What leaders say…Mike Sinclair

Mike Sinclair from Middle College Natl Consortium on Vimeo.

“Hi, I’m Mike Sinclair, principal of Brashier Middle College HS in Greenville, South Carolina. On the Satellite campus of Greenville Technical Community College. We’ve been a school for 6 years, had 2 graduating classes and serve 420 students. As the school matured when we opened we looked for ways to cross the paradigm of students that are college eligible to students that are college ready, we found ourselves looking at  different components of what would make college ready students. So we looked at lots of things, starting with a literacy plan. Somewhat is it that our students should be able to do when they graduate. The staff worked really hard on non fiction and different activities there. We also looked at a capstone project. If we want our students to mature and grow into college ready material, how does that look as a senior? So we had a group look at that senior project to really have students prepare for a college experience and a career experience.

Then we had another group look at our project based learning.   So what does that look like from freshman all the way to senior year? So we all of our teachers look at lots of opportunities to prepare our students. And what we found was we were working on a lot of different projects. So last year at the MCNC Summer Conference we were looking at  David Conley’s work  in his College Knowledge book on Key Cognitive Strategies. Some were able to use the framework on what he’s established there on what makes students successful at college, through his research and that has  given us a common language. So now, instead of having a lot of committees and teacher groups working on different initiatives and talking different lingos and buzz words and cliches, now we have one common framework. So when we meet we talk about assignments we can say, “This is how it fits into problem formulation.” of “This is how it fits into analysis.” so it’s now united our staff. It’s really important that we put that together because our students deserve the best.

And that really becomes evident when we’re out in the community and we look at the way they’re [our students] are viewed in the community. I had a great experience of being in Columbia and the director of data research of the state of South Carolina’s Department of Education comes up and introduces himself and says, “I know exactly who you are and I realized quickly that he didn’t really know me . He knew our students through their statistics. He knew that 98% are graduating high school on time in 4 years. And he knew that 91% are graduating with at least one college credit. He knew their success through their statistics. What he didn’t know is we also don’t pick the cream of the crop which is what everybody thinks. We have just good blue collar working students. We have students that are T home taking care of parents that are going through chemotherapy. We have to make sure we find ways to make that kid successful. We have to own the success of every kid; from the kid who has Aspergers to the Special Ed, through all our different services and supports, and that’s really what’s brought us together as a school. So when we see our students out there, when people recognize our students, that’s what’s most important.

Our staff works hard and pulls themselves together through Key Cognitive Strategies and lots of supports we get from lots of other middle colleges around the country. The end result is the students need to be successful. Because that’s what’s important at the end of the day.”