Reading is the fundamental academic skill. I believe anyone who can read well can teach themselves virtually anything. To read well takes practice--lots and lots of practice. Reading, therefore, is at the heart of all of my courses. My students, regardless of which class they are in, can expect to spend significant amounts of time reading. For students to succeed in my classes, it is vital that this reading occur. All middle school students should be reading for at least 30 minutes every night at home.

    My primary goal for middle school students is to help them develop a love of reading. To do that, I have built an extensive classroom library with hundreds of high interest titles. New books are added monthly. Students talk about books, rate books, assign me books to read, suggest books to add to the classroom library, and recommend books to fellow students. Most middle school reading is self-selected. I encourage students to read what they find most enjoyable and to develop their own individual reading interests and habits.

    One of the most valuable tools parents possess in keeping themselves informed about their child's academic progress is PowerSchool. PowerSchool is an online program that allows parents 24-hour a day access to their child's grades. I encourage all parents to check their student's grades every day. Parents can log on to PowerSchool using either their child's user name and password or their own. If you need help accessing PowerSchool, please contact the school. We're happy to help.

    One of the great benefits of attending Stikine Middle School is all of the after-school help we provide students. Immediately after school, Cindy Martin supervises the homework room from 3:10-4:10, Mondays through Thursdays. Some students attend the homework room on an as needed basis while others make it a scheduled part of their day. Students can also attended Night School, a homework study hall supervised by Barb Neymen Monday through Thursday from 7 until 9 pm.

    I strongly believe that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children. My role, and privilege, as a teacher is to assist parents in providing this education. For this to happen, we all need to be working together. Please do not hesitate to contact me whenever you have questions, concerns or insights into your child's education. Parental input is always welcome!


    This class is an advanced course designed for students who both write well and enjoy the writing process. The goal in this class is to produce writing for publication and/or to enter writing contests. This is a very individualized class in which students work on individual projects. At any one time, individual students in this class may be composing poetry, editing a flash fiction piece, outlining a personal essay, or rewriting a short story. Although not all students will be published or win contests, many will, and all students must be willing to submit their work to publishers and contests for consideration. Students will seldom be asked to work on their writing at home, but many choose to do so in order to meet publishing or contest deadlines or simply because they hear the whispering of their muse. The principal form of instruction in this class consists of one-on-one conferencing between the teacher and the student.

    Students are also expected to read a 1000 pages of self-selected reading per quarter, half of which must be non-fiction. Students can choose books from my classroom library, the school or community libraries or books they have at home. To get credit for finishing a book, students take an Accelerated Reader test, write a book report, or turn in a reading journal. My only other requirements for this strand is that reading be at or near the student's reading level (not necessarily grade level) and that parents approve of their reading choices. While students will occasionally have time in class to write book reports or take A.R. tests, most of this reading needs to be done at home. I ask that parents ensure their child is reading at home at least 30 minutes per day.

    Students are also expected to build their vocabulary and Core Knowledge using Study island. Study Island, www.studyisland.com, is an on-line program designed to help students learn and review important concepts in a systematic way. Each week, students will need to earn 2 "Blue Ribbons" in this program. The first "Blue Ribbon" of each week will be earned for mastering the review questions for the 7 weekly vocabulary words. The second "Blue Ribbon" will be earned for reading and answering questions about the 1 page Core Knowledge topic. Students will be given a significant amount of time in class to work on these ribbons. At times, however, students may need to work on Study Island at home. There will be a quiz each Friday covering vocabulary and Core Knowledge information. It is important to note that each quiz includes information from previous quizzes, so it is vital that students review words and topics from past weeks. There will also be an accumulative test at the end of each quarter. These tests cover all of the vocabulary and Core Knowledge topics the students have received up to that point. These tests are quite extensive. However, students who keep up with their "Blue Ribbons" and review occasionally tend to score very well on them. I ask that parents help ensure that their child complete these ribbons by the Friday of each week, so that students are fully prepared for the weekly quizzes.

    Lastly, students will need to complete a weekly grammar/punctuation exercise that will prepare them for the more rigorous writing expected in high school. Students will review grammar and punctuation rules they learned in previous years and will be introduced to new rules that will be needed for the more sophisticated writing expected in the upper grades. Significant class time is provided to students to complete these assignments. If students use this time well, they should seldom have to do these assignments as homework. Students are, of course, also expected to use these skills in the creative writing they produce in this class.