Well, I just looked up and it is May. How can that be?
The new school year kicks off in 76 days and when I think about that I get really, really excited about putting the Wagner Way into action. I also would be lying if I told you that thinking too long about that doesn’t turn me into a frenzied, crazy lady that feels like 76 days is not enough time to completely accomplish my to-do list. So, like Scarlett O’Hara (kids, look her up), I am going to think about that tomorrow. Instead, I would like to focus on what we have accomplished in the last month or so.
We are almost fully staffed at Wagner Middle School, with just 3 teaching positions left to fill and a handful of other support positions vacant. We hosted a “hang out” opportunity with the staff that have joined the Wagner Team so far a couple of weeks ago at Uptown Social and had a fantastic time!
Mrs. Gaylor (6th grade Science), Miss Johnson (Art) and Miss Carstens (6th grade Social Studies) spent some time hanging out with the rest of the team at Uptown Social.
Good times with good people and a good view at Uptown Social!
We had a great time this month with all of our soon-to-be 6th grade Wolves! We were able to spend time with them in small groups, talk about our plan for the Fall, answer questions about middle school, and take a bus tour of the Wagner Campus. A big thank you goes to Mr. Dyer and the Mitchell Team for allowing us to host students at Mitchell, to Transportation for making our wacky plan happen, and to David Bieshievel for helping us with the bus tours. It was a great day!
This group of Wolves is learning more about the design of their building and how space and furniture will be used to support our Learner Profile.
Students left the day with a Wagner pencil and a “Save the Date” card about Camp Wagner this summer.
The highlight of the day for each group was the bus tour! Students were amazed by the football/track stadium and impressed by the size of the building. The most enthusiastic comments came when we showed the students the 6th grade Den -- where many of their classes will be next year!
We have spent some time these last few weeks getting ready for a summer of learning and teambuilding for the Wagner Staff. We have some days set aside in June for all of the Wagner Teachers to come together to establish who we are as a group, what we believe, what we want to accomplish, and how we plan to reach those goals. In addition to that important work, the Wagner Team is going to do a lot of learning together this Summer.
Mr. Vanicek, the GHS principal and one of my favorite partners in the principalship, and I are planning a learning opportunity for the Wagner & GHS teams in June -- this is us in the midst of a Google HangOut with colleagues from Coppell ISD as we plan the event.
I’ve been to the building in the last few days and here is what I’ve got to share...
The Wagner football field and track stadium (and soccer field, too!) is nearly complete! The stadium will have bleachers, a press box, and a concession stand with restrooms. The turf will be completely green when it’s finished -- you see sand that has been laid on top of the turf as part of the installation process.
This is an entrance into the Commons from the back of the building -- students will actually enter this way when they get off the school bus in the mornings. Those tall openings will be doors and large windows. To the left (where the door is open) are the athletics locker rooms. To the right is the kitchen.
This is the inside of the 7th & 8th grade STEM Den, where math and science classes will be held. You can tell by the picture that the space is very open, and the metal you see in the ceiling is actually the tracks for the moveable glass panels go.
This is the framing for the Teacher workspace inside the STEM Den. At Wagner, teachers won’t have desks in assigned classrooms! Teachers will each have a desk inside a shared office space in their Den. This allows the classroom space to be flexible and for teachers to use different spaces within their Den, as teachers will decide what space and furniture they need to best implement each different lesson plan.
Making progress in the library!
This is the art patio. THIS HUGE SPACE IS THE ART PATIO! The patio is completely covered and is larger than both art classrooms combined. You can enter the patio from the library and from the art classrooms, and I imagine that it will be a popular place in our building!
I have posted pictures from this location before, and I hope it shows you the progress that’s been made. This is from the top of the Learning Stairs. On the first floor, you see the Commons and the stage. You can also see past them into the STEM Den. On the second floor, you see the Humanities Den to the right and the Library in the center. How cool are those wooden beams?
I’m going to end this post with a picture of some people that are pretty remarkable. This group of teachers, counselors, a secretary, a librarian and some administrators (not everyone is in the picture) came together in the Fall of 2016 with a shared hope of learning and making decisions together that would serve as the foundation of a special place for students to learn and adults to work. This group of leaders has provided insight, laughter, passion, questions, and commitment these past few months. They are going to do fabulous things for Wagner kids in their respective positions and they will all remain campus leaders in some capacity. I’m not sure who is more lucky -- Wagner kids, that they have these fine educators investing in them each day, or me, who gets to see it all happen.
The inaugural Wagner Leadership Team.
L->R: Amy Heil (Librarian), Ashley Gaylor (6th grade Science), Tim Schermbeck (7th grade ELAR), Danielle Holloway (Assistant Principal), Lindsay Harris (Principal), Tish Ptomey (Counselor), JoEllen Goldsberry (Counselor), David Hunt (Asst. Principal), Catherine Carstens (6th grade Social Studies)
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
Well, I just looked up and it is May. How can that be? To say that the school year has flown by me is an understatement, and to think that this time next year we will be close to celebrating the end of the first school year for Wagner Middle School is absolutely mind-blowing.
I think I mentioned before that our first squad of cheerleaders had been established, and in the last few weeks the girls have been busy! We had a parent meeting the first week of April, in which I learned three things about the girls: they are absolutely precious, they have supportive parents, and they have very clear opinions about their uniforms and Wagner gear. (Which I loved hearing!) Since that meeting, the Wagner cheerleaders have been busy with their first fundraiser, and if the amount of chocolate they have sold is any indication, these Wolves are hard workers! Before I talk about some of the other things happening these last few weeks, I’d like to give a big shout-out to Jeannie Cottle at EVHS for helping to get the Wagner Cheerleader Squad started! She’s been a tremendous help to us, the girls, and their parents and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks, Jeannie!
These sweet faces are the keepers of the Wagner spirit!
A little preview of some of the Wagner Wolves Cheerleader swag!
In the past few weeks, the Leadership Team has wrapped up its book study on Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team. As it always is when we learn together, it was a bonding experience to hear teammates’ reflections about their own experiences and it was inspiring to hear each person’s commitment to making the Wagner team a supportive, effective, empowered group of adults. The Leadership Team cares a lot about making Wagner Middle School a great place for adults to work because it really understands that a high-performing team of adults will produce the most positive learning experiences for students. I feel lucky to get to be a part of it!
I can’t recommend this book enough!
I spent some time out at the Wagner construction site recently for a “keying meeting.” Do you know what that is? I did not. We spent two hours going room by room to make decisions about what keys should be required to open each door. I did my best, but I’d like to apologize now to any future Wagner staff member that has the thought “why in the world is this the key for this door?” You can blame me. I tried, I promise I did. It’s also probably a good time to acknowledge that two hours of me looking at detailed plans of the building is really two hours of me asking random questions, such as “Where is the ice machine?” and “Are there cabinets under that counter?” David Biesheuvel, our Executive Director of Facilities in GISD, is a saint to deal with all my questions and I wouldn’t blame him at all if announces a question limit for me the next time we are together.
“The room where it happens”. (That’s my obligatory Hamilton reference, as I recently saw it and can’t help working it into every conversation I can. You’re welcome.) In this case, “it” = “excessive questioning.”
One more noteworthy event I want to share in this post is the first meeting of our Discipline Design Team. One of things that needs to be developed for our campus is a plan for supporting students that make decisions that impact their or others’ ability to learn or teachers’ abilities to teach. We are meeting every other week for the next couple of months to develop our plan and the entire Wagner staff is invited to participate. Our first meeting was two weeks ago, and we started our work with some team-building and some conversation about our district’s belief statements and learner profile. It was just the beginning of a pretty arduous task, but the time was fruitful and I look forward to seeing what the team puts in place to support students and their learning!
Teamwork makes the dream work!
Every single decision we make as a Wagner Middle School team is intended to bring us closer to building the GISD Learner Profile’s attributes in our students.
We had some great discussion among our team members about behaviors and their relationship to our beliefs.
I want to end this post with a big thank you to these three ladies:
L->R: Tish Ptomey (Counselor), Danielle Holloway (Asst. Principal) and Sarah Spence (Principal’s Administrative Assistant)
If you’ve had any interaction with the Wagner team yet, you know these three are the very best at what they do. So much more than their titles, since they joined the Wagner team full-time in January, they have also been event planners, leaders of professional learning, temporary cheerleader sponsors, graphic designers, master schedulers, wranglers of an errant principal, and ambassadors for Wagner Middle School and Georgetown ISD. They have full plates and still consistently impress those that they come in contact with. They are driven by the belief that Wagner students and staff deserve the best in all things and are committed to making Wagner something special. I have and will make plenty of mistakes (hello, keying meeting!), but I sure got it right with these three. Wagner is lucky to have them. And so is the Wagner principal.
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
I want to tell you about last Thursday, but before I do that, you need some background: I’m a big believer in collaboration. My leadership style reflects a desire to have input from others and I find work the most fulfilling when it’s done as a team. One of the first decisions that was made once I came to work as the principal of Wagner Middle School was that I would establish a team of Wagner staff that would give input and serve as guides for decisions to be made. This work is too important for others to not be a part of it from the very beginning.
You probably know this, but there are endless decisions made each day for WMS -- some as significant as who we hire and what our instructional priorities are and some less significant, like which rooms need to have the same keys and what color the bleachers in the gyms are going to be. (Note: Even the insignificant decisions seem important, though, because who wants to be the person responsible for future key frustration or missing the mark on bleacher color?!?)
Over the course of the Fall, the Wagner Leadership Team was established. The team consists of two assistant principals, two counselors, four teachers, a librarian, a principal’s secretary and me. Most of the team agreed to come on board while they remain in their current positions for the school year, which means our time together is even more special because most of it’s in the evenings after long days. These eleven people have very different backgrounds and areas of expertise but they are united in this: a commitment to make Wagner Middle School a campus where supportive relationships abound and learning experiences for both the adults and students are engaging and empowering. That shared commitment is the undercurrent in all of the team’s time together.
Sometimes we tweet pictures that make it look like it is all fun and games (and there are some of both), but this group also works REALLY hard. While we are intentional about getting to know each other better and learning how to collaborate and work together, we really spend most of our time together learning. Prior to each meeting, everyone on the team does some work to prepare and that usually means there is some reading to do or videos to watch about a topic that we plan to spend some time on in the meeting.
All of the background is to tell you that the Wagner Leadership Team spent the day together last Thursday. As always, we enjoyed our time together -- there was laughter, there was debate and there was so much thinking that sometimes our heads hurt. We learned and we made some decisions. It was a good day.
“Team Blue” celebrating a good idea with their Team Thinking Activity.
We bring all of our instructional learning and decisions back to our GISD Learner Profile.
To begin our conversation on Personalized Learning, we watched videos that showed personalized learning in action and had thoughts from teachers, parents and students that are using it on their campus.
Mrs. Gaylor and Mrs. Heil are working through some research and preparing to share their learning with the group.
And then there is this.
My favorite part of the day was when the team was able to tour the construction site. I love visiting it myself, but what was really special about this tour was getting to watch the reactions of people seeing it for the first time. They were overwhelmed with excitement and that took on a lot of forms -- some were speechless, some were saying things that showed it, there were even some tears. One by one and over the course of the following day, they all expressed that seeing the campus made the instructional vision more clear. And all of them shared how honored they were to get to be part of something so special. I can’t wait for the rest of the Wagner Team to have that same experience! That building is something special and not only because of it’s forward-thinking design … it is special because you can look at the space and see all of the possibilities for teaching and learning. It’s so much more than a building.
These pictures won’t do it justice, but here goes:
This is taken from the parking lot behind the building near the Athletics facilities. The red-colored area behind the cars is part of our tennis courts. (We will have 8 courts total.) You can see the stadium lights are already up where the stadium will be.
This is from the front parking lot. The large equipment is directly in front of the office area (first floor) and library (second floor). To the right is the 6th grade Den and to the far left is the STEM Den (first floor) and the Humanities Den (second floor). The brown metal roofing is over the main entrance.
This picture is from the foot of the learning stairs. You’ve seen this view before, so I hope you can see the progress! The second story is now complete and we can walk on it! From this spot in the school, we will be able to see learning happening in many places -- the Commons, the Teacher Design Lab, the Library, the Art classrooms, the STEM Den and the Humanities Den. Pretty cool!
This is taken from the library, which will have a lot of glass windows. What a view!
The wooden beams are in! These are in the Commons.
This is the view from the Humanities patio. That building in the distance is East View High School!
View from the Art Patio, which is HUGE and will allow students from the art classrooms and the library to have a change of scenery as they work on it.
This is the Humanities Den, where Social Studies, Language Arts and Foreign Language classes will happen for our 7th and 8th graders.
Eight wise leaders and their principal, at the foot of the Learning Stairs.
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
It’s been a busy few weeks for Wagner Middle School! (I know that I have said it before, but it’s true … we’ve got a lot going on!)
Since the last post, we have added some INCREDIBLE people to our team. I sincerely mean it when I say that the Wagner Team is composed of people that are the very best at what they do. Each applicant pool we met with about a position had talented people from across the district and state -- Wagner kids are lucky to have these talented professionals interested in serving them each day!
In other exciting news … we have a Cheerleading Squad! Congratulations to the very first Wagner Middle School Cheerleaders! I am excited about meeting with the girls and their parents next week and am thankful for their willingness to devote extra time and a lot of hard work to spread Wagner Spirit.
I can’t conclude a blog post without a picture of the Wagner construction site. This picture was taken March 20 and there is already significant progress since then, so be looking for more pictures later this week after I tour the site Thursday!
This aerial photo shows how large the Wagner worksite is! The recessed area in the middle of the building facing the front parking lot is the front entrance of the campus. To the right of the front door is the 6th grade Den (first floor) and the Art classrooms (second floor). To the left of the front door (that doesn’t have a roof in the picture) is the 7th & 8th grade STEM Den (first floor) and Humanities Den (second floor). The area on the right with the white roof is the gyms and athletics facilities and the area on the left with the white roof is the Fine Arts wing. Also … you can see where our track and field are going to be by the large oval at the top of the picture!
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
It is hard to believe that it is March and almost Spring Break!
It has been a busy few weeks for the Wagner Team. We had the opportunity to tour the campus with some members of our school board a couple of weeks ago and were really excited about the progress that we saw.
This is the view from standing at the foot of the Learning Stairs. In the foreground is the Commons (cafeteria). When you look past the Commons, the lower floor is the 7th & 8th grade STEM Den, where our math and science classes will be held. On the second floor above the STEM Den is the Humanities Den, where 7th & 8th graders will have their Language Arts and Social Studies classes.
This is at the foot of the Learning Stairs, which are wide, deep stairs that allow for people to be seated and can be used as learning space. The more traditional stairs are directly to the left of the Learning Stairs. The concrete you see to the right of the Learning Stairs is the elevator shaft!
This is a view of the back of the building. The tall stone walls you see to the left are the gyms, with the locker rooms and weight rooms directly in front of them. The blue walls on the right are the back of the kitchen and the Fine Arts wing. You can see the STEM and Humanities houses rising above the Fine Arts wing behind it.
Once a month our Campus Leadership Team meets to learn, make decisions and grow as a team together. This month, our area of focus was TEAMING -- the practice of having four teachers from different content areas teach the same group of students. We are going to implement Teaming at Wagner because of the support it offers students and parents and the opportunities it provides teachers to collaborate about what’s best for their shared students. At our February meeting we had a little fun at Escapology (an Escape Room in Round Rock) that allowed for us to put into practice what we want for ourselves and students -- a group of people with different talents and areas of expertise that come together for a common purpose. At WMS, our goal will be the success of our students but at Escapology the goal was to SAVE THE WORLD FROM THE EXTINCTION VIRUS! (Don’t worry, we succeeded! 😀)
While we had a lot of fun and learned a lot about each other, we walked away from that experience with a more clear understanding of the kind of learning experiences we want for our students, the skills we want to be sure we build in them and in ourselves and how we want learning to look at Wagner Middle School.
We have spent a lot of time since the last blog post interviewing GISD teachers that are interested in joining our Wagner team, visiting GISD classrooms, continuing to work on our plan for our time in the Williams building before we move into our beautiful building (be sure to check out our FAQ document on the website) next Fall, meeting with PTAs, representing Wagner in the community, planning our Parent Information Nights (Please join us MARCH 6 or 9 in the EVHS Cafeteria at 6:30pm!), visiting other campuses in the area that are implementing some of the things we are planning for WMS, making decisions about furniture and materials, and doing some learning in the areas that we know will make us better prepared for the work we have ahead of us. It has been a great few weeks!
Wagner shirts and treats … a sure sign that there is a parent event coming!
On a final note, I want to wish a very Happy 100th Birthday to Georgetown ISD! It is an honor to serve students in this community!
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
As many of you may have heard, it has recently been confirmed that our new building will not be ready for teaching and learning on the first day of school in August 2017. In fact, delays due to weather during construction this past Spring and Summer have postponed “move-in” until sometime during the Fall of 2017. Our district has been working in recent weeks to develop the very best possible plan for Wagner students and staff as we wait for the building to be ready for us. We think we came up with the very best possible “Plan B” and here is the official statement about it:
We are excited about the beginning of Wagner Middle School and look forward to welcoming 6th and 7th grade students in the 2017-2018 school year. However, due to heavy rains in the early construction phases, the completion of the new Wagner building has been delayed and will not be ready for students until later in the Fall.
Until construction is complete, Wagner students and staff will be housed at the Williams Elementary campus on University Avenue. (Williams Elementary students and staff will be moving to their new home in the newly constructed Purl Elementary facility upon completion of this current school year.)
Wagner will host all of the same instructional and extracurricular opportunities available at GISD's other middle school campuses, including football, volleyball, band, orchestra, and cheerleading. In fact, Wagner’s athletic facilities will be completely available for use at the start of school -- the Wagner Wolves’ volleyball and football teams will be able to practice and compete in the Wagner gyms and on the Wagner football field in August of 2017.
Once construction of the Wagner Middle School building is complete, Wagner students and staff will transition into their new building with complete fanfare, including an official caravan and escort.
More detailed information, including a Frequently Asked Questions document and details about a Wagner Parent Information Event, will be released as details are finalized.
We are grateful that this plan allows for the Wagner Team to be together in a building of our own (no other students or departments will share the space) until our entire facility is ready! We are excited that Wagner athletics, fine arts and other extracurricular groups will be able to practice, compete and represent our campus from the first day of school in August 2017. We are also thrilled that we will be able to begin developing relationships and forming our campus culture by having Wagner students working with their own Wagner teachers … teachers that will remain their teachers once we move into our new building. Lastly, we appreciate that the district, without hesitation, postponed the Williams remodel to keep Wagner students and staff together because they believe in doing what's best for our kids.
We know that there are many details to plan and prepare for, but we are confident that our temporary time in the Williams building will be fruitful in learning, team building and preparing for our new innovative facility.
Please be looking for our FAQ document and dates for our Wagner Parent events -- both pieces of information are coming soon.
Please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com or call me at 512.943.1835 if you have any questions or concerns about our plan for the Fall of 2017! I’d love the chance to hear your thoughts or respond to your questions directly.
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
It’s always exciting to start a new year and 2017 brings some additional excitement for me as I look forward to the opening of Wagner Middle School! My plan is to use this blog to share information about our school, our staff, and our students.
First thing is first... I’m thrilled to announce that Wagner is officially home of the Wagner Wolves! We gathered some nominations for mascots from the community this last Fall and took some of the favorites to panels of 5th grade students that will be attending Wagner Middle School. The students’ voice was loud and clear -- they selected the wolves! The students also gave us some of their thoughts about just exactly how they’d like that wolf to look, which was “not too scary but not like a cartoon, either.” The GISD Communications team worked hard to help me design some of our logos using our school colors of navy, white and orange. I love it and hope that Wagner students and parents do, too!
One other noteworthy accomplishment from the Fall’s work is the establishment of the Wagner Leadership Team. I plan to spend more time discussing this dynamic team, but want to begin just by sharing their names and roles with you:
Part of the establishment of the WMS Leadership Team was the opportunity to identify some lead teachers that will assist the Leadership Team in making decisions about our campus. (It’s extremely important to me that teachers are represented in the decision-making taking place this Spring and Summer!) These lead teachers are:
I feel confident in this team and am so fortunate to have the leadership and partnership of these fine educators! Wagner students are certainly blessed that these nine individuals have chosen to leave their current positions and join the Wagner team!
Many more exciting decisions are to come in these next few weeks: more hiring, selection of furniture, decision-making about technology … the list goes on and on! You’ll have to check back in to the blog for more in-depth information about our team, updates about our building and insight into the decisions that we are making.
View of the front of the building from the parking lot -- the gyms and 6th grade house are to the right, the 7th/8th grade STEM house is to left. Photo taken at Wagner site 01.01.17
The back of Wagner -- showing gyms and locker room areas. Photo taken 01.06.17
In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about what’s happening at Wagner. I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or reached by phone at 512.943.1835.
Until Next Time,
Principal, Wagner Middle School
The Texas Economic Development Council has awarded the Georgetown Workforce Development Alliance (WDA) the 2017 Workforce Excellence Award. The WDA consists of a partnership between Georgetown ISD, the city of Georgetown and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.
Georgetown ISD will be transitioning from Sodexo to Southwest Foods Excellence as the district’s food services provider. Southwest Food Excellence has announced that Tray Mitchell has been hired as the Georgetown ISD Director of Nutritional Services and will begin on July 1.