Holmes a 'model school'

       After 30 years with Holmes Middle School as a teacher and administrator), Brenda LeBrasse will enjoy a last hurrah this summer when the outgoing senior principal leads a Holmes contingent to the 16th annual Model Schools Conference June 22-25 in Orlando, Fla. Brenda LeBrasse
       LeBrasse will be the primary presenter at the conference, which will include recognition of the Westside school as one of 10 model middle grade programs for 2008 by the International Center for Leadership in Education, a private consulting firm.
       “I'm excited to go,” LeBrasse said. “I went last year as a participant and got so jazzed, I told our staff, 'We could be a model middle school.' They said to apply and see if they choose us and they did.”
       According to a press release, “each year, the conference attracts thousands of educators, who come to learn about exemplary elementary, middle, high schools and career and technical education programs. Model schools are selected annually based on providing all students with a rigorous and relevant curriculum, personalized instruction, increased student learning time, parent and community involvement, use of data to make instructional decisions and other best practices.”
       As a model school, Holmes Middle School, 2455 Mesa Road, will become a member of the nationwide Successful Practices Network. Through the network, Holmes staffers can exchange practices with other member schools. More than 600 schools belong to the network.
       In her presentation, LeBrasse said she will focus on the practices she implemented in raising Holmes to the highest academically achieving middle school in District 11 and 27th in the state. These include strategies to define and encourage positive student behavior, to individually address academically struggling students through a Response to Intervention (RTI) program, to help teachers with intervention know-how and to provide students the opportunity to keep core teachers through their three years at the school (a process called “looping”).
       LeBrasse was full-time Holmes principal for 14 years. During the past year, she has retained the title of senior principal (former Holmes assistant Rob Utter became acting principal on-site) after the district pulled her away early this school year to develop a district-wide RTI program. She said she had hoped to retain the senior principal title in 2008-09, but the district has posted the principal position and is conducting a search for a permanent replacement.
       “It's hard to let go,” LeBrasse conceded, and said she looked forward to speaking at the school's eighth grade promotion ceremony May 21.
       “When I go up there [to Holmes), all the kids come up and say hi,” she beamed, adding that in some cases, “I had their parents in my classes.”
       Attending the Orlando conference with LeBrasse will be Carolyn Fisher, former Holmes assistant principal, who now works with LeBrasse on the district RTI effort; as well as Holmes teachers Kathy Kane, (math and science) and Earl Thomas (English and social studies)

Westside Pioneer/press releases