Thursday, December 01, 2016

Robert Eagle Staff Community Meetings

I attended the community meeting for Robert Eagle Staff  Middle School on Tuesday night.  There were maybe 5 parents there including one father with his daughter.  Marni Campbell gave the presentation with Executive Director, Jon Halfaker, in attendance.  There were no handouts.

She led with the phrase "dream ambitiously."  She also referenced the heritage of the Wilson Pacific site that SPS wants to honor. 
She refused to state her opinion about grandfathering, saying "I'm not going to weigh in on that." 
She also said that if Whitman was made much smaller by changing the boundaries to include RESMS, students would be able to choose between Whitman and RESMS. 

She was asked about decisions for assignment and she said she really didn't know but probably sometime in January.  (I found that answer quite lacking because parents truly need to know these dates.)

She was asked about programming like foreign language and music offerings that are currently available at other middle schools.  She said she working with those schools to make sure there is "consistency and parity" for RESMS.  She said "alignment is key."

She said there would be "fidelity" to the HCC program. 

She was asked if the students will be able to tour the school before school starts and the answer was yes.  As well, the students will be part of the decision-making for a mascot.

I'll be honest - there was not much real information in her answers to questions.  I did notice two things and I hope parents keep this in mind.

1)She used the word "promise" a lot.  Not "we will try" or "our goal is" but "we promise."  SPS does sometimes break promises and then likes to act like no one was promised anything.  Well, in this case, they are being given promises.

2) However, she was cagey in how she answered questions so what she actually promised is up for discussion.

There were several times when she said things that others had to correct. I asked about security cameras at RESMS and she said all new buildings had security cameras. Wrong because Roosevelt didn't.  She also misspoke on the foreign languages offered at the middle schools.  A parent had to correct her.

The issue was raised about the issues around being so close to Aurora.  She had good news.  The City's Neighborhood fund has given SPS $1M to address issues around that area.  A separate grant for $90K for modest road safety issues in that area was also announced.

I left when I realized that the second half of the meeting was a discussion of more aspirational goals for middle schools with interaction with the parents. 

But she did have a curious slide about "growth mindset" where she said that "hard workers" tried harder things and "smart students" were afraid to fail and chose easy tasks.  I felt uncomfortable with that statement because there many types of learners and smart students can also be hard workers. 

Ms. Campbell was very warm and upbeat.  She genuinely cares about students and their needs.  That is a very good thing for parents to know.  But again, the lack of specific information makes these meetings not as useful as they should be.


The next meeting is this Saturday, Dec. 3rd at Northgate Elementary from 11 am to 12:30 pm.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Melissa. Her Growth Mindset comments are troubling. My son asked to move from our ALO school that refused to provide any acceleration to Cascadia because he wanted to try harder things. We thought long and hard about this decision because we truly loved the community at our school. We decided to move him to honor his growth mindset, and also after watching our neighbor's child who waited to move to the HCC until middle school. When that child met their first challenge in 6th grade--their response was to withdraw and assume they were not good at that subject because it didn't come easily. All through k-5, things were a breeze, and now this student made sense of the challenge by claiming she wasn't good at the subject. So, to hear the principal make blanket statements inferring that HCC is damaging to students and promotes a fixed mindset is very frustrating.

I will agree that calling a child smart rather than praising their effort is not recommended. It would be great if SPS could effectively differentiate, accelerate, enrich, teach ... without publicly labeling students. But to say the HCC students have a fixed mindset is sending the wrong message and is naive given the wide variety of participants in the program.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

What a contrast to the JAMS planning meetings. Every meeting I attended to plan JAMS was packed. Most had at least 50 people and several had close to 200 and were standing room only meetings.

The meetings last Spring had only 6 parents at each of the two meetings and now this meeting, had only 5 parents.

Opening a new school is hard. I certainly don't want to do it again and I can't imagine doing this with only a few people attending the meetings. It is shocking that with three years to plan this ... there is nothing really planned, including the languages.


- jams mama

Anonymous said...

With respect to "growth mindset" and advanced learners: AL kids can't choose the difficult work in SPS gen ed, because there isn't any difficult work. My Spectrum kid did not learn to tolerate the discomfort of working at something really difficult until she got out of SPS. Up until then, it was straight A's and being labelled the smartest kid in the class. Now she knows how to persist when she doesn't "get it", and how to take a problem apart into workable pieces, and not to worry about who in the class is the "smartest".

They don't get it.

qwerty

Melissa Westbrook said...


I don't believe that Ms. Campbell was inferring that HCC is bad for kids but that smart kids generally take the easy way out. I do not agree that all smart kids do that; I've seen evidence of that. Making generalizations for ANY group of kids is wrong and I'm surprised she did it.

I do agree that for some bright kids, intellectual endeavors come easily at a young age and they can find themselves floundering. But learning is about stretching and so it is for all learners.

Anonymous said...

Most of the families currently at Whitman are not moving their kids. They are invested in the language program, the music program and sports teams at Whitman and find to easier to access Whitman from the west side. The 92nd and stone location will see long traffic back-ups and will have very limited parking. It much more difficult to get to from west of Greenwood and considering JSCEE is assigning students from the furthest NW corner of Seattle this will be a big downside for parents. That location should have been a High school, to bad.

They need to build an overpass like the one that served the old Oaklake school at 102nd and Aurora. The constant red lights for crossing Aurora will lead to many children J walking and eventually an unfortunate fatality.

It always seems like the folks at JSCEE can't put 2 and 2 together.

4more years

Anonymous said...

@4 more years--it's because the capacity planning team is running the show with zero influence from curriculum and instruction.

The District needs better leadership and I wish the board would do something to fix the culture and ineffectiveness of Nyland's top three tiers of management.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

She said there would be "fidelity" to the HCC program.

That's hilarious. So is she the one to go to then, if we're trying to figure out what exactly HCC services entail? Can she show us the HCC middle school curriculum, perhaps? You know, since none of the HCC middle school teachers, or principals, or the AL office can?

Empty words

Anonymous said...

Regarding the growth mindset thing, sounds to me like she's just quoting/summarizing this article/study that's been making the rounds once again on Facebook. Well, summarizing it a bit incorrectly. http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/want-to-raise-successful-kids-science-says-praise-them-like-this-most-parents-do.html?utm_source=htrsk

-New Mom

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

4more years-- Apparently Whitman PTSA people seem to disagree. I heard the PTSA feels most kids will move to Eaglestaff as it is closer to them. In addition, transportation will not be provided for kids who choose to stay.
NW Whitman parent

Seattle mom said...

From the meeting yesterday Ms. Campbell's context on the "growth mindset" was about the important time of life (ages 11-15) when kids start to think they are bad at things, especially math. She said they want to support students so that they can maximize all opportunities in high school.

Anonymous said...

4more years- Curious, have you connected with members of your PTSA at Whitman recently? The last I heard they feel most Whitman kids WILL move as Eaglestaff is closer. I think a survey was being sent out? But maybe things have changed and you are hearing differently.
-frustrated