November 12, 2021

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Middle School Division Director

Mr. Ron Hamilton

"The only way to find your voice is to use it." 

— Austin Kleon

Greetings Kodiak Families,

I’d like to begin by giving a big shout-out to all of our students, parents, and teachers for tackling an important part of our Middle Schoolers’ educational journeys – virtual conferences – at the end of Quarter 1. By coming together to reflect, discuss, and plan, we’re paving a road to success for our students to follow. CSS has been using the student-led conference model – with Advisors serving as student guides – for many years now. This conference style exemplifies one of several core values practiced within the Middle School division: allowing our students to find their voice; owning and using it to advocate for themselves and for others, to ask questions, and to share experiences. The process of finding one’s voice is key to helping our students gain self-confidence throughout this period of dynamic growth.

Recently, I conducted a talking circle with a group of students focused on how we can use our voices to empathize with and raise one another up. With very little coaching, these students quickly demonstrated their personal understanding of the value of using one’s voice to create a safe space for growth and joy. Children, in their early adolescence, display an innate desire to discover who it is they truly wish to become. When striving to set examples for our children, ask yourself, “What voices do I model?”; “What voices do I share and celebrate?” They are constantly watching, assessing, and experimenting with different attitudes to see how they can best fit into the world

Here at CSS, we work hard to provide our students with experiences, such as Seminar, Service Days, Socratic discussions, and more, that generate the greatest impact and allow them to follow our lead. For example, a weekly check-in is one strategy we use to help students find their own unique voices and develop executive functions (time management, organization, prioritization and communication) that will keep them on top of their academic game. While 21st-century technological advances have led to easily accessible online grade books and classrooms, please be reminded that holding our Middle School students accountable for their academic progress should not become a parent-driven affair. Students should own their grades and personally strive to meet their teachers’ expectations

This takes lots of practice for even the most motivated young person. Here’s the strategy I recommend:

  • Ask your student to set a weekly recurring appointment with you to review, together, their online grade book – updated in the Renweb/FACTS system weekly – and Google Classrooms, containing information on both assignments and grades. 
  • To activate weekly grade book notifications pushed straight to your inbox through the Renweb/FACTS Family Portal, please refer to the following tutorial. You may experience initial "over-communication" from the automated system. If this occurs, please let me know so we can troubleshoot and ease the volume of emails received. 
  • Setting your recurring appointment on a Wednesday or Thursday evening will allow for communication, support, and planning prior to the weekend. Give your child the opportunity to open up these online tools and to walk you through their current academic standings. By reviewing the assignment details within a report, parents can gain familiarity with their child's performance and demonstrated level of understanding on individual assignments. 
  • If anything requires further explanation, is unclear, or appears incomplete, instruct your student to send an email to their teacher and to copy you. Whenever the respective teacher responds, and a plan for clarity or completion has been arranged, congratulate your child on making it happen on their own
  • Follow up with your student over the weekend to ensure previously discussed plans are working
  • Remember: set a routine that works for your family, but keep the ownership in the hands of your student. In the grade report, you will see a log of all assignments that have not been turned in (Missing) or have earned zeros. If you find your child is falling significantly behind on their school work, or a grade feels shocking, it’s probably time for a conversation with the teacher. As always, you are your child’s best advocate.

I’d also like to share with you news of some other exciting new support systems that have been recently implemented to assist students across the Middle School division. Beginning this week, parents can now register their Middle School student to meet with a trained peer tutor from the Upper School division. Our peer tutors are members of the Kodiak Chapter of the National Honor Society, who have volunteered to work with Middle School students during Homework Heaven each weekday. Please use the Homework Heaven sign-up form to request a peer tutor (at no additional cost) for your student, and do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information on this beneficial new program. 

Finally, beginning on Monday, November 15, 2021, teachers will be instituting Homework Hall for those students who have failed to turn in an assignment, as a means of reducing anxiety and allowing students to understand the importance of focusing on their studies and completing their work on time. This new initiative will take place in lieu of activities and athletic practices from 2:35 to 3:15 p.m. each weekday (with the exception of Wednesdays), whereafter students may join their respective sports practice when applicable. If your student has been assigned to attend a Homework Hall, you will receive an email from their teacher who may choose to also create a progress improvement plan with the student or request an Upper School peer tutor during the session. Classes occurring prior to lunch have the ability to assign a student to Homework Hall on the same day, whereas classes occurring after lunch will assign a student to Homework Hall the following day. Let me know if you have questions about this useful resource.

Thank you for sending us your amazing children each day. They are the light in our efforts and the spark that keeps us inspired. Have an excellent Thanksgiving break!

As ever,

Ron Hamilton, M.A.Ed. Leadership

Middle School Division Director

Middle School Selfie Station

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Walking Club! Sometimes, being active is as simple as taking a walk in the autumn leaves with friends!

So far this quarter, our students are having a blast participating in a number of clubs and activities after school, including not only Walking Club but Band, Robotics, Game Club, eSports, Forensics Drama and Math Olympiad.

On behalf of our faculty, we're overjoyed to see just how excited our students are weekly, as they get to know one another outside of the classroom.

#CSSAdventures #Community

Kudos to our students on the fine work they did during Service Learning Days on November 3. While some students spent the day giving back to nonprofit organizations like Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado and Concrete Couch, I had the privilege of working with students to complete service projects on campus.

Together, we beautified the picnic tables near Maytag Dining Hall and had some fun (maybe too much fun) with paint on the playground, where we brightened up both the basketball and four square court.

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The Colorado Springs School

21 Broadmoor Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Work: (719)434-3537, ext.550 |