Michael R. Williams, M.Ed., M.S., NBCT | Principal
firstname.lastname@example.org | @haroldwinklerms | #fromMrW
March 10, 2017
Happy March, Winkler Families!
I hope you have all enjoyed the warm weather (and this brief snap of cold) as we move into Spring. February and March have been eventful at Winkler, as we continue down our pathway toward becoming an International Baccalaureate School!
In mid-February, Mrs. Murfitt, our IB Coordinator, and I traveled to Houston, Texas to become certified as a Head of School and IB Coordinator, respectively. We came back much more knowledgable about the work ahead, but more importantly, we are very proud that we already have many of the pieces in place! We have also taken quite a few of our teachers on site visits to IB middle schools across North Carolina to get information and ideas. I encourage you to visit Mrs. Murfitt's page for more information about our journey.
I am also excited to share more information about our Winkler Lecture Series. I believe it is very important for our students to hear from very successful members of our community. To accomplish this, we regularly invite guest speakers to share their stories.
During first semester, Bonnie Jones, the development director from Meals on Wheels, spoke about the impact of our food drive on their organization and our community.
In February, Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz, a Holocaust survivor and retired professor from UNC Charlotte, spoke to our seventh graders about her experience.
Last week, we were privileged to have Von Kinloch, a consultant for Wells Fargo corporate communications, speak to students from all grade levels. Ms. Kinloch is a two-time Emmy Award Winning television producer and also owns a production company. She is also a breast cancer survivor. She encouraged students to be true to their authentic selves and consider the impact their words and actions had on others.
As we move through the Spring, we have three other speakers scheduled to spend time with students! Please be on the lookout for more information and talk with your child about what they have learned.
Thank you for all you do for our Winkler Family! We appreciate you choosing us to educate your child!
In Winkler Pride,
February 1, 2017
Happy February, Winkler Family!
I hope you all enjoyed our snowy January! I am very happy we are getting closer to warmer weather, as I always LOVE being outside!
As we enter second semester at Winkler, I continue to be very proud of the great work our students and teachers are doing. In this issue of the Howler, I would like to share some major changes in our WIN (What I Need) Intervention Block.
Three years ago, our faculty decided to dedicate a block of time on Tuesdays and Thursdays to provide interventions for students who need additional support in reading and math. We had a limited number of spots for students to receive extra help. Therefore, many of our students who were on grade level attended enrichment groups during this time.
Earlier this year, I asked Karen Hollar, our lead teacher for student supports, to analyze the group rosters to determine how many students in enrichment groups did not score a 3 or higher on the EOG last year. What was found was surprising: more than half of the students in some of our enrichment groups were in need of support in reading and/or math.
As a result, we pulled a team of teachers and counselors together to discuss the ways in which we could best support as many students as possible. This work resulted in the changes to WIN we made this week.
Beginning this past Tuesday, students who need more work with the foundational skills in reading and/or math began working with our Encore teachers, who have been trained to administer a program called iReady. During WIN time, students will be working on the iReady software and will be pulled into small instructional groups led by our reading and math interventionists.
Another group of students, who are closer to being on grade level, but need additional support on the the work they are doing in reading and math this year, will be reporting back to their Core teachers for tutoring and extra instruction.
A third group of students, who are at or above grade level, will be working with a teacher on an academic enrichment task. These groups might be working on research projects, career skills, or SAT preparation skills.
I am excited that we have now "plussed" our WIN Time to ensure all students are working on tasks that will help them improve! Please check with your child about the work they are doing during WIN.
As always, I love to sing the praises of our students and teachers. This past month, as I walked (and walked and walked) around our building, I saw great things happening in all of our classrooms. I would like to call your attention to several classes who are doing especially exceptional work:
- Our seventh grade science students are working on their Human Body Problem Based Learning project, which I describe in more detail in the next article.
- Our eighth grade English/Language Arts classes are working in Biography book clubs, where they are learning more about the themes of lives of extraordinary people. Students are also conducting their own interviews to design biographies of local heroes.
- All of our English/Language Arts classes have adopted a book club model of instruction, where small groups of students are reading common texts and having both written and verbal conversations.
- Our social studies classes have had a series of guest speakers, including an expert on ancient Chinese culture and a Holocaust survivor.
- Our math classes are practicing hands-on skills to see the places where math impacts our daily lives.
With Winkler Pride,
December 1, 2016
This month, I would like to share information with you about our transition to an International Baccalaureate Candidate School, which will happen for the 2017-2018 school year.
First, we will be holding our first annual IB Open House and Curriculum Night on December 6, 2016 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. On that night, we will be showing off the wonderful things our students and teachers are doing now and laying out our plans for the IB program in the years to come! I cordially invite you to bring your family for a night of learning, celebration, and entertainment. I will be holding several informational sessions about IB, Karen Hollar, our Student Support Specialist, will hold several sessions to tell you more about our nationally recognized student support structures, and our teachers will be displaying students' work and answering questions about what your child is learning this year. In addition, our band and chorus will be performing and our art students will hold their annual Plate Auction. In the media center, you can visit the book fair.
And to make it even better, we've contracted food trucks from Comfort Foods on Wheels and What-a-burger to be in our parking lot for a delicious dinner! We will also have several options for funnel cakes and dessert. You can pick up your dinner at the food truck and settle in the cafeteria with your family and friends!
In this edition of the Howler, I've also included some brief information about the IB program and our transition. I will be sharing much more and answering questions at the Open House. An important piece of information I would like to call to your attention is that Winkler will be a whole-school IB program, meaning ALL of our students will receive instruction through an international lens. In that same thought, please know that all of the middle schools in Cabarrus County, including the IB programs, offer the same courses. The big difference between an IB school and a traditional school is the international lens through which students look at the content in the courses.
Finally, and most importantly, I would like for all of the families in our attendance zone to know that you do not need to apply for admission to the IB program. All of the students who live in our attendance zone will continue to be assigned to Winkler, as always. To reiterate, if you wish to continue to attend Winkler, you don't need to do anything at all.
I sincerely hope you will come to visit with us next Tuesday night for our Open House. I look forward to sharing the wonderful things happening at Winkler this year and our vision for the Winkler-to-come!
In Winkler Pride,
November 1, 2016
Happy Autumn, Winkler Family and Friends!
October was an exceptional month for our Winkler community, as our students and teachers continued on their journey of growing and learning together!
This past month, our students had the opportunity to step outside of our school walls to experience the impact of their decisions on the world. First, we celebrated our edition of the Winkler Lecture Series with a visit from Bonnie Jones, the Development Director of Cabarrus County Meals on Wheels. Ms. Jones told students about the exceptional work her organization does in helping shut-ins and senior adults in our community have a hot meal and companionship. Through the month of September, our students contributed over 1,500 cans of foods to support this cause. This is enough food for 400 meals!
We also held our fifth annual Lean and Green 5K and Campus clean up. Despite having a two week delay for Hurricane Matthew, we had 20 runners compete in the cold and then help us clean up the grounds around our campus. I offer a special thanks to the PE department, Mr. Petersen, and the National Junior Honor Society for coordinating this event! The money raised will go to support the American Cancer Society.
Last week, our seventh grade students had the unique opportunity to visit Grandfather Mountain to conduct scientific weather experiments! I was amazed at both the views and the work our students and teachers did on this trip.
In our classrooms, I continue to be amazed at the outstanding work by our students and teachers! Each day, I walk around the building taking pictures and talking with students. I invite you to check out our Facebook page
to see all of the amazing things going on in classrooms at our school.
As we enter November, and start second quarter, I encourage all Winkler Families to keep up the great work! This month, we will be collecting donations for our annual Thanksgiving dinner service project, where our students deliver meals to families in need around our community. We will also have our second visit in the Winkler Lecture Series with a visit from an Emmy Award-winning journalist and our eighth grade basketball and wrestling teams will begin play. It's an exciting time to be a Winkler Wolf.
Finally, on November 8th, our entire faculty and staff will go to our first round of training to become an International Baccalaureate Candidate School for the 2017-2018 school year. We will hold a HUGE open house and community event on December 6th to celebrate the work of our students and kick off our IB transition. That night, you can come and hear from your child's teachers, our fine arts department, and our IB coordinator. We will hold sessions that evening to discuss our transition to IB and give you an opportunity to ask any questions you might have. (I also hear there will be food trucks involved!)
As always, I thank you for all of your support and please let me know if I can be of any help.
With Winkler Pride,
October 1, 2016
Happy Autumn, Winkler Families!
This month, I’ve had the opportunity to teach quite a bit
around our school. I truly love getting
the opportunity to work with students directly and model instructional
strategies for our teachers. In my travels around the building, I’m always so
impressed at the deep level of work and thinking in which our students are
engaged! Here’s what I’ve seen (and
helped teach) this month:
all of our social studies classes, our students are learning to analyze primary
sources to form historical arguments.
language arts, students have moved into their fiction units and are learning to
analyze different characters.
sixth grade math, students are learning to apply factorization skills, seventh
grade students are exploring the measurement of various shapes, and eighth
graders are working with exponents.
science, I’ve watched sixth grade students working with density, seventh grade
students working on the layers of the atmosphere, and eighth grade students
exploring physical and chemical properties.
In all of this work, our phenomenal teachers have designed
learning experiences that require students to meet the instructional
expectations we hold at Winkler. As a
school, we expect:
· Our teachers to have strong
conversations with each other about what to teach and how to teach it.
· Each lesson to be relevant and
have a clear objective students are to meet.
· Teachers to provide students with
the background knowledge they need to understand concepts.
· Teachers to model how students
should complete the tasks and provide students many opportunities to practice for
· Students to read, write, think,
and talk with each other daily.
We will also be beginning our journey to becoming an IB
Candidate school later this month. Last
week, I met with our district’s magnet coordinator, Carrie Tulbert, the
principal at Concord Middle School, and Kristy Bullock, the principal at J.N.
Fries IB Middle School to begin carving out our IB transition plan. We have also selected an IB Transition team
comprised of members of our Winkler faculty.
Over the next two months, we will be visiting several schools across the
state including Paisley Middle School in Winston-Salem, East Garner Middle
School in Wake County, and Piedmont Middle School in Charlotte. Then, in early November, an IB trainer will
spend an entire teacher workday completing our first day of training for our
faculty and staff.
On December 6, 2016, Winkler Middle will host our first
annual IB Open House! That night, we
will showcase our school, give more information about the IB program, hold a
band and chorus concert, and display plates for our annual Art Silent
As always, I thank you for your tremendous support of our
school! Please contact me if I might be
of any help along the way.
September 1, 2016
Whew! What a great start to the school year! These past two weeks have been a whirlwind for me, and I am so proud of our students, faculty, and staff for their hard work to make Winkler an even more wonderful place to be!
Late in the summer, our School Leadership Team met to help revise the school’s vision, mission, and belief statements. While this work is still in progress, we developed some key values to guide our thinking. The principles we value are:
A safe, respectful environment
High academic press and strong community
High standards for all stakeholders
Diversity, in all forms
Joy and celebration
Shared decision making
Clear communication and processes
Socially just structures and systems
As we conduct our work with students this year, these values will be at the root of all of our decisions. To this end, we have increased our level of supervision in the hallways and cafeteria to make sure all students are safe, discussed ways to ensure our instruction is rigorous and engaging, and learned new strategies to get to know all of our students and better understand all of the strengths they bring to school! In September, the Leadership Team will begin working on our annual budget and the School Improvement Plan, which we will post on the school website.
I’ve also been amazed at the phenomenal work our students have been doing during the first week of school! As I walked around the school this week, I watched students learning to collaborate, practicing appropriate behaviors, conducting science experiments, building structures, choosing books to read, and writing about who they are. If this week is a preview of what’s to come, I can’t wait to see how much they grow! I’ve been taking pictures all week, and I encourage you to check out our Facebook page to see what your children have been learning.
I’m also excited about the upcoming events. In the next two weeks…
Our football and softball teams play their first games.
Out sixth graders will take a field trip to the Cabarrus County Agribusiness Fair.
Our Heart and Sole Girls on the Run club will meet.
We will have our first school dance.
We will kick off our Fall PTSO fundraiser.
Be sure to check out the school calendar so you don’t miss any of the fun.
I appreciate you all choosing to be a part of the Winkler Family! And always remember we are here to help you navigate the middle school years.
August 1, 2016
Our vision for Winkler Middle is to be a community committed to growing and
learning together. This vision statement drives of all of our work. We genuinely
want every person associated with our school to be in a state of learning and
growing. This summer, our teachers have been attending workshops, taking
classes, and planning rigorous instruction for our students. Through the school
year, we will work tirelessly to design great learning experiences for students.
And for the first time this year, we will be offering a Parent University for our
families! I’ll be sending out more information later in the semester.
The results of our students’ and teachers’ hard work are evident in the state
assessment data. Each year since 2012, Winkler Middle has been one of the
highest academic growth schools in the state! In addition, we have been
recognized as a Model School for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support
implementation. Our hard work does not go unrecognized: we have hosted several
schools from across the state this summer seeking to discover what’s working well
This year, we will also be preparing for a great deal of positive change in the
future. On July 18, the Cabarrus County Board of Education voted to implement
the International Baccalaureate Program at Winkler Middle for the 2017-‐‑2018
school year. This is a fantastic addition for all of our students! This year, our
teachers will participate in world-‐‑renowned professional development by the IB
consultants. Please know I am here to answer any questions you have about this
change and will be sending you information throughout the year to keep our
families in the loop. We will also host a series of community meetings to share
information, answer questions, and listen to your feedback.
Again, I’m so excited about the great work that’s happening at Winkler and I’m
looking forward to seeing students in August! Please let me know if I can be of any
help along the way! And, be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Our hashtag
is #WeareWinkler and my personal hashtag is #fromMrW.