Schools to Watch committee

Shown are members of the DuBois Area Middle School’s Schools to Watch committee. The school was recently re-designated as a PA Don Eichhorn Schools: “Schools to Watch” for the fourth time. Front to back, from left, are: Row 1, Marcie Kennis, Kathy Smith, Maureen Gregorio; row two: Darren Hack, Kelly Roush, Jeff Bellerillo; row three: Angela Mitchell, Sherry Martini, Mike Maholtz; row four: Anna Woods, Dawna Vanderpool, Jeannie Anthony, Christine Kline (around the hand rail); row five: Alisa Johnson, Val Hayes, Danielle Catalano; row six: Sarah Sherry, Joan Bianco and Sarah Curry.

Once again, the DuBois Area Middle School has been designated as one of the state’s Schools to Watch, continuing to exceed high expectations for more than 10 years.

“When I was notified from Mr. Bruce Vosburgh, director, Pennsylvania Don Eichhorn Schools: Schools To Watch, on Dec. 20 that the DuBois Area Middle School would be receiving its fourth re-designation as a ‘Schools to Watch’ I was elated,” said Principal Darren Hack. “We have great teachers, students, facilities, and technology.”

Hack said receiving this accreditation proves that the middle school is one of the best in the state and has been for quite a while.

“This was a total team effort,” Hack said. “Our STW committee did a great deal of work completing an extensive application and planning for the state team visit. The DuBois Area School District Board of Directors and district office administration also deserve a great deal of credit because without their support, this could not have been possible.”

Hack said the STW team was impressed with the school’s new Practical Arts classes and expanded career opportunities.

The DuBois Middle School was among two schools that were initially recognized 12 years ago as a Pennsylvania Don Eichhorn Schools: “Schools to Watch” as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. This is the fourth time DAMS and Pine-Richland Middle School in Gibsonia have been re-designated, and they are the first re-designated schools in Pennsylvania.

DAMS will be recognized at the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education State Conference at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College on Feb. 24. They will be recognized nationally with all the other recognized STW schools across the country in Washington DC at the National Forum’s National Schools to Watch Conference on June 27-29.

Assistant DuBois Area School District Superintendent Wendy Benton, who is currently serving as substitute superintendent, said she could not be more proud the accomplishments achieved at the DAMS.

“Last year, while planning for the reconfiguration of our fifth grade students into the middle school, I was excited for the day to come where we could showcase our success to the Schools to Watch State Team of evaluators,” said Benton. “I knew we had an exceptional school during my time as the principal but I felt extremely confident that the changes we were planning to implement for the 2018-2019 school year would take our middle school to a whole new level of greatness. A level of greatness that surpasses other middle schools in the nation. Providing the absolute best for our students is really what it’s all about.”

Benton commended the leadership of Hack and Assistant Principal Michael Maholtz for the steadfast dedication and drive to continuously strive for greatness.

“Beyond the administration, I applaud all members of the Schools to Watch team from the middle school,” said Benton. “This team goes above and beyond to ensure that our school and our students are exceeding the rigorous expectations set by Schools to Watch.”

Benton said re-designation is not a one-day event.

“It is a three-year event that requires a constant focus on academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structures and processes,” Benton said. “I am equally as proud of every teacher, staff member and student. It’s the people that make DAMS a School to Watch.”

Benton said she looks forward to many years to come showing people from across the nation what makes the DAMS a School to Watch.

“With every re-designation the level of expectation increases and I am confident that we will continue to exceed those high expectations,” Benton said. “Congratulations DAMS. Thank you for representing our school and our community so well.”

State leaders selected each school for its Academic Excellence, Developmental Responsiveness, Social Equity and Organizational Structures and Processes. In addition, each school has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.

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