Sanford Junior High School is a grades 6-8 school with 620 students taught by 45 teachers and nine educational technicians. They have a 62% free and reduced lunch rate and a 25% special education population.
I visited Sanford J.H. at 8:00am on a teacher workshop day and still had seven incredible students come to school so they could show off and tell me all of the great things going on at their school. We started off the visit with the students telling me about their “L.C.’s” (learning communities). The students didn’t talk about classes; they spoke about what the different “L.C.’s” were doing. Most of the L.C’s are grade specific, but due to numbers there is one combined 7/8 LC. Each L.C. has a specific excursion that they take part in each year. These excursions take the students into the community and focus on solving real world problems. One such excursion was fighting to end hunger. The school and district even came together at 6:00am one morning for a full district pep rally with the cheerleaders and football players to raise awareness of childhood hunger by bringing in canned food. This was done in competition with other districts and the students at Sanford were very proud to announce that they won!
Each of the LCs has 4-5 teachers who plan together six times per week. Such planning has helped to create their excursions and incorporate an Aquaponics Program. One of the LC’s is raising Tilapia in their greenhouse. Waste from the fish goes to fertilize the plants and herbs that people can buy in the spring.
This project based approach is something that all of the LCs have in common. Once a year, each of the LCs has an opportunity to demonstrate their learning to the community. In the lobby of Sanford Junior High School, you can read some of the articles written about the LC business and learning excursions.
The students were also excited to share information on the year-long Cadet Program that is run by the School Resource Officer, Homework Club which is offered 5-days a week after school (they provide a late bus home for students who need additional assistance), a weight room that can host a full size class, the JMG program which meets daily, Spirit Week, “Sanford’s Got Talent” show, and the really great field trips and excursions which includes all students.
Principal Andrew Patin mentioned that all of the classrooms have at least one of the following: Smart Board, Apple TV, and a LCD projector. They display announcements at lunch time on a large LCD screen in the cafeteria so students know what is going on in their school on a daily basis.
The students and their learning is the focus of decisions made at Sanford Junior High School. The students are active participants in their learning and this was easily demonstrated by my fabulous tour guides.
If you want to see a school who works closely with the community to best meet the needs of the students, I highly encourage you to visit Sanford Junior High School.
Contact: Sanford Junior High School, 708 Main Street, Sanford, ME 04073
Principal Andrew Patin, Assistant Principal Pam Lyndon