- Plano Independent School District
Schimelpfenig Middle School Texas School to Watch
Jan. 30, 2019
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) as part of a national recognition program have designated Schimelpfenig Middle School as a Texas School to Watch. Schimelpfenig Middle School joins approximately 30 other campuses across Texas with this distinction. The honor will be recognized on March 4 in Austin at the Making Middle School Matter Symposium hosted by TASSP, and Schimelpfenig will be recognized nationally in Washington D.C. with other Schools to Watch from across the country at the National Forum's National Schools to Watch Conference in June.
State leaders selected Schimelpfenig Middle School for its academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure and processes. In addition, Schimelpfenig has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.
According to Billy Pringle, state director for Schools to Watch in Texas and TASSP associate executive director for middle-level services, “The visiting team was extremely impressed by the many positive things that are taking place at Schimelpfenig Middle School. Your administrative team has definitely created a positive learning environment and the entire staff was impressive to each and every member of the site team. Parents, students and your staff are pleased with the programs that are offered at Schimelpfenig. The site team saw numerous examples of the Schools to Watch criteria evidenced at Schimelpfenig.”
Below are just some of the strengths observed by the visiting site team
- Schimelpfenig has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.
- Schimelpfenig is a high performing campus. The school has very hard-working students. In all of the classrooms observed, students were engaged in the lessons and providing feedback to one another during class time.
- Students have many opportunities for peer tutoring with the National Junior Honor Society tutoring program. Teachers also provide tutoring times as well. Students feel this is a great benefit to their success.
- AVID first was implemented at the campus ten years ago. Today, all students utilize AVID binders and various strategies including Mesh Mondays.
- Campus PLC's are continually evolving and working towards level one certification with regards to High Reliability Schools.
- Departments meet once a month to plan and vertically align the curriculum.
- The curriculum is aligned with state standards and learning goals were visible and evident in classroom visits.
- We saw several examples of challenging instructional strategies like cooperative learning and found that technology integration was evident in many classrooms. Activities were grade-level appropriate and engaging for students.
- Schimelpfenig offers six different levels of Math to ensure that the needs of all students are being met in this area of curriculum and academics.
- Students, parents and teachers all referred to the diversity of the campus and how this aspect has strengthened the campus. It is clearly evident that diversity is embraced, and students feel important regardless of their backgrounds or ethnicity.
- We witnessed multiple examples of the campus staff being reflective in nature and responding appropriately to the needs of students, parents, and staff members.
- Campus procedures are clearly evident, and the staff demonstrated that they were all on board with being consistent in this area.
- Students display a genuine affection for their administrators and teachers at Schimelpfenig. Students especially echoed their love and admiration for the campus principal.
- Counselors provide monthly lessons thru advisory time that are geared towards social/emotional well-being of students.
- All students are given contact cards that they can keep and share with family members.
- Teachers receive suicide prevention training twice a year, students receive lesson thru classes, and the campus/district utilizes a quick tip alert website.
- Students are given multiple opportunities to be connected to each other with the numerous clubs and organizations that are offered at the campus. Many students are involved in multiple extra-curriculars, clubs, and student organizations. (The club pictures all around the campus are great.)
- Students overwhelmingly feel that they are treated fairly and respected by all staff members at Schimelpfenig.
- Students are given choice in multiple ways. One example is PE: During a PE class there are approximately 120 students and 4 teachers. Each teacher is in charge of a different activity. Students form groups and then choose what activity they want to do.
- Students are recognized at pep rallies, academic pep rallies, and a comprehensive awards ceremony at the end of the year.
- Schimelpfenig is supported by strong district services in Plano ISD, a strong community that supports the success of the campus, and a strong PTA that works with administration, staff and students in many different capacities.
- The Campus Improvement Plan makes references to strengths, areas of growth, and priority needs. These are posted in the PLC room.
- Schimelpfenig has embedded the book Grit and it's teaching throughout the school, for both teachers and students.
- Schimelpfenig has frequent and consistent communication with parents thru emails and coffee with the principal.
- Students gave very specific examples of how well the expectations are communicated to them by administration, teachers and staff.
- The site team witnesses several strong examples of differentiated instruction during classroom visits.
- Students are given multiple opportunities during the day and school week to seek additional assistance academically by tutoring being offered from teachers.
Billy Pringle, state director for Schools to Watch in Texas and TASSP associate executive director for middle-level services, stated, "We congratulate Dr. Brant Perry and his staff, students and parents for being a campus that does great things for all of their students. This school has demonstrated that a high-performing middle school is a place that focuses on academic growth and achievement. Schimelpfenig Middle School is a place that recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of all students and ensures that every child has access to a challenging high-quality education."
About Schools to Watch
The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they meet criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students and parents and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons and student work. Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals in order to be re-designated. Unlike the Blue-Ribbon recognition program, the Schools to Watch program requires schools to not just identify strengths, but to also focus on areas of continuous improvement; thus, the three-year re-designation.
Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grade schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding 37 research-based criteria developed by the National Forum. There are now 17 states which have trained Schools to Watch State Teams with more than 480 schools recognized across the country.