Friday, September 29, 2017

Open House 2017 Re-cap

One of my favorite nights of the school year has always been Open House. This is an opportunity for parents to "check us out" and “kick the tires” so to speak. As a school it is our opportunity to show off and promote our brand. Last night was my third year as being both a parent of a student in the building (actually two of them this year: an 8th grader and 6th grader) while also wearing my administrator hat.  

I couldn't be more impressed with what I saw from our staff throughout the evening and I couldn't be more proud to say that my kids go to school here. Over the two hours I shook a lot of hands and had many conversations throughout the night that included countless positive comments about what we do and how we do it.

Hallways and classrooms were packed and I joked that we were shuttling people in from Fairmount Fair. After talking to a few people that parked a good distance off campus, providing some type of shuttle from the high school in the near future might not be so farfetched. Crowded hallways and traffic congestion are good problems to have. It speaks to the involvement of our families and the priority they put on their children’s education.

We know that not all of our families are able to make it to Open House so a few years ago I started posting my comments that I made to kick the evening off so you get a feel for the tone of the night. Below is the welcome message that I gave everyone at the start of our Open House: 

“First of all, thank you for being here this evening. For those of you that are new to our building welcome to the WGMS family. We are excited to have you here! For those of you that are returning, welcome back. We have an incredible community here at West Genesee Middle School made up of a dedicated and talented faculty and staff as well as involved and supportive parents. Your presence this evening and your ongoing involvement with your child’s education is a testament to the commitment you have made to make education a priority. And it needs to be. We thank you for that. The journey from a young child in elementary school to a young adult in high school is not an easy one and we certainly need your support in helping us to maximize the potential in all of our students as they make that challenging journey through the middle years.

Throughout the evening you should get an overview of the curriculum and expectations in the different classes that your children are in, but you should also get a feel for the amazing, caring and talented people that work with our kids each day, who are going to do whatever it takes to help them to be as successful as possible.

I encourage you to stop by our library. It is open and has been a very busy place already this year. To date, just over 1,000 books and magazines have been checked out which is awesome so please help us continue to encourage our students to get into the library, to read, and to take advantage of its many resources. In all three grades reading is a significant component of our English classes and such a critical component of building knowledge. So please help support us by encouraging and hounding if needed to get our kids to read! We have over 2,400 items in our digital library, and over 450 titles of audiobooks available for our students to download. Please stop in and talk with our librarian about how you can utilize audio resources to foster even more success in your child’s reading. While in the library this evening you can also pick up a list of the different databases with logins and passwords that we use so you can assist your children with research and you can also pick up a list of books with reading levels that are new to our collection. The library….it’s much more than just books and a woman saying “shhhh”.

We also have our PTA and Special Education PTA located in the main lobby on the first floor. We have a tremendous PTA at West Genesee Middle School that is incredibly supportive of our students and staff. Please consider joining and/or volunteering your time. Your membership and involvement in the PTA allows them to better support our students and staff.

Again thank you for being here tonight. We are passionate about what we do here at WGMS, we care about your children, and we all want this to be the best year that they have ever had in school. A focus of ours is continuous improvement; trying to get better at everything that we do, constantly reflecting on our practices, listening to feedback and having a willingness to evolve and grow.  We ask the same of our students. We continually talk with students about the role that they play in doing the things necessary to be as successful as possible and we try to build a capacity in them to have a willingness to try new things, strive to get better and continue to work hard especially when things get difficult. Together we need to continue to encourage them to get involved with sports, music, clubs, and other activities and to stay connected with other events like our dances, 3 on 3 Basketball tournaments, and everything else that we have to offer. 

We talk to them about the importance of doing these four things each day: Be Nice, Work Hard, Think Big and Be Present. What you do and say to people matters – so Be Nice, things are not always easy & things don’t always go as you planned, sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do, but we need to step up and do it anyway…life is about continuing to grind in the face of adversity– that’s Work Hard, you can be anything you want to be in life IF you work for it – So Think Big – anything is possible, and lastly, you have to show up and be on time for things in life – school is no exception. Be PresentSimple, but effective. Each day: Be Nice, Work Hard, Think Big, Be Present. That’s what we expect. That’s who we are. That’s the message we all need to be consistently communicating to our middle school students.

You can expect us to support them, but also to push them to be their best; to not accept the minimum, to challenge them and encourage them to be extraordinary. Your role as parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and older brothers and sisters is vitally important. Your involvement and commitment to making your child’s education a priority is crucial. We can’t do this alone, we have to do it together. We look forward to working and getting to know all of you throughout this school year. It’s going to be a great year, a wonderful evening, and it’s always a great day to be a Wildcat!! Thank you and enjoy your night.”

Thank you again for the incredible turnout and continued support of our students and staff at WGMS. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms