Mount Airy Middle School is one of just two schools in the state this year to earn the status of Schools to Watch.
Mount Airy City Schools found out this week that the middle school is part a national fraternity that includes 14 members from the Tar Heel State since its inception.
Schools to Watch is an initiative launched in 1999 by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Through this initiative, the National Forum identifies schools across the country that are well on their way to meeting the Forum’s criteria for high performance. Forum members believe that four things are true of high-performing middle-grades schools:
• Academic Excellence: Schools challenge all students to use their minds well.
• Developmental Responsiveness: School officials are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence.
• Social Equity: Schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports.
• Organizational Structures/Supports: School officials share a vision and promote a learning community of practice.
“The faculty and staff of the MAMS family deserve such gratitude for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students,” said Principal Susan Bunch. “The middle school years are an astonishing journey for students filled with growth and exploration academically, emotionally, and socially.”
“Mount Airy Middle School has had multiple years of quality instruction and innovative programming which led to this award being earned in 2014,” noted Carrie Venable, the school system’s public information officer. “The staff of MAMS should be commended for the high level of instruction and care they have continued to exhibit toward students and families.”
Dr. Cathy Tomon, director of the state’s Schools to Watch chapter, noted that the middle school’s “continued commitment to the STW criteria were clearly showcased in their application and re-designation visit.”
The middle school has caught the eye of many educational leaders. In October, the school hosted Catherine Truitt, the state’s education director. She was impressed with the application of problem-based learning.
“I have not been to schools in North Carolina that have this heavy of a focus,” said Truitt. “This is how we should teach every day, everywhere.”
“We are proud of MAMS and our community for being redesignated a STW,” wrote Dr. Kim Morrison, school superintendent. “This is a national honor of schools that create innovative learning environments for students. Our community and school work together to continuously improve, and we are grateful that a national organization appreciates the hard work of our staff, students, and families.”
The school will be recognized on March 6 at the General Session by the STW Committee. In late June, the school will be honored at the Annual Schools To Watch Conference in Washington, D.C., as well as the NCMLE Conference. Teachers from the school will join educators from middle grades across the country in presenting their successes, strategies. and information about student achievement.