Message from Mr. Thygesen

Dear PRA Families,

Approximately 2 years removed from our distance learning experience, it is clear that our students (and teachers) started school this year in a much better place emotionally and academically than they did in September of 2021.The importance of face-to-face interaction to the social development of our kids cannot be understated, and getting back into the classroom last year provided our kids the opportunity to relearn conflict resolution, how to read body language, empathy, and all of the traits that make us beneficially interact as humans. Last year was a challenging year, but our perseverance at home and school paid dividends. As a collective bunch, our kids came in this year with less stress, better communication skills, and better work study habits than they did last September, and I can honestly say that this has been one of the best starts to a school year I have ever experienced. Our students have come in more relaxed, more confident in their communications with each other, and more flexible to our changing environment. Let’s work together in continuing this momentum past the “honeymoon” phase of the year.

As you could tell by our Back To School Night Presentation (you can still view our introductory segment on our website), we’re spending a lot of time reviewing our high expectations in the form of routines and rituals in middle school. Having high expectations with consistent and empathetic enforcement paves the way for lower stress, reduced conflict, equity, and a sense of togetherness amongst our community. These routines are the foundation of our academic achievement, and we’re going to build on this foundation to push our kids to achieve their academic best. It’s going to be a stellar year at PRA, and I’m as excited as I’ve ever been to watch your kids grow academically and socially.

Up Next…

This year Ms. Baldwin and I are going to resume our “blog” to give us a chance to connect with you more often on matters pertaining to academics and parenting pre-teens. Some of our upcoming topics will include academic rigor, study habits, “How to Raise an Adult.” Technology, Growth Mindset and more. Our goal is to discuss a topic and to create a forum where we can learn from each other and grow our own skill sets as parents, teachers, and administrators. Next week we’ll start with “What it Means to Be An Academically Rigorous School.” Please check the Miner Mail and our website weekly for more information.

iReady and the Importance of High Stakes Testing

As I mentioned above, one of the common phrases you’ll hear from us this year is “academic rigor,” and one of the tools we use to accelerate our teaching and learning at PRA is the iReady Assessment. iReady is a nationally-normed diagnostic assessment that measures our students in 4 areas of language arts and mathematics. The data we receive from iReady is essential to our growth, as we use it to inform our instruction, measure our effectiveness, and gauge our progress toward CMAS success. The data is also important to our students, as it gives them practice in test performance, and provides the data they need to set their own academic goals that they will refer to throughout the year. We review iReady data in class and guide students through the goal setting process.

With this in mind, I’m asking you as a parent or guardian of a student at an academically rigorous school to encourage your student to put forth their best effort on iReady, CMAS, and all of their classroom assessments. It is important that you vocalize your support for the process, as your buy-in will motivate your students to take tests seriously. These assessments bring added stress to our students’ classwork, but managing stress and anxiety on high stakes testing is an important skill they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. They’ll survive the process, and going through it will build resilience and a growth mindset. Thank you for supporting our vision to create academic, social, and ethical leaders.

Have a great week.

Steve Thygesen