Seneca Valley school named to “Schools to Watch”

Seneca Valley School District  |  Posted on

Pictured left to right: Ryan Gloyer Middle School teachers Ms. Amanda Chaousy, Learning Support; Ms. Kasey Krause, English Language Arts; Ms. Trisha Butschle, Assistant Principal; Dr. Tony Babusci, Principal and Math teacher, Mr. Cam Palmer.

Ryan Gloyer Middle School (RGMS) is one of only 10 exemplary Middle Grades Schools in Pennsylvania to be named a 2023 PA Don Eichhorn Schools: “Schools to Watch” (PA STW) as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. This program is an elite partnership with the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education (PAMLE), Duquesne University, Edinboro University, Kutztown University and the Horace Mann Service Corporation. RGMS is receiving this honor as a fourth PA STW redesignation after receiving the initial recognition 12 years ago.

“This recognition is important to us because it reflects our focus on middle level development and our commitment to continuous improvement,” said Dr. Tony Babusci, Ryan Gloyer Middle School Principal. “The feedback we receive through this process supports our growth and helps us to set new goals. Achieving re-designation is a reflection of the efforts of everyone in the building including maintenance and custodial staff, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants and teachers.”

RGMS joined 38 other middle-grades schools recognized over the history of the program during the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Educations State Conference that took place at the Crowne Plaza in King of Prussia, just north of Philadelphia, on February 26. RGMS will also be recognized nationally with all the other recognized STW schools across the country in Washington, D.C., at the National Forum’s National Schools to Watch Conference on June 22-24.

“The entire staff of Ryan Gloyer Middle School should be very proud to be awarded the Don Eichhorn Schools to Watch redesignation,” said Dr. Matt McKinley, Assistant Superintendent, grades 7-12. “They have a tireless passion for their students and, through their teaming and collaboration, work to create lifelong learners. I would like to congratulate all of them for their efforts.”

PA STW State leaders selected each school for its academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structures and processes. In addition, each school has strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.

Bruce Vosburgh, PA State STW Director, stated, “We congratulate these schools for being places that do great things for all of their students. These schools demonstrate that high-performing middle grades schools are places that focus on academic growth and achievement. They are also places that recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all of their students and ensure that every child has access to a challenging, high-quality education. These schools have proven that it is possible to overcome barriers to achieving excellence, and any middle-level school in any state can truly learn from their examples.”

The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that required schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by a state team, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work.

Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of three years, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals in order to be re-designated. Unlike the Blue Ribbon recognition program, “Schools to Watch” requires schools to not just identify strengths, but to also focus on areas for continuous improvement; thus the three year re-designation. The re-designation process is based on the schools continued growth since their last STW recognition.

“Middle school is a time of rapid change and development for our adolescent children. It takes special people who are dedicated to middle level learners to not only work with students ages 13-15 but also who are willing to collaborate with the other adults in the school. That type of collaboration and teaming drives powerful authentic learning for our students,” stated Dr. Tracy Vitale, Seneca Valley School District Superintendent of Schools. “We are so proud that RGMS has once again been designated as a School to Watch. To be able to achieve and sustain such a milestone, year after year, speaks to the incredible students, staff and culture in that building.”

Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding 37 researched based criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a website that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about the selection criteria used in the recognition program. There are now 17 states across the country, which have trained Schools to Watch State Teams, with more than 650 schools recognized across the country.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform began as an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.