By Tippecanoe Valley Middle School Principal Scott Backus
AKRON — “We’re not the same middle school that we were when you were here.” It is exciting to get to say this to parents, community members and former students. I do not say this to diminish the importance of the staff, students and school of the past. I say this to celebrate the changes that have been made and the exciting new opportunities that our students have today that past students did not get to experience.
The most exciting new opportunity is the one-to-one initiative. At the beginning of this school year, every Tippecanoe Valley Middle School student was issued a Dell Education Series Laptop with Windows 10. We operate our technology initiative in a non-traditional style. Student devices are checked out to begin the day, used in all classes throughout the day and then they are checked into charging carts at the conclusion of the school day. Managing our devices in this manner holds costs down, limits repair needs and helps to protect our network cyber-security. Student work is saved in a web-based management system and can be accessed on any connected device from home. The new learning opportunities that the devices provide for our students are exciting.
In addition to current laptop technology, students at TVMS experience Project Lead the Way Gateway curriculum. The old IT lab area was remodeled in 2015 to integrate the new PLTW curriculum. A brand new computer lab and Vex kit equipment was set up to allow students to experience robotics, computer aided drafting, computer programing, etc. in this high tech classroom.
TVMS also takes advantage of STEM science kit curriculum from Purdue University. Students learn science in a hands on, lab based classroom. Testing hypothesis, thinking critically, analyzing data,and problem solving are all 21st Century learning skills that are necessary to be successful in these courses.
Starting this semester, TVMS students will experience Life Skills curriculum provided by Kosciusko Cares. This course focuses on healthy choices, coping with anxiety and anger, communication skills, social skills and resolving conflict. We’re excited to be able to provide this personal mental and physical care course for our students.
TVMS recently upgraded the old wood shop into a weight room facility. We had the original 1975 TVHS equipment refinished and reupholstered. We purchased new equipment, such as kettlebells, through the Viking Strong program. We developed space for calisthenics, yoga and other group cardio activities. The PE/health curriculum is much richer because this facility is now available.
Many other great things happen daily at TVMS in all classrooms. We are seeing the results of our efforts with better test scores, an improved school letter grade, better attendance, fewer discipline issues and an overall pleasant feel when you come and visit us. The school is beautifully maintained, the staff cares about our kids and community, and we are passionate about always being better tomorrow than we were today.
At TVMS, we are striving daily to better equip our students with the skills necessary to be successful today, tomorrow and beyond.