07/19/12  Sharing firsthand knowledge of how to create and sustain a successful middle school, staff from Riverside Intermediate School joined educators from middle grades schools across the country that have been nationally recognized as Schools to Watch through the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

Patty Welch, Jeni Hirschy, and Jeanne Tanner traveled to Washington, D.C., June 21-23, 2012 to participate in the Schools to Watch conference and shared real-world success stories, strategies and information about successfully raising student achievement and supporting positive student development in the middle grades.  Sessions featured research-based practices from Schools to Watch sites; current strategies on effective practices to raise student achievement; tips for creating supportive cultures; and suggestions for advocating for young adolescents.

The conference provided participants not only with an excellent opportunity to learn from and network with their peers, but also to bring their first-hand knowledge to Capital Hill to discuss best practices and recently introduced legislation, Success in the Middle, which is focused on improvising low performing middle schools.  The staff members highlighted the primary purpose of the bill which is to target resources to the lowest performing grade schools in a state to help ensure that all students exit the middle grads prepared for success in a high school with an academically rigorous curriculum that prepares students for post secondary education and the workplace.

The Schools to Watch program identifies and honors schools nationally so all might learn how to achieve academic success through best practices for all young adolescents.  Schools identified as Schools to Watch initiative are academically excellent – challenging all students to use their minds well; developmentally responsive – sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence; and socially equitable – democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports.  In order to achieve this level of performance, high-performing schools establish norms, structures, and organizational arrangements to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence. They have a sense of purpose that drives every facet of practice and decision-making.

Picture Left to Right – Gayle Andrews, Past Forum President. Riverside Staff members Patty Welch, Jeni Hirschy, Jeanne Tanner, and Irv Howard, CA STW State Dir. and in-coming Forum President