With a school motto of “Success is our only option”, it’s no surprise that Kearns Junior High is changing the odds being recently re-designated as 1 of 10 “Schools to Watch” here in Utah. Schools to Watch: is part of a national initiative launched by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform that aims to recognize middle schools that are taking an innovative approach to improving student performance. This isn’t just an award, but a responsibility to be a model of best practices for other schools across the state. Criteria for being recognized as a School to Watch include the following (as taken from www.middlegradesforum.org):
They are developmentally responsive—these schools are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence
They are socially equitable—these schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources and supports.
Weekly student support teams comprised of teachers, counselors, social workers and administration have been implemented to support struggling students and address school wide challenges and issues. Out of these meetings a lot of innovations have been developed, such as the FLEX period which provides students with a weekly grade check and the time to make up missing assignments. Quarterly make up days provide a chance for the students to make up work before the end of the quarter, often with the help of local businesses who offer to come into the school as tutors, and an after school program that aligns with school curriculum and supports the common core, and much more.
By taking an innovative approach to supporting students, being incredibly adaptive and responsive to student needs and taking a hard look at student academic data, Kearns Junior High really is setting themselves apart as a School to Watch, not just here in Utah, but nationally.
Congratulations to Principal Kandace Barber and the Kearns Junior High faculty and staff for continuing their work to LIVE UNITED and change the odds for Kearns students.