South Tahoe Middle School


South Tahoe Middle School (STMS) is a dynamic environment that serves a total of 785 students in grades 6th through 8th. As we entered into our second trimester of this academic school year, our team  engaged in the alignment and coordination of our actions to better support our students’ engagement by focusing on their social emotional needs, exploration of careers and technical education, and increased partnerships with families and community agencies. 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an essential part of all students’ education, across all grade levels, and a key focus for STMS students who, at this stage, are  experiencing many developmental changes and beginning to encounter challenges, including increased peer and academic pressure, making these years a critical time for SEL. The STMS  team has intentionally begun teaching and integrating social and emotional competencies throughout students’ learning experiences and environments and we are engaging in data analysis of both individual and collective needs. Some actions STMS has  begun to implement include the use of Satchel Pulse, Tools Not Rules, and the opening of a Wellness Center. 

Satchel Pulse is a social emotional learning tool and service that school counselors are utilizing to better support students' social and emotional needs. All students took an assessment that asked questions from five social-emotional competencies; 1) social awareness, 2) self awareness, 3) self management, 4) responsible decision making, and 5) relationship skills. Based on student assessment outcomes, school counselors are meeting with students to provide healthy interventions to increase student strengths, engagement and connectedness to school. Starting in January, Satchel Pulse will also be used school wide in advisory classes. Teachers will provide targeted lessons based on what the results show as the highest needs for our students. School counselors and teachers working with Satchel Pulse can assist students in becoming successful in social-emotional areas which leads to increases in academic achievement and improves behaviors in and out of school.

Tools Not Rules is an approach to productively address student behavior to increase academic achievement and increase student connection. The TNR language helps students identify their current behavior and assess if another would be more productive. All teachers have had the opportunity to attend TNR training and continue to have opportunities to attend problem solving sessions to address behavioral challenges in their classrooms. 

In addition, in collaboration with Sierra Child and Family Services, STMS has established a Wellness Center that opened its doors to students in October. The mission of the Wellness Center is to assist students and families with navigation to community resources, to offer a safe space to explore needs and concerns, and to improve the overall health and well-being of the students. The Wellness Center team is available to the entire South Tahoe Middle School student body, and has been serving different levels of mental health challenges ranging from academic advocacy to social and emotional needs. Weekly collaboration between the Multi-Tiered System of Supports team and the Wellness Center staff takes place. 

To facilitate the discovery of our students' unique talents, all STMS students have begun participating in and utilizing the online program “Major Clarity" during their advisory periods. Major Clarity is an online career and educational planning program that allows students to explore different career and educational opportunities. Students can assess their learning style, as well as possible career interests.  As students progress into high school they are able to use this tool to help plan their high school classes, elective and academic options. They are also able to explore college, career, and technical school options. In conjunction with this program and opportunity, our career and technical education (CTE) programs from South Tahoe High School will be holding a CTE fair to explore options for high school programs on January 18, 2023 where all students 4th - 8th grade can explore options and see projects being worked on by current high school students.

The partnership with families and community agencies is key to ensure the success of all students. This year, a number of Family Engaging Opportunities have been planned. Families can participate in the Parent and Teacher Association, School Site Council, English as A Second Language Advisory Group and weekly Cafecitos Meetings. In addition, parents are welcomed to volunteer on site and support us within our campus and are highly encouraged to participate in the upcoming Family Engagement Nights where participants will be able to attend a number of self-selected workshops. Our first Family Engagement Night is calendared on January 11th from 5:30-7:00 pm. In addition, families are invited to be members of the Parent Institute for Quality Education cohort that will begin virtually on January 18th. STMS has established and maintained strong partnerships with community agencies who enhance our student resources. Students at STMS have received supplemental services from TRIO, Tahoe Youth and Family, Live Violence Free, Suicide Prevention Network, and Sierra Child and Family Services. 

The focus on our students’ Social Emotional Learning, Career Technical Education, and parent and community partnerships will have a positive impact on our students' engagement across our campus and community. Our goal is for all to notice improvements in our school culture, school perception, student behavior and academic performance. 

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