The MMS STRONG campaign, spearheaded by seventh-grade teacher Lorrie Macoy in an effort to positively impact the climate at the school, stresses to students and teachers the importance of self-motivation, teamwork, respect, ownership, never giving up and goal setting.
“Focusing on these six areas allows students and teachers to work together in supporting those focus areas and developing school pride,” Macoy said. “We want students, teachers and the community to work as a team and bring back school pride.”
During the summer, Macoy met with MMS faculty during a three-day retreat to plan ways to build strong students, but she noted that wasn’t the only factor included in this campaign.
“We began planning this initiative in October of 2012,” Macoy said. “Teachers and administrators met together to discuss how to implement the change, and school climate surveys were distributed, completed and discussed.”
When students converged on the school for their first day, the tone for change was apparent as they were met by streamers hanging from the ceiling, murals painted on the walls, bulletin boards displaying the MMS STRONG message and reinvigorated teachers preparing the students for the next step.
“Every time students go to the gym, lunchroom or library, they will see the bulletin board and be reminded of what it takes to be MMS STRONG,” Assistant Principal Amber Pressley said.
The seventh- and eighth-grade students formed a spirit line in the hallways to welcome the incoming sixth-graders to campus. From there, the students attended an MMS STRONG kickoff rally to drive home the message.
The day continued with students learning the school alma mater, the newly written school vision statement, the MMS student pledge, grade-level chants, the schoolwide brain-based rules and the STRONG theme for the year.
Character building lessons held during the following days helped reinforce each aspect of the STRONG theme within the students.
Since shifting to this mode of thinking, Macoy said she observed a better all-around attitude within the school in both the students and the teachers.
“Students have shown ownership of goals, their chants (supporting their grade levels), and we have seen a decrease in discipline issues,” Macoy said.
Pressley agreed that positive changes have been seen throughout the campus as MMS STRONG helps add consistency to every classroom.
“(This initiative) is a cultural transformation where we get students to focus on what it means to be a successful adult,” she said. “The goal setting gives the teachers and students a chance to talk about student goals and how to reach those goals.”
According to Pressley, a survey was conducted shortly after MMS STRONG went into effect and 89 percent of students thought the year’s first week of school was a more positive experience. The wave of pride isn’t going unnoticed by the parents either, with 88 percent saying the year’s first week of school was more positive than previous years.
Eighth-grader Jacob Smith said he believes that being MMS STRONG means to be a good leader in everything you do and the difference made by the campaign is noticeable.
“I have seen a great change,” Smith said. “Everything has been more upbeat than in past years.”
Caitlyn Payne, also in the eighth-grade, said being MMS STRONG means to have all the characteristics this initiative focuses on.
“I've seen a lot of change, actually, from how students act to how they do stuff at school,” Payne said. “I think this was a good change for MMS.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org