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Principal's Message

  • Christine Baker, Totem Principal Dear Parents/Guardians and Students;
    Greetings Totem Thunderbirds:

    Totem is preparing for an exciting and productive school year in 2015-16.

    Our Totem Thunderbirds experience a journey of learning during their middle years in several ways; socially, intellectually, physically and emotionally. This journey is similar to the growth of an Eagle or the mythical Thunderbird. The young birds struggle in the nest, and there is uncertainty and risk. The young birds grow and slowly test their wings while feeding on the knowledge gained from many different learning experiences collectively and individually. They start taking short journeys away from the safety of the nest. They prepare for the day they will have gained the strength and knowledge to soar on the currents of life, and navigate the winds. It is an honor to be a part of this learning journey with our students.

    We begin this journey in August, with as many 6th graders as we can encourage, joining us for Summer Success Camp. This year we had over eighty new 6th graders. We enjoyed the time getting to know some our new students. The completed work from one of their classes is on display in 6th grade hall. The students created a bulletin board highlighting items from the “I am From” poems, and from what they learned about being a successful student.

    Totem staff too is involved in a learning journey. We have been involved in professional development learning in the summer too, collaborating, and preparing to continue to provide an outstanding education for all Totem students. Several Totem teachers attended the AVID Summer Institute in July in CA and the AVID workshops offered here in Federal Way in August. Totem is a National Demonstration School for AVID, and we will continue to focus on our college going culture at Totem.

    Totem is also a Middle Years Programme International Baccalaureate (MYPIB) school. We will continue to pursue professional development opportunities implementing IB methodologies and philosophy in all eight areas of MYPIB. Our teachers will continue to develop MYPIB units in their subject areas. Last year all grade levels taught the Areas of Interaction and integrated MYPIB units. All new teachers will be trained in AVID and IB during the school year. We also began work around professional learning communities and Common Formative Asse4ssments. This work will be ongoing and we will be using the late start days to deepen this important work. Our grading is now in line with IB philosophy, and it will be reflected in the grades students earn. (more information about this at Open House)

    We have a rigorous schedule of classes for each student at Totem. We have math, using Engage New York, which is grounded in Common Core. We offer Math 6 all the way up through Algebra 2 at Totem, allowing student to each get what they need during the three years. We have Springboard, which is a College Board Curriculum in all English Language Arts classes. Our students all learn music in 6th grade student, and we have a variety of classes where students can continue in music in 7th and 8th grades We offer a variety of electives in 7th and 8th grade, and some students take electives in 6th grade as well. All 6th graders get technology, and PE, and all 7th get Art and PE. Spanish is taught on all three grade levels.

    Totem is growing! We have several new teachers. We have hired some outstanding new teachers and support staff and are enjoying their enthusiasm, energy and the new perspectives they are bringing to Totem.

    Families are important partners in education, and we want to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to all us if you have any concerns, would like to meet with teachers, would like to volunteer or would like to visit. Our counselors set up meetings with teachers if you would like to talk with all teachers, or can set up an appointment with an individual teacher. Teachers also respond to emails, and will contact you if they need your assistance in working through a difficulty your child may be experiencing in class. We hope everyone can make it to Open House, and we look forward to seeing all parents at our Student Led Conferences.

    We try to keep the calls to all parents to a minimum, but when we do call, please listen to the message, because it will be important information you need to have.

    We look forward to a rewarding and productive school year with your children. We know you send your children each day trusting we will do our very best to meet each child’s needs during this important time in life. We value the partnership with families, and we take our responsibility in the partnership very seriously at Totem.

    Christine Baker
    Principal, Totem Middle School