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Hampton Middle School re-designated as 'School to Watch'

Zachary D'Amico

When Hampton Middle School unveiled its flexible and interactive Learning Pavilion this summer, it underscored the school’s continued efforts to engage students in innovative ways.

Then, in November, Hampton Middle School received news that these efforts were further affirmed, as HMS was once again named a PA Don Eichhorn Schools: “School to Watch” from the Pennsylvania Association of Middle Level Education (PAMLE).

Hampton Middle School was honored at the annual PAMLE conference at Penn State University, held February 26-28.  HMS teachers also led three different presentations at the state conference to showcase the innovative teaching and learning at HMS. HMS will also be recognized at the national AMLE conference in Washington D.C. this June.

“The Schools to Watch re-designation award confirms the high level of excellence of our entire school community,” said HMS Principal Dr. Marlynn Lux. “Our teachers and staff are committed to putting our students’ needs first and learning new and innovative ways to engage students.  We are so proud to work with our teachers, counselors, and staff members — all of whom are always looking for ways to grow and encourage our students.”

Hampton Middle School earned this prestigious designation three years ago and was up for re-designation this year.  As part of the re-designation process, a team of educators visited HMS on October 26, 2021, to observe all classrooms and to speak with stakeholder groups.

The visiting team looked for evidence for each of the 37 criteria on the Schools to Watch Evaluation Rubric. The criteria are categorized into four domains:  Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness, Social Equity, and Organizational Processes and Structures, as defined below:

●     Academic Excellence - High-performing schools with middle grades are academically excellent. They challenge all students to use their minds well.

●     Developmental Responsiveness -  High-performing schools with middle grades are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence.

●     Social Equity -  High-performing schools with middle grades are socially equitable, democratic, and fair.  They provide every student with high-quality teachers, resources, learning opportunities, and support. They keep positive options open for all students.

●     Organizational Structures and Processes -  High-performing schools with middle grades are learning organizations that establish norms, structures, and organizational arrangements to support and sustain their trajectory toward excellence.

The visiting team cited evidence from classroom observations and reviewed school day processes and school artifacts. Additional evidence came from interviews with students, parents, teachers, and staff members. Additionally, all HMS staff completed an online evaluation of Hampton Middle School using the Schools to Watch rubric.

Sixteen HMS staff members volunteered to serve on the Schools to Watch Application Committee. Using the feedback from the initial designation in 2018-2019 coupled with District Goals, the team highlighted changes and improvements that occurred at HMS over the past three years.  Subcommittees worked to write narratives providing evidence of growth in the four Schools to Watch domains.  Additional application work included data analysis for academic achievement and growth, future initiatives, highlights of awards and special recognition, and recent changes.

Earning the “Schools to Watch” designation is a testament to the exceptional teaching and learning opportunities that are happening each day at HMS, but also to the committed student body and supportive community.