Fugett Middle School Principal Dionne Fears
Ms. Dionne Fears has been named the next principal of Fugett Middle School. She joins the West Chester Area School District after serving as an assistant principal for the last three years in the Upper Moreland School District in Montgomery County. Ms. Fears has been dedicated to the field of education for more than 18 years, working with students in various age groups from kindergarten through college level.
The power of relationships is what moved Ms. Fears to become an educator.
"As the child of an educator and one who appreciates and embraces every opportunity to make connections with students, I am inspired and motivated by the students and families I have and will connect with as an educator."
"I love the daily opportunity to support students that may not have the belief, courage, and resources to achieve their best," continued Ms. Fears. "For some students, this is the gift of education; for some, it may be the gift of direction; for some, it may be the gift of perseverance; and for others, it may be the gift of time."
What is Ms. Fears looking forward to the most as principal of Fugett Middle School?
"I am excited to bring my skills and experiences as an educational leader to Fugett Middle School as we work together with the families and extremely talented educators to 'educate and inspire our students to achieve their personal best.'"
Ms. Fears currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, creative writing, listening to music, and spending time with her parents, niece and nephews, great-niece and nephew, and Yorkie puppy, Nova.
Fugett Middle School Teacher Creates Award-Winning Lesson PlanCongratulations to Fugett Middle School Emotional Support Teacher Jessica Keogh on winning Sarepta Therapeutics’ Rare Lessons Contest. Ms. Keogh developed one of four winning lesson plans that are available to educators and schools nationwide. Her lesson, titled "Empathy," focuses on breaking down stereotypes and barriers for students with disabilities while reinforcing the message "don't judge a book by its cover."Ms. Keogh was born with Muscular Dystrophy, a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. She began showing symptoms of the disease at 18 months old. Her own experiences as a middle school student sent Keogh on her path toward becoming a teacher."There was what we now call a Life Skills classroom in my school, and there was only one student in that class. My friend and I felt strange that there was only one student and he didn't get a lot of social interaction so we would go in there and do some, what I now know to be social skills, with him like reading books and playing games," said Ms. Keogh.Ms. Keogh has been with West Chester Area School District for the past six years. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at West Chester University. She is focused on the importance of how disabilities are represented in K-12 curriculum and how that impacts the future success of students.Sarepta Therapeutics' Rare Lessons Contest is intended to promote the development and implementation of educational materials to increase rare disease awareness in the K-12 classroom setting. The competition was open to educators in grades K-12, based in the United States, and actively teaching in an accredited educational institution. Ms. Keogh's lesson, along with the other winning entries, are available on sharemylesson.com.Watch the video to learn more about Ms. Keogh and her winning Rare Lessons Plan.
Fugett Middle School Students Sing to Fight Hunger During COVID-19
Students at Fugett Middle School haven't let the COVID - 19 quarantine prevent them from staying connected and supporting their community.
Members of the Fugett Chorale share their talents in the virtual world to raise money for the Chester County Food Bank and fight hunger in the community.
Matt Hill, choir director at Fugett Middle School, was inspired to launch "The Connected Project - Singing to Feed our Community," during the COVID-19 shutdown.
"I struggled with how to make meaning during this crisis, both for my students and me. We're performers and creative people, so to have that in-person interaction taken away with our ability to sing together was really devastating," said Hill.
Hill brainstormed several ideas and ultimately decided his students could use their voices for good to bring in needed funds to help support the community.
"I realized that the Fugett Chorale had already been working on what I felt was the perfect song before the pandemic - Brian Tate's "Connected." The lyrics talk about how everyone is more similar and intertwined than they might have previously considered, and how we need to care for one another."
The students recorded their audio parts using an application called BandLab and then they gathered through Zoom to film the video.
Hill set a fundraising goal of $900. So far, they've raised nearly $650. All donations are tax-deductible and go back into the community.
According to Alex Evenson from Philabundance, a non-profit organization that provides supplies to foodbanks in the Philadelphia area, since the pandemic hit, they have seen a 60% increase in need across their agency network, including Chester County.
Fugett Students Raise Money for Epilepsy Awareness
November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and students and staff at Fugett Middle School raised funds for epilepsy awareness and research for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). This year's Fugett DOMinates Epilepsy fundraiser grew leaps and bounds over last year's, with donations totaling more than $3,600. Last year's total was slightly over $500.
The fundraiser was inspired by 5-year-old Dominic "DOMinator" Rosini, the grandson of Elizabeth Scolis, a special education teacher at the school. Dominic suffers from Doose Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.
Funds were raised through online donations for a dodgeball tournament, the sale of snacks, purple epilepsy bracelets, and ribbons.
On Friday, November 11, students from each grade level participated in a round-robin style dodgeball tournament, culminating in the winning team from each grade playing their teachers. After the tournament, a check was presented to CHOP representative, Ellie Paparone.
Mrs. Scolis calls Dominic, "our little warrior." He was hospitalized 11 times within the first year of receiving his diagnosis.
Epilepsy affects everyone differently. Scolis says her grandson's motor skills have been impacted as a result of his seizures.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 3.4 million people in the United States have epilepsy. 1 in 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their life. While not as common, seizures can cause death. Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) was determined to be the cause of death of popular Disney actor Cameron Boyce. The actor, known for his role in the Descendants film trilogy, passed away from SUDEP at the age of 20.
For more information on epilepsy, visit www.epilepsy.com.
Fugett Social Studies Teacher Named Finalist in Citadel Heart of Learning Program
Fugett Middle School Principal Tony Small (left,) Bill McCauley, Abigail Brooks (Citadel Bank), Dr. Jim Scanlon
Congratulations to Bill McCauley who was recently named a Citadel Heart of Learning Award finalist. McCauley, who teaches Social Studies, is one of 15 Chester County finalists and will represent the West Chester Area School District at Citadel's annual banquet in May.
Mr. McCauley received numerous nominations, including one from a student he taught over 30 years ago. One of the submissions read "this teacher, quite simply, changes lives. This is the kind of teacher they make movies about. He opens the world to students and leads them on a path of knowledge, discovery, and inspiration. He wants you to understand why knowledge is power. He'll keep working with whatever strategies he has in his superhero teacher toolbox until he finds the one that will connect with you."
The Citadel Heart of Learning Award was created in 2001 by Citadel and the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). Any person who teaches at a public or private school in Chester County is eligible to win. Every year, Citadel receives thousands of heartfelt nominations from Chester County students, parents, and community members for teachers who are making a true difference in their students’ lives. Last year, more than 2,300 teachers were nominated.
Fifteen finalists are selected from the nominations; one finalist from each of the 13 public school districts in Chester County, one from the Chester County Intermediate Unit, and one from a Chester County non-public school, which includes charter and home schools. All finalists receive $500 to use in their classroom and are honored at the Citadel Heart of Learning Awards banquet in early May. Three grand prize winners are selected from the 15 finalists - one high school, one middle school, and one elementary school teacher. The grand prize winners will receive an additional $1,500 to use in their classroom.
Abigal Brooks from Citadel Banking surprised Mr. McCauley with his award at a teacher in-service day on March 11. Click here to view a video of the announcement.
Fugett Middle School Students DOMinate Epilepsy
Students at Fugett Middle School recently presented a check for over $500 to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for epilepsy research. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures.
To raise money and awareness for epilepsy research, members of Fugett Student Council sold "FMS DOMinates Epilepsy" wristbands and purple ribbons during November, which is Epilepsy Awareness Month.
CHOP representative, Ellie Paparone, stopped by the school on December 10 to meet with students and collect the donation.
"FMS DOMinates Epilepsy" was inspired by 4-year-old Dominic "DOMinator" Rosini, the grandson of Elizabeth Scolis, a special education teacher at Fugett Middle School. Dominic suffers from Doose Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.
"Even though Dominic's condition is rare, epilepsy is not," says Scolis.
"When he had his first seizure, our lives changed dramatically. Dominic had to endure eight ambulance rides, one helicopter ride, and 11 hospital stays all within the first year of receiving his diagnosis. He is our little warrior!"
Epilepsy affects everyone differently. Scolis says her grandson's motor skills have been impacted as a result of his seizures. Dominic receives occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and hippotherapy, which is the use of horseback riding to improve coordination, balance, and strength.
Dominic doesn't let his condition stop him from enjoying life. He loves playing with his dinosaur toys and learning about the prehistoric creatures. He also loves farm animals, especially horses, and likes puzzles and sticker books.
Jessica Rosini, Dominic's mother, attended the check presentation with her son and thanked the students for educating and advocating for those battling epilepsy.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 1 in 26 people in the United States will have epilepsy at some point in their life. 1 in 10 Americans will have a seizure, and about 22,000 to 42,000 deaths in the United States occur each year from seizure emergencies.
8th-Grade Student Council Members Riley Galt (left), Molly Smeins, Lizzie Lynch, and Chloe Province
Middle School Students Learn About Developing a Digital Consciousness
Every generation claims to have it tougher than the generation before them, but at least the current generation can learn from the mistakes of previous ones. The first digital generation, however, which is all of us, doesn't have that luxury. We are the digital pioneers, the digital trailblazers, the laboratory rats for the creators of digital technology. We make digital decisions every day, some good and some bad that will help to shape future generations and the choices they make in the digital world.
That message was at the core of "Public and Permanent," an award-winning presentation delivered to West Chester Area School District middle school students by Richard Guerry, the executive director of the non-profit Institute for Responsible Online and Cell Phone Communication (IROC2).
More than 2,300 students from Fugett, Peirce, and Stetson Middle Schools attentively listened as Guerry gave an eye-opening presentation about how useful and powerful digital tools, like smartphones, the internet, and social media can be when one develops and lives by a "digital consciousness." Abuse them and the chances of creating a self-inflicted, sometimes life-altering event spike significantly.
"Every day, through all of our actions in a digital world, what we do when we turn these things on," said Guerry holding up a smartphone, "is create statistics. We create statistics of both promise and pitfalls for the next generation to learn from. The goal here today is to help all of us help the next generation to become one of the many statistics of promise, not pitfalls."
Guerry calls "public and permanent" the Golden Rule of the 21st Century that evolved from a fundamental guideline we all learned as children, "playing with fire can burn." While it is not guaranteed that you will get burned if you play with fire, your chances increase if you do.
Students heard about a series of digital missteps, such as the University of Iowa teaching assistant who was supposed to send test scores to her class, but instead sent nude photos of herself; a young athlete who ruined his chances of playing football for the University of Michigan because of a series of explicit tweets; a woman who accidentally sent nude photos of herself to her boss on Snapchat. The list didn't stop there.
Guerry is not anti-technology, internet, or social media. He is quite the opposite, which is why, in 2009, he shut down his internet marketing firm and created IROC2. In 2009, Guerry gave a presentation on sexting to a middle school in New Jersey and that’s when his life changed.
"I was asked to speak to middle schools students in New Jersey about sexting. After I left that school and saw how little everyone in the room knew about technology, I was petrified. I thought to myself, what is out there for kids? There was a lot of great stuff, but it was all reactionary. Why wait for people to get in trouble and then have an assembly about it? It doesn't make any sense. So, after about a week of research, I thought something has to change. We can't just keep going like this."
From that moment on, Guerry was committed to sharing the golden rule of the 21st Century. He doesn't tell people to steer clear of digital tools; he advises them to use them responsibly.
"Ask yourself, 'Am I okay with what I'm doing and saying in a world built for communication going public and permanent?'"
Guerry says the "public and permanent" rule is not an absolute truth; rather it is more of a guideline. He suggests that users of digital technology perform a risk assessment that is available on the institute's website www.iroc2.org.
"It's all about risk levels. When people start oversharing things (online), and the people they don't want (to see those things) take an interest, now you have a risk spike. You're basically raising your risk off the line of billions of people. It doesn't mean that something bad will happen to you, it's just that you are now raising your risk."
"Risks go up when you abuse a powerful tool - any tool. Fool around with the most powerful tools on the planet that connect us to each other and a billion other people instantly, and risks go way up. Use that powerful tool to your advantage."
The digital space is all about "instant knowledge, communication, and permanence," which comes at a price. Guerry calls social privacy an oxymoron and says as speed and convenience in communication goes up, levels of privacy go down.
Public and Permanent is far from just doom and gloom scenarios. Students did hear about some positive examples of responsible digital usage, such as the story of a high school student from Massachusetts who credits his creative Twitter campaign with helping him get accepted to UCLA.
In addition to performing an online risk assessment, Guerry offered other tips during a special parent presentation. Guerry, who has a 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter," says he uses the training wheels approach with his kids when it comes to technology.
"My daughter is about to get a flip-phone. My son started with a flip-phone. They work their way up. Whenever they start something new, I ask them questions. Like gaming for instance, 'who would you talk to, what would you say?' Sometimes he got it right, and sometimes he got it wrong. It's a teachable moment. It's about constant communication and evaluating their maturity levels."
For more tips and information about the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication, visit www.iroc2.org.
Pranav Muthaiyan Wins PA State Math 24 Challenge
Congratulations to Fugett Middle School's Pranav Muthaiyan on being named the 6th-8th grade Pennsylvania Math 24 Challenge® Champion! The 8th-grader placed first in the competition last year as well. The object of The 24 Challenge® game is to make the number 24 from four numbers shown on the game card. Contestants can add, subtract, multiply and divide. All four numbers must be used, but only once. The game helps children develop problem-solving, pattern sensing and mental math skills.
Fugett Middle School Students Move on to Final Phase of the 2018 National History Day Competition
Jake Coombe (left,) Tommy Scheuer, Liam Aylsworth, Chase Latyak, Alison Alexis
Students from Fugett Middle School are moving on to the final phase of the 2018 National History Day Contest after a strong showing in the state competition on May 11 & 12 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
8th-graders Liam Aylsworth, Jake Coombe, Chase Latyak, and Tommy Scheuer won 1st place in the Junior Group Documentary category with their film entitled "The Space Race: From Competitive Fight to Cooperative Flight." Click here to view their winning documentary.
8th-grader Alison Alexis essay "The Comics Code: Conflict and Compromise," took second place in the Junior Paper category. Sixteen students in all from Fugett submitted projects. This year's contest marks the first time Fugett has had more than one project qualify for nationals in the same year.
A different theme for the contest is chosen every year. According to the National History Day website, the theme is based on the broad application to world, national, or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. This year's theme is Conflict and Compromise in History. The categories include documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and websites.
National History Day is a year-round academic program for students in grades 6-12. The Chester County Historical Society in the coordinator for National History Day in Chester and Delaware Counties. Over 2,000 students compete in the contest locally, with approximately 400 advancing to the regional level. Many students continue on to the state and national competition. The National Contest will be held June 10-14 at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Fugett Middle School Students Create Award-Winning Manufacturing Video
Jeff Conner, Zach Agamalian, Indiana Bickering, Elizabeth Carr, Liam Aylsworth, Principal Llewllyn Smalls
The efforts of a small group of Fugett Middle School students to learn more about the world of manufacturing were rewarded after earning the prestigious Viewer's Choice Award in the third annual What's So Cool About Manufacturing? student video contest.
8th-graders Zach Agamalian, Liam Aylsworth, Indiana Bickering, and Elizabeth Carr received the award at a ceremony at Penn State's Great Valley campus in March. The group, under the guidance of Fugett Technology Education teacher Jeff Conner, worked together to create a video that highlights the Exton-based USSC group. USSC designs and engineers world-class seating for various types of vehicles, including commercial and military.
The Fugett team competed against students from 13 other middle schools from Chester and Delaware Counties. The contest gives students the opportunity to connect directly with local manufacturers and document their experiences. It is designed to spark student interest in manufacturing careers.
Video submissions are entirely student driven. They are in charge of everything from filming to interviewing to post-production.
According to Conner, the winning team has had multiple technology education classes at Fugett and showed a lot of initiative.
"Zach, Liam, Indiana, and Elizabeth were selected for the competition based on a project they did in 7th-grade where they had to plan, film, and edit a public service announcement," said Conner.
The planning process for the video began last October when the group had to develop an outline for their video, which included the creation of a central message and what impact they wanted to make. From there, they moved to the pre-production phase which included developing a vision for their film and interview questions.
Camera equipment, editing software, and professional guidance were provided to each student team. The Fugett team spent an entire day in November filming at USSC, and by the end of January, the video was edited and ready for submission to the contest.
Once the videos were submitted, voting was opened up to the public. In addition to the coveted Viewer's Choice award, trophies were awarded for outstanding creativity, editing, manufacturing message, marketing plan, and videography.
What's So Cool About Manufacturing? is presented by the Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties, an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council and Delaware County Community College.
Music Math Challenge
Mrs. Pierce Dunn recently challenged her 6th and 7th-grade Classroom Music students to create a music math problem. Students learn music theory year round and develop an understanding of the relationship between music rhythms and math.
Students were instructed to take rhythm symbols and then create and solve a math problem that was related to their current math curriculum. Then, they handed a copy of their problem to their math teachers with a key to the music symbols and had them solve!
A big thank you to Fugett math teachers: Mrs. DeLeo, Mr. Dunn, Mr. Mobley, Mrs. Morales and Mrs. Donohue for solving over 100 music math problems!
Fugett Middle School Students Conduct Energy Audit
Mrs. Trombley’s first-period technology engineering class recently had the opportunity to participate in an energy audit of Fugett Middle School. Mr. Todd Rogers, from National Energy Education Development Project (NEED), conducted the audit. Students toured the Fugett/East boiler room and learned how the building is heated and cooled. They used various measuring instruments to check energy-related items in multiple areas throughout the school, including temperature (air and water), humidity, and lighting.
Students also learned about “vampire loads” on electrical devices, using a “Kill A Watt” monitor. They were surprised by how much energy it takes to run a microwave oven and other items!
The energy audit was made possible thanks to a grant from PECO.
Fugett Middle School Tech Ed Teacher Honored
Joanne Trombley receives her award from Dr. McCade of Millersville University.
Congratulations to Fugett Middle School's Joanne Trombley who recently received an award from Millersville University in recognition of outstanding support of the Technology & Engineering Education program through recruitment and mentoring of future teachers and leaders.
Supervisor of Science, Health and Physical Education, Family and Consumer Science, and Technology Education Dr. Paul Joyce said the award is well deserved.
"Mrs. Trombley has trained, mentored, and inspired Technology Education teachers throughout the state of Pennsylvania," said Joyce. "She is extremely dedicated to her students, colleagues, and craft."
The award was presented to Mrs. Trombley at the Technology and Engineering Education Association of Pennsylvania (TEEAP) Conference on October 27, 2017, at Millersville University.
Mix It Up Day
Students at Fugett Middle School participated in Mix It Up at Lunch Day on Halloween. Mix it Up is an international campaign that encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries. According to tolerace.org, students consistently identify the cafeteria as a place in their school where divisions are clearly—and harshly—drawn. As part of Mix it up Day, students were asked to move out of their comfort zones and meet new people. Students asked each other "would you rather?" questions and discussed their favorite movies, music, etc., as icebreakers. Mix It Up at Lunch Day is held the last Tuesday in October.
Fugett Student Wins PA 24 Math Championship Pranva Muthaiyan poses for a picture with 24 creator Robert Sun
Congratulations to Fugett Middle School's Pranav Muthaiyan on winning 1st place (7th-8th grade division) in the Pennsylvania Math 24 Championship. Students from all over the state took place in the competition which was held on June 16 in Harrisburg. The game's creator, Robert Sun was on hand for the event.
East Students Support Fugett's Tutoring Program
Mr. Arthur Zadrozny, East NHS program advisor, Ms. Marnie Mojzes, director of Fugett tutoring program, Alex Carr, NHS President for 2017-18, Carley Castura, 1st Vice Pres. And Danny Lewis, Secretary, (Left to Right).
East High School National Honor Society officers recently presented a check for $1,000 to Fugett Middle School in support of its after-school tutoring program. For the last several years, the East NHS has supported Fugett's program, providing student volunteers to work with middle school students who need help after school with their academics. These NHS tutors not only help with student’s academic classes, but also provide help with note-taking and study skills. This past year some 80 students from East HS provided almost 200 hours of tutoring services after school as part of this program.
The Fugett After School tutoring program is designed to help students who need additional support with mastering the academic requirements of middle school. Students are able to work one-on-one with a student tutor from East High School on Tuesday and Thursday throughout most of the school year.
The East HS NHS has provided a gift of $1,000 in each of the past two school years to help cover the cost of staff to supervise this program and to provide busing for students who would have no other way of getting home.
The Fugett Tutoring Program is directed by Ms. Marnie Mojzes. The East NHS Program Adviser is Mr. Arthur Zadrozny.
For more information please contact Ms. Jennifer Neill, Digital Communications Coordinator at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
Fugett Middle School Receives Award
(From left to right) Assistant Principal Paige Merten, Principal Llewellyn Small, & Abigal Brooks, Citadel Bank
Fugett Middle School was recently named a "School with Heart" and received a $500 check from Citadel Bank's Heart of Learning Award.
Each year, Chester County students, parents, and community members nominate a deserving teacher who stands above the rest. The top three schools that submit the most nominations are awarded the "Schools with Heart" award which includes a cash prize. Fugett came in third place out of all Chester County schools for the most teacher nominations.
The Citadel Heart of Learning Award was created in 2001 by Citadel and the Chester County Intermediate Unit.
Each year 15 finalists are selected from the nominations. All finalists receive $500 to use in their classroom and are honored at the Citadel Heart of Learning Awards banquet in May. Three winners are selected from the 15 finalists – one high school, one middle school, and one elementary school teacher. Each winner will receive an additional $1,500 to use in their classroom.
Fugett Middle School Brightens the Holidays for a Family in Need
Students and staff at Fugett Middle School are not strangers to helping their fellow community members. By partnering with the organization Bringing Hope Home (BHH), they’ve raised money to help local families who are battling cancer this holiday season. This partnership was developed by Fugett’s Changes Council, a committee of teachers and administrators dedicated to making a positive impact on the health and well-being of FMS students and staff.
“Our first event this year was to raise money for the Adopt-a-Family program,” said Kerry Montgomery, a science teacher and BHH lead advisor at FMS. “We formed a student Hope Squad consisting of student volunteers from all three grades with teacher advisors for each grade, and met with them during lunch and after school to brainstorm ideas.” The students were creative with their ideas and worked diligently to make them successful. They weren’t disappointed with the results; they raised over $3,000 from three fundraisers.
This year the school adopted a New Jersey family that had submitted a grant request to Bringing Hope Home. The family of five needed help with household expenses and holiday gifts for their three children. One of the children, nine-year-old Nico, has been battling cancer.
Montgomery was happy to share that they were able to get the family everything on its holiday wish list, as well as generous gift cards to various places. Along with Katie Prilutski, an English teacher at FMS, Montgomery delivered the gifts to Nico’s family home. His mother talked with the teachers for a while and let them know that Nico is near the end of his fight; his latest scan showing the cancer has spread. She asked the teachers to share a message of thanks to Fugett Middle School, saying they “are blessed beyond expectation, and it’s going to be a wonderful Christmas!”
During the first week of June 2017, Fugett and BHH will hold the “FMS/BHH Relay for Hope,” a school-wide event that raised almost $15,000 last year. To date, Fugett Middle School has raised over $25,000 for Bringing Hope Home in just the past three years, proving that they do make a positive impact for so many lives.
Teacher Raises Money To Help Rid Student Fears of Public Singing
Matt Hill, a chorus teacher at Fugett Middle School, demonstrates to his students how to use the new digital voice recorders.
Like students of all ages around the world, the students in Matt Hill’s chorus classes at Fugett Middle School have a passion for music.
Hill’s classes function as a space where students can express their passion for music, learn about music, and sing a variety of songs together.
Because chorus is an academic class, Hill must assess his students’ ability to learn and perform the material so he can help them learn and grow. This generally means students have to sing in front of their peers. Even though his students enjoy being a part of the musical experience that is his chorus class, Hill recognized some students were fearful of singing by themselves in front of their peers. He wanted to make sure all students felt comfortable in his class, so he came up with a way to help them overcome their fear; he would distribute hand-held digital voice recorders in class, and while students sang as a group, they could individually take turns singing into the recorders. Hill would then assess his students by listening to their individual recordings after class.
“By singing into the recorders, students wouldn’t have to sing alone in front of their peers – they have the support of singing along with their entire class while being assessed,” said Hill. “Providing these recorders to students could help them become more confident in their abilities and at the same time grow as musicians. In addition, it saves valuable class time for instruction, instead of spending significant amounts of class time conducting individual testing.”
Unfortunately, there was a major issue that prevented Hill from moving forward with the initiative – he did not have the funds to purchase the recorders, which cost $484 in total. Determined to move forward, he turned to a popular online fundraising website called DonorsChoose.org. Donors from around the country learned of the initiative and began supporting it almost immediately. Through the donations received via DonorsChoose.org and Yamaha Corporation of America generously agreeing to match each donation made to the project, Hill was able to purchase all ten digital voice recorders two weeks after launching the fundraiser.
Students began using the digital recorders in October. “So far, the response has been great,” Hill said. “The students were a little nervous to use the recorders at first, but they’ve become familiar with them now and are experiencing significantly less anxiety in class.”
Hill is grateful to the donors who believed in his initiative and supported the cause. “Any time people support the arts in our community, it’s exciting and rewarding,” said Hill. “Being successful with this effort means so much to me because the need wasn't necessarily obvious - people who don’t teach chorus to middle school students wouldn’t typically know that for a variety of reasons they are often scared of singing in front of their peers. I was concerned donors would be less enthused to give because of that, however, people believed in the initiative and wanted to help the students, and we achieved the goal together. For that I am very thankful.”
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tech Ed Teacher Presented with Excellence Award by State Org.
Conner demonstrates the safe use of a scroll saw to fifth grade students during an after-school elementary
engineering program that he helped design and lead at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School.
Jeff Conner, a Technology Education teacher at Fugett Middle School in the West Chester Area School District, has received the Technology and Engineering Education Association of Pennsylvania’s (TEEAP) Middle School Teacher Excellence Award.
The award, which was presented on November 11 during TEEAP’s 64th annual conference, is one of the highest honors given to technology and engineering education classroom teachers, and is presented in recognition of the recipient’s outstanding contributions to the profession and to their students.
“I was shocked when I heard the news, because there are so many great educators across the state and to be recognized by TEEAP is truly an honor,” said Conner. “I hope that this award will help people see the great things our students are doing in our Technology and Engineering Education program here at Fugett Middle School and throughout the entire West Chester Area School District.”
Recipients of the award are selected on the basis of their demonstrated abilities in the classroom, and should be perceived by peers and colleagues as a superior teacher. Award recipients should be committed to seeking and participating in professional development opportunities, and should also contribute to the profession through on-going service.
Conner currently teaches technology and engineering education to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students at Fugett Middle School, where he has taught for the past seven years. In his classroom, he offers problem-solving based learning opportunities through the utilization of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principals. He takes pride in offering a safe and welcoming learning environment for his students, and differentiates his instruction in an effort to meet the needs of the school’s diverse student population. Through their work in his classroom, Conner’s students explore the world of technology and frequently make real-world connections while thinking in a global context. Students leave his classroom inspired and equipped to become lifelong learners.
“Teaching students to be creative problem solvers through integrative STEM activities is my passion,” added Conner, “and I look forward to coming to school every day to help inspire our students to achieve their personal best.”
The International Technology and Engineering Education Association will formally honor Conner for his receipt of the TEEAP’s Middle School Teacher Excellence Award at a ceremony in March of 2017.
For more information, please contact Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator for the West Chester Area School District, at email@example.com or 484-266-1170.
Using a grant funded by the West Chester Area Education Foundation, Conner installed a wind turbine
on the roof of Fugett Middle School that powers a laptop charging station inside the school for students.
New Principal of Fugett Middle School Announced
The West Chester Area School District’s Board of School Directors has approved the hiring of Tony Small as principal of Fugett Middle School. Small will replace Le Roy Whitehead, who was recently named assistant superintendent of the Phoenixville Area School District.
Small has more than 17 years of experience working in the West Chester Area School District. For the last eight years he served as assistant principal of East High School, and previously served as a teacher and building administrator at Stetson Middle School. Small earned a bachelors degree from Penn State University, and master’s degrees from Gratz College and Wilmington University.
“I believe Tony Small will bring an excellent perspective and energy to Fugett Middle School,” said Superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon. “He has extensive middle school teaching experience and has worked with Fugett students and families for the past eight years to help them transition to East High School. We are excited to have him in this role.”
A number of internal and external candidates for the position went through an extensive selection process that involved multiple rounds of interviews that included staff and parents.
Small will begin as principal of Fugett Middle School on July 1. Broadus Davis, who served as an interim assistant principal at Stetson Middle School for several months during the 2015-16 school year, will temporarily fill Small’s former position at East High School.
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fugett Students to Compete in National History Day Competition
Kenny Boggess, Marie Fourakis, and Mathew Iozzi of Fugett Middle School
Three Fugett Middle School students have earned the opportunity to compete in a national history competition being held this June. The students were selected following their participation in local, regional, and state National History Day competitions.
Beginning in 1974 and held annually, National History Day is an academic competition that more than half a million students across the country compete in each year. Students work individually or in a group and complete original research on a topic of their choosing while incorporating the competition’s theme into their work. The annual theme is typically a phrase or alliteration, and is usually accompanied by a graphic showing an event, person, and/or group in history that exemplifies the theme. This year’s theme is “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.” Students enter their work into one of the following five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. They then compete in a series of National History Day contests held at the local, regional, and state level in hopes of participating in the national contest. The students are judged on three factors: historical quality, relation to theme, and clarity of presentation.
All eighth grade students taking history at Fugett Middle School participated in the school’s National History Day Competition. Students visited historical sites and libraries, and interviewed experts and authors in order to compile their research. They also studied papers, speeches, and books, and many stayed after school devoting hours to their projects. Project topics ranged from Galileo Galilei to Sir Francis Drake to the Cold War.
Approximately sixty Fugett Middle School eighth graders competed in the regional National History Day Competition, which was held at the Chester County Historical Society in March. Fifteen students qualified to advance to the state competition, which was held at Millersville University in May. Kenny Boggess, Marie Fourakis, and Mathew Iozzi of Fugett Middle School won the group documentary category at the state competition with their film “Nixon and China” and will compete in the national competition, which will be held at the University of Maryland-College Park in June.
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
Fugett & WCU Collaborate, Create Music Composition Together
Matthew Hill, a Choral Music Teacher at Fugett Middle School, had an idea that he knew he had to pursue.
Hill wanted to create an opportunity for students and a young composer to work together to prepare a musical composition and perform it in front of a live audience. He connected with Dr. Robert Maggio, Chairperson of the Music Theory and Composition Department at West Chester University, and learned his idea could become reality – and that, it quickly did. Hill was introduced to David Logue, a music education and music composition major, and the two began to develop the idea together.
Logue visited Hill’s seventh grade chorus class last fall, where he described his musical background, detailed the composition process, brainstormed a theme for the piece, and discussed possible lyrics. Hill and Logue knew that developing the lyrics would be a complex process, but it would help make the piece truly unique and exclusive to the class. In order to prepare the lyrics, Hill asked his students to respond to one question in their journals: what do you want to do and become in the future? Hill collected their responses, and provided them to Logue, who immediately got to work on preparing the associated lyrics. “I categorized and found underlying concepts from all of their responses,” said Logue. “I started writing lyrics directly on the paper I used to compile all of their responses – their responses to the questions went almost verbatim into the lyrics.” The students appreciated the opportunity to have their individual voices heard through the lyrics they would perform. “I liked that our suggestions were incorporated into the song,” said Anna Delaney, one of Hill’s choral students. “It made the piece feel personal.”
Logue then wrote music around the lyrics, and presented the piece to Hill so his students could practice it in preparation for the performance. “The rehearsal process was challenging for the students,” said Hill. “It was unlike anything they had ever done before, as there were no repeated sections, there were challenging harmonies, and there were more independent vocal lines.” However, the seventh graders did not give up – they learned, practiced, and grew, and ultimately were prepared to perform the piece, which they did in front of a large audience filled with proud family members and friends. Logue joined the students once again for the performance, this time to accompany them on piano. “The performance was a high point,” said Logue. “It's the pinnacle of work done by a composer, conductor, and all of the musicians, and where pieces always come alive.”
Students not only enjoyed the special experience, but found significant value in it as well. “Having the opportunity to sing a piece written solely for this year’s seventh grade chorus was a unique experience,” added Delaney. “I feel like this was a beneficial experience because it introduced me to a different genre of music and the song-writing process, and also exposed me to a potential college major.”
Hill is hoping the idea catches on with his fellow teachers across the West Chester Area School District. “I’m encouraging my colleagues to take on similar projects, and personally hope it can become a yearly activity,” said Hill. “This is such an important and teachable experience, and it’s mutually beneficial to the composer and students alike.”
Stay tuned – there are sure to be more collaborations in the future!
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.