pages of their books yourself so you can discuss them with them. 11. Encourage writing. Whether it's via snail-mail or e-mail, suggest they keep in touch with distant friends or relatives. Keeping a journal or chronicling a family vacation will also provide reading practice. 12. Suggest books from movies. They may enjoy getting even more detail in the book. 13. Listen to books on tape in the car. If you're heading on vacation, or even back-and-forth to school, try listening to a novel that will appeal to everyone. 14. Model reading. Your pre-teen will still follow your reading habits (though they'll never let you know it!). Let them see you reading, make comments, and share interesting passages. In addition, there are also several ways to support math at home. Because students in middle school form strong judgments about their academic ability, the most important way to support math is to talk about it positively. Statements from parents such as, “I’m not a math person” will negatively reinforce students’ math development. Considering that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects math occupations to grow at 12.7% over this decade, it is extremely important that none of our students close the door to those opportunities with choices in adolescence. The National Council for Teaching Mathematics offers the following tips for parents on how to show how math is meaningful and build important middle school math concepts. 1. Read schedules, such as the television guide and bus transportation schedules for information. 2. Discuss charts, tables, and graphs from the newspaper and magazines. Ask your child to explain the data. For example, in a graph that shows what children like to do before bedtime (watch television, play games on the computer, read, etc.), you might ask such questions as “More than half of children like to do what activity before bedtime?” 3. Look at a map with your child to figure out how long a trip will take and what time you should leave in order to arrive on time. Calculate the gasoline mileage, and estimate the total cost of gasoline for long trips. 4. Give your child a budget and the responsibility for purchasing clothing or other items. Encourage your child to compare prices and note the savings for items that are on sale. For example, how much would be saved by purchasing the shoes that are 30 percent off? Many thanks for your continued support as we partner together to make the most out of these middle years! Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Parents Invited to Share Their Career Path at the Annual EMS Career Fair Feb. 28

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, One of the most important mindsets for students to develop in middle school is the idea that “School has value and purpose for me.” Students who have a strong belief in this statement tend to have increased motivation and perseverance in the classroom. One of our efforts to cultivate this mindset is our Career Fair, which we are hosting on February 28th. At our Career Fair, we have dozens of professionals from the community speak to students about how education played a role in their career pathway and what is great about their job. We are currently building our volunteer base and are looking for a wide array of careers. If you are interested in sharing your career story with our students, please reach out to Counselor Ian Lennox @ ilennox@durangoschools.org or 970.247.9490 Ext 2862, on how to volunteer. Over the course of the year, I have also asked several high school teachers and students about what skills they need to be prepared for high school. The answer is rarely academic skills related. Instead, students and teachers often cite organization, time management, and task completion as the most critical skills for success as freshmen in high school. History Day, which all students in our school are currently working on, is a great assignment for students to practice these high school readiness skills. Our social studies teachers have done a lot of work preparing organizational tools for students to create their historical inquiry. Given the scope of the assignment, students will have homework and need to independently read to learn, organize their notes, and finally produce a product. You can support your student by creating time, space, and expectations around meeting History Day deadlines over the next few weeks. Thanks for all you do in support of our students. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Parent Informational Social Media Event January 13th @ 5:00 PM

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, On Monday, January 13 we are hosting a Social Media Safety evening with Detective Josh Newman of the Durango Police Department from 5:00 to 6:00 PM in our cafeteria. I’m excited that many parents have indicated to us that they are coming. Students are welcome to attend with parents, and the opportunity to process the content with your child presents a great educational benefit. When I asked Detective Newman what he would most like me to share with parents, he asked me to pass along the following information: 1. Students Associate Snapchat Streaks with Social Status: Kids can get obsessive about maintaining their streaks—especially when they've gone on for so long. To adolescents, streaks can indicate the strength of a friendship; it can be thrilling to see that you've been interacting with someone via Snapchat every day for more than, say, 200 days...or 1400 days. 2. Don’t Share Passcodes: Students share their passcodes to social media sites with friends to maintain their “streaks” so that if they can’t log-in, their friends can for them. The rampant sharing of passcodes has led to some severe bullying and unwanted sharing of content. 3. Know what your kids are doing and regularly check the phones. The excuse of “I don’t get technology” is not an okay excuse for parents to use regarding a lack of oversite. Our kids in our community need our involvement, and we need to read up on how social media is impacting students. 4. No phones in the bedroom at night - ever. I hope to see you there on Monday. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Encourage Healthy Choices

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, Over the past week, I have held community meetings with each grade level to talk to students about a topic that poses a significant health risk for kids: illegal substances. At EMS we take several steps to prevent students from bringing illegal substances onto campus. I’ve found that clear communication with students about both the health and disciplinary consequences of illegal substances is the most proactive and best possible deterrent, and it is a place that parents really can support us. I encourage you to do some reading online about the health risks of alcohol, vaping and marijuana use on the adolescent brain, and to have follow-up conversations with your kids about those negative impacts. In addition, I also share with our students that distribution of any illegal substance on campus may result in expulsion from school. Because an adolescent’s brain is undergoing significant development, kids are more likely to take risks and not consider the consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is extremely important that students are reminded of these consequences in an effort to protect them from making a costly mistake. In addition to communication and education, our school district also utilizes a drug-detecting dog to conduct random searches of the school. Just recently, the La Plata County Sheriff’s department has added a non-bite drug dog onto their force so that we no longer need to contract with a handler outside of our community. This will both save our school district money and provide a local resource that can be a more frequent deterrent as we strive to keep our schools drug free. In the past, the dog searched lockers and backpacks in the hallway and did not enter classrooms. I’ve learned recently it is a common procedure in area schools to also randomly empty one to two classrooms and search those rooms. Because we have not historically done this practice at Escalante, it did surprise me, a few students, parents and staff when students were asked to leave the classroom to allow for a search of the room. The dog does not conduct body searches of students. I apologize that we did not communicate this change in practice beforehand, and please feel free to contact me if you have concerns as I am currently catching up on how our district’s procedures are shifting with the new dog and handler. If there are additional changes, I will communicate that information throughout our school community. On a much lighter and brighter note, I have been honored to collect compliments about our student body frequently over the past few weeks from community partners who seek me out to praise our students for their use of manners, genuine interest in learning, kindness, and enthusiasm. This is a wonderful school to lead, and I am extremely thankful for each of the 516 students who walk through our doors each day. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Thank you for your support and involvement in our Student-Led Conferences

Dear EMS Community, Thank you for your support and involvement in our Student-Led Conferences. Our goal is to have 100% participation, and many of our Crews have already reached this benchmark. At the conferences, each student set goals drawing on the following information: * Report Cards * Classwork * I-Ready Data * CMAS Data Our staff has also gone through a similar analysis of teaching practices, and at our professional development session Monday, we spent time analyzing data, studying lesson design, and implementing some core practices that we will monitor over the next quarter for impact on student learning. Parents also have an important role to play, and there is a great body of research that can inform the most important actions we can take to support our kids’ education. According to John Hattie’s research, two parenting practices have the greatest effect size on student learning: 1. Parents listening to student reading and creating expectations for reading at home. 54% of students in the US read less than 15 minutes per day on average. Parents can give their kids a great educational advantage by setting up expectations in the home to read a minimum of 15 minutes per day. 2. Regularly communicate high expectations to your child for student achievement Public health experts and psychologists have the following suggestions for parents raising young adolescents: 1. Help your child build healthy eating habits and a healthy body image. Serve balanced meals, and keep lots of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods in the house. Be a model of good eating and exercise habits for your child. It is also important for families to share meals together. Research shows that just 40% of families in the United States eat more than 6 meals together a week. Healthy dietary habits increase and unhealthy habits such as substance abuse decrease when families regularly eat together. 2. Urge your child to get some exercise every day. 3. Help your adolescent get enough rest (teenagers need nine hours per night). Also, set limits on phone, computer, and TV use after a set evening hour. In a recent national survey, 34% of 8th graders reported that their parents put limits on screen time. Another survey indicated that middle school students spend about four and a half hours of free time on a screen - over twice the recommended amount. As a parent of a current middle schooler, I’ve decided to set some goals for myself based on this information. I am going to eat at least seven meals per week with my kids this quarter, ensure that they are reading books more than looking at screens, and find some time to exercise with them each week. Given that almost 100% of EMS parents showed up for SLCs, it is clear that we have an extremely supportive community, and I hope that this information is helpful in guiding our kids to succeed in school. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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News & Announcements

Understanding the Truth About School Lunch Regulations

Over the past few weeks, misinformation has been circulated regarding our school lunch policy and our community deserves the facts. Firstly, no student has received a partial lunch during the 2019-20 school year. No member of the 9-R team has employed shaming tactics toward students. And, the District maintains compliance with National School Lunch and National School Breakfast program federal guidelines. In 2015, the district faced a critical issue as it ended the school year with over $18,000 in meal charge debt. Because school district Food & Nutrition Services departments are an independent enterprise, they are intended to be self-supporting. When a deficit occurs, the District needs to use general funds to offset losses, funds that should be designated for classrooms. It has been 9-R’s focus to minimize impacts on educational funding to maximize programs and educational resources for our students.
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News & Announcements

EMS Drama Presents: A Family Reunion to Die For

It's time for the Knotting Family Reunion and newlywed Christine Franklin is eager to show off her husband Freddie to the family she hasn’t seen in years. The joyful reunion quickly turns sour though when Aunt Gretchen, Cousin Rachel, and Cousin Stefan are all murdered. The members of the Knotting Family are dropping like flies, and Christine seems to be next in line to become a victim! To make matters worse, a terrible storm has trapped all of the guests inside. It’s up to Freddie to catch the murderer and save his blushing bride. After all, he is a detective — well, a mall security guard turned wannabe detective, anyway. Who is trying to wipe out the Knotting family? Our production is student lead! Teacher Mike Jordan and Technical Director Ms. Sam make a great team. Mr. Jordan is the Acting Director and teaches the kids stage presence, blocking, projecting, light effects, soundboard, and a wide range of other skills. There are 28 actors in this years play. Ms. Sam is in charge of Tech teaching the students, set design, building, painting, props management, costume design, stage makeup, and set changes. There are 15 students in the Tech Club. The Escalante Middle School students are taught how to be self-driven and function as a team. There are 15 students working on Tech which leads to more than 40 kids working on the production of this year's play. Drama Club students will perform 6 shows in 3 days at the beginning of March. Three shows will be presented to each grade level during the school day and then the play will be presented at three evening productions for friends and family. Students will be running the entire production from soundboard to stage managers. It is a true testament to the students' and teachers' perseverance to offer a production of this caliber. Please join us on March 10th,11th, or 12th in the Escalante Cafetorium. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the show starts at 7:00 PM. Can’t wait to see you there!
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News & Announcements

Important Reminder from Health Services

It's that time of year again where many students and family members are coming down with various illnesses. In the schools, we have diagnosed cases of influenza, strep throat, as well as common colds. A rule of thumb is to keep kids home from school with fevers greater than 100 degrees, and students should be fever free for 24 hours without the use of medications. Please do not send kids to school that are vomiting or have diarrhea until symptom free for 24 hours. For coughs and colds, students that are coughing consistently, and pose a risk of infecting others, should remain home until coughing subsides.
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Empowering students to apply the habits of work, learning, and scholarship to become productive and caring citizens.

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