I visited the Irving Middle School, on Cummings Highway in Roslindale, just before the winter break. Hallways have names such as “€œWarrior Way”€ and “€œIntegrity Court”€ “€“ making school values a daily reference. I noticed that the warrior theme is carried out throughout the building with small signs reminding students of appropriate behavior “€“ in hallways, bathrooms, and the auditorium “€“ an idea worth sharing.

The first class I visited was Dance, where teacher Erica Schwartz was having her students practice their “€œchair dance”€ routine. She had them hold their poses so I could get a couple of clear photos, since capturing kids in motion is a bit beyond my small camera”€™s capabilities! These seventh graders showed amazing poise and discipline… makes me wonder how dance and other arts might be used to engage students more fully in their academic subjects. In the Theater Arts class across the hall, Gregory Allen was conferencing with individual students while most of the class worked independently to review their lines.

Hallways were quiet as I walked from class to class on a Tuesday morning; as I entered or peeked into classrooms, students were bent over books and papers or listening intently to their teachers. Eighth graders were writing responses to their reading of Night, the powerful story of the Holocaust by Elie Wiesel. I was amazed by the ubiquitous use of technology “€“ laptops available for research projects and students using hand-held “€œclickers”€ to post the answers to their “€œDo Now”€ questions, which were instantly tabulated and projected for class review.

The Irving has an extended day (until 4:15 PM) from Monday-Thursday, and dismissal at 11:45 AM on Friday for staff meetings. Their website is impressive, with information and a variety of resources posted for student and family reference. Enjoy this month”€™s photos and student voices, as they explain what they”€™re doing and learning. Please invite me to your school… I”€™m serious! There are always good things going on, and I”€™m committed to celebrating “€œordinary”€ teachers and kids working together for academic achievement.


Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.