Principal’s Corner: Fun times ahead at ‘Awesome’ Creek Middle School | SierraSun.com

Principal’s Corner: Fun times ahead at ‘Awesome’ Creek Middle School

Hien Larson
Special to the Sun

Editor’s note

“Principal’s Corner” is a regular feature in the Sierra Sun, in which a principal from a Tahoe Truckee Unified School District school shares news and events happening at his or her school, as well as any information that may impact the students, staff or families of that school. This month, we feature Hien Larson, principal of Alder Creek Middle School, to kick off he 2015-16 school year.

Alder Creek is THE place for middle-schoolers! It is where students thrive emotionally, socially and academically. I am honored to work alongside world-class teachers and serve such a great group of young people. We personalize learning to engage and challenge every scholar and we know that an essential step to learning is providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum in a climate of positive relationships.

At Alder Creek Middle School (ACMS), we have established the principles of rigor, relevance, and relationships as a reflection of our values as teachers and professionals. These principles represent our shared purpose and continue to guide us as educators. We want every student to feel welcome and connected to others during the crucial years of early adolescence.

We challenge every middle-school student to reach high academic standards. Our scholars experience a rigorous and relevant curriculum including acceleration in math, next generation science standards, three years of articulated writing, and social studies.

In addition, the Accelerated Learner pilot program provides differentiated opportunities for accelerated learners and GATE students. Our scholars have the opportunity to participate in leadership, clubs and sports, offering them opportunities to grow, learn and thrive as individuals in and out of the classroom.

At ACMS, we are committed to innovation, creative thinking and academic excellence. Our students are engaged in learning and our teachers use a wide variety of instructional methods that infuse technology.

Thanks to the Excellence in Education Foundation and the school district, all students will receive their own Chromebooks to use during the school year. Students have individual email accounts and digital citizenship is stressed throughout the curriculum. The Chromebooks support collaboration and critical thinking in the classroom and at home.

We create opportunities that are especially appropriate for middle school students so that they can develop a sense of belonging to and responsibility for their own communities. This approach promotes sustainability and a better understanding of students’ roles in an interconnected and global society.

The opportunities recognize and address the diverse needs of students including: Band, Robotics, Coding and Socratic seminars, Renaissance, Odyssey of the Mind, art, foreign language, lifelong fitness, outdoor education and more. We want students to have a voice in their learning and to continue to be motivated to do as well as they possibly can.

As James Comers says, “No significant learning can occur without significant relationships.”

The staff at ACMS understands the power of connections with students and we are committed to creating a learning environment that instills a sense of belonging so students feel safe, valued and respected as both individuals and contributing members of the school community. Our student council promotes activities to keep all students involved, including Spirit Week, School Olympics and dances.

We actively engage parents as partners in recognizing the implications of the significant changes affecting middle school children. At this stage in an adolescent’s life, parent and teacher interaction is especially important.

To address character education, Second Step is part of our curriculum. The programs goals are to decrease aggression, violence, bullying and substance abuse and to increase social, emotional, and school success. We enlist parents, students and teachers to understand the teenage brain and use the language of empathy and compassion throughout the school and home.

I encourage everyone to continue to be actively involved in our adolescent’s education. Please feel free to share your ideas and suggestions with us, as together we create a learning environment that continues to strive for excellence and always puts the needs of our scholars first. The faculty and staff are busy preparing the school and classrooms for an exciting year of learning and growth.

I am thrilled to be the principal and to be surrounded by the infinite possibilities present at Alder Creek Middle School. With your voice and support, Alder Creek Middle School will continue to be an awesome place to learn for all middle-schoolers!