By Jim Cree~ Lake County Star
BALDWIN - There's an atmosphere of success at Baldwin Junior High School.
There's an attitude of optimism. And it isn't going away too soon. There's simply no room for pessimism.
Baldwin Junior High School principal Michael Outman knows his staff and students are geared up for success and he believes the Junior Panthers are ready to roar ... that is to ROAR.
R.O.A.R. is an acronym for Respectful, Optimistic, Appropriate and Responsible.
The four words are key to the learning environment in BJHS. Adherence to ROAR is pushing students and staff into a future focused on success, community and individual pride and a strong sense of accomplishment.
"We are on the move," said Outman.
"We receive students who are getting a great background in learning from our elementary school team.
"In many ways these students are in transition for high school.
"We are preparing them to be successful in high school by being successful in everything they do in junior high."
The junior high team has not only continued to focus on academic success in line with the demands of various standards and benchmarks laid out by the state and federal government, but they also are homing in on each individual student's social skills ability to function as "a whole."
The school has received grant funding and is promoting student development through the Michigan Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative.
"This program helps focus on reading skills and positive behavior support in classrooms and throughout the school environment", reported Outman. ''We are very fortunate to be one of the few schools in our area to be part of this program at the junior high level.
"We know students who are behaving better and making the right choices are more apt to be doing better in classrooms.
"We keep track of discipline issues. We are asking questions not only about the actual problem, but also about what may have caused an issue or problem."
''We are looking at education and discipline issues as a whole - not as isolated incidents.
"Ultimately, we are developing a sense of more personal responsibility - creating a more focused and calm learning environment."
"We have expectations. We teach not only academically, but we teach to those expectations." ''We expect our students to be respectful, to behave appropriately and to be responsible for their behavior."
"And we expect our students to be optimistic."The BJHS staff is not 'programmed' to accept less-than- success.
"We work very hard to make sure we are able to give our students the best we have to offer," explained Outman.
"We prepared long and hard over the summer. We take advantage of outside resources and consultants."We want to make sure we are moving forward, both behaviorally and in academics.
"There is no doubt in my mind our staff is ready for the challenge.
"We will continue moving forward."
School staff realize they can't carry the torch alone. Every education professional will note how important parental involvement is a factor in student success.
"We are constantly looking for ways to keep parents involved in their students' education, beyond parent/teacher conferences," said Outman.
"We know the lines of communication are vital."
There's a lot going on at BJHS. Programs have developed encouraging success and steering students toward academic excellence.
More programs and projects are being developed all the time to make sure efforts remain focused.
"We aren't going to back down," said Outman.
"We are going to keep out students focused and optimistic.
"Our goal is to keep them looking forward to high school and beyond.
''We won't lower our expectations for any student.
"We will do whatever we can to make sure every student can succeed.
"And we know our community is behind us on this."