Archives for June 2013

“This I Believe…”

This speech was given by 8th grader Charlotte Williamson at the Skinner continuation ceremony.

Skinner is all I have done since August 19th, 2010. When I look back, I can remember that first week like it was yesterday. My mom went to the First PTA meeting and came home the PTA president, as usual.

My year started with summer school, masked as “6th Grade Academy.” There I met Ms. Frahm, my awesome 6th grade Language Arts teacher who doubled as my basketball coach. But, during my first days of Skinner my most vivid memories surrounded some crazy 8th grade teacher, who I didn’t really know yet. His main goal was to scare us, as he yelled up and down the halls. And if you were so unlucky to be left accidently after school by your brothers, this teacher, known as Mr. Dehning, would use his line of, “Stick out your hand, make it into a fist, now put out your thumb. Now you have a way home.” After school, I found a strange safety in being the only 6th grader in Skinner’s Drama club, holding Ms. Gilman’s new baby while she was directing. Yet, what was most astounding was the support from all my teachers my 6th grade year. We were like a little family Mrs. Torres, Mr. Martin, Ms. Hale and Ms. Frahm, working together to make sure we succeeded.

Then there came the cool 7th grade. Mr. Smith and Ms. Winter joked around, but got us to somehow do our work without us knowing. Mr. Dennis and Ms. Anderson pushed us to our limits on assignments such as the “Monologue” to be performed in front of Mr. Dennis, his face never giving away any clue to our grade, or the infamous “Reformation” assignment, where Ms. Anderson challenged our views on government and religion. All these teachers expected us to do our best, and if we did not succeed they would amply assign PIE and Saturday School. This was also the year Mr. Dwyer came to Skinner and I found my love for violin and music. That summer, I went on the Washington D.C. trip. Ms. Frahm and Mr. Dehning, that crazy teacher who taught me to hitchhike when I was 11 were the chaperones. That opportunity changed my life; the trip brought us closer as a Skinner community.

8th grade year, finally, we had made it to the top, only one more year at Skinner. I became close to my drama teacher and now 8th grade Language Arts teacher, Ms. Gilman, my official second mom. My drama class became even more exciting with the introduction Maestra Allen, the spunky Spanish teacher with a love of crazy wigs. The very loud teacher I barely knew as a 6th grader, and who took me to D.C., became a good friend, and even a cooler history teacher. I was lucky to meet this next teacher before 8th grade, when she came to my house on a home visit; Ms. Skrobko, one of the nicest people I know. She took me in her learning family when my schedule was changed. She helped me make a pointless science fair project idea into a meaningful research project that I was interested in. She became someone who was always there when we needed to catch up. Then there is Ms. Murayama. Well, I think we are definitely ready for high school. She taught me one of the hardest lessons we had to learn before high school. She explained, ‘The teachers will not, I repeat will not, follow you around for your homework. If you don’t have it the day it is due, you have to turn it in on your own time.” But that is why I will miss her; she like other teachers she gave us a reality check. We are going to high school, we have to be ready.

I feel that Skinner has been a long road of preparation, hard work, but has given us what we need for our future. So this I believe. I believe in Skinner. In the opportunities and memories made in its hallways. I believe Skinner has created the future presidents, CEOs, valedictorians, actors and actresses; people who will go on to be translators, professional orchestra or band members. I believe that where ever we decide to go, what ever we decide to be, Skinner will have affected and will continue to affect how we will make decisions, and live our lives, continuing our educational journey. So, I believe in Skinner. I believe in us.

Principal Intern Brad Mann’s thoughts on Skinner

I want to thank the entire Skinner team for all the support, encouragement, and learning you have given me throughout this school year. I am convinced that I will be a better school leader having had the gift of being at Skinner as a Principal Intern. You all are truly amazing!

Some of the gleanings that have deeply impacted me are:

  • The commitment of the entire staff in developing life-long learners – your hunger to improve and perfect your craft pours mightily into the students.
  • A student support team that perseveres, adapts, and is unrelenting in creating a seamless safety net for all students
  • A leadership team that pours their heart and energy into building capital within every member of their team
  • The ‘linking of arms’ in the task of creating an even better Skinner: from afterschool PIE/tutoring, to character development in the cafeteria, to the sparkle that is continuously present in the facilities, to the collaborative efforts of Neighborhood center and School. Everyone gets involved!!
  • Finally, a pervasive willingness to step in and help when there is a need.

Thank you for embracing me as a learning Leader and investing in me! I hope to make a ‘Skinner thumbprint’ on the schools I get the privilege of serving!

~Brad Mann

7th graders are spectacular science scholars

Skinner Middle School 7th graders were lucky enough to join forces with Urban Advantage Metro Denver (UA Metro Denver),Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Denver, Aurora, and Adams 14 Public School Districts to help students think and explore like scientists in order to improve science literacy among urban middle school science students.

“Research has shown that a deep understanding of science is grounded in doing science. Not only do students need to understand scientific content, but they must also understand the scientific investigation process,” said Polly Andrews, director of youth and teacher programs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “By conducting their own long-term science investigations, UA Metro Denver gives students a chance to learn science in a manner that is not currently available in these school districts.”

UA Metro Denver provided professional development opportunities to give teachers the skills, knowledge, and confidence to teach STEM content in a rapidly changing world. The program tapped into the traditionally underutilized resources and STEM-related expertise of science-based cultural institutions who share the formal education system’s commitment to improved science thinking.

“In the fall, all of our students were expected to complete a science fair project and present to a judge,” said Ms. Amy Winter, 7th grade science teacher. “In the spring, 7th graders completed and presented another research based project, but students could choose how to explain their findings, through Power Points, Prezis, movies/videos and even clay models.”

Skinner students chose a topic of interest, conducted an independent science investigation project, documented the process and presented their findings to a peer group. Out of 400 applicants, 11 Skinner 7th graders were chosen to present their research at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on May 11th.

“My partner and I researched bear activity, conducting field research at the Denver Zoo five times using our free vouchers for this experiment,” said Elena Barragan, one of the scholars chosen to present their research at the museum. “We concluded that bears are more active in the afternoon because they are tired in the morning due to the enrichment activities they are given to search for their food.”

Modeled after the successful New York City Urban Advantage developed by the American Museum of Natural History and the NYC Department of Education, UA Metro Denver was FREE thanks to a generous grant from the National Science Foundation Discovery K-12 Research Program.

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