Niskayuna has enjoyed a rich tradition of middle school education. Our middle schools challenge early adolescents intellectually while offering them the social and emotional support they need to make the transition from the protective environment of the elementary schools to the more complex world of high school. This is done through team teaching.
Teaching teams are usually made up of four subject teachers (math,
science, English and social studies) who share and instruct daily the same
approximately 120 students. The meetings of team teachers are the special
strength of this structure and provide the vehicle for communications among
the teachers and with parents, school counselors, resource teachers
and administrators regarding students' programs. The meetings,
scheduled for at least three times a week, are opportunities to discuss the needs of the students. In sharing their successes and concerns with each other teachers devise common strategies that make best use of the various personalities, styles and abilities that teachers can bring to the team. The child-centered emphasis of teaching teams makes excellent use of the resources available to help each child gain as much as possible from his or her middle school experience.
Another characteristic of the middle school is heterogeneous grouping of
students. Heterogeneous grouping provides opportunities for students to
learn in widening developmental ranges. This practice is more natural and
realistic than limited learning opportunities within ability arrangements.
Heterogeneous groups allow students to learn from -- and learn to accept --
peers of different backgrounds and abilities. Since student learning
capacities change more rapidly and more often during the middle level school
years than in either elementary or high school, the challenge is to move
away from set patterns that lock students into fixed homogeneous
arrangements for the year or years of middle school.
The middle schools do group in mathematics. This is done to meet state mandates for acceleration and to best meet the needs of our students in this subject. The students who are grouped in math are regrouped with the rest of the students in their other team subjects. All 8th graders are accelerated in foreign language. The middle schools remain committed to providing our students a challenging and thought provoking
program that will meet their needs in the exciting world of the 21st century.
Students receive two different evaluation reports from their classroom
teachers; a report card grade at the end of every marking period and Interim
Reports. Report card grades are the official measure of a student's progress
for a particular marking period. Each marking period lasts 10 weeks. Interim
reports are done at the five week point of a marking period and give the
parents and students a report on how they are progressing
in that particular quarter. This is a great way to gauge how a student is progressing in a particular marking period and whether more support or communication between the parents, teacher and student needs to occur.
Regular school attendance is expected. Students should miss school only for legitimate reasons. A parent note stating the reason for absence or tardiness must be written within three days of the student's return to school. Unexcused absent or truant students may be required to make up missed days during a school vacation period.
All requests for early dismissal must be in writing and signed by the
parent or guardian. Parents or guardians picking up students must sign out
student in the Main Office.
Students who arrive late to school should bring in a note from a parent or guardian. Students do not need to be accompanied into the building by an adult. This also applies if a student is returning to school from an appointment.
Students who wish to take a bus other than their designated one in the afternoon are required to bring a note signed by a parent making a request. The note should be delivered to the Main Office before 10:00 a.m. A copy will be made and kept on file. The original will be returned to the student to show the bus driver.
Lost clothing is collected in both the main office and the gym at Iroquois and in the Media Center at Van Antwerp. Items such as eyeglasses, jewelry and school supplies are kept in the main office. Students should not bring valuables or large amounts of money to school.
Students who ride bikes to school, should park it in the bike rack. Bikes should be locked at all times. When riding to school students should always obey all safety rules. Anyone under the age of 14 is required by law to wear a helmet.
Students receive two lockers, one for books, coats, and school supplies, and the other for physical education clothes. Locker combinations are changed each summer. Combinations should not be shared with anyone. Students who are having difficulty opening their locker should ask the nearest teacher for help. If it still won't open, the student should ask for a pass to the main office and give staff your locker number so that a custodian can check it out.
The counter phone in the Main Office is available for student use. Calls should be made between classes or with permission from your teacher. The phone should be used for contacting parents or for any other school related business. It is not to be used for personal calls. Incoming calls to students will be handled in emergency situations only.
Middle level students meet for advocacy from 2:45-3:15 each day. Nearly every adult in the building takes on a group of 12-15 students at that time. The intention is for the adult mentor to get to know their advocacy group well, to be an advocate and to help connect them to our school mission and vision. During this time, every other day, our sixth grade students receive Foreign Language instruction.
The purpose of the Student Advocacy Program is to facilitate individual student development and achievement and to ensure a respectful and purposeful school environment. As students become more successful in their relationships and academic achievement, they will demonstrate a stronger commitment to school programs and a deeper sense of responsibility for their own progress and behoavior. By working together on common problems and interests, members of each advocacy group will improve their understanding of themselves and others. Other programs, such as AIS or special education services, may be delivered at this time.
The Code of Conduct states, "Clothing which interferes with the educational process by being distracting or inappropriate, for example, attire bearing an expression or insignia which is obscene or libelous shall not be allowed in school."
Areas of concern are:
If students wear clothing that is unacceptable they will be asked to change into something more suitable. The school will also contact parents to let them know of our concerns.
Hats, caps or hoods are not to be worn in the building. For safety reasons, NO backpacks are to be worn during the school day.