community & Postsecondary partnerships...

Partnerships will be vital to sustain our S.T.E.A.M. initiative.  The key to establishing and building such relationships is to provide as many touch points as possible between the school and its community partners.  Mentoring and mutually beneficial exchanges also provide opportunities for our students to experience S.T.E.A.M. related careers and to personally reap the rewards of volunteerism and service.  


As the only public middle school that serves the City of Cleveland we have a wealth of expertise to call upon.  Our students are part of the larger community and it is through their parents and extended families that our reach is extended and strengthened.  


For many of our latch-key students, having a safe place to go after school is so important.  The Boys and Girl's Club in our community offers snacks, tutoring, crafts, and games that encourage a sense of belonging.  Their Mission is simple, to help put young people on the path to great futures. Their vision is to provide a safe and encouraging place to go during out-of-school time.  With a warm and caring staff, they create a positive learning environment to encourage Academic Success; Good Character and Citizenship, and lessons on Healthy Lifestyles, fostering creativity and imagination!


Our CMS students experience a "Leadworthy Moment" a mini-lesson which helps develops critical, life-changing skills, such as taking personal responsibility, expressing themselves well and making good decisions when problems arise.  Powered by the Flippen Group, this research-based curriculum includes topics very relevant to the needs of our 21st century students. To foster a sense of community within our student body we have weekly "Leadworthy Moments" where Quotes are discussed and students answer discussion questions based on reflecting how such sentiments affect how they deal with one another and look to their own promising futures.  LeadWorthy Moments provide short exercises designed to help incorporate character-based education into our classrooms. 

Themes such as "being part of the solution," and "working together to make something wonderful happen."


“If you have a child’s heart, you have their mind” is the core belief of Flip Flippen, founder and chairman of the Flippen Group, NY Times best-selling author, and nationally-recognized speaker.  For nearly a decade now our school district has embraced this approach, applying the behavioral skills and processes taught by the Flippen Group which has led to dramatic transformations in our relationships with our students.  Nearly 70 percent of our students qualify for free and reduce lunch.  So, when they arrive to school many are stressed from home, from hunger, abuse and loneliness.  At C.M.S. we have build a school culture that is relational and is sensitive to the social-emotional needs of our students, helping them feel valued and connected, so they are ready to learn.  Examples of how it is used daily at CMS include the following: 

Greet Students Daily.

Although we are not able due to COVID-19 concerns to shake hands at the door, we still greet students at the door. 

Asking a fun entrance question at the door like "Would you rather have chocolate candy or Sour Patch candy."
Using music to add energy to your classroom.
Using creative greetings like an elbow or foot "bumps" to greet.

Manage the Message.

At CMS we set a positive tone when helping everyone to understand the community health rules. Instead of "Wear your mask," try "Be empowered! Do your part to help keep yourself and others healthy. Wear your masks. We are better together!" This sends the same message but also emphasizes community, connection, and relationships.


Continue Positive Class Routines.

Start class with "Good Things" and end with a meaningful message to Launch. Intentionally incorporate affirmations and empower students to be classroom raters and affirmers.

Recognize and Celebrate Students Often.

Seek out frequent opportunities to affirm and celebrate student success inside and outside of school. An example would be our recent Kindness Coins Competition.

Listen more, Talk Less.

At CMS we engage our students in more conversation. Start by simply asking more open-ended questions and then celebrating and affirming their effort, thinking, and learning. We know that whoever does the talking does the learning!


This organization has been meeting with our students of color since 2001, every Friday morning.  Groups vary from 20 to 30 students who they take on field trips and if the student stays with the organization throughout their secondary school experience, they receive a free laptop and help with tuition to college.  Such a framework of successful community business leaders modeling behaviors of achievement, is essential for all students, especially youth of color, who traditionally have been marginalized in learning standards, school policies, and a classroom practices.  With guest speakers ranging from Bankers to C.E.O.s of certain local organizations, our students are inspired.  


Once CMS students leave our school they continue their education at CHS [Cleveland High School] where there is a robust, cutting-edge, rigorous and relevant Career and Technical Education Program.  It consists of eleven nationally recognized career clusters whose ultimate goal is to prepare them for meaningful post-secondary college and/or career pathways.  


Over the years, Cleveland City School District has invited many distinguished guests to host workshops or offer professional Development for our teaching staff.  Dave Burgess, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Teach Like a Pirate provided a memorable keynote address, that was high energy, interactive and entertaining, the ultimate professional development experience.  With a unique combination of magic and humor, he reignited our teacher's passion for the education profession.  His premise is simple, "Pirates are daring, adventurous, and willing to sail into uncharted waters with no guarantees of success."  Teachers should use their willingness to experiment and try new things as inspiration for creating powerful learning experiences.


In Atlanta, Georgia the Ron Clark Academy [RCA], founded in 2007 by an innovative educator, an highly acclaimed, nonprofit middle school has created a loving, dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence and fosters leadership in students that represent various socio-economic and academic backgrounds and has made an impact on our teachers who have taken field trips to Atlanta to spend the day and see for themselves a transformed learning environment that promotes engagement and curiosity.   


In the City of Cleveland, we have a special rapport with our "Best Partners" these are businesses and organizations that generously support many of our outreach activities, academic programs and hold fund raising events that help with our school's warm culture and spirit.  These organizations are the following:  First Tennessee Bank; CHI Memorial Convenient Care facility; Cleveland Country Club; Westwood Baptist Church; and State Farm Insurance.  


Raider Relatives is just one of many components CMS has implemented with the goal of increasing student achievement through a 1:1 relationship with an adult in the school building. With your support and relationship, we hope the students on this list will see some academic growth. We are serving 120 students and have reflected on current achievement data  and feel the students on the Raider Relative list best reflect the students who would fall in the  <25% category but a few other considerations were made, (attendance, RTI-B, office & bus referrals, and of course homeroom teacher referrals.) because we know those at-risk behaviors lend themselves to lower achievement. Our goal is to increase test scores.

PTO:  Family and Community engagement

Cleveland Middle School has an active Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) that is invested in the academic achievement of the students, the school's culture, and climate. In addition to regular PTO meetings, the PTO president regularly meets with Dr. Laing to bring concerns and opportunities to the leadership of the school.



Nothing great happens when you do it alone.  Over the years we have had a motivated and dedicated group of individuals that collaborate with our teachers to identify what matters and how to make it happen with the support of community funds provided by generous business partners or extensive exhibits and guest speakers.  Inspired and assisted by grants our school has been able to provide yearly musicals, create mosaics of lasting beauty, enjoy lively storytellers and grow an online collection for the district's digital library.  The Allied Arts Council and the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation have helped teachers to shape the future of their communities by enhancing the classroom experience.  The Museum at 5ive Points offers the Story of our Region, its artifacts and exhibits have helped bring history to life for our students.  The collective wisdom of our community donors and docents have been a mainstay for enriching activities that make the school experience memorable and effective.  Their support creates a shared sense of belonging and have ultimately strengthen the social, cultural vibrancy of our school.

"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."

~ Mother Teresa



Community and Postsecondary Partnerships: Community and postsecondary STEM partnerships are established and provide connections between curriculum taught in the classroom and practical applications outside of school. These partnerships have created an environment in which students develop high-level STEM skills and knowledge inside and outside of the classroom and increase their readiness for college and careers. These attributes are essential in creating connections between what is taught and real-world settings in order to sustain a well-rounded STEM program. 


Direct experiences with STEM professionals, professional STEM work environments, and/or practical applications of STEM content, including experiences that incorporate innovative design and art immersion led by professionals within the arts community, during and/or outside school are available to students. 


STEM work-based learning experiences increase interests and abilities in fields requiring STEM skills for high school students. See the K–12 progression below:   Career-exploration WBL Methods Pre-professional WBL Methods Career-preparation WBL Methods Exploration Immersion Industry Awareness 

Cleveland Middle School

S.T.E.A.M. Team

© 2020-2021 by G.M. Dyrek

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