It is May. May. And I have much to discuss, but how do you talk about a semester in one post? I have decided that you can’t, so I am not even going to try. I am going to focus on one of my most favorite things about our Spring Semester: watching students and adults settle in to the Wagner Way.
We throw the term “The Wagner Way” around here quite a bit. A lot of the times we are using it to reference how we do things, how we go about our business, how we approach decisions. Sometimes it is used to communicate expectations and culture, like “Nice job of taking care of that the Wagner Way!” or yes, because we are a middle school and sometimes someone needs help regrouping, we use it like “What’s happening here? Is that the Wagner Way?” I am struggling to describe it to you now, and maybe that’s why we coined the term -- because the Wagner Way is tough to describe. But isn’t culture always difficult to describe?
Pictures may help! Here are some snapshots in time that speak to the Wagner Way.
Growing in our Learner Profile Skills
These students participated in a Project-Based Learning Experience in their PLP class that charged them with creating a habitat that could sustain life on Mars! These students presented their learning to other students at the PLP Exhibition in May.
These students worked hard to prepare for the underwater robotics competition. And just like anything really complicated, their robot wasn’t perfect despite the hard work. When I spoke to the girls after the competition, the first thing they said was, “well, we learned a lot that will help us next year!” They showed us perseverance and innovation and growth mindset at its best!
Affirming & Caring About Each Other
Our Girls’ Athletics programs frequently gets intentional about affirmations -- they set aside time to ask students to affirm other students, and you can visibly see that those affirmations mean a lot to the athletes and create a strong, cohesive culture!
This student scheduled a meeting with me because he had heard about a hard time one of our staff member’s family is facing and he had some ideas about how to help them! I love his great, big heart and the fact that he said more than once, “We are all wolves and wolves are a pack.”
Using Our Building to be Maximize Learning
These students used their PRIV card and got permission from their teacher to do their work outside of the library. These girls were focused and could be heard discussing their work and working together!
I rounded the corner in the Fine Arts hall one day to see this: a student using the hallway as a quiet space to rehearse her lines for theater. Propped up on the wall is her ipad -- she was recording herself and then she’d sit and watch herself, make notes and think to herself, and then stand up and try again!
Serving Others in Our Community
These students were showing off their fitness bands, which were counting the number of steps they were taking each day. Their total steps helped earn a financial donation for clean water in Africa. How cool is that?!?
These students chose to participate in a PACK Hour group on service learning. They decided that they would collect supplies and backpacks to provide foster children. One student told me “we want whoever receives it to know that they are loved!”
I have already shared on this blog about Team Wagner’s focus on adult learning. Here, this group of teachers from across different content areas spends time in a Coaching Circle, where they were each presenting unit plans and getting feedback from their teammates about the work they were designing for students.
This picture was shown from the top of the Learning Stairs on a Professional Learning Day. No students were in the building and the staff was spending the day learning about the four key components to personalized learning. This picture not only shows how our adults like to use the space, too, but shows the devotion and commitment to learning that is shared by the Wagner staff.
Our team leaders set effort and responsibility goals for their students this Spring … and periodically celebrated making those goals with snowcones from Kona Ice!
We randomly acknowledge our Wolves making great decisions by passing out “Caught Ya Being Awesome” tickets when we see it happening. Here, students are redeeming their tickets at the school store.
Trying New Things & Taking Risks
These students are in our MakerSpace and using our logo robotics tools to assemble working devices. There is a lot of trying and re-trying, and students learn and create working robots that they are proud of!
This picture represents one of my favorite moments of the school year. The student on the right came to me to ask me if he could plan and organize a Wagner Talent Show. We met and discussed expectations, and he found and adult to support him and made it happen .. and it was awesome! There were many acts, students working the lights and sound, and a packed Commons to watch it. I love that Wagner students felt comfortable in bravely performing in front of so many people, and I love that we got to learn more about our students’ interests and talents!
There is so much more to the Wagner Way than what I have been able to show here! My hope is that the more you can read about us, visit us, and talk to our students and staff, the more you’ll start to understand it yourself. This is a special place to learn and to work and great things happen each and every day!
Well, we did it … we moved into our new building! We have loved getting to flourish in our amazing new space.
On move-in day, November 27, we celebrated with a caravan to our new campus and a pep rally. We invited the community to join us a couple of weeks later, on December 20, for the official ribbon-cutting event, which was really special because it included student-led tours. We got a lot of really special feedback from our visitors that day, including: how beautifully our orchestra and band performed, how well our student ambassadors spoke to our vision for our school, a desire to “come back” to middle school and learn the Wagner Way from adults, and universal praise for the beautiful design of our campus and the intention behind that design.
There is a lot to say about how happy we are and how fortunate we feel to be in a community that loves and honors its students with this gift of a building, but this video that we shared at ribbon-cutting tells some of our story pretty well. We hope you’ll take a second to check it out!
It has been a long time since I have posted, and A LOT of things have happened since I last posted … really important and exciting things (like THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER for Wagner Middle School!) and I am going to break them up into a few posts over the coming days.
As you can imagine for the first nine weeks of a brand new campus, there have been many firsts. We had our first Camp Wagner, our first Schedule Pick-Up Nights and our first day of school. We have had our first assembly, our first football game, our first band concert, our first volleyball game, our first video announcements, our first cross country meet, and our first Student Council meeting. Each “first” is a celebration, and makes us feel more like the real school we are and not just the school we have all been planning for since 2015! It will be a year full of firsts for us, for sure -- actually, two years of firsts because we will get to enjoy a lot of new moments when we have 8th graders on campus.
Students entered our temporary location at Williams as Wagner Wolves for the first time ever when they attended Camp Wagner in August.
Team Wagner, on the eve of our first day of school!
One of our Wagner Wolves on his first day of school!
First PE class in our new PE uniforms!
First Wagner Athletic Event .. Cross Country Meet!
And, while we love celebrating all those cool “firsts”, I’m especially proud of all the great things that are happening in the midst of us all those new moments. Those new times are special, but what’s even more special are the relationships being built in our building and the quality learning that is taking place each and every day. It only takes walking a Wagner hallway or stepping into a Wagner classroom to see that students are collaborating, creating, working independently, making decisions about their own learning, and connecting new information to their own lives or to other classes. It’s why we are here, why our new building was designed, and why we planned and worked so hard all last year.
It is not uncommon to see students working or classes meeting outside of their four classroom walls. All spaces can be used for learning!
This picture shows some of the hard work and coordination our Science, Math, ELAR & Social Studies teachers put into designing our first interdisciplinary lesson -- the Eclipse!
This is a group of students giving some classmates a “cell tour” … the students used the school as an analogy for a cell and identified how different parts of the school represented various organelles in a cell. Here, we are learning how the cafeteria is much like the Golgi Apparatus and the Cafeteria Staff are like ribosomes! (Ask a 7th grader and they should be able to tell you why!)
Our Art students have been working on observational drawings.
Our Art students had the opportunity to participate in a video conference with a famous street artist!
I have so much more to share about the great things happening on our campus, and I will be back soon to do it!
It’s the middle of July, and the parking lots and my shoulders (thanks to some 4th of July sun) are not the only things cooking! We have accomplished a lot since my last post, and I am going to do my best to fill you in on the highlights, particularly those that include the learning Team Wagner is accomplishing this summer.
I am going to start with Wagner Academy because it has been the highlight of my summer. If I am honest, I think it has been the highlight of my entire year as the principal of Wagner Middle School! We brought the entire professional staff of WMS together June 19-22 for four days of team building, gaining momentum around our vision and mission, and learning. It was AMAZING. The content of those days together was intended to be a natural progression from what we believe and who we want to be as a team to how we are going to accomplish something special for students. The days were so much more than that, though -- we each shared why we take on the hard work of educating our community’s children, we explored what an engaged student really is, we played games and ate snow cones, we came to consensus on beliefs, we learned about Project-Based Learning, and we grew together as a team. It was incredible. I walked away feeling so lucky that I get to be a part of such a special team and opportunity!
The theme for Wagner Academy was FROM THE GROUND UP. You know it’s going to be a good week when there’s a photo booth, right?
Spending some time working with our district’s Learner Profile.
We see our vision statement a lot .. what does it really mean? How will we know when we have accomplished it?
Ms. Trowbridge (Asst. Band Director) and Coach Kenyon (PLP/Athletics) present to the team about their group’s representation of our Learner Profile.
Dr. Brent started our second day by sharing his vision for our team and campus.
We moved over to GHS and began our focus on Project-Based Learning. We used the Learner Profile (are you seeing a theme here?) as an opportunity to practice Knows and Need-to-Knows.
Mrs. Cruz (6th grade Math), Mrs. Gaylor (6th grade Science) and Mrs. Gage (6th grade ELAR) share their group’s questions as part of our PBL process.
Snow Cone break with Mrs. Dalton (Special Education), Mrs. Heil (Librarian, and Mrs. Rawson (7th grade Science)!
Straws + M&Ms + TeamWork = Fun
The Fine Arts Team works and collaborates on their respective project ideas.
We ended our learning with a Critical Friends Circle -- where team members can present their project ideas and listen to feedback!
If you haven’t had the chance to follow us on Twitter, head over to @WagnerMS_GISD and check us out! There are some great tweets from our staff there, and you can get their perspective on the week as they experienced it. We ended the week with asking each Wagner Teammate to choose one word to describe their week, and the responses ranged from “motivated” to “privileged” to “possibilities” … all words that I would use myself to describe the week and the opportunity to serve students and the community at Wagner Middle School!
If you don’t already, follow us on Twitter @WagnerMS_GISD!
In other adult learning news, many of our team have spent two days this summer attending Capturing Kids’ Hearts training. I believe that relationships are the foundation to a successful school -- relationships between students and adults are critical, but relationships among the students are equally important, as are the relationships among the adults. We all need to feel connected to each other to thrive, and Capturing Kids’ Hearts is an amazing resource for giving groups methods of connecting to and supporting each other. You’ll see Team Wagner use the strategies every, single day in classrooms and in meetings. Our entire teaching staff will be trained by the time school starts, and one of my goals for Wagner Middle School is that we become a National ShowCase campus for Capturing Kids’ Hearts. It will happen!
One last way that Team Wagner is learning together this Summer is through our Wagner Book Club. We selected five books that are varied in topic, but all connect to our mission of inspiring and empowering every learner to lead, grow, and serve and reflect our committed to the GISD Learner Profile … and each staff member selected one of the books to read this Summer. When we return in August, we will be doing activities to collaborate with people that read the same book and that also teach our teammates that didn’t read the same book some of the basics that we learned. Should be a fun learning opportunity for the team!
Which one would be your summer reading?
The summer has been full of all kinds of other things -- cheerleader camp, making decisions about the Wagner Way of doing things, hiring more staff, and planning events that are coming soon! (Looking at you, Camp Wagner and Williams move-in!)
The new school year kicks off in 76 days and when I think about that I get really, really excited about putting the Wagner Way into action. I also would be lying if I told you that thinking too long about that doesn’t turn me into a frenzied, crazy lady that feels like 76 days is not enough time to completely accomplish my to-do list. So, like Scarlett O’Hara (kids, look her up), I am going to think about that tomorrow. Instead, I would like to focus on what we have accomplished in the last month or so.
We are almost fully staffed at Wagner Middle School, with just 3 teaching positions left to fill and a handful of other support positions vacant. We hosted a “hang out” opportunity with the staff that have joined the Wagner Team so far a couple of weeks ago at Uptown Social and had a fantastic time!
Mrs. Gaylor (6th grade Science), Miss Johnson (Art) and Miss Carstens (6th grade Social Studies) spent some time hanging out with the rest of the team at Uptown Social.
Good times with good people and a good view at Uptown Social!
We had a great time this month with all of our soon-to-be 6th grade Wolves! We were able to spend time with them in small groups, talk about our plan for the Fall, answer questions about middle school, and take a bus tour of the Wagner Campus. A big thank you goes to Mr. Dyer and the Mitchell Team for allowing us to host students at Mitchell, to Transportation for making our wacky plan happen, and to David Bieshievel for helping us with the bus tours. It was a great day!
This group of Wolves is learning more about the design of their building and how space and furniture will be used to support our Learner Profile.
Students left the day with a Wagner pencil and a “Save the Date” card about Camp Wagner this summer.
The highlight of the day for each group was the bus tour! Students were amazed by the football/track stadium and impressed by the size of the building. The most enthusiastic comments came when we showed the students the 6th grade Den -- where many of their classes will be next year!
We have spent some time these last few weeks getting ready for a summer of learning and teambuilding for the Wagner Staff. We have some days set aside in June for all of the Wagner Teachers to come together to establish who we are as a group, what we believe, what we want to accomplish, and how we plan to reach those goals. In addition to that important work, the Wagner Team is going to do a lot of learning together this Summer.
Mr. Vanicek, the GHS principal and one of my favorite partners in the principalship, and I are planning a learning opportunity for the Wagner & GHS teams in June -- this is us in the midst of a Google HangOut with colleagues from Coppell ISD as we plan the event.
I’ve been to the building in the last few days and here is what I’ve got to share...
The Wagner football field and track stadium (and soccer field, too!) is nearly complete! The stadium will have bleachers, a press box, and a concession stand with restrooms. The turf will be completely green when it’s finished -- you see sand that has been laid on top of the turf as part of the installation process.
This is an entrance into the Commons from the back of the building -- students will actually enter this way when they get off the school bus in the mornings. Those tall openings will be doors and large windows. To the left (where the door is open) are the athletics locker rooms. To the right is the kitchen.
This is the inside of the 7th & 8th grade STEM Den, where math and science classes will be held. You can tell by the picture that the space is very open, and the metal you see in the ceiling is actually the tracks for the moveable glass panels go.
This is the framing for the Teacher workspace inside the STEM Den. At Wagner, teachers won’t have desks in assigned classrooms! Teachers will each have a desk inside a shared office space in their Den. This allows the classroom space to be flexible and for teachers to use different spaces within their Den, as teachers will decide what space and furniture they need to best implement each different lesson plan.
Making progress in the library!
This is the art patio. THIS HUGE SPACE IS THE ART PATIO! The patio is completely covered and is larger than both art classrooms combined. You can enter the patio from the library and from the art classrooms, and I imagine that it will be a popular place in our building!
I have posted pictures from this location before, and I hope it shows you the progress that’s been made. This is from the top of the Learning Stairs. On the first floor, you see the Commons and the stage. You can also see past them into the STEM Den. On the second floor, you see the Humanities Den to the right and the Library in the center. How cool are those wooden beams?
I’m going to end this post with a picture of some people that are pretty remarkable. This group of teachers, counselors, a secretary, a librarian and some administrators (not everyone is in the picture) came together in the Fall of 2016 with a shared hope of learning and making decisions together that would serve as the foundation of a special place for students to learn and adults to work. This group of leaders has provided insight, laughter, passion, questions, and commitment these past few months. They are going to do fabulous things for Wagner kids in their respective positions and they will all remain campus leaders in some capacity. I’m not sure who is more lucky -- Wagner kids, that they have these fine educators investing in them each day, or me, who gets to see it all happen.
Well, I just looked up and it is May. How can that be? To say that the school year has flown by me is an understatement, and to think that this time next year we will be close to celebrating the end of the first school year for Wagner Middle School is absolutely mind-blowing.
I think I mentioned before that our first squad of cheerleaders had been established, and in the last few weeks the girls have been busy! We had a parent meeting the first week of April, in which I learned three things about the girls: they are absolutely precious, they have supportive parents, and they have very clear opinions about their uniforms and Wagner gear. (Which I loved hearing!) Since that meeting, the Wagner cheerleaders have been busy with their first fundraiser, and if the amount of chocolate they have sold is any indication, these Wolves are hard workers! Before I talk about some of the other things happening these last few weeks, I’d like to give a big shout-out to Jeannie Cottle at EVHS for helping to get the Wagner Cheerleader Squad started! She’s been a tremendous help to us, the girls, and their parents and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks, Jeannie!
These sweet faces are the keepers of the Wagner spirit!
A little preview of some of the Wagner Wolves Cheerleader swag!
In the past few weeks, the Leadership Team has wrapped up its book study on Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team. As it always is when we learn together, it was a bonding experience to hear teammates’ reflections about their own experiences and it was inspiring to hear each person’s commitment to making the Wagner team a supportive, effective, empowered group of adults. The Leadership Team cares a lot about making Wagner Middle School a great place for adults to work because it really understands that a high-performing team of adults will produce the most positive learning experiences for students. I feel lucky to get to be a part of it!
I can’t recommend this book enough!
I spent some time out at the Wagner construction site recently for a “keying meeting.” Do you know what that is? I did not. We spent two hours going room by room to make decisions about what keys should be required to open each door. I did my best, but I’d like to apologize now to any future Wagner staff member that has the thought “why in the world is this the key for this door?” You can blame me. I tried, I promise I did. It’s also probably a good time to acknowledge that two hours of me looking at detailed plans of the building is really two hours of me asking random questions, such as “Where is the ice machine?” and “Are there cabinets under that counter?” David Biesheuvel, our Executive Director of Facilities in GISD, is a saint to deal with all my questions and I wouldn’t blame him at all if announces a question limit for me the next time we are together.
“The room where it happens”. (That’s my obligatory Hamilton reference, as I recently saw it and can’t help working it into every conversation I can. You’re welcome.) In this case, “it” = “excessive questioning.”
One more noteworthy event I want to share in this post is the first meeting of our Discipline Design Team. One of things that needs to be developed for our campus is a plan for supporting students that make decisions that impact their or others’ ability to learn or teachers’ abilities to teach. We are meeting every other week for the next couple of months to develop our plan and the entire Wagner staff is invited to participate. Our first meeting was two weeks ago, and we started our work with some team-building and some conversation about our district’s belief statements and learner profile. It was just the beginning of a pretty arduous task, but the time was fruitful and I look forward to seeing what the team puts in place to support students and their learning!
Teamwork makes the dream work!
Every single decision we make as a Wagner Middle School team is intended to bring us closer to building the GISD Learner Profile’s attributes in our students.
We had some great discussion among our team members about behaviors and their relationship to our beliefs.
I want to end this post with a big thank you to these three ladies:
L->R: Tish Ptomey (Counselor), Danielle Holloway (Asst. Principal) and Sarah Spence (Principal’s Administrative Assistant)
If you’ve had any interaction with the Wagner team yet, you know these three are the very best at what they do. So much more than their titles, since they joined the Wagner team full-time in January, they have also been event planners, leaders of professional learning, temporary cheerleader sponsors, graphic designers, master schedulers, wranglers of an errant principal, and ambassadors for Wagner Middle School and Georgetown ISD. They have full plates and still consistently impress those that they come in contact with. They are driven by the belief that Wagner students and staff deserve the best in all things and are committed to making Wagner something special. I have and will make plenty of mistakes (hello, keying meeting!), but I sure got it right with these three. Wagner is lucky to have them. And so is the Wagner principal.
I want to tell you about last Thursday, but before I do that, you need some background: I’m a big believer in collaboration. My leadership style reflects a desire to have input from others and I find work the most fulfilling when it’s done as a team. One of the first decisions that was made once I came to work as the principal of Wagner Middle School was that I would establish a team of Wagner staff that would give input and serve as guides for decisions to be made. This work is too important for others to not be a part of it from the very beginning.
You probably know this, but there are endless decisions made each day for WMS -- some as significant as who we hire and what our instructional priorities are and some less significant, like which rooms need to have the same keys and what color the bleachers in the gyms are going to be. (Note: Even the insignificant decisions seem important, though, because who wants to be the person responsible for future key frustration or missing the mark on bleacher color?!?)
Over the course of the Fall, the Wagner Leadership Team was established. The team consists of two assistant principals, two counselors, four teachers, a librarian, a principal’s secretary and me. Most of the team agreed to come on board while they remain in their current positions for the school year, which means our time together is even more special because most of it’s in the evenings after long days. These eleven people have very different backgrounds and areas of expertise but they are united in this: a commitment to make Wagner Middle School a campus where supportive relationships abound and learning experiences for both the adults and students are engaging and empowering. That shared commitment is the undercurrent in all of the team’s time together.
Sometimes we tweet pictures that make it look like it is all fun and games (and there are some of both), but this group also works REALLY hard. While we are intentional about getting to know each other better and learning how to collaborate and work together, we really spend most of our time together learning. Prior to each meeting, everyone on the team does some work to prepare and that usually means there is some reading to do or videos to watch about a topic that we plan to spend some time on in the meeting.
All of the background is to tell you that the Wagner Leadership Team spent the day together last Thursday. As always, we enjoyed our time together -- there was laughter, there was debate and there was so much thinking that sometimes our heads hurt. We learned and we made some decisions. It was a good day.
“Team Blue” celebrating a good idea with their Team Thinking Activity.
We bring all of our instructional learning and decisions back to our GISD Learner Profile.
To begin our conversation on Personalized Learning, we watched videos that showed personalized learning in action and had thoughts from teachers, parents and students that are using it on their campus.
Mrs. Gaylor and Mrs. Heil are working through some research and preparing to share their learning with the group.
And then there is this.
My favorite part of the day was when the team was able to tour the construction site. I love visiting it myself, but what was really special about this tour was getting to watch the reactions of people seeing it for the first time. They were overwhelmed with excitement and that took on a lot of forms -- some were speechless, some were saying things that showed it, there were even some tears. One by one and over the course of the following day, they all expressed that seeing the campus made the instructional vision more clear. And all of them shared how honored they were to get to be part of something so special. I can’t wait for the rest of the Wagner Team to have that same experience! That building is something special and not only because of it’s forward-thinking design … it is special because you can look at the space and see all of the possibilities for teaching and learning. It’s so much more than a building.
These pictures won’t do it justice, but here goes:
This is taken from the parking lot behind the building near the Athletics facilities. The red-colored area behind the cars is part of our tennis courts. (We will have 8 courts total.) You can see the stadium lights are already up where the stadium will be.
This is from the front parking lot. The large equipment is directly in front of the office area (first floor) and library (second floor). To the right is the 6th grade Den and to the far left is the STEM Den (first floor) and the Humanities Den (second floor). The brown metal roofing is over the main entrance.
This picture is from the foot of the learning stairs. You’ve seen this view before, so I hope you can see the progress! The second story is now complete and we can walk on it! From this spot in the school, we will be able to see learning happening in many places -- the Commons, the Teacher Design Lab, the Library, the Art classrooms, the STEM Den and the Humanities Den. Pretty cool!
This is taken from the library, which will have a lot of glass windows. What a view!
The wooden beams are in! These are in the Commons.
This is the view from the Humanities patio. That building in the distance is East View High School!
View from the Art Patio, which is HUGE and will allow students from the art classrooms and the library to have a change of scenery as they work on it.
This is the Humanities Den, where Social Studies, Language Arts and Foreign Language classes will happen for our 7th and 8th graders.
Eight wise leaders and their principal, at the foot of the Learning Stairs.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Wagner Middle School! (I know that I have said it before, but it’s true … we’ve got a lot going on!)
Since the last post, we have added some INCREDIBLE people to our team. I sincerely mean it when I say that the Wagner Team is composed of people that are the very best at what they do. Each applicant pool we met with about a position had talented people from across the district and state -- Wagner kids are lucky to have these talented professionals interested in serving them each day!
We officially added some teachers from across Georgetown ISD to the Wagner Team right before Spring Break! We are thrilled that this group is joining the Wolfpack, and we know that they will each create amazing opportunities for our students and will be important contributors to our campus culture.
We welcome Amy Heil to the Wagner Team as our Librarian! Amy is joining our team from her current Librarian role at Mitchell Elementary. We are excited about her leadership in: the use of MakerSpaces, supporting student and teacher needs as they use resources to bring their ideas to life, and making the Wagner Library the center of learning and innovation for our school.
We also welcome Wayne Poehls and Haley Schulz as our Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Coordinators! Both Coach Poehls and Coach Schulz come to Wagner from other districts in the state and they bring many experiences coaching Varsity sports, building relationships and creating superior programs. Wagner athletes and parents will love working with these two leaders.
One last teammate to join us recently is Jeff Owen, who will serve as our Director of Bands at Wagner. Jeff is highly regarded in Central Texas for his energy, relationships with students, and leadership of successful programs. His vision for the Wagner Band program is perfectly aligned to our vision of success, relationships and opportunity for each band student.
In other exciting news … we have a Cheerleading Squad! Congratulations to the very first Wagner Middle School Cheerleaders! I am excited about meeting with the girls and their parents next week and am thankful for their willingness to devote extra time and a lot of hard work to spread Wagner Spirit.
I can’t conclude a blog post without a picture of the Wagner construction site. This picture was taken March 20 and there is already significant progress since then, so be looking for more pictures later this week after I tour the site Thursday!
This aerial photo shows how large the Wagner worksite is! The recessed area in the middle of the building facing the front parking lot is the front entrance of the campus. To the right of the front door is the 6th grade Den (first floor) and the Art classrooms (second floor). To the left of the front door (that doesn’t have a roof in the picture) is the 7th & 8th grade STEM Den (first floor) and Humanities Den (second floor). The area on the right with the white roof is the gyms and athletics facilities and the area on the left with the white roof is the Fine Arts wing. Also … you can see where our track and field are going to be by the large oval at the top of the picture!
It is hard to believe that it is March and almost Spring Break!
It has been a busy few weeks for the Wagner Team. We had the opportunity to tour the campus with some members of our school board a couple of weeks ago and were really excited about the progress that we saw.
This is the view from standing at the foot of the Learning Stairs. In the foreground is the Commons (cafeteria). When you look past the Commons, the lower floor is the 7th & 8th grade STEM Den, where our math and science classes will be held. On the second floor above the STEM Den is the Humanities Den, where 7th & 8th graders will have their Language Arts and Social Studies classes.
This is at the foot of the Learning Stairs, which are wide, deep stairs that allow for people to be seated and can be used as learning space. The more traditional stairs are directly to the left of the Learning Stairs. The concrete you see to the right of the Learning Stairs is the elevator shaft!
This is a view of the back of the building. The tall stone walls you see to the left are the gyms, with the locker rooms and weight rooms directly in front of them. The blue walls on the right are the back of the kitchen and the Fine Arts wing. You can see the STEM and Humanities houses rising above the Fine Arts wing behind it.
Once a month our Campus Leadership Team meets to learn, make decisions and grow as a team together. This month, our area of focus was TEAMING -- the practice of having four teachers from different content areas teach the same group of students. We are going to implement Teaming at Wagner because of the support it offers students and parents and the opportunities it provides teachers to collaborate about what’s best for their shared students. At our February meeting we had a little fun at Escapology (an Escape Room in Round Rock) that allowed for us to put into practice what we want for ourselves and students -- a group of people with different talents and areas of expertise that come together for a common purpose. At WMS, our goal will be the success of our students but at Escapology the goal was to SAVE THE WORLD FROM THE EXTINCTION VIRUS! (Don’t worry, we succeeded! 😀)
While we had a lot of fun and learned a lot about each other, we walked away from that experience with a more clear understanding of the kind of learning experiences we want for our students, the skills we want to be sure we build in them and in ourselves and how we want learning to look at Wagner Middle School.
We have spent a lot of time since the last blog post interviewing GISD teachers that are interested in joining our Wagner team, visiting GISD classrooms, continuing to work on our plan for our time in the Williams building before we move into our beautiful building (be sure to check out our FAQ document on the website) next Fall, meeting with PTAs, representing Wagner in the community, planning our Parent Information Nights (Please join us MARCH 6 or 9 in the EVHS Cafeteria at 6:30pm!), visiting other campuses in the area that are implementing some of the things we are planning for WMS, making decisions about furniture and materials, and doing some learning in the areas that we know will make us better prepared for the work we have ahead of us. It has been a great few weeks!
Wagner shirts and treats … a sure sign that there is a parent event coming!
On a final note, I want to wish a very Happy 100th Birthday to Georgetown ISD! It is an honor to serve students in this community!
As many of you may have heard, it has recently been confirmed that our new building will not be ready for teaching and learning on the first day of school in August 2017. In fact, delays due to weather during construction this past Spring and Summer have postponed “move-in” until sometime during the Fall of 2017. Our district has been working in recent weeks to develop the very best possible plan for Wagner students and staff as we wait for the building to be ready for us. We think we came up with the very best possible “Plan B” and here is the official statement about it:
We are excited about the beginning of Wagner Middle School and look forward to welcoming 6th and 7th grade students in the 2017-2018 school year. However, due to heavy rains in the early construction phases, the completion of the new Wagner building has been delayed and will not be ready for students until later in the Fall.
Until construction is complete, Wagner students and staff will be housed at the Williams Elementary campus on University Avenue. (Williams Elementary students and staff will be moving to their new home in the newly constructed Purl Elementary facility upon completion of this current school year.)
Wagner will host all of the same instructional and extracurricular opportunities available at GISD's other middle school campuses, including football, volleyball, band, orchestra, and cheerleading. In fact, Wagner’s athletic facilities will be completely available for use at the start of school -- the Wagner Wolves’ volleyball and football teams will be able to practice and compete in the Wagner gyms and on the Wagner football field in August of 2017.
Once construction of the Wagner Middle School building is complete, Wagner students and staff will transition into their new building with complete fanfare, including an official caravan and escort.
More detailed information, including a Frequently Asked Questions document and details about a Wagner Parent Information Event, will be released as details are finalized.
We are grateful that this plan allows for the Wagner Team to be together in a building of our own (no other students or departments will share the space) until our entire facility is ready! We are excited that Wagner athletics, fine arts and other extracurricular groups will be able to practice, compete and represent our campus from the first day of school in August 2017. We are also thrilled that we will be able to begin developing relationships and forming our campus culture by having Wagner students working with their own Wagner teachers … teachers that will remain their teachers once we move into our new building. Lastly, we appreciate that the district, without hesitation, postponed the Williams remodel to keep Wagner students and staff together because they believe in doing what's best for our kids.
We know that there are many details to plan and prepare for, but we are confident that our temporary time in the Williams building will be fruitful in learning, team building and preparing for our new innovative facility.
Please be looking for our FAQ document and dates for our Wagner Parent events -- both pieces of information are coming soon.
Please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 512.943.1835 if you have any questions or concerns about our plan for the Fall of 2017! I’d love the chance to hear your thoughts or respond to your questions directly.