Following Jericho Middle School

ImageAs I am writing this, I am sitting at my desk anticipating the opening day of school.  As you are reading it, you are likely to have already experienced a brilliant beginning of the school year.  As always, I was up very early this morning because I couldn’t sleep out of anticipation and all the thoughts running through my head about the new year. One of my goals last year was to enhance communication with staff, parents, and the community.  I put in place several activities to help me address this goal.  I became a more active user of Twitter. I established the Twitter page @JerichoMS in 2009, inspired by a workshop I attended at Long Island ASCD, but I rarely used it. I saw and was impressed by the level of communication coming out of Cantiague under the leadership of Tony Sinanis.  In fact, impressed is too mild a word, I was floored by all that Tony did to break down the walls and let parents see what goes on inside of the school. He uses Twitter to communicate with parents so that they can be more effective partners in their children’s education. I met with him to have lunch, and was off and running. I set my goal to Tweet at least three times a day and most days I was able to meet this goal.

In addition to this, I wrote a blog post (here, on WordPress) at least once every two weeks. My audience for my blog is primarily parents but certainly I’m happy to reach a wider audience. Staff members read my blog and comment to me about it.  I found this to be a wonderful way to connect with parents and communicate in great detail about trends and issues facing middle school as well as providing useful resources to help us navigate the vicissitudes of adolescent parenting. 

I’m a middle school parent, just like you. My son Joseph is going into eighth grade at Berner Middle School in Massapequa. I’m sure you are wrestling with the best way to help your child be successful in middle school.  This is a subject we will explore together throughout the school year. Even though I have worked with adolescents my entire career, I can’t pretend to be an expert on them. In fact, I don’t know if anyone really is, middle school kids are so complicated. I don’t have the answers but I have lots of thoughts and experiences about working with adolescent learners. One of the best things you can do to help your child have a successful year, is to stay informed. If you follow us on Twitter or read my blogs and check out our website regularly, when you ask your child, “What happened in school today?” And they reply, “Nothing”; you’ll know that’s not true and you’ll have lots of openings for conversation.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions and feedback!

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About dfgately

Middle School Principal Jericho, NY
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6 Responses to Following Jericho Middle School

  1. Thank you for reaching out. My son is a 6th grader. Our first tween. I look forward to your posts and tweets.

  2. kalpana says:

    Thank you for connecting like this. My son is a 7th grader. I always got the answer “nothing” when I would ask my kids if anything happened at school that day. I changed the question to “What was the best part at school today? ” . I find that as they start to reply that question, they also end up sharing other things that happened. This is our first year at Jericho and we are really excited about it!!

  3. Susan Katz says:

    Hi Don,

    Loved reading this even though I no longer have the good fortune of having you as my child’s principal. This is such a wonderful way to communicate to parents. You really are smart, caring, sensitive and special! You set the gold standard for being an effective leader and principal.

    Have a great year.

    Susan Katz

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