Strong leadership and staff work hard at a challenging middle school
by Ann Sutherland on 12/01/18
It isn't easy managing a 1000-student middle school with a 96% minority enrollment, especially when the district mandates an 8-period day, which means kids are in the halls 9 times, and "grades" the administration based on keeping office referrals and suspensions as low as possible.
Wedgwood Middle School staff member Robert Burrell managed a major attempt to provide special help to the 90 most challenging students in 2016-17. The regular teachers loved their more manageable classrooms even though they were larger, but having even 15 challenging students in a classrooms was too hard on their teachers and a new plan was needed.
Burrell's promotion to principal for the 17-18 year was supported by Wedgwood people as well as the central office. His support of the student body is unassailable, but he is not afraid to suspend students. Staffing changes have also produced stronger classroom management and fewer referrals.
But it's hard to avoid the problems caused by the switch to an 8-period day and the proposed loss of 6.5 teachers (while racking up a surplus of $23 million.
I taught thirty years ago at C. M. Goethe, Sacramento, California's toughest middle school. But its 450-student enrollment posed challenges which were child's play compared to Wedgwood MS's thirty years later with 1000 students.