Melissa Seaver

John Sevier Middle School
Kingsport, Tennessee

Best Practices

1) Whole Child Initiatives: In the ever-evolving landscape of education, the holistic development of students has become a priority for schools. At John Sevier Middle School (JSMS), we firmly believe that fostering academic achievement goes hand in hand with nurturing the well-being of the whole child. To actualize this vision, we have seamlessly woven two key initiatives into the fabric of our educational approach: social-emotional learning (SEL) and the Response to Intervention for Behavior process. By intertwining these frameworks, we strive to create an environment that not only cultivates academic excellence but also prioritizes the emotional and behavioral needs of each student. Our commitment is rooted in the understanding that a comprehensive approach to education must address the multifaceted needs of every learner, ensuring their growth not only academically but as fully rounded individuals ready to navigate the complexities of the world.

Six years ago, JSMS adopted the Response to Instruction and Intervention for Behavior (RTl2-B) as a multi-tiered behavior support system. We have chosen to embrace this framework for improving student outcomes. In addition to creating a more pleasant school climate and decreasing problem behaviors, implementing RTl2-B assists with academic instruction, character development, bullying prevention, and mental health issues. The road to successful implementation has required commitment and participation from everyone in the school. Implementation of this framework included the development of Tier 1 expectations, rules, and lesson plans that include explicit instruction on positive behaviors. Additionally, we instituted a Tier 1 acknowledgment system to strengthen positive student behaviors, improve school climate, and support student engagement and academic outcomes. Finally, we created clear discipline referral processes and procedures to ensure consistency in our system. To maintain the integrity of RTl2B, we continuously monitor our processes and student outcomes to inform our practices and collaboratively problem-solve to ensure we are meeting the needs of all students.

Simultaneously, JSMS has been on a remarkable journey comprehensively implementing SEL schoolwide. Our dedicated commitment to fostering SEL competencies in every John Sevier Warrior has led to the development of a systematic approach that not only teaches these essential skills to students daily but also rewards their demonstration. Throughout our journey, we have witnessed the evolution of SEL from its early stages to becoming an integral part of our educational fabric. We take immense pride in the strides we have made toward achieving school-wide support and implementation of SEL principles.

Additionally, we were excited to introduce our recently opened Reset Room. This innovative space serves as a proactive place where students can effectively regulate their emotions in a safe and nurturing environment, aligning perfectly with our dedication to creating a holistic and supportive learning atmosphere.

Since the inception of these initiatives, John Sevier has fully implemented a whole school proactive approach to address the whole child. Learning can not take place in our classrooms without improving student behavior, enhancing staff-student interactions and relationships, and increasing family-community engagement.

2) Assistant Principal’s Role as Instructional Leader: In the intricate tapestry of educational leadership at JSMS, instructional leadership takes center stage, with the assistant principals playing a pivotal role in steering the ship toward academic excellence. With an administrative team of three, including a proactive principal who fosters leadership capacity in his assistant principals, Kyle Loudermilk has implemented measures to ensure that instructional leadership is a collective effort, shared among all administrators.

The commitment to instructional leadership is not just a buzzword at JSMS; it’s a lived reality that permeates the daily operations of the school. Recognizing the significance of distributed leadership, the principal purposefully cultivated a culture where assistant principals actively contribute to shaping the instructional landscape. This intentional effort aligns with a broader vision to enhance the teaching and learning experience for educators and students.

As the first semester draws to a close, a remarkable milestone exemplifies the dedication of the administrative team. On Dec. 7, 2023, we celebrated the completion of its 250th walkthrough feedback for the year, a tangible indicator of the commitment to instructional leadership. This impressive number comprises 180 walkthrough feedback sessions conducted by the JSMS administration and an additional 70 at the district level. The frequency and consistency of these walkthroughs serve as a testament to the hands-on involvement of the administrative team in monitoring and enhancing instructional practices.

The distribution of responsibilities among the three administrators is a well-thought-out strategy, demonstrating a commitment to equity and collaboration. Walkthroughs are evenly shared based on a meticulously crafted yearly schedule. This approach ensures that each assistant principal has an equitable share of responsibilities, preventing overload and fostering a collaborative atmosphere. The emphasis on fairness in task allocation reflects the commitment to shared leadership and ensures that all administrators are actively engaged in the instructional leadership process. It serves as a platform for administrators to provide timely and targeted feedback to educators, emphasizing strengths and identifying areas for growth. This approach aligns with the belief that feedback should be a catalyst for professional development, empowering educators to refine their instructional practices continuously.

Furthermore, the collaborative nature of instructional leadership extends beyond the walkthroughs. Regular administrative meetings provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, analysis of data, and strategic planning to address emerging instructional needs. These collaborative sessions contribute to a shared understanding of the school’s instructional priorities and enable the administrative team to align their efforts effectively.

The instructional leadership at JSMS demonstrates a collaborative and intentional approach. The commitment of the administrative team, the strategic distribution of responsibilities, and the celebration of milestones collectively show the dedication to providing a rich and impactful educational experience. This commitment not only shapes the present but lays a solid foundation for the continued growth and success of JSMS in the semesters and years to come.