Description of the School
Philip H. Schoo Middle School opened in the fall of 2009 in the Fallbrook neighborhood of northwest Lincoln. Our school was named after former long-time Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) Superintendent Dr. Philip H. Schoo. Approximately 780 students of diverse backgrounds in grades 6-8 attend Schoo Middle School, where 65 highly qualified educators serve their daily needs. We are the “Schoo Skyhawks.”
Schoo Middle School and the Fallbrook YMCA (Fallbrook Y) share a common building. Schoo Middle School is located on the west, the Fallbrook Y on the east with a shared space including gyms and classrooms at the center of the building. The Fallbrook Y provides an afterschool program for approximately 85 Schoo Middle School students.
Fallbrook is a planned community newly developed in the past 10 years designed especially for neighbors to know neighbors and to have basic services provided within walking distance in a town square. In addition to Fallbrook, our students come to us from the Highlands neighborhood, the Air Park neighborhood, and other homes in northwest Lincoln. Thirty-two Schoo students are identified as English Language Learners and live in the Schoo attendance area; thirteen from sixth grade, ten from seventh grade and nine from eigth grade. Students who live in Air Park and most of our students who are English Language Learners come to school by bus, this equates to 338 students which presents unique challenges to the Schoo community.
Students learn in teams and teachers work collaboratively at Schoo Middle School. Teachers are part of three teams. There are two interdisciplinary teams at each grade level, and one team of academic connection and elective teachers who meet 1-3 times per week to grow professionally to meet the individual and group needs of our students. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are the second team for our teachers. PLCs meet twice a month in subject-based groups to look at student data, develop action plans using research-based strategies, and measure results. The third team for Schoo teachers is the whole-school team as we consider every student to be “our” student and work together to meet student needs.
School and Community Partnerships
The Schoo Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) was developed the summer before the school opened and continues to support our students and teachers. The group meets monthly and plans a variety of family social events, organizes volunteers for school events, sells school spirit items such as t-shirts and sweatshirts, provides a school directory, and organizes fundraisers. Within the last year the group has worked closely with Runza and McDonald’s to develop “Schoo Nights,” in which a percentage of the profits for one evening are put back into the learning environment at Schoo. Super Saver, a recent addition to Fallbrook, will begin partnering with the PTSO to fund and support student learning. The Schoo PTSO conducts one fundraiser each year.
Schoo Middle School shares a facility with the Fallbrook Y, marking the first such collaboration between a YMCA and a middle school in the state of Nebraska. This partnership continues a long-standing relationship between the YMCA and LPS. The new model maximizes funding, reduces duplication of services and programming, and provides affordable opportunities for families and students. The collaboration between the school and Fallbrook Y was integral in the success of the implementation of the 40 Developmental Assets program this past year. Students from Schoo spent 30 minutes a day fulfilling the service asset at the Fallbrook Y. Almost all students were able to serve at least twice during the school year. In addition, the YMCA Teen Time offers after school opportunities for Schoo students. In First Block Clubs (3:00-4:00 p.m.) students get to preference what first block clubs they want to participate in. They will pick a Monday/ Friday club and a Tuesday/ Thursday club. Students get the opportunity to preference each quarter so they will have the opportunity to explore all clubs options. Each Wednesday all students will participate in the same club, club focus changes each week. First Block club offerings are Health and Fitness, Art Club, Writing Club, Cooking Club, Science Club and Diversity Club. In Second Block Clubs (4:05-5:00 p.m.) students get to choose what second block club they do on a daily basis. If a student has an upcoming test or homework assignment they can go to Homework Zone that day. If they want a chance to kick back and relax after a long day at school they can choose to attend Chill Time. It’s all up to them! Second block clubs stay the same throughout the year. Approximately 85 Schoo students participate in YMCA Teen Time each day.
Tom and Nancy Osborne founded the TeamMates Mentoring Program in 1991 in an effort to provide support and encouragement to school aged youth. The goal of the program is to see youth graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education. To reach this goal, youth meet one hour per week with a caring adult who serves as a mentor. Mentors are volunteers from the community who have dedicated themselves to making a difference in the life of a young person. Mentors give youth a sense of hope, purpose and vision. The TeamMates Mentoring Program currently provides a mentor for over 3,000 youth across Nebraska and Iowa. Each year students at Schoo Middle School participate in the TeamMates Mentoring Program. Currently, Schoo has 28 students matched with mentors.
Our mission is to Educate, Enrich, Serve, and Support the School Middle School Community in order to prepare students for the future.
During staff development sessions in the the summer of 2009, Schoo staff members set out to establish a set of core beliefs that would provide a focus and assist staff in becoming a learning community that:
- Addresses the “Question of will”
- Keeps the focus on learning
- Focuses our work on collaborative ventures
- Holds us accountable for continual improvement
In creating these statements, staff made sure that the belief statements generated:
- Expressed a shared belief
- Defined expectations held by Schoo staff
- Defined behaviors and attitudes about our learning community
- Will help our staff become a team able to provide mutual support, value differences, and cooperate in a synergistic way
As a staff we meet annually to review our Mission Statement and Core Beliefs in an effort to ensure that they are still an accurate description of our purpose.
Schoo Core Beliefs:
- The Schoo staff will create a respectful learning community that embraces individuality by trusting, listening, and being honest with one another.
- The Schoo staff will collaborate to implement strategies to raise achievement by using common formative and summative assessments to analyze students’ proficiency of essential learnings.
- The Schoo staff will ensure student learning through data based decision-making and providing a variety of interventions.
- The Schoo staff will communicate with colleagues, students, and families to maximize student growth and achievement.
- The Schoo staff will have high expectations and accountability to our colleagues, our students, and ourselves in a commitment to excellence in our school.
- The Schoo staff will celebrate student and staff achievements.
Throughout Schoo’s first four years, the staff has implemented a variety of educational and extracurricular programs in attempt to better server student populations.
- English Language Learners – A leveled program with increasing time in regular education classes as students’ progress in their knowledge of English. Multi-cultural liaisons support the families of our English Language Learners.
- The Learning Center (TLC) – Staffed by one teacher and one para-professional. Students may be assigned for one period per day or on a drop in basis to complete work and build skills.
- Guided Studies (Enrichment Days) – Teams of teachers determine individual students and small groups who need support in building skills
- Gifted Program – Differentiated classes are offered for gifted students in the areas of Language Arts and math in grade six. In grades seven and eight, differentiated classes are offered in the areas of English, math, science, and social studies.
- Gifted Mentors – Qualified mentors work one-on-one with students who are highly gifted in the students’ area of expertise. Students work with mentors at Schoo Middle School every day.
- Special Education – Students receive specially designed instruction through a variety of service delivery models based on the student’s Individual Education Plan. Each grade level team currently has a Special Education teacher available to assist with co-teaching, pullout groups, and providing accommodations as needed for students on the team who are primarily taught in the regular education classroom. Schoo Middle School also has a selection of skills classes for those students’ whose disabilities need more support than can be provided in the regular classroom.
- Fluid Math Relearning – One period every other day for 6th & 7th grades and daily for 8th graders is provided in addition to the regular math class to pre-teach, practice and re-teach math objectives.
- Reading – Three levels of reading classes are provided to build reading skills for students reading below grade level. Read 180 and System 44 computer-aided reading instruction programs were piloted at Schoo during the 2010-2011 school year and have been continued due to positive results.
- Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) – All teachers meet regularly to collaborate and plan essential outcomes, set SMART goals, plan assessments and learning strategies, and compare data related to student learning.
- Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBiS) – a data-driven program in place to set behavioral expectations, teach behavioral skills and provide support to students.
- Extra-curricular activities – Student in grades and 7th and 8th have the opportunity to participate in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, wrestling and track throughout the school year.
- After-school Clubs – All students are able to be a part of several after-school clubs covering a variety of interest and increase their connection to the Schoo community.
Notable Achievements and Areas of Improvement
In its four years as a middle school, Schoo, has experienced positive growth as an academic institution. During this time, Schoo students have consistently increased their scores on the Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) tests. On the NeSA – Math test, the percentage of Schoo students who met or exceeded expectations increased from 63% from the 2011-2012 school year to 69% during the 2012-2013 year. In the area of reading, the percent of students who met or exceeded the state standard increased from 73% to 80% between the 2011-2012 year to 2012-2013 school year. Schoo students made the highest gain in on the NeSA – Science test, the percent of students who met or exceeded the standard increased from 55% in the 2011-2012 school year to 66% during the 2012-2013 year. As scores have improved the number of students missing school has decreased. Schoo’s daily attendance numbers have increased from 94.4% in 2009-2010 to 95.8% in 2012-2013.
Schoo Middle School uses the Positive Behavior Intervention Support strategies as the behavioral model for the school. Through consistent practices the percentage of students in Tier Three “Red” has been reduced from 23% to 18% in the past four years. During this same time period, the percentage of students in Tier One “Green” has grown from 60% to 78%. This achievement is also reflected in a significant decrease in the number of days students were out of school due to suspensions (OSS); 229 days of OSS in 2009-2010 in comparison to 145 days in 2012-2013.
High expectations for students are supported by an exceptionally talented and dedicated faculty. As of the 2012-2013 school year, 50% of Schoo Middle School teachers held a Master’s degree. This is a 30% increase from 2009-2010 school year, which coincides with the opening of Schoo.
Since opening, Schoo Middle School has been fortunate to have an intramural program with great engagement by both students and faculty. Students can participate in soccer, volleyball, cross country, basketball, wrestling, and track during the school year. Last year, we had almost 250 students participate in at least one sport throughout the school year. That number makes Schoo one of the top (if not the top) schools in terms of student participation. In Schoo’s four years, we’ve had over 30 staff members be involved with intramurals in some way, bringing the connection past the classroom.
Throughout the four years, the intramural program has seen some changes. The most dramatic ones include cutting flag football to make way for boys’ and girls’ soccer in the fall, creating all-city wrestling and track meets, and collaborating with the high schools to host many of our games. As these changes continue, we’ll see a better athletic environment for our students.
Our intramural program is beneficial in so many ways. With participation being the main goal of the program, students of all skill levels can join and play against those with equal ability. The intramural program is a way for students to get a glimpse of high school athletics and how they are run. A sense of school pride and team is formed during the seasons. Students also learn life skills such as teamwork, sportsmanship, and responsibility while going through the program.
During the 2012-2013 school year, the counseling team at Schoo received certification as a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP). The counselors at Schoo provide many programs to meet the ever changing social, emotional and mental health needs of our students.
In the last year, two of Schoo’s teachers were recognized by the community as outstanding educators. Donna Wolzen, a 6th grader teacher, received The Lincoln East Rotary Club Teacher of the Month award and Jessica Wehner, 8th science instructor, was recognized by the Lincoln Journal Star as a weekly A+ Educator.
Throughout our four years students have received various awards in the community such as; B107.3 Student of the Week, Lincoln Journal Star’s Student of the Week and the Elks Award. During the fall of 2012 a group of four 8th grade business students won the Nebraska Stock Market Game conducted by the Nebraska Council for Economic Education.
An area for continued growth is increasing communication with student’s homes. It is a goal for Schoo to provide families a voice and engagement within the school.
Schoo Middle School will continue to strive to challenge students in their academic pursuits. Schoo’s future building goals are to increase student performance in the areas of reading and math. Schoo will provide training for staff on data teams as an initiative to support productive PLC work.
During the initial hiring of staff members for Schoo, special attention was given given to the idea of thirds. This meaning one-third of the staff was comprised of new teachers, one-third veteran teachers, and one-third from outside the district. With so many new teachers it allowed for opportunities for veteran teachers to collaborate with first year teachers. This created a strong working environment and brought multiple perspectives during a crucial time while we generated our core beliefs.
Schoo is one of three middle schools that are considered ELL magnet schools. We have all ELL students of level 1-3 bused into our school for half of the physical make up of the entire LPS district. Since many of them do not have Schoo as a home school, it is difficult to get both students and parents to become involved with Schoo activities. Communication can also be difficult because often times an interpreter, or liaison, is needed to facilitate communication with these families.