Friday, May 31, 2019

Getting Them Ready For Middle School

One of our favorite days of the year is when we have the incoming 5th graders come over to WGMS for part of the morning to start getting them ready for the transition to middle school. Yesterday we had just under 200 students visiting us for about an hour, becoming familiar with the building, meeting staff and talking to current 6th graders about what middle school is really like. This group of students were polite, respectful and they asked great questions! We are looking forward to officially welcome them as 6th graders next school year.

In addition to having the students visit with us yesterday, last night we had our 5th Grade Parent Night to help the parents with the transition from elementary school to middle school. Like a lot of things in life, our kids often handle change better than we do. We had a packed cafeteria of some veteran parents, but a significant number of parents who are sending their first child to the middle school. Hopefully after our presentation we settled some nerves and parents are confident that their kids will be in good hands. The presentation focused on what middle school is all about and the structures that we have in place to help support students and their parents. Some of the major areas we discussed were communication, the daily schedule, Team structure, Interaction Time, Clubs & Activities, and preparing our students for their future. You can view the presentation by clicking on the link:

Another key piece of getting our 5th graders ready for the transition is having our 6th grade School Counselor visiting each of the 5th grade classrooms to meet with students in a more intimate, comfortable setting on their turf to answer questions and provide an overview of 6th grade. We also have a Locker Night in August for students to come into the building, walk around and put supplies into their locker if they would like. This year our Locker Night is on Wednesday, August 28th from 3:00 to 6:00 PM.

We are so excited to welcome the Class of 2026 to West Genesee Middle School!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please give me a call or send me an email.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Opportunity to Shine

I posted this almost exact blog last year as we approached New York State Assessment time. The date has changed, but the underlying message is the same: Show Up and Do Your Best!

There are a lot of things in life that we have to do that we may not necessarily love to do or even like to do whether it is at work, school, at home or in our lives in general. Think paperwork. Think washing dishes. Think folding clothes. Think going to the gym. Insert whatever that "thing" is for you. But even the things we don't necessarily like to do all have a purpose. The message we should give and model for our kids as parents is to show up and do your best. Whatever it is, that is the expectation. We expect you to show up and bring your best. That's life. Over the next month our students will be taking part in the New York State Assessments in both ELA and Mathematics. These assessments have a purpose and play an important part in what we do as a school. 

These assessments measure the learning standards around which our teachers design and deliver their daily instruction. Our teachers routinely revise and refine this instruction to make it the most rigorous and relevant experience for our students in order to prepare students for their future. We are not preparing them to take tests. We are preparing them to be complex critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. Seeing how they perform on the NYS Assessments is just one tool in that process that helps us to ensure that we are on the right track. Our children are completely prepared to take these assessments because our curriculum is aligned with the standards that the tests measure. Plain and simple, it's an opportunity for our kids to shine!

I know that some of you may have reservations about encouraging your child to take the assessments. Your concerns, together with those of educators, have been influential in significantly changing some important aspects of the assessments. Here are some of the positive changes to the testing cycle:

  • 2 days instead of 3 days
  • Untimed testing - students may have as much or as little time as they need
  • All questions have been written and reviewed by New York State teachers
  • Student scores are not part of the evaluation score for teachers or administrators
As we do in other aspects of our children's lives, we should encourage them to participate, encourage them to do their best, and celebrate their tremendous effort. Letting them refuse to participate puts a chink in their armor & ability to persevere and be resilient in the face of challenges in other aspects of their life. When students refuse to participate it also negatively impacts the information that we need as a District for continuous improvement. Avoiding a challenge is not a practice we want to encourage in our kids and it does not serve them well in the long run. 

I am asking you to support the message we are giving your children here at school: this is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned and how you have grown as a student. We ask them to simply do their best.

I am so proud of how hard our students and teachers work, and I appreciate all of your support at home for our students and staff. As always, if you have questions or concerns please give me a call or send me an email.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Monday, March 11, 2019

Great Start to March

We had the amazing opportunity to have Merry-Go-Round Theater spend part of an afternoon with us last week performing selected middle level student work from around the State as part of the Echos Writing Program. The energy and enthusiasm from our students during the performance was outstanding. Some of our students were recognized for their creativity and original works. Abby Marchesani was recognized as the "Showcased Author" and has had her piece performed throughout the State. Hannah Mazzoni was recognized for her "Excellence in Writing" and Eyad Zahran was recognized as an "Honorable Mention".

Students of the Month
Continuing to celebrate those that carry themselves in a way that we can all be proud of, last week we recognized our new ‘Students of the Month’ for March. We continue to have students, who through their actions and character, help to create a positive school environment. Choosing ‘Students of the Month’ isn’t about grades and athletic or musical prowess, it’s about demonstrating all of the qualities that we value and celebrate - exemplary work ethic, citizenship, character, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility, optimism and/or leadership in creating a positive school environment. As a school community we are extremely grateful for students who day in and day out show up, work hard, do their best, and make our school a better place.

This month we recognized 6th graders Inna Guleva, Emma Krigbaum, Ben Korzeniewski and Angelo Vrabel ; 7th graders Lauren Battaglia, Ryan Fassinger, Austin Michalkow and Vivian Raposo ; and 8th graders Vincent Firenze, Lana Hussein, Peter McMahon and Elsa Propper. Well deserved and congratulations to all!

6th Grade Students of the Month for March

7th Grade Students of the Month for March

8th Grade Students of the Month for March

Positivity Project
For the first two weeks of March our P2 efforts focused on the 'CHEERING OTHERS' SUCCESS' and the character trait of LOVE OF LEARNINGAt home we encourage you to have a conversation with your child and think about the different ways that we can promote the importance of LOVE OF LEARNING in our lives. To help you make connections here is the link to the Positivity Project Character Trait Card for LOVE OF LEARNING.

St. Baldrick's
Our St. Baldrick's event at West Genesee Middle School took off in 2014 as a result of our students looking for a way to support and stand with fellow students and members of our community who have been impacted by childhood cancer. A conversation became an idea and that idea has now become an event. Since 2014 we have raised over $57,000 for childhood cancer research. This year our St. Baldrick's event takes place on Friday, March 15th. 

Through our efforts as a school community we are going to raise awareness, raise some money and have some fun all in an effort to help fight childhood cancer. Please support Team Wildcat in any way that you can and help us make a difference in the lives of children across the country. It's all about "The Power of WE!"

Event link:

We are grateful for your continued support of our students and staff. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms