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Mont Harmon Middle School relies on strong community links for continued student success


Students making cakes for the annual cake walk competition during Halloween.

By Submitted by
Carbon School District

    When one talks to Seth Allred and Karlene Bianco, the administrators at Mont Harmon Middle School, a certain subject comes up again and again: community partnerships.
    “The community partners we have have been a big thing,” said Allred, the Principal.     
    “When our school went into turnaround three years ago we went out into the community and looked for partners. There were so many businesses willing to help us. They have supported us in so many ways. That has created a cultural shift here and in the community from where we were before and where we are now. It has been a big part of the growth.”
    The partnerships include moral support. The community has shown how much it cares about the students and the school.     
    At the depths of low SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) scores four years ago, Mont Harmon has placed itself strongly on the track of improvement getting a C grade last year. Well on their way to a B.
    The partners include other agencies in the area as well as private enterprises.
    “We have partnered up very well with the Juvenile Justice Services this year,” said Bianco, assistant principal. “With the switch in their focus because of changes in the laws they are out in the community doing preventative work with kids.
    Early on we identified six kids that were at risk and they have worked with those students on different kinds of coping  and development skills.
    Now they are working with parents of these students. They do group work with the kids and then they have mentors that come in that act as a big brother or big sister to the students, pulling them aside, checking on them and asking them how things are going. Because of that, students are handling their stresses more appropriately instead of just losing it.”
    While community partners have helped turnaround, the staff has also worked very hard and sacrificed to get where the school is headed.
    “The teachers are working their guts out,” said Allred. “We are in year three of our turnaround and what our teachers have gone through, the expectations that are put on them, with the meetings they have to do and the changes they are making, it is amazing.”
    “We have a leadership team that meets every Monday morning at 7 a.m. just to bring new things in or to meet with the turnaround people who come from the state.”
    “We have a very young staff. We have 15 teachers out of 32 that have been here less than three years. For instance, in our science department, 5 of the 6 teachers are in their first 3 years. We have only three teachers that have been on board here in the district over 10 years.”
    With a youthful staff also comes challenges.
    The growth in  schools pride and academics comes from a many areas. It began with the Pirate Pride Drawings that the school was doing daily three years ago: rewarding students with prizes for doing the right things. The prizes were donated by local businesses but Allred said he couldn’t expect them to keep donating like that year after year. Now the whole program has turned into more of a classroom reward system that is handled by the teachers, although they still do one drawing a month.
    “This has worked into what we had hoped it would,” said Allred.  It has accomplished what we wanted it to. It not only helped with behavior and academics, but we have more kids coming out now for athletics and clubs. From no one wanting to try out for teams or be in clubs a few years ago we now have huge amounts of students wanting to participate.”

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