The move from elementary school to middle school is a big transition. When schools work together to support students and their families, everyone wins! Here are some ways you can work with your feeder schools to ensure next year’s rising middle schoolers have the best chance for success:

  • Have counselors meet with rising middle school classes. They can outline the general course of study, describe options for electives and activities, answer questions and otherwise explain their roles in helping with school and social issues.
  • Hold a Meet the Parents event for parents from feeder schools. Have current middle school parents available to answer questions and suggest parents exchange contact information.
  • Invite rising students and their families to attend performances and sporting events at the middle school this year.
  • Help students get connected. Older students can provide valuable guidance and support for incoming students. Use a buddy system to link students and encourage them to exchange contact information.


Growing rate of food allergies presents challenges for schools

According to researchers at Northwestern University, peanut allergies in children have increased 21% since 2010. There has been a significant increase in other food allergies, as well. Since many children have their first allergic reaction to food in a school setting, schools must be prepared. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your school/district has a Food Allergy Management and Prevention Plan (FAMPP) that outlines your overall policy and procedures for managing food allergies.
  • Ensure that each student at risk for anaphylaxis has an individual written accommodation plan, such as a Section 504 plan.
  • Remind teachers to maintain allergen-free classrooms. They should avoid identified allergens in class projects, parties, crafts, etc.


photo-of-the-day  Photo of the Day

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In this Oct. 3, 2017, photo, second-graders learn to ride bikes on the school yard at Seaton Elementary School in Washington. At a time when elementary and high schools are all about getting students ready for college or jobs, physical education teachers are being urged to look beyond graduation, too, to make lifelong movers out of even the least competitive kids. (AP Photo/Maria Danilova)





When parents are engaged in their children’s education, children do better in school. Make sure parents are on board when it comes to standardized tests. Here’s how:

  1. Remind parents of their important role. They don’t have to teach specific skills; rather, they just need to monitor homework, set regular bedtime and morning routines and promote daily reading habits. Every parent can promote a positive attitude about school and learning.
  2. Share test success strategies in your newsletter and on your school website. Send a special “Test Express” newsletter right before important standardized tests.
  3. Show parents what the tests look like. Some parents may not be familiar with the formats used for standardized tests. When they are more comfortable with the format, their children will be, too.
  4. Offer after-school or Saturday tutoring for at-risk students.
  5. Host parent information sessions. Explain grade-level standards, answer questions and share ways parents can help students prepare.


Partner with local schools

Whether you are trying to prevent bullying in your school, or rolling out a new attendance campaign, don’t forget to work with all the schools in your area to complement and extend your efforts.

  • Share ideas. If you have a policy or procedure that has worked, don’t keep it a secret! Consider creating a Facebook page or website where representatives from all area schools can post their ideas and success stories.
  • Keep in touch. If you are facing a challenge at your school, reach out to your colleagues at other schools for support. Are they seeing the same challenge?
  • Put rivalry to use off the field. Is that school across town your rival in football? Challenge it in other areas as well! Open your essay, poster or theme contests to all students in your area (and make sure your judging panel is made up of representatives from all schools).
  • Pool your resources. If you’re from a smaller school or district, it may be difficult to entice high-profile experts to visit your area. Joining forces with other nearby schools or districts may be a way to get the numbers you need.


did-you-know  Did You Know?

Parent involvement in education is crucial. According to the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior and adapt well to school.


Quote of the Day

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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

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Is your school doing all it can to make sure students are successful after they graduate from high school? Consider hosting a college and career readiness night. You can:

  1. Invite representatives from local colleges and universities to:
    • Give virtual tours of their campuses.
    • Explain the application process.
    • Discuss career paths available.
  2. Assemble “expert” panels to answer questions and offer guidance. For example:
    • A panel of parents. Parents like to hear from other parents who have “been there ... done that” and can answer questions about realizing dreams for their child’s future.
    • A panel of former students. Students often say, “I wish I had known ... .” Sharing their wisdom about study skills, attendance, work habits and perseverance can provide excellent motivation for your current students to work toward their goals.
  3. Include a résumé corner. Ask counselors and teachers to help:
    • Set up a mini workshop on résumé writing. Have handouts of samples available.
    • Provide a list of items, documents and skills that will be important for college applications and career explorations.


Involve parents in decision-making

One way to deepen the support and trust of parents is to include them in decision-making activities related to school improvement. The key is to assign parents meaningful roles and responsibilities—and then to value their input. Encouraging parent perspectives often results in:

  • More comprehensive and effective solutions.
  • Greater parent “buy-in” with final decisions.
  • Renewed commitment to doing what is in the best interest of their children, which often leads to improved student achievement overall.
  • Increased public support and trust.
  • Creation of a partnership between the school and community that promotes advocacy efforts.

When parents are included in school decision-making activities, everyone benefits!




Teachers are on the front line when it comes to building strong, positive relationships with parents. But sometimes long-held attitudes or unconscious biases can get in the way—even for teachers with the best of intentions. How can you break down this barrier?

Consider an in-service project that involves journal writing. Writing about their own family backgrounds can help teachers understand the attitudes they hold about other families and cultures. You can also ask teachers to share anecdotes about their backgrounds and make connections with the backgrounds and family cultures of their students.


Add new events to boost family turnout

Is attendance low at your school’s family events? It might be time to freshen things up. Consider hosting:

  • A parent-teacher-student talent show.
  • A parent-child athletic event.
  • A messy art night.
  • A Lego fun night.
  • A family movie night.
  • An all-day open house.
  • An evening awards assembly to honor as many students as possible.
  • A community resource fair.




The 2017 Educator Quality of Life Survey found that educators are more stressed at work than people in other professions. What’s making them so stressed? According to the survey, teachers:

  • Feel they have a lack of control over schoolwide decisions.  Consider asking teachers for feedback and suggestions regarding school policies and procedures. One study found that student test scores were higher when teachers were involved in making schoolwide decisions.
  • Feel disrespected by the media and elected officials. Look for ways to show your teachers how much you appreciate them throughout the school year.
  • Experience bullying and harassment at work.  Make sure you are promoting a positive work environment that does not tolerate hostile behavior of any kind.


Create a family learning center

Want to get to know the families of your students? Create a family learning center in your school and invite parents to visit. Follow these guidelines: 

  • Designate a physical space in your school where parents can gather. It can be an office, a classroom, a corner of the library … or anywhere you can fit a few adult-sized tables and chairs.
  • Stock it with basic refreshments. Ask for donations from local grocery stores. Perhaps someone would be willing to donate a single-serve coffee brewer, coffee or hot chocolate pods, tea and bottles of water.
  • Provide helpful information. Make sure materials are written in the languages families speak. Include:
    • Parenting tips and strategies for supporting learning at home.
    • Locations of libraries and local museums.
    • Public transportation schedules.
    • Local child care providers.
    • Parent support group lists.
    • Community mental health agencies.


did-you-know  Did You Know?

Educators find work to be stressful 61% of the time, while workers in other professions report that work is stressful 30% of the time.

–Source: 2017 Educator Quality of Life Survey


Quote of the Day

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“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”

Hans Selye

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