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Port Charlotte Middle School Striving for Excellence in Culture, Community, and Education

While considering how to shape school culture to positively influence Port Charlotte Middle School, I reflect on the values of our school district; collaboration, communication, integrity, leadership, excellence and,  safety. Communication from stakeholders is key to an organizations success, which is why input from teachers and staff is welcome and encouraged. Our Terrier family collaborates as a learning community keeping the goals of excellence in education and student success, in the forefront. Our student performance on last year’s state testing earned our school an “A”.  That success was realized due to the knowledge, skills and hard work of our young TERRIERS, and the caring support, efforts, and educational expertise of our faculty, staff, and my fellow administrators, Matthew Kunder and Tara Whisenant. As their principal, I’m so grateful and proud of all of them and I have challenged our students that I will cut off all my hair if they earn an “A”, again, this year.   

            Our students, teachers and staff never let our school down. They donate hours of time and talents to the community through our student leadership programs such as National Junior Honor Society, Student Government, Builders and Environmental Clubs, SWAT, and ROS. Our faculty and staff work tirelessly to make a myriad of special events come to fruition for our students, such as our popular Career Night, Band, Chorus, and Drama performances, field trips and community outreach projects. The PE department hosted a hockey Clinic to give the students an opportunity to play with the Tampa Bay Lightning. They received honors from Keep Charlotte Beautiful, Do the Right Thing, and Make a Wish. They earned many industry certificates, through our Microsoft IT Academy. Our Terrier Teachers and Staff have donated blood and built homes with Habitat for Humanity. Teachers provided countless hours of free tutoring, hosted field trips and held another challenging MATH Carnival and sensational Science and Art Fair. Our administrators launched a new “Suspension Free Challenge” 3X3 basketball tournament, and students rose to the challenge by remaining referral free to participate. All the fantastic events, honors and successes of our Terrier family are just too many to mention, but we continue to congratulate and celebrate them ALL.

          Since testing is upon us, I want to share with others, some valuable research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In light of the fact that literacy tests have changed; students, now, need to evaluate and integrate multiple articles, discuss and consider alternate interpretations.  Research now reveals that “talking for test prep” is the best way to go. Opportunities to read aloud with others and discuss the content is invaluable. An article by Leah Shafer published in Harvard’s research journal caught my eye. It quoted language and literacy expert, Catherine Snow, as stating, “Every other initiative that leaders might undertake is less important than making sure that students in the schools learn how to read.” Some useable knowledge she passed on to principals, superintendents, policymakers, and educators is that comprehension is derived from the amount of prior knowledge, vocabulary, facts and experiences of a student’s background. She stressed the way to build knowledge enhancing reading skills is by questioning, sharing experiences, discussing new concepts, and debating controversial ideas. The article commented that, as the principal, when I step into a classroom, what is important is not what I will see, but what I will hear.  Any parents or educators who might be interested to read more, can visit the following link:  https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/01/start-talking

John LeClair, Principal