Submitted by Denise Kimball, Principal of Somerset Valley Middle School in RSU 19
Somerset Valley Middle School is located in Hartland, Maine. It is currently grades 3-8. The district is in the process of consolidating due to a new high school/middle school construction project. The new school will open in the fall of 2019. At that time, Somerset Valley Middle School will become Somerset Elementary, grades PreK-4.
Somerset Valley Middle School is focused on providing our students with a safe, happy place to learn and grow. We offer free breakfast, lunch, and a healthy snack to our students daily.
Over the past couple of years we have had some major changes in our content area instruction. RSU 19 has been providing time for the teachers to develop our curriculum and district assessments. This past year the district adopted Envisions, which is a math program for grades 3-5. All teachers have received training and they have lots of opportunities to discuss what is working in their classroom and what their challenges are. Students are learning a lot and really enjoy working with Envisions.
This year, Somerset was invited to work with Darlene Bassett, the state’s Literacy Coach. Darlene trained our Language Arts teachers in grades 3-8 in Jan Richardson’s Guided Reading Framework. This framework gives the teachers the structure needed to provide the students with a structured, focused guided reading lesson. Jenn Massow, our fourth-grade teacher, is our lead teacher in this work. Teachers from Somerset County will be invited to visit Jenn’s classroom to see the Framework in action.
Somerset is also involved in a lot of other initiatives. We have partnered with Northern Light Healthy Maine. Each week a group of students work together to find ways of getting the word out on how to live a healthy life. They sponsored a spirit week back in October and are planning one for February. These students send messages by word of mouth, posters and different activities. Once a month we have an activity called Lunch & Learn. During these lunches, students learn about healthy habits. They enjoy this time because they get to win prizes for their participation. This group also joined us for our parent conferences, passing out literature to our parents about healthy life habits.
We work hard to try and improve student academic and behavioral outcomes. We are very involved with PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). Somerset has a matrix of behaviors that the students and staff developed at the beginning of the year. We celebrate the students that follow these expectations by giving out Panther Paw tickets. Students can win daily, weekly and quarterly prizes. The quarterly prizes usually involve the whole school on Panther Pride Day.
Recently, Somerset had a Giving Tree Contest. The grade level that brought in the most nonperishable items for our local food cupboard would be treated to a pancake breakfast. Grade 4 won! As a school we collected over 1200 items. The local food pantry was thrilled.
Seventh & eighth graders at Somerset Valley Middle school entered the Young Writer’s “Stranger Sagas Contest.” We had 14 winners and three Honorable Mentions out of 13,500 entries. The winners will have the opportunity to have their stories published. How exciting for our middle school writers.
Somerset is also involved in some work with bullying prevention. We partnered with Project Love and Duct Tape to learn about kindness and how it can affect our everyday lives. In February the Maine Parent Federation will be hosting a Bullying Workshop for parents.
Somerset Valley Middle School staff and students are dedicated to becoming lifelong learners. We are constantly working together to form a positive school community where everyone can learn and be successful.