The Middle School Method

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The district's only middle school has 675 students in grades 6-8. Frank Larby has been the school's principal for three years.

GREATEST STRENGTH

The middle school's greatest strength is its staff, Larby said.

"This will continue to be our greatest strength for some time to come," he said. "It takes a special person to work with young people at this age level. Everyone who works at RCMS has a special talent to reach out to young adolescents."

GREATEST NEED

Larby identified several school needs:

First and foremost, he cited the need for an alternative program for troubled youths. "The middle years are critical to the development of an individual, and we are committed to keeping all children in school when possible," he said. "An alternative program will allow students with disciplinary problems to continue to receive an education.

As one of two schools in the area that consistently shows enrollment increases, Larby said space is a problem. "At the present time, there are no spare classrooms at RCMS."

Finally, the principal said, his school needs more textbooks to alleviate problems caused by students carrying heavy backpacks. "Our goal is to allow students to have one textbook at school and one at home," he said.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

Of the three school achievements that Larby highlighted, two were rooted in technology:

With the addition of 80 new computers, students now have internet access from every classroom on campus.

"New technology has also enabled teachers to find new ways to present material and to communicate with each other and the community," he said.

The creation of the RCMS Web page has enabled the school to provide information to the community in unprecedented ways. Parents now have access to more information about the school and can ask questions and respond to school issues with greater ease than ever before.

In addition, Larby said the ongoing transformation of the school gym has been a major achievement.

"The addition of a new playing surface, coupled with new bleachers and new paint, makes the RCMS gym a positive place to take in a game," he said.

EDUCATION TRENDS

Trends toward standards-based education, the continued proliferation of laws and policies calling for more accountability, and the revival of AIMS testing all mean that schools have to meet higher levels of expectations, Larby said.

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