Principal’s Corner: Welcome back to Alder Creek | SierraSun.com

Principal’s Corner: Welcome back to Alder Creek

Hien Larson
Special to the Sierra Sun

Alder Creek Middle School is the home of the Cougars and a place where middle school students thrive emotionally, socially and academically.

At Alder Creek, we focus on building strong relationships with each student and their family, so they feel welcome and connected to others as they face the crucial years of early adolescence.

This is a critical time in their development, and we are experts in working with and understanding adolescents, and create a learning community that is optimal for the teenage brain. Our teachers excel at creating extraordinary learning moments that students will remember and transfer into high school and life.

We are looking forward to another amazing school year for our students! We are an award-winning school and we continue to build on our successes and find ways to continually improve and provide even more opportunities for our students. We are proud to have been named a 2017 California Gold Ribbon School, and in 2016, we were one of 11 middle schools selected as a California School to Watch-Taking Center State model middle school.

These distinctions are a result of our academic excellence and our responsiveness to the developmental changes of adolescents during the middle school years. The impressive academic achievements of our students are the result of our dedicated students, parents, and staff working closely together and putting the needs of our scholars first.

At Alder Creek Middle School, we provide rich educational experiences for our students and prepare them for high school, college and careers in the 21st century. Our world-class teachers personalize learning to engage and challenge every scholar. Our students experience a rigorous and relevant curriculum including acceleration in math, Next Generation Science Standards, a three-year vertical writing plan, and social studies, including the use of the Document Based Questions curriculum. Our Accelerated Learner program also provides differentiated opportunities for accelerated learners and GATE students.

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We also create opportunities where middle school students can develop a sense of belonging to and responsibility for their role in developing a healthy school community for everyone. Our scholars can participate in leadership, clubs, and sports, so that they can grow, learn, and thrive as individuals inside and outside the classroom. Our wide range of opportunities match the diverse needs of our students, including Band, Robotics, Coding and Socratic seminars, Renaissance, Odyssey of the Mind, art, foreign language, lifelong fitness, outdoor education, and more.

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

We are committed to creating a learning environment that instills a sense of belonging for all students so that they feel safe, valued and respected as individuals and contributing members of our school community. We want students to have a voice in their learning and to continue to be motivated to do as well as they possibly can. We believe in the "Cougar" way: community, respect, and open-mindedness. Our school community helps provide the framework for individual and school success.

We have no greater honor than partnering with parents to support their learning, development and successful transition to their teen years and we have built a foundation of inclusivity, acceptance, and support for every person in our community. We enlist parents, students and teachers to understand the teenage brain and use the language of empathy and compassion throughout the school and at home.

As a team, parents and teachers guide the adolescent brain and direct our students toward having a positive impact on each other such as standing up to a bully, trying out for a new team, or taking on a solo in a jazz band concert.

It is a privilege to serve as the principal of this outstanding school – an awesome place for middle-schoolers to learn!

Hien Larson is principal at Alder Creek Middle School.