Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sixth Graders in Trailers at PCMS

Four new 'learning cottages' were trucked onto the grounds recently at DeKalb's Peachtree Charter Middle School.  The trailers will house a team of 6th graders. Currently the middle school has 6th grade teams with easy-to-remember names: Red, White, Blue, and Gold.  No news yet on the 'color' of the new team.  I suggest green or brown for the 5th team.  Since the kids will be outside all day 'green' is a good option. But the grass will soon turn brown, and air quality in those trailers is always an issue so maybe 'brown' is a better choice for the new team.

The choice to house incoming 6th graders in trailers is excellent and well thought out.  This group of 6th graders are used to 'change' and 'learning cottages'.  This group of kids, bred at fine learning institutions across Dunwoody have spent much of their academic careers in trailers (or 'modulars' as the old Vandy Posse called them).  These rising 6th graders know they can sip an ounce of OJ in the morning and swig two ounces of fruit punch at lunch and never have to use the bathroom all day.  These special DeKalb learning cottages don't have running water.  But this is 2011 in the USA - who needs water!  Science teachers can easily have science experiments without water.  Bathroom use and hand washing?  Not necessary.  Just "hold it" until you get home.  Nothing wrong with a growing kid avoiding liquids for eight hours a day, 180 days a year.  Kids are very sensitive at this age and will not want to ask permission daily to use a bathroom.  They will just avoid drinking water.

This 6th grade class would be successful even if their new trailers were attached to a Thomas the Train engine and constantly making laps around the school.  After all, this is the 'Academy' kids.  These kids grew up in trailers at their neighborhood school, then were pulled from the nearby school and sent to the 'Academy' for a couple of years.  Stability means nothing to this group.  They have proven they can overcome anything and everything.  Maybe for 7th grade we can pull together and find yet another way to disrupt make change for this group of kids - maybe a 7th grade Academy hosted on the campus of the GA Perimeter College.

The school system planners have told us of this middle school bubble that will pop in 2015, then trailers will not be needed after that.  Look for 16 trailers at PCMS by 2015..... and beyond.  We've heard for ten years now that Austin and Vanderlyn population booms were bubbles.  Those bubbles must be made of some secret NASA material because there are no signs of these "bubbles" bursting at the elementary level, and don't believe the middle school bubble ends in 2015.  The Dunwoody cluster continues to grow in population, and this growth includes kids who, believe it or not, will go to middle school.

The school board and planners have recently said Dunwoody needs another elementary school (more seats).  With DES at 900+ and a new Austin projected to be at 900+, wheres does DeKalb think these kids will go for middle school?  Or, is the school system encouraging relying on Dunwoody parents to pull their kids out of the public schools by middle school?

In an effort to make these 6th graders feel as comfortable as possible, one trailer from each of the feeding elementary schools was pulled from the elementary schools to the middle school.  The hauler was to open the windows on the trailers during the move to 'air out' these learning cottages, but the haulers learned the lone window in each trailer was actually a fake.  The 'windows' were actually framed artwork (from the 1978 4th graders) created to look like a real window.  Pretty crafty if you ask me.  In addition to 7 boxes of tissues, two pair of scissors, and a $10 School Box gift card, Team Green/Brown students will be asked to bring in an air freshener. 

No word yet on who gets to inhabit these innovative learning cottages for the school year, but I'm sure someone is working on that as we speak.  If you have a rising 6th grader slated to attend PCMS, you are encouraged to attend a meeting at The Branches clubhouse.  See here for details. For those new to The Branches club house, plan ahead.  The Branches can be a tricky neighborhood to navigate.  My rule of thumb when lost in The Branches is to keep make alternating left and right turns until you find Spalding or Mt Vernon.

On a slightly more serious note, don't let your kid get lazy over the summer.  Here's a link to MATH stuff for rising 6th graders. For those of you who choose not to speak or read English, the Summer Math program is available in Spanish.

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