Sunday, September 8, 2013

First Week of School

The first week of school is both exciting and overwhelming.  While being the Principal of Columbia Middle School is my career role that I love, I am also a mother of three children.  The start of a school year brings much anticipation for the opportunities that await in the coming year.  My three children all  have unique personalities and learning styles.  While one is excited and energized for school to begin; my son is cautious and treads slowly into a new year.  My youngest daughter is bursting with enthusiasm for the start of preschool.  She is eager to follow in the footsteps of her siblings.  These experiences with my own children remind me learning happens at its own pace with the right tools for each person differently.

I chose to introduce my children to you because they relate to the students of Columbia Middle School.  Our students come to us with a variety of life experiences and learning abilities that influence their success in school.  The staff at Columbia Middle School spends quality time getting to know our students.  We strive to understand their learning styles along with their interests and hobbies.  We create relationships with students that extend beyond the doors of our classrooms to further invest in their overall success in life.

We have created a variety of exploratory options for the students this year.  We hope to reach out to students in ways that spark imagination and develop initiative for knowledge.  We are excited to be offering the classes below:
Advanced History-Mr. Rulewicz is offering the most current educational technology for our students. Eighth grade students in this class are experiencing a "flipped classroom" while exploring their content.  These students also have the opportunity to begin high school with one credit upon successful completion of the course requirements.

Engineering, Robotics and Mathletes-We are creating young engineers at CMS.  Mrs. Eastmen will guide our students who will serve on our Robotics Team.  They will also learn the basic principles of engineering.  The second semester students will compete by answering grade level math problems with other kids in Jackson County. 

Students received a letter that came home from school highlighting several other courses students at CMS will experience this year.  Our goal is to reach every student while encouraging positive relationships and learning. 

Please contact me anytime if you have any questions.  I am eager to work in a partnership with the parents of Columbia Middle School to encourage your child in the most positive way!

O'Neil Family...First Day of School 2013
Ben-Treading cautiously who will miss fishing and catching frogs.
Natalie-Eager to begin the wondrous adventures of school!
Kate-Ready to catch up with friends, fashion and learning (of course)!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Welcome Back CMS!

August 22, 2013
Welcome Back Columbia Middle School Families,
The start of every school year offers the opportunity to start refreshed and energized for learning.  I am excited about the opportunity to work with every CMS family.  With teachers, parents and community members working together, we can offer students a successful path for the future.
Following a healthy schedule allows for students to be successful throughout the year.  Along with getting excited about new school supplies, it is a great time to practice an appropriate bedtime to encourage enough rest for learning.  This year will be filled with new experiences and exciting learning opportunities for students, staff and parents.   The staff at Columbia Middle School is here to support every student academically, socially and physically.
Parent involvement is a crucial part of your child’s success in school.  I would like to extend an invitation to all CMS families to attend school events and take part in volunteering opportunities at the school.  If you would like more information about our Parent Teacher Organization or other ways to donate time to the school you may contact our office or continue to view the website for new events taking place.  In the coming month we will be asking for help with some of the following events:   homecoming activities, Halloween events, assistance with sporting events, help with the Book Fair, serving on our Circus of the Kids planning committee, school dances and more. 
Our staff utilizes the Nurtured Heart Approach at Columbia Middle School.  We feel creating a safe and supportive environment provides a successful foundation for our students to excel.  We believe clear rules and expectations for behavior provide the necessary structure needed to promote a positive school culture.  It is our hope that spending quality time on positive choices continues to promote good decision making and the ability to strive for academic excellence.  I encourage parents to be familiar with the Nurtured Heart Approach.  If you are interested in some literature to become more familiar with this approach I recommend reading All Children Flourishing: Igniting the Greatness of Our Children by Howard Glasser.
There have been some changes and positive additions to the CMS staff. Mr. Keith Russell joins us from our high school and he will be teaching our yearbook and drama class; this will be called Publications.  Additionally, he will also teach US History for 8th grade and Informational Literacy classes for the 6th grade.  Ms. Jessica White has been hired to teach our Resource Room in the 5th grade.  She comes to us from Michigan Center Schools.  Both Mr. Russell and Ms. White are Columbia graduates.  Mrs. Tina Marquardt has been hired as our cook in the CMS kitchen.   Finally, while it is difficult to say good bye to Mrs. Bernstein, we welcome Mrs. Monika Cook as our new secretary.  She has been working diligently over the past few weeks getting the office ready to welcome students, staff and families. 
As your principal I am eager to stay connected with families as the school year progresses to keep you updated with the happenings and events taking place at CMS.  Please be sure to look at the following:
·         Please connect with me weekly on my Blog for school updates, recommended reading and some CMS fun.  You can find it at
·         Join me on Twitter for frequent updates regarding CMS at @oneilcms.
·         Like Columbia Middle School on Facebook for up to date school information regularly.
·         Updates regarding PTO events will be included in our monthly newsletter; you may also follow them on Facebook.
·         For additional school district information, please see our district websites.  Watch for the weekly E-Newsletter from Superintendent, Dr. Pamela Campbell.
Mark Your Calendar with these events and dates to remember:
·         Tuesday, August 26th, Back to School Open House 5:00-6:30 pm.
·         Tuesday, September 3rd, First Day of School (1/2 day).  School Begins at 8:00 am and dismisses at 11:20 am.
·         Wednesday, September 4th is the first full day of school.  Start time is 8:00 am and school dismisses at 2:55 pm.  If you are transporting your own child, all students should be dropped off and picked up in the West parking lot on the side of our middle school. 
·         2 Hour Delay Start Days:  October 9th, November 13th, February 5th, March 12th, April 16th and May 14th.  School will begin at 10:00 am and dismiss at 3:00 pm.  This is two hour period is for professional development for teachers and staff.
Good News!
*We are offering a variety of exploratory classes this year!!  Students will enjoy drama/yearbook (Publications), Creative Expressions, Robotics/Mathletes, Consumer Math, Band, Technology and CMS NOW.
*We are offering an art program during lunch period for students once a week.  Mrs. Baskus will be with us to provide this for our students.
*For the first time ever CMS will have a School Store selling school supplies and Eagle pride items.  More information will be available soon regarding the store.
*There are so many wonderful clubs, athletic activities and events that will take place for your child.  Stay tuned and involved to be updated and enjoy the school experience at CMS.
I am eager to see all of the students next week.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at your convenience.  I look forward to a positive year!

Christi O’Neil, CMS Principal