School View: Hello from Sneiderman

Staff Writer
Nevada Journal

Hello, Cub community! I am Tony Sneiderman, middle school assistant principal, and seventh- and eighth-grade activities director. This is my first year in the district, and I have truly appreciated how welcoming the school and this community has been. I grew up in small-town Iowa in Sheldon, and I value the enthusiasm people in this community have for their school and the connections I can make with families and students as an assistant principal in Nevada.

I come from a family of educators. My mother, father, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and spouse were, are, or are becoming teachers. My compassion for kids and desire to help other people become their best was instilled in me at a young age. After graduating high school, I attended University of Northern Iowa to become a business teacher. Five years later, I earned my Masters in Educational Administration from the University of South Dakota. I’ve taught fifth through twelfth grade business and technology in Charter Oak-Ute, Tripoli and St. Joseph, Mo., for eight years before moving to Nevada. Three of my years at Tripoli were spent as the athletic director. As an educational leader, I am excited for the role I can play in the team efforts of all the great things going on in this district. Here are a few of the exciting things going on at the middle school:

Transitioning to Standards-Based Grading

The middle school teachers are working hard this year to transition everyone to standards-based grading for the 2019-2020 school year. The standards-based grading leadership team has organized professional development for our teachers to reframe a focus of letter grades and percentages to student learning and valuable feedback.

Understandably, any major shift in grading practices invites valuable conversation as a result this change. Dr. Hartman and I attended a conference recently led by Rick Wormeli, a leading national educational consultant on standards-based grading. Wormeli asked, “Understandably, some parents worry that mastery-based learning will adversely affect their kids. Does it put children at a disadvantage for when they go out into the real world, where concrete results rule? Is it just another example of the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality that marks a major departure from how you and I grew up?” However, when we ask students to achieve long-term mastery of learning targets instead of short-term compliance of completing homework assignments on-time, we are actually raising our expectations for students. No longer will “playing the game of school” result in a high grade. Teacher and student focus will not only be on learning specific topics and content, but they will also be required to teach and learn mastery of content for long-term benefits in life.

Our goal as educators is to raise the bar and challenge our students in every aspect of our teaching practices as we can. Standards-based grading is a multi-faceted, philosophical practice for teachers to be able to reframe their approach to facilitating quality learning and more authentic experiences for students. There will be more family education on SBG coming soon.

Raising Student Voice and Participation

Raising Student Voice and Participation, more commonly referred to as R.S.V.P, is a student group focused on influencing positive change in our building. This student organization gathers input from classmates, prioritizes initiatives and meets with school personnel to create plans to implement improvements and changes. As a result of its efforts this year, the lunch service has added drinks to the a la carte selection, the Building Leadership Team is researching cell phone zones in the school for next year and I have worked with them to organize a uniform rotation for middle school athletics.

If you’ve been in the middle school this year, you may have also noticed a new vending machine by the front doors. It’s a challenge keeping it stocked, but the profits from this machine go directly towards paying for the implementation of R.S.V.P.’s ideas. This group is in charge of purchasing, re-stocking and spending of profits of the vending machine.

Student Demonstrations and Social Events

Even with the crazy weather we’ve had, it seems like the halls of the middle school have remained buzzing with activity. From demonstration nights, such as the eighth grade History Day, seventh grade Eco Day and sixth grade Night at the Museum, to social activities including PTA Roller Skating for fifth and sixth grade and Fun Night for seventh and eighth grade, the students have still found time to display their outstanding projects for family and friends and also celebrate their hard work with a few fun activities.

I look forward to continuing to help your kids grow into becoming their best selves and meet many more of the people in this community who make Nevada a great place to live, work, learn and grow!