Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Thankful Principal

I love Thanksgiving!

It is one of the greatest holidays.

You’ve got the food without the shopping.

You’ve got time to be with family.

It is quite simply…GREAT!

I wanted to share with the WJHS faculty some of the things that I appreciate about them as Thanksgiving approaches.

I’m thankful for…

-A staff (certified and classified) that work together to do what’s best for our students.

-A staff that demonstrates a love for students on a daily basis through their patience, their concern, and a desire to do their best every day.

-Your commitment to our CORE values.
               Your willingness to collaborate.
               Your willingness to observe, to be observed, and otherwise grow professionally.
               Your skill at developing positive relationships.
               The high expectations that you have for yourself and our students.

-Our positive culture and the way that we support each other like a family should.

-Your school spirit!
Giving up your personal time so that our students see you supporting them at extracurricular events.
Dressing up.
Acting silly, dancing, or even doing back flips so that our kids see us as real people. J

-Your willingness to give new ideas not only consideration, but a chance to succeed.

-Your ability to provide honest feedback and engage in conversations about topics that we might not all agree on at the moment.

I could go on and on but I’ll conclude by saying thank you most of all for helping to create a great school!

Tim Sparacino, Principal

Friday, October 16, 2015

Master Teachers at WJHS

I added What Makes a Master Teacher into our FlipBoard magazine WJHS Learns this morning.

To me, the author (@gcouros) is describing a WJHS teacher.  J

Happy Friday!

Tim Sparacino, Principal
Washington Jr. High School

What makes a master teacher

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WJHS Learns: Using Flipboard to Enhance Your PLN

This morning’s voluntary learning session was a quick overview of how Flipboard can enhance your personal learning network.

WJHS Learns is a Flipboard magazine that I’ve created for WJHS staff members that want/need the fastest, easiest way to “connect.”

Simply click the link and read.

What you’ll find are articles that I thought might be interesting and/or be conversation starters.

One of the cool things about Flipboard magazines is that you can have multiple contributors (a group of students, a PLC, a department, a faculty, etc.).

So, if you’re a Flipboard user and want to be a contributor to WJHS Learns, let me know and I’ll give you access to add articles to the magazine.

If you’re not a Flipboard user, I would encourage you to give it a quick test drive.

Not all tools are for everybody but if you’re looking for a quick way to find information related to teaching, education, pedagogy, professional development, etc., it couldn’t be any easier than Flipboard makes it.

Tim Sparacino, Principal
Washington Jr. High School

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Our First Learning Walk of 2015-16

Our first Learning Walk of the Year was a big success and a lot of fun!

Learning Walks are a component of our Teachers Visiting Teachers program at WJHS.

I was joined by Janan Foster, Ashley Jones, Betty Pollreis, and Leigh Ann Sandlin.

Our group visited the following teacher's rooms:

  • Dave Rau
  • Scott Terrell
  • Brittany Nelson
  • Sarah Luhtanen
  • Deb Hight and Kandi Cowart
  • Bentley Fisher

We saw several examples of teachers creating experiences with real-world applications for students, engaging instructional techniques, technology integration, and evidence of relationship building.

As you can see from this tweet, we were also pleased to be greeted by a display outside of Mr. Fisher's room.  Mr. Fisher had taken a cue from the recent #bpseduchat with guest host AJ Juliani and had sought student feedback on what would happen if students were allowed to pick their teacher, investigate topics that they wanted to pursue, etc.

It was a great opportunity for the Learning Walk group to read some of the student responses and reflect on the wisdom that they shared especially about the importance of the relationship between the student and the teacher.

As always, it was great to get into WJHS classrooms and witness the incredible teaching taking place and observe firsthand the amazing talent and intellect of our students.

Go Wildcats!

Tim Sparacino, Principal
Washington Jr. High School

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Amazing Start

Thank you to our faculty, staff, and PTO for an amazing start to the school year. 

I asked as many kids as I could yesterday how their first week was. 

What I heard in response was:

It was great!

I love Washington!

As we move forward, remember to keep the main thing, the main thing- developing Wildcats!

(Wildcats are Welcoming, Involved, Leading, Dependable, Cooperative, Ambitious, Teachable, and Serving.)

Students before standards. 

Relationships, relationships, relationships. 

It IS going to be another great year at WJHS. 

(Because of you.)

Tim Sparacino, Principal 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Saying Goodbye Assistant Principal Chris Long

Our staff surprised Mrs. Chris Long with a going away party today.

Chris is relocating with her family to Colorado and therefore a teary goodbye was in order.

Mrs. Long has be such a TREMENDOUS asset to WJHS over the past two years and will be GREATLY missed.

Our staff presented her with gifts and showered her with praise today.

During her time at WJHS, Chris has been the driving force behind so many of the successes that we have had including the development of The Wildcat Way.

Her ability to organize and mobilize the troops by providing clear concise directions and guidance is exceptional.

The Positive Pop Ins that she performed as part of her instructional supervision were always greatly appreciated by our teachers.

Chris is also a master of providing honest, constructive feedback in a professional manner.

Mrs. Long, we love you, cherish the time that we had with you, and wish you and your family nothing but the best in Colorado.

You'll always be a part of The Wildcat Way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Honoring Assistant Principal Stephanie Lane

Our staff took an opportunity today to honor our FABULOUS Assistant Principal, formally congratulate her on her new position as Principal of Ardis Ann Middle School, and say a teary goodbye.

Stephanie has been THE HEART of WJHS and we love her!

She will be greatly missed.

With that being said, we wish her the best of luck and know that she will help build on the outstanding tradition of excellence at Ardis Ann.

To the faculty at Ardis Ann, we say, "You don't know how lucky you are!"

To Stephanie Lane, we say, "We are SO PROUD of you.  We love you and we'll miss you.  Good luck in your new position."

Stephanie Addresses the Staff:

Standing Ovation!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WJHS Teachers Receive 21C (1:1) Grants

The Bentonville Public Schools 21C Grant program provides a classroom set of laptops to teachers that receive the grants.

This year, 115 applications were submitted and the selection process was tougher than ever.

WJHS was the recipient of five grants this year (3 individual grants and 2 team grants)!

The transformation of our building over the past couple of years has been greatly enhanced by these grants.

We appreciate the Bentonville Public Schools Foundation, the Bentonville School Board, and the Bentonville School District Administration for their continued support of the 21C grant program.

We especially thank our Superintendent Mr. Poore, Executive Director of Finance Dr. Ming, Executive Director of Secondary Instruction Judy Marquess, and our Technology Director, Andy Mayes for their efforts to ensure that this program not only continues, but thrives.

Our recipients this year were:

Brittani Durr

Deb Hight

Ashley Jones

Ana Konyk

Jody Newton

Erin Valentine

Kim Woods

Brittani Durr and Kim Woods Receive Their Grant

Our Entire Group of Recipients

WJHS is blessed to have a staff that is dedicated to providing our students with the most engaging, relevant, and meaningful education possible. 

Congratulations to all of our 21C grant winners!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thanks to an Amazing PTO Board

The 2014-15 WJHS PTO Board met for the final time on May 11th and were honored with hanging plant baskets.

From left:  Marcie Bayless- Co-President; Misty Tadda- Vice President, Jeannette Latham- Co-President, Wendy Staten- Treasurer, and Shannon Estes- Secretary.

We love our PTO and these Board members helped make the year even better.

PTO Board, thanks for your service!

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Principal Looks at 50

Our Principal, Mr. Sparacino arrived this morning to find his office door decorated like.. he walked into his office, he saw...

Signs like this were plastered everywhere...

...thanks to the office staff, breakfast was served...

...and there was this serenade...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

WJHS Teachers Receive BPS Foundation Grants

The Bentonville Public Schools Foundation surprised four WJHS teachers this week with grant awards.

The teachers that received the awards were Carrie Beach, Casey Cunningham, Jared Jones, and Jennifer Jones.

Congratulations to these teachers and thanks to the foundation for supporting Bentonville students and teachers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Attend the Youth Literature Festival!

On Saturday, May 2nd the city of Bentonville will be hosting its very first Youth Literature Festival. Events will take place at the Bentonville Public Library as well as the Bentonville Community Center. This is a free event for students/youth, but registration is required. Come see authors, illustrators, workshops, book sales, do crafts, and hear music. The festival is also seeking volunteers to assist with authors and tasks.

Learn more and register for workshops at or call 271-6816. You can also stop by the WJHS library with questions for Ms. Jones. 

WJHS Spring Play "The Hamlet Thrill-ma-geddon"

The WJHS Drama Department will be putting on "The Hamlet Thrill-ma-geddon", a comedy by Don Zolidis, Thursday, April 23rd through Saturday April 25th. Performance times on Thursday and Friday will be 7pm, Saturday. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Teachers Visiting Teachers at WJHS

At WJHS, we have a program that encourages teachers to observe each other's classroom  We call this our Teachers Visiting Teachers (TVT) program.

This post describes the journey that WJHS went on from a culture where teachers never visited another teacher’s room to a culture where teachers visit other rooms on an almost daily basis. 

In fact, because the culture is so ingrained now, WJHS teachers regularly notify each other of potentially interesting visit opportunities.

TVT E-mail Invitation Examples:

As of the time of this writing, our teachers have documented 212 individual visits this year (and a total of 675 "TVT points" which will be described later in this post).

How did it happen?

First Step- We made it quick and easy.

During the development of The Wildcat Way, we were discussing one of our core values (observation) and having a growth mindset.  At that point we posed the following question to the faculty:

Everyone understands that the best professional development is often right across the hall.  Schools all across America talk about the importance of peer observations.  Why doesn't it happen?

Our staff verbalized several reasons including lack of time, cumbersome procedures, documentation requirements…

We asked, "What if we made it quick?"

                A visit can be as short as five minutes or as long as you’d like.

We asked, "What if we made it easy?"

                You pick when and where.

                Limited documentation required.

                We created various "types" of visits:

                                Idea Bandit- A quick visit designed to simply look for ideas.

                                Invitation- Teacher A invites Teacher B to observe a specific strategy.

                                Learning Walk- Multiple teachers gather and visit classrooms looking for specific things- student engagement, integration level of technology, higher order thinking, etc.

                                Specialist- A session with one of our instructional coaches.

                                Other- Whatever!  You tell us how you worked with another teacher (outside of normal PLC activities).

Second Step- We made it fun!

Excitement began to build around the idea of a TVT program that was quick, easy, and fun.

We assigned different points to the type of visits.  One point for the most basic (Idea Bandit) more points for those that require more time/commitment (Invitation, Learning Walk, and Specialist).

We asked the staff how many TVT points they would commit to and were hoping to hear at least two per semester per teacher.

They discussed it and agreed on a goal of 700 points for the year!  

Our administrative team was blown away!

For the record, we logged 862 TVT points the first year and currently have 675 for this year with two months of school remaining.  Amazing!

Third Step- Maintain Momentum and Focus

Our administrative team was looking for a “big finish” for our faculty meetings and we decided to highlight the TVT program.

We celebrate TVT’s at the end of each faculty meeting.  Teachers share what they’ve learned, staff members are praised, and prizes are awarded (random drawing, teachers with the most visits, teachers visited the most, etc.).

Our TVT program has been a huge success that has helped our teachers grow professionally and have fun while doing it.

It is important to note that none of this was mandated by the administrative team.  This program and the commitment to it grew from a simple conversation with professionals about a "best practice."

It flourished because of our staff's commitment to our core values and way of doing business...The Wildcat Way.

Tim Sparacino, Principal

Friday, April 3, 2015

Things That Matter

I read a blog post this morning on Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension entitled Going Beyond the Standards.

Even though it is written from an English teacher's perspective, I think the general idea applies to all of us.

The short version is...

Create opportunities for students that matter vs. “covering” the standards and/or just surviving the last quarter.

By the way, when I look at the transformation that you guys (our teachers and staff) have made happen in the classrooms here at WJHS, I’m proud to say that I see our students doing things that matter.

Have we completely arrived?  No….but we’re getting there and I’m very pleased with the progress that we've made together and look forward to our ongoing improvement.

Have a great Friday.

Tim Sparacino, Principal

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Join Us For Crafternoon!

If you signed up for Crafternoon to arm-knit scarves, check in with your seminar teacher Thursday, April 2nd, then join us immediately in the library. 

Join the BHS Colorguard!

Hey, 8th graders, did you miss the info meeting? It's not too late. You can still attend the remaining clinics for the BHS Colorguard program. The clinics are $20/person on April 2nd, 6th, and 9th. Meet in the BHS Band Room from 5-8 p.m. Wear black dance attire. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

What is Bright Futures?

Bright Futures is a Bentonville Public Schools initiative that streamlines school, community, and business resources to meet the needs of our students often within 24 hours. When students have their needs met, it becomes easier for them to be successful in school both academically and socially.

Bright Futures provides an umbrella of support for students.  All referrals filter through our school counselors.  We work to streamline new and existing resources to meet student needs. 

Here are a few examples of Bright Futures at work:
School supplies are provided to a student by a school counselor
PTO Gives Back purchases clothing for a needy student
Snack packs are given to students who may come from food deprived homes on Friday so they will not experience hunger over the weekend
A social worker works with a homeless family to secure housing
Local business donates a mattress for child sleeping on the floor
A vendor provides products to fill a need through our Facebook page
A barber donates a free haircut to a student who cannot afford one
Volunteers commit to being mentors for students who need positive role models in their life
A group of retired ladies knit stocking caps for children and donate them to a school
A parent donates an additional$5 to cover another child’s field trip cost
A monetary donation is made to the Bentonville Schools Foundation for Bright Futures to use for student needs when donations cannot be found

We are all part of the Bright Futures Team.

We live in Bentonville.  Is this program really needed?  Yes.  Typically a school district’s poverty rate is measured by their free and reduced lunch program.  Currently, the district’s free and reduced lunch rate is at 28%.  That equals4,288 students living in poverty. 

Click here to watch a video created by student of Bentonville Schools:

Is this another Hand-Out Program?  No.  Our mission is to meet student needs.  When the support needed reaches the extensive level, our social workers engage with families to help provide resources while teaching the family skills to become independent. 

How can I help?  Like us on Facebook—Unfilled needs run through our Facebook posts.

Host a Bright Futures Drive—Essential Needs, Canned Goods, Snack Items. 
Invite Bright Futures to present our program at your workplace, civic organization, or faith-based group. 

Donate to Bentonville Public Schools Foundation and tag funds for Bright Futures

Contact Amanda Musick at 479.696.9573 or emailamusick@bentonvillek12.orgfor more information.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Providing Students Access to Technology: 1:Many at WJHS

At Washington Jr. High School, we place a very high importance on providing students and teachers access to modern tools in order to help ensure a meaningful, engaging learning environment.

One of the ways that we do that is through our 1:Many grant initiative.

In our 1:Many initiative, teachers apply for a cart of laptops in order to ensure that they have a device for every 1-3 students.

The applications are reviewed by our district Instructional Technology Support Specialists and our WJHS admin team.  The process of identifying the recipients from all the quality applications is always very difficult and this year was no exception.

We're striving to get to a place where teachers don't have to apply for this "basic" equipment and we will continue to work to use all available funds to support our transformation.

While some schools see technology devices as "nice to have" extras, we see them in the same light as books, paper, pencils/pens, projectors...for us they are basic, required learning tools.

Our kids deserve the best that we can provide.  So, we are continually working to transform every room in the building on our way to a 1:1 environment.

With today's awards, we now have fifteen 1:Many classrooms in our building to compliment the ten classrooms that have acquired 1:1 grants through our district's 21C program.

Congratulations to the latest round of 1:Many grant recipients!

Libby Brown

Casey Cunningham

Britani Durr

Deb Hight

Linda Holland

Stephanie Jones

Jennifer Tatum

Kim Woods

Monday, March 16, 2015

Speaking of Testing

During my professional reading this morning, I saw this quote from Todd Whitaker:

I was reminded about our goals at WJHS of providing "meaningful" learning opportunities for students, developing Wildcats (Welcoming, Involved, Leading, Dependable, Cooperative, Ambitious, Teachable, and Serving), and The Wildcat Way.

The name of the curriculum we use may change.  The name of the assessments we're required to give may change.

However, our practice of doing what's best for students will remain.

Go Wildcats!

Tim Sparacino, Principal

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Job Shadowing forms are DUE!!!

All 8th graders need to make sure they have turned in their job shadowing forms to Mrs. McDowell.  


Tuesday, April 28th
7:05pm Game
Naturals vs. Springfield Cardinals
Buck-A-Brat Night!

Choir students will perform the National Anthem!

$8.00 per ticket
(checks can be written out to WJHS)
Choir students will receive their ticket order forms by the end of the week.  Order forms are also available in the main office.  

**$3 or $4 of every ticket sold will remain in the choir department. (depends on how many total tickets we sell) Thank you for your support!**

Performing Students: 
Meet at Arvest Ballpark no later than 6:30pm by Guest Services (between sections 113/114)
Wear your choir t-shirts, please
After we perform, you will be released back to your families to enjoy the game!

Needed Recyclables during Testing Week!

During testing week March 11th - 17th the Amazeum is letting us use their wind tubes for our learning stations. Students will be able to create things and fly them in the wind tubes. We need your trash such as cool whip tubs, yogurt tubs, plastic fruit containers, toilet paper/ paper towel cardboard tube. Please send these recyclables to Mrs. Ashley Jones in room 201. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Mrs. Marquess, our Executive Director of Secondary Instruction, shared the article below with me today.

Reading it reaffirmed one of our CORE values (Relationships) and what The Wildcat Way stands for.

Excerpts from the article that resonated with me are:

... compelling evidence from the fields of adolescent development and resiliency studies show that caring relationships are the key factor in helping young people flourish.

... a teacher’s personality counts...

... If an inquiry-based system is to succeed, we’ll need human beings in the classroom who know their field, but who also radiate the kind of positive, non-judgmental love that helps students open their minds and hearts.

To the teachers of WJHS, I say thanks for being knowledgeable in your content and current on pedagogical practices but more importantly, thanks for striving to model The Wildcat Way and building strong relationships with our students.

Go Wildcats!

P.S. For a peak inside our school and evidence of The Wildcat Way, check out our #gowjhswildcats hashtag on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Tim Sparacino, Principal
Washington Jr. High School

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February Crafternoon!

Did you sign up for the February Crafternoon? Don't forget, we're meeting Feb. 25 during seminar. You will receive a confirmation note you must sign and return to Ms. Jones asap to guarantee your spot. You won't want to miss learning how to knit a scarf! 

Science Fair Winners

Check out this year's science fair winners and their projects at the link below! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February Crafternoon!

Join us in the library Wednesday, February 25th during seminar for our next Crafternoon. We'll be learning how to arm knit an infinity scarf. Yarn will be provided, so it's important to sign up early. Deadline to sign up in the library is February 16. We're looking for 100 crafty participants. It's gonna be awesome, so join us! 

Join us for Wildcat Writers

Wildcat Writers will meet Thursday, Feb. 5 during seminar. We'll have a snack and do a fun creative writing activity using newspaper headlines. If you love to write just for the fun of it, join us! 
All are welcome!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

WJHS Bookmark Contest!!

It’s that time of year! Time for the annual WJHS bookmark contest!
Come by the library to get your template. Be as creative as you want, but it must include original art, be in color, and include books or reading somehow. Bookmarks due Friday, February 6th. 

The fine print: 
We'll pick 5 semi-finalists in each grade, having a round of voting, then choose one winner for seventh, one winner for eighth. Both winners will get their bookmarks printed to be used as the WJHS bookmark. AND...both winners will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire. Your odds are pretty good, winners! 

Come get your template in the library today! Good luck! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Importance of Building Positive Relationships with Students

This video (embedded below) of a TED Talk by Rita Pierson was shared with me recently.

I have watched it a couple of times before but I always find it well worth the eight minutes.

My favorite quote from Rita in this speech is, "Teaching and learning should bring joy!"

As you watch the video, reflect on The Wildcat Way and how one of our CORE values is "Relationships."

Teaching is THE most important job in the world and building relationships is Job #1 for teachers.

WJHS staff, thanks for all that you do!

Tim Sparacino, Principal

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cheer and Dance Tryouts 2015

Cheer and Dance tryouts will be held at Washington April 13-17th. 

A mandatory meeting for parents will be February 11th at 5:30 pm in the Little Theater.  There will be a cheer & dance clinic for those seeking extra help. You will need an up-to-date physical to attend and to tryout.  Please contact Mrs. McDowell or Mrs. Campbell for more information.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Constant Change, Trying Times, and Focusing on What Really Matters

Our Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum shared this article with me this morning.

The article talked about the potential stress that is placed on teachers by constant change in education.

The author outlines some guiding beliefs for teachers:
1. Change is constant, let's focus on how we manage it.
2. Don't wait for training, be a learner, go out and seek it.
3. Focus on the important things (many of these do not change).

As the leader of a building, the thing that resonates with me is that I must take the lead in all three of the areas listed above.

To do that, I try to focus on and communicate to my staff..."growth" more than "change"...what's best for students (engagement, challenge, choice, voice) more than Common Core (or any initiative), and The Wildcat Way.

Although it is a trying time for educators, it's also a great time to be in education.

I love it!

Tim Sparacino, Principal
Washington Jr. High School

Monday, January 5, 2015

Science Fair Judges Needed

We are looking for judges for the 2015 WJHS Science Fair.  Judging will be held on Saturday, February 14 in the WJHS Library from 8-2.  If you have a background in science, math, technology, or engineering and are interesting in helping, please contact Carrie Beach (