By Alicia Jaimes
Four years in the making, the Grant Middle School teachers decided to make a change in hopes of bettering the culture and atmosphere of their school by introducing Schools to Watch.
With roughly 157 schools in the United States participating, Schools to Watch is a forum made exclusively for the middle school age level. According to www.middlegradesforum.org, “the mission of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform is to unite key stakeholders to speak with a common voice to leverage research, policy, leadership and replicable practices to drive middle grades reform.”
With an all-or-nothing approach, the middle school staff decided to work towards implementing this program at Grant Middle School.
“It’s been a four year journey that we have been on,” 6th grade Grant writing teacher Danette Gesler said. “We’ve added several programs to our school because of this and we got some national recognition for it.”
Gesler was one of 10 Grant teachers who went to Washington D.C. to accept an award for recognition of becoming a school to watch. Close to 500 teachers from across the nation attended the conference.
Schools to Watch required teachers to open their classrooms to people in hopes of receiving feedback on their teaching techniques and curriculum to better themselves, their teaching practices and, in return, their middle school.
Most working 20 or more years in Grant, these teachers took this challenge as an opportunity to always be changing and improving their teaching methods. So, for four years, they were evaluated and, after hard work and dedication, were finally recognized as a school to watch.
Though their goal has been accomplished, Gesler says their future goals are just starting. New plans for the curriculum regarding math and language and literature are hoping to be the next goal tackled in the coming years. The constant reach forward will be keeping the Grant Middle School teachers on their toes as they are re-evaluated as a school to watch in three years.
“It isn’t staying stagnant, you have to continue to grow.”