The Saline Board of Education visited Saline Middle School to learn more about what’s happening in the school this year.
The 50-minute meeting in the school’s media center was an event filled with jazz, singing and demonstrations by seventh graders who were eager to show off their specially designed, 3-D-printed carbon dioxide-powered race cars.
Principal Brad Bezeau, who took the top job at the school over the summer, also went over some of the highlights and changes at the school. Bezeau also talked about plans for the near future.
“This is my 23rd year in public education, and I’ve never had more fun,” said Bezeau, who patrols the halls of the middle school on a hoverboard. “It’s never boring here.”
Bezeau said music plays an important role at Saline Middle School.
The Saline Middle School Eighth Grade Choir, led by teachers Eric Floetke, performed two songs for the board.
Then Saline Middle School Jazz Band, led by teacher Benjamin Reed, performed.
Seventh grade science teacher Ed Gall had his students explain how they used CAD software to design carbon dioxide-powered race cars. The cars were then formed using 3D printers. Students are now in the process of racing to see who designed the fastest vehicles.
The project is one of the Project Lead the Way programs that teach science, technology, engineering and math.
Gall observed the number of female students involved in the project.
“I read somewhere that 11 percent of practicing engineers are female. Obviously we don’t represent that here,” Gall said, looking at a group of students dominated by girls. “Something must happen between seventh grade and the profession. Whatever happens, don’t let it because you guys are so capable. Don’t let them tell you that you can’t.”
Bezeau said the CO2 cars are an example of the project-based learning that is transforming the school.
Two teachers were highlighted during Bezeau’s introduction. He recognized science teacher Leigh Ann Roehm, named middle school science teacher of the year. Scott Stull was also recognized for his 1000th career coaching victory.
Bezeau also spoke about a new program at the middle school. SMS Bucks are a currency awarded to students by teachers and staff as a reward for being respectful and kinder than necessary. The SMS Bucks give students a chance to win prizes every month.
There has been much progress in the campaign to convert traditional classrooms into “next generation” classrooms. Bezeau said that last year there were seven “next gen” classrooms in sixth grade.
“Now the entire sixth grade is next generation,” Bezeau said.
All of the seventh grade language classrooms are seventh grade, too.
“We’re making sure we’re moving toward a student-driven future. Students should all have access to the same opportunities,” Bezeau said.
To that end, Bezeau is excited about plans to convert the media center.
“We don’t want it to be a library anymore. We want teachers to bring their students down here and use it as their classroom for a week,” Bezeau said.
Bezeau said the new-look media center will look a little like the new Hornet Hub learning space at Saline High School, with glass-enclosed stalls for group projects. There will also be a recording studio for video and audio projects.
The middle school is also planning to move back to a team-teaching approach.
“Between the three teachers, they’ll know all the kids and that will help to make sure that nobody gets lost and kids don’t fall behind,” he said.