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Hawk's Nest Newsletter No. 1
Hawk's Nest Newsletter No. 1
Kyley Gatz
Thursday, December 20, 2018

Hawk’s Nest

December 20, 2018

Hiawatha Middle School

1st Semester in the Books...

Wow! Where did the semester go? The students and staff at Hiawatha Middle School have been doing a tremendous job learning and growing. It is my hope that this newsletter will provide you with some insight into happenings at HMS. We are very proud of our school and want to thank you for your support in helping us to provide the very best education and support for our students.


Kyley Gatz, Principal

The mission of Hiawatha Middle School is to provide all students with life-long learning skills and opportunities for academic, personal, and social growth in a safe and orderly environment. The educational program is designed to enable students to become productive citizens in an ever-changing society.

From the Desk of Mrs. Gatz:

As we finalize first semester, I want to take a moment to highlight our amazing students and staff. I am privileged to work in a school where teachers put students first and attribute hard work and success to those sitting in their classrooms. HMS teachers and staff are dedicated professionals striving to help each child reach his/her full potential through high expectations, rigorous coursework and relationship building. It is because of the hard work and commitment of these teachers and staff members that HMS continues to hear comments from students that sound something like this, “People here really care about me;” “I’ve never been in a school like this before;” “I don’t want to move away from here;” “I know that my teachers are there for me;” “I’ve tried to make my teachers yell at me and they just won’t do it…” I could go on, but all-in-all, I just want to emphasize that our students are so very fortunate to not only have highly qualified teachers, but individuals who genuinely care.

New at HMS…

This year we have designated time within our schedule on Wednesdays to implement social and emotional learning utilizing our 5th-8th grade program, Second Step. Teachers actively facilitate the lessons and foster whole-class discussions with emphasis on the week’s topic. In addition, we are beginning to explore career and post-secondary readiness thru the use of Xello, an online program that helps students create a successful future through self-knowledge, exploration and planning. If you have further questions about our SEL programming, please contact Kim Krauter, HMS School Counselor.

Another addition this school year is the Remarkable Red Hawk Recognition Program. Anyone in the building is allowed and encouraged to place slips of recognition into the designated Remarkable Red Hawk box in the office. Each morning, these Remarkable Red Hawks are acknowledged during the morning announcements. Once a month, a student from the 5th/6th grade, 7th/8th grade and one staff member are drawn out of the box and recognized as the Remarkable Red for the month. These individuals receive a certificate, t-shirt, and a gift card sponsored by GNBank, Morrill & Janes Bank and Citizens State Bank.


Our Student Council has been staying busy planning and hosting several activities and events within our school:

*High-Five Fridays

*Spirit Week

*Red Ribbon Week & Character and Kindness Week (assisted Mrs. Krauter)

*5th/6th grade Movie Night

*7th/8th grade Fall Dance

*Lip Sync Battle

*Food War (collection of food items)--Teacher with the most is duck taped to the wall


Our athletes and coaches have been working hard trying their best to learn and teach new skills, applying strategy, and persevering to gain that “W” at the end. More importantly, our coaches take pride in teaching and modeling the importance of character development and sportsmanship as a top priority.

-Cross Country: 22 athletes

    *Darcy Lierz and Camden Bachman: 8th grade League Champions

-Football: 23 athletes

-Volleyball: 34 athletes

-Girls Basketball: 23 athletes

    *8th Grade Girls: 3rd Place in League

-Boys Basketball: 40 athletes

Professional Development…

Each year, teachers are encouraged to attend professional development opportunities. These trainings offer teachers an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in an area that is aligned with the district’s goals, as well as the teacher’s area of desired growth. Professional development isn’t just a ‘sit and get’ in the classroom. Professional development is found in many different settings and thru various avenues. Some teachers attend conferences with breakout sessions tailored to their needs, while others are visiting classrooms and observing their peers. Again, teachers have the flexibility to select a means that is most effective for them. Many educators choose an online method of P.D. or a collaborative approach where they may reach out to work with an instructional coach (one-on-one/small group) for more of an individualized approach. Whatever the method and delivery may be, professional development is very important and a key factor in staying abreast of best-practices in the field.

Teachers share P.D. experiences thus far...

Mrs. Elffner:

I attended the Best Practices in Reading workshop through Greenbush.This workshop focused a lot on building relationships within the classroom and how we as educators move from deliverer to facilitator. One of the pieces of knowledge I gained during this conference was the importance of allowing reading, writing and discussion to be present within a classroom; giving students the daily opportunities to talk about or write about their reading.  One way I am using this in the classroom is by trying to meet with each student during SSR and discuss what they are reading. Another piece of knowledge I gained during this workshop was the importance of modeling and discussing my own reading processes. For example, showing the students what I do when I come to a word I don't know in a text. One way I am using this in my classroom is by having students keep a piece of paper or a post-it note with them as they read so they can write down anything that they Wonder about, Words they don't know, or things that make them go Wow.  The third piece of knowledge I gained was the importance of balancing challenging texts with easy ones.  One way I have implemented this in my classroom is by adjusting the levels of articles on Newsela for my students.  Assigning both easier texts and more challenging ones as well.

Mrs. Twombly:

TASN trainings (Technical Assistance System Network-district professional development):

The Basic 5 Observation Form--Made me more aware of the importance of specific positive feedback.

Opportunity to Respond: It is important to offer students lots of talk time in the classroom: talking to each other as well as me, and to the whole class. I am more aware and trying hard to allow students more chances to respond.

Behavior Expectation Matrix: We know consistency with students is important and the matrix addresses the sometimes inconsistent building level expectations. This will be a great tool for our district.

Mr. Aller:

Kagan Cooperative Learning

Knowledge gained: 1) Use of cooperative learning structures; 2) How to group students into teams; 3) Ideas to bring novelty to class lessons.

Beneficial ideas: 1) Have used group seating arrangements based on scores to provide supportive environment for class learning; 2) Have used class building activities to increase student's empathy and cooperation with each other.

Helping Students Master the NGSS

Knowledge gained: 1) New demonstration techniques to hook students; 2) hands on experiences with some of the demonstrations; 3) the value of phenomena to increase students' inquisitiveness and "buy-in" to the concept being discussed.

Beneficial ideas: 1) Have used phenomena in the form of videos or demonstrations to raise the essential question of the lesson. 2) Will use more high-interest, hands-on activities for concepts previously covered to help students appreciate the abstract concepts being discussed.

Mrs. Thacker:

Helping Students Master the Next Generation Science Standards:  Best High-Interest, Hands-On Activities--We were given a book with plethora of activities or demonstrations which can be done in the classroom to extend student learning.  These activities cover various science topics. Some of the information and activities provided I currently do with the students, but this professional development gave me a lot more ideas which I can include in my lessons.  

Mrs. Barnhill:

Kansas Excellence in Math and Science Conference:

Gained: strategies for implementing STEM powered activities; knowledge of how the brain works for storing things in long-term memory; and mnemonic devices for rules in math

Things I will use: Discovery learning in math. Kids have to understand the logic/reasoning behind the math, otherwise formulas are simply memorized and forgotten.

I will not be a "rescue" teacher. I will allow students their think time and allow them to make mistakes that become valuable learning tools.

I will try to teach math on a personal level. If kids see the point in learning it, they will work harder.

Greenbush: Google Classroom

Gained: set up knowledge; classroom uses; add-ons that enhance activities for assignments made in Classroom

Things I will use: Google Classroom assignments; instant feedback on work submitted

I also like the communication tools so kids can receive answers to questions when they are away from the physical classroom.

Michelle Vitt:

Teaching Language and Literacy Skills with Picture Books-This workshop provided projects, resources, and techniques for me to implement engaging and evidence-based learning activities using picture books.

What I gained/beneficial ... Picture books are highly engaging and can be used as a read aloud or for independent reading. Many literacy skill and concepts can be taught using picture books. Picture books can increase student motivation to read. When reading to students, many students can comprehend at a much higher level than they can read the words.

News from Mrs. Krauter, School Counselor…

Flipping Our Lids

    It is important for students to understand their brain and how it works.  It helps them to understand why they react the way they do to different situations.  There are two parts of the brain. The students have been taught to look at their brain as a house with an upstairs and a downstairs.  The upstairs part of the brain is the thinking brain, this is the Prefrontal Cortex. If they are in this part of their brain it means they are able to regulate their emotions and make decisions on their actions.

Then there is the downstairs part of the brain. That is their emotional brain, it is referred to as the Limbic System.  When individuals are in their emotional brain, their emotions tend to take over and they aren’t able to think about their actions or decisions they are making.  The Amygdala is part of the brain that helps these two communicate. When a situation activates the emotional part of the brain, the Amygdala gets confused, and our emotional brain takes over. We call this flipping our lids. This may look like crying, yelling, or simply shutting down.  When students are in this part of their brain they are not able to focus on a task. At this time the goal is to reset the Amygdala and get the students back to their thinking brain.

    In order to get back to our thinking brains we need to use calming strategies to regulate our brain.  Below are some activities the students have been taught to use when they are close to flipping their lids.

    Breathing-  Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds.  While doing this concentrate on the breaths going in and the breaths coming out.

    Counting-  Counting is a great method to reset our brain.  It can be as easy as just counting to 10, or counting back from 10.  If you are not able to reset in that amount of time, the number can be increased.  Another option is to find something in the room to count such as ceiling tiles.

    Hand stimulation-   Trace softly the lines on your hands over and over again.

    Journaling- This allows an individual to vent their frustrations on paper reset their thinking.

    Drawing-   Doodling or drawing allows you to focus your attention on something else in order to help reset the brain to get back to the thinking part. 

How to Beat those Winter Blues

Tami Shefferd LMSW, District Social Worker

The winter blues are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the cooler darker days of winter. Though we may feel gloomier, the winter blues don’t normally impair our ability to enjoy life. If a person’s winter blues is affecting all aspects of their life, they may be experiencing Seasonal Affect Disorder. SAD is a recurrent type of depression associated with seasonal changes- its much more than just longing for the return of spring and wanting to stay in for the night.

The primary causes of both winter blues and SAD is the lower levels of natural sunlight that we are exposed to during fall and winter. Less natural sunlight causes:

  • Dips in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood

  • Disruption of circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock), which helps control sleep-wake cycles

  • Alteration of melatonin, a hormone associated with both mood and sleep

So how do we help our students and yourselves beat the winter blues? Here are some tips and common ways to cope with the winter blues:

  • Get out in the sun or brightly lit spaces, especially early in the day

  • Eat nutritious foods and avoid overloading on carbs and candies (I know easier said than done during the holidays)

  • Stay social: Make plans to spend time connecting with friends and family

  • Don’t forget to do the activities you enjoy

  • Get regular exercise

  • Turn on the tunes (studies show that upbeat music improves mood both short and long term)

  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling

If you, your  student or someone you love is struggling with the change in season or a form of depression, get support from others. This could be your family, friends or community supports- such as school staff, a professional mental health provider, a family physician, or church clergy. 


Quarterly Nurse News

        With Christmas break just around the corner, we also welcome the peak season for Influenza.  The “Flu Season” is from October to May, with a peak in cases from December to February. Please remember that students should not return to school until they are 24 hours fever free without the use of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Motrin, or other fever reducing medications.  Once they have returned please encourage frequent hand washing, or use of hand sanitizers, and I strongly encourage sending a water bottle for students to drink from instead of using the water fountains. Not sure if a member of your family is getting just a cold or the flu; hopefully the chart below will be of assistance!

           Winter time also brings a change to our closets!  Please remember HMS is always willing to take donations of personal hygiene items, feminine products, or gently used clothing items that your child(ren) have grown out of.  Already this year we are seeing an increased need of both boys and girls deodorant, winter coats, gloves, hats, hoodies, and sweatpants/jeans.

             New Year, new changes.  If there have been changes to medications that your child takes at home or school, please let Nurse Erin know after the Christmas break.  This helps her to keep an eye out for any new symptoms and update you with feedback from their teachers. This point of the year is also a great time to review who is listed as “emergency contacts” and update phone numbers or names as needed.