Fort Morgan Honored for “School to Watch” Designation

Fort Morgan Middle School is a 2012 Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch. “Our team knew from reviewing their trajectory of student achievement that Fort Morgan had the results to qualify for a School to Watch designation.  However, it wasn’t until our school site team visited their school in person that we knew for a fact they had built a dynamic school culture, empowering students to learn at increasing rates,” explained Diane Lauer, State Coordinator for the Colorado School to Watch program.

Every year, the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education (CAMLE) reviews state applications for the prestigious School to Watch honor. CAMLE, a state affiliate of the national Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), partners with the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform a consortia of foundations, research institutions, and other non-profits dedicated to optimizing educational outcomes for young adolescents.  The National Forum’s signature initiative is the National Schools to Watch program which has been identifying model middle grades schools for over a decade. Over 250 schools have been identified across the national as Schools to Watch.

The National Forum holds high expectations for schools that are named Schools to Watch.  They must demonstrate consistently implemented best practices within the four domains: Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness, Social Equity and Organizational Structures and Processes. Schools interested in becoming Schools to Watch must be willing to open their doors and work with other educators sharing their replicable practices.  This is the core purpose of the Schools to Watch program, to identify and validate success, so that others can learn and grow in similar fashion.

In addition to being recognized at their own school, Schools to Watch are recognized in Washington, DC at the National Schools to Watch Conference and at the statewide Colorado Schools to Watch Conference.  Fort Morgan’s national recognition will take place center stage at a dinner gala held in their honor, along with the the other 80 schools identified this year from various states throughout our county.

CAMLE is proud to honor Fort Morgan Middle School in recognition of the exemplary practices they have in place:

Academic Excellence

  • Teachers know students as individuals, and are able to meet individual needs efficiently and effectively.
  • Highly engaged students
  • Consistent use of reading comprehension strategies across Language Arts classrooms
  • Strong facilitation of productive talk in many classrooms, use of small groups
  • Embedded vocabulary instruction integrated effectively
  • Strong teacher integration of SMART boards
  • Impressive instruction in language arts and math classrooms
  • Parent Connect program enhances communication between parents, students and the school staff regarding grades, attendance, lunch, etc.
  • Students have opportunities to revise work until they “get it”
  • Improvement in CSAP reading, writing and math over the last three years
  • Teachers meet regularly during common plan time to discuss the learning needs of their students
  • College Connections –field trip to colleges for students

Developmental Responsiveness

  • High levels of staff enthusiasm – positive culture throughout the building!
  • Kids “know” that their teachers care about them, parents concur.
  • Kids really like their teachers, parents concur.
  • Kids report that their teachers will take extra time to help them, after school, before school, at lunch in addition to in class help – parents concur.
  • Staff has strong ownership in their school – they can and do make things happen!
  • Students have a wide range of activities and electives to explore their passions.
  • A variety of leadership opportunities exist for a wide variety of students – a leadership class for all students, as well as traditional leadership opportunities like NJHS
  • Student led parent teachers conferences create student ownership and deep learning – parents report
  • Strong use of Parent Portal – grades are kept up to date and used by families and students
  • Impressive home-grown math interventions
  • Unique and varied unified arts programs available for students
  • Strong music program
  • Lots of opportunities for students to get extra help
  • Clear behavioral expectations, strong teacher visibility, and effectively implemented discipline procedures are reducing number of suspensions

Social Equity

  • Welcoming culture pervades the school building – parents concur.
  • Strong sense of school pride – students love their school and are glad to be there.
  • Kids feel respected by their teachers.
  • Haves and Have Less not easily apparent.  Students blend in well together.
  • Varied charitable and community service works done by students.
  • Strong results for Make a Wish Foundation – Great job!
  • The school is adapting to changing student needs, and is working to welcome diverse student communities, adapting curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessment strategies.
  • Students feel their ideas are listened to, i.e. bathrooms.
  • Non-structured environments are orderly and safe
  • Students and parents believe administration knows everyone
  • Discipline referrals are proportionally representative of student groups
  • A wide variety of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are available

Organizational Support Structures – 3.7

  • Scheduling allows for individual and team planning as well as creative design to maximize learning for students
  • Time embedded for data-analysis, and tools available for conversation, analysis and planning as well as problem-solving related to student behavioral needs is available
  • The school is driven by finding answers to their challenges, they do not give up, they are positive minded and will strive to find out what to do so that every child is successful!
  • Strong, responsive leadership works effectively to communicate with all stakeholders, and provide coherence and sense to the schools plans, actions, procedures in the areas of operations and instruction.
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