Letter to the Editor

CMS works for students' success

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To the editor:Since discipline at Central Middle School has been mentioned as an issue involved with the decision to oust our administrators, I would like to comment. In my position, I get to know virtually all of our discipline problems personally. Almost all are at-risk students -- or, as we like to call them, at-promise students. They are 10-, 11- and 12-year-old children who, for a variety of reasons, need extra help to be successful in the school environment.

In my opinion, the CMS staff has grown under the leadership of Frank Ellis and Debbie Followell. We have learned how to engage these children in positive relationships and provide these children with the help they need to succeed. We are learning how to transform discipline problems into productive students.

All of our children need two things to be successful: nurture and discipline. To provide nurture, within the first 30 minutes our staff is on duty, we feed almost 300 children and successfully get more than 500 students in the correct classroom ready to learn. Throughout the day our school nurse sees 50 to 70 students and gives proper medications to 15 per day. Our library serves 175 to 200 children every day with much more than checking out books. We also offer activities like tutoring, Shere Khan, Advanced Readers Club, Mark Twain Club, Creative Writing Club, Safety Patrol, volleyball camp and Chess Club. We have 15 different "Anything Goes" clubs plus an After School Girls Club and Big Brothers/Big Sisters serving about 200 students. Frank and Debbie have given the staff the freedom to follow our passions to create these opportunities for our children. We do this because we know the best way to create a positive environment is to get our students involved with the school. These activities accomplish that.

Our students are subject to disciplinary consequences when they make mistakes, but we can't and don't throw them away. We're mandated by law not to leave any one of them behind. As God is my witness, everyone at this school is trying desperately hard to keep them all in the fold. I'm proud to be working for Frank and Debbie. They are good shepherds.

DALE WILLIAMS, In-School Suspension Supervisor, Central Middle School, Cape Girardeau