Built in 1937, the Timilty Middle School is located in Roxbury’s Eliot Square. The U-shaped Art Deco brick building currently houses about 320 students in grades 6-8. On the day I visit, the entire sixth grade is taking the online MAP test, a district-wide math assessment.
Science classrooms are alive with active, collaborative projects, where students are learning about and putting into practice the seven steps of the Engineering Design Process. Betty Fenelon‘s eighth graders are in small groups building car models—following designs they’ve made on the computer—using cardboard, straws and rubber bands. A colorful sign, “Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti!” decorates the doorway to Wendy Marrero‘s SEI science class. Inside, students are building towers of straws that will hold a tennis ball for at least 5 minutes, while their teacher talks with one group about how to include everyone’s ideas.
Students in Cheryl Ashley‘s 8th grade ELA class are examining examples of different genres, while 7th graders are learning about elements of plot with Vanessa Bramante. After making a small self-correcting study guide and gluing it into their notebooks, they begin independent reading. A sampling of words on the Vocabulary Wall: automatically, anxious, conviction, scowl, unison, annotation, and inference.
Wanda Zawislak assists a couple of 7th grade students as they practice using longitude and latitude coordinates to locate places on maps in their geography textbooks, while civics teacher Reginald Toussaint helps his 8th graders examine the causes and results of the French & Indian War.
Seventh graders in art class with Elizabeth Coughlin have just begun creating designs for a holiday card contest, and music teacher Bethany Niedbala is helping her students learn to hear and reproduce different beats with hands and bucket drums, in sync with one another.
Large posters about student career goals fill a hallway bulletin board, showing research students have done on the skills, salary, job duties, etc. of their chosen professions. Around the corner, in the SEI wing of the school, a display by ESL teacher Brenda Crowley about the “Idiom of the Week: Action Speaks Louder Than Words” catches my eye and reminds me of the importance of social emotional learning in the pursuit of academic goals.
The Timilty is under-enrolled, 86% of its students are in the DESE’s “High Needs” category, and it receives a large number of students from other schools throughout the school year. Teachers meet this challenge with creativity and a commitment to help every student reach high standards. May you all have a joyous holiday and return ready for the challenges in your school.
Thanks for all YOU do every day to support your students and colleagues!
Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.