Engagement Means Taking Risks (And Maybe Even Making Mistakes)

On January 30th, I opened an email from Lois Graper, our GT Coordinator at Clintonville Middle School, and the organizer of our Geography Bee:

Mr. See,

Please take the geography bee video off of YouTube

The rest of the email went on to say that the national organization overseeing the Geography Bee was upset that we had broadcast the Geography Bee live and that we needed to take the video down and agree to honor that particular rule in the future if we wanted to keep our winner eligible for future competitions. I completely understand the rule, and we of course took down the video.

To be honest, we only intended the broadcast as a test – and it worked!
Clintonville Middle School used to be Clintonville High School, a traditional high school building constructed in 1954 with the same design as many high schools of the time. Lots of brick and mortar, a few windows on the outside, and a majestic appearance.


Since the middle school served as the high school from 1954 to 2003, most people in the community have memories of our building, and not all of them are pleasant. When I attended the first PTO meeting of this year, I encouraged members to consider meeting somewhere other than the library at the middle school. Could we go to the local coffee shop? The public library? Somewhere else?

I could only imagine how intimidating our physical structure seemed to countless people who had perhaps had a negative experience while attending Clintonville HIgh School. Those folks would always view our building as the high school. In fact, after the new high school was built, we became the middle school by simply removing the word “High” from the letters attached to our brick facade.

One of the challenges facing my building principal, Scott Werfal, and I was that we needed to find a way to make our building accessible again for students, parents, and the community. After accepting my position as Associate Principal, I visited the Clintonville Middle School Facebook page and saw the magnitude of the problem. The page had a mere 44 “Likes,” and the single post to the page read, “Clintonville Middle School, where the teachers are bigger bullies than the kids.” We have since turned that around, and we plan to keep bringing stakeholders into the building, literally and virtually.


So, while we made some mistakes by broadcasting the Geography Bee, we needed to try something, ANYTHING to tear down the walls and allow parents and the community back into our building. We needed them to see the AWESOME going on at Clintonville Middle School so that they can eventually view us as CMS, and feel the #CMSTruckerPride we feel every day.

Part Two of this thread will detail the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of our broadcast and talk about plans to continue tearing down the old brick walls of the high school to reveal the magic of Clintonville Middle School.

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About jeffreyasee

High school assistant principal, hope dealer, writer of blogs, husband to Jenny, and father to Kaitlyn and Meghan

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