Settling in at Saranac Lake’s Middle School

Now that we’re a few weeks into the Fall Semester, Students in the local Schools are  getting back into a regular routine..  That was the case at the School Board Meeting in Saranac Lake Wednesday evening.. Which is where we caught up with Middle School Principal Bruce VanWeelden where I asked him to talk about his transition from the High School into the Middle School Principle. The new school year requires that students develop new routines and VanWeelden says in addition, they’re reviewing emergency protocols with students and practicing certain special drills which disrupts the regular flow of things for the first few weeks. The Middle School is almost settled down he adds and there’s one thing about middle school kids; they’re more inclined to find a Principle and introduce themselves where the High School kids are becoming more independent and getting around more on their own..

AUDIO – 091913 – Bruce VanWeelden

An Excerpt from “The Principle’s Page” Below;

The Middle School years are a time of great change for students, parents, and all those associated with them. Children are going through a period of transition unlike any other in human development. While we tend to focus on the unprecedented growth and physical development we can actually see, this is just one facet of the changes middle schoolers are experiencing. Middle schoolers will change socially, emotionally, academically, and physically. Part of our role as educators at the middle school is to help students understand and cope with these changes in a mature and appropriate fashion. These are life skills that students need to learn, and they do not come intrinsically. Like all development, students will go through this process at different times and different paces. Like all change, this can be a stressful and difficult transition for students.

The adults in our students’ lives share the responsibility of teaching our students that this is normal. We need to teach students to embrace these changes and support each other as they venture down this path together. Some will grow faster, some will do better academically, some will adapt much quicker to new social norms, and some will be much better at keeping things in emotional perspective. Again, this will happen at different times for different students. At the middle school, we embrace these differences and foster the development of these attributes for all students. Providing an environment that is accepting and supportive of these changes ultimately leads to higher academic achievement for each individual student.

I feel strongly that the keys to success in school are embodied in a few basic life skills that everyone is capable of. To be successful, students need to show up regularly and on time, they need to work hard, and they need to bring a positive attitude. Equipped with these three skills, students can achieve and find success in all life’s challenges. We reinforce these skills daily through Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and our behavior matrix. We use the acronym “RAP” to create a common language. RAP represents the values of Respect, Accountability, and Positive attitude. I look forward to working with your children and helping them grow as individuals. Please feel free to contact my office at any time with questions, concerns, or suggestions you may have.

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