Martinsville Middle among 27 state 'Schools to Watch'

June 8, 2012

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Martinsville Middle School (MMS) was recognized Thursday for being one of 27 schools named a “School to Watch” in Virginia.

Sandy Dutemple, director of the Virginia Schools to Watch program, presented a resolution of recognition from the Virginia State Board of Education and a banner to MMS Co-principals Zeb Talley and Cynthia Tarpley during an event at the school.

“The program is a highly prestigious and significant force in middle-grades reform across this country,” Dutemple read from the resolution.

The National Schools to Watch program identifies high-performance middle schools that are academically excellent, responsive to developmental challenges of young adolescents and socially equitable in having high expectations for all students, the resolution added.

“The honor shows the commitment of the entire school community to preserve and enhance the quality of education for students now and for generations of students yet to come ...” the resolution said. “The example of stewardship shown by the administration, teachers and staff of this school and hard work shown by its students have been and will remain an inspiration for ensuring a brighter, stronger future for Virginia’s young people.”

In addition to being one of 27 schools in Virginia to be identified as “schools to watch” out of more than 400 eligible schools, MMS also is one of 325 schools in the United States to be named “schools to watch” out of about 15,000 eligible schools, according to Dutemple.

The announcement that MMS had been recognized first was made in December.

“Great thanks go to you, the student body, who work so hard (and) to our dedicated teachers, who work tirelessly ...” Talley said after accepting the resolution. “None of these awards could be possible without your wonderful efforts.”

The school’s motto is “learning for all,” and teachers and staff encourage the students to not give up on themselves, Talley said.

Tarpley noted that the school sets high expectations for everyone.

“We are honored and humbled” to receive such an honor, she added.

Administrators of the Virginia Schools to Watch program visited Martinsville Middle in November.

“They just fell in love with the school,” Dutemple said.

The administrators were impressed with the students, teaching and learning, and with how kind everyone was to one another, Dutemple added.

The distinction takes the work of everyone, said Martinsville Schools Superintendent Pam Heath. She credited the leadership, staff, teachers, students, parents and families for being part of the school’s achievement.

“You have a focus, an energy and a positive attitude, and you put a lot of effort into it ... and those are the ingredients for success,” Heath told the students.

Talley and Tarpley will travel to Arlington at the end of the month to represent MMS at a National Schools to Watch meeting, according to Dutemple.


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