MMS Creates a Strong Educational Foundation for Budding Young Adults

The transition from childhood to adolescence is often considered one of the most influential and challenging experiences in the development of young men and women. In 92131, we depend on the dedicated work of a group of extraordinary members in our community to not only assist in this transition, but also help mold our young citizens into mature, well-rounded individuals. This pivotal time in students’ lives is spent at Scripps Ranch’s Thurgood Marshall Middle School (MMS). MMS Principal Michelle Irwin helps give perspective into the lives of both students and staff in the thick of the educational
“sandwich” that is junior high.

And you better be paying attention to this required reading, as there will be a quiz at the end.

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Q&A

with Michelle Irwin, Thurgood Marshall Middle School Principal

What is your role as principal of Thurgood Marshall Middle School (MMS)?
My main responsibility is to create a culture for teachers and students to engage in learning at all levels. I feel it is important to provide opportunities for students to become thoughtful and productive citizens. In my opinion, it is more important for students to be good people than have straight A’s. I believe it is my responsibility to provide a broad approach to education. For example we have rigorous humanities, math, and science programs along with a talented visual and performing arts program and a physical education program that enhances our students’ health education. Along with this responsibility, my team and I make sure we have a safe learning environment for our students to flourish.

What is your responsibility to the students on campus?
The Marshall students are very important to me. I want Marshall Middle to be a strong educational foundation for our students as they continue their journey through life. I build positive relationships with our students in order to allow them to believe in themselves and their potential for success. It is through these positive interactions that we can provide an amazing educational program. Without personal relationships, a school can become an assembly line. Every student is important at Marshall Middle. My team strives to meet the needs of every student.

CF03What is the most rewarding part about being principal? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part about being a principal is the thrill of observing students as they thrive and grow intellectually and socially. I enjoy getting to know our students when they enter MMS and observe them as they become better writers, mathematicians, thinkers, and most importantly, thoughtful and caring students. The most challenging part of my position is to maximize our dwindling district/state school budgets. Every year, more and more funding is reduced at the school level making it very difficult to support the needs of our students. Luckily, our PTSA supports MMS with additional funding. Without their financial support, we would not be able to offer our current program for our students.

What are your goals have you accomplished as principal? What do you hope to accomplish?
Thurgood Marshall Middle School is one of the largest middle schools in San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) with over 1,500 students. One of my goals is to be the number one middle school in our district. Our 2013 API score is 934 with an API ranking of 10, we are the highest middle performing middle school in SDUSD. As the nation and SDUSD transitions to the Common Core State Standards, my goal is to continue to out perform other schools and prepare our students for their future.

What does the PTSA do to assist with year-round activities?
We have a very strong PTSA. Our PTSA supports MMS by purchasing our student planners, classroom library resources, technology equipment, software programs, art and medical supplies, school supplies and much more! Our PTSA has supported me by providing planning time for our teachers as we transition to Common Core Standards. Our PTSA fulfills wish list items for our teachers. Without the support of our PTSA, we would not be able to provide our current level of support to students and teachers.

What are the major events MMS is hosting this school year?cf04
Every year, we have a variety of assemblies for students to engage in. This year, we have hosted Teen Truth for our 6th graders that focus on how to stop bullying and Internet Safety Talks for our 8th graders. We will have music concerts that showcase our beginning, intermediate and advanced band, orchestra and choir students. We have an annual musical that is held in the spring. We host the regional science fair competition. Students who place in this competition will move to the Greater San Diego Science Fair competition in March. We host a four-year planning conference for our 8th grade students and parents to support them as they transition to high school. We have a busy schedule!

What does MMS do to prepare students for their future as professionals?
At Thurgood Marshall Middle School, our instructional focus is to meet the needs of our 21st century learners. We believe we must provide opportunities for our students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and communicators. We believe our students need opportunities to analyze and synthesize information to solve problems with a new perspective. Our students will be faced with new challenges that we have not encountered so it is important for us to give our students these opportunities so they can strengthen these skills in order to navigate our ever-changing world.

What are some of the highlights of students’ time at MMS?
Our students are incredibly involved in many aspects at Marshall. We have students who will participate in the Greater San Diego Science Fair and those who place will move to the State Science Fair in May. We have students who are involved in Science Olympiad. These students will participate in competitions in February and later in April. We have students who will be hosting an Art show at Marshall where they will sell unique pieces of art for the annual Art fundraiser. We have Chamber Choir students who will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York in March. We have students who will participate in the annual Geography and Spelling Bees. Many of our talented students go above and beyond their studies to fully extend themselves and challenge themselves with some amazing opportunities.

CF05What sports are offered to students of MMS?
We have a very popular intramural sport club! Our intramural sports club offers flag football, basketball, futsal throughout the year. Any student can join the fun!

Please tell us about the wide range of afterschool activities that MMS offers.
We have a variety of clubs that engage our students beyond our rigorous academic program. Some of our clubs are the Philanthropist club, Circle of Friends, Star Trek Club, Avengers Club, Chess Club, Drama Club, Vanguard Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Harry Potter Club, Math Counts, Just People Club, Surf Club, Golf Club, Star Wars Club, Anime Club, Intramurals Sports Club, just to name a few.

What are some of the activities that MMS puts on throughout the year that students look forward to?
Besides all the great opportunities that our teachers provide for our students, we have an annual Club Carnival that our ASB organizes. All our students participate in some fun activities such as face painting, walking through a haunted house, participating in dance and pie eating contests and much more. It is a great way to come together and end the year.

What is your favorite thing to partake in with students?
I really enjoy being in the classrooms and talking with students about what they are learning. Our students are incredibly creative, thoughtful and energetic. I really enjoy the conversations that I have with the students.

Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know.
My husband and I like to travel to very remote places in Mexico, Central America and the South Pacific. We have been to so many places where there are very limited services that we “drop off the grid.” We really like to reconnect with nature and enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

[box title=”Principal Michelle Irwin At A Glance” box_color=”#9da0c3″]CF02

Name: Michelle Irwin
Resides In: 92107
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish/Teaching Credential from the University of Northern Colorado / Master of Arts in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Colorado-Boulder / Administrative Credential from the University of San Diego
Family: Scott – Husband; Scott is also a middle school principal in SDUSD
Hobbies & Interests: I love to travel, garden and cook!

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STUDENTS ON MMS

What is your favorite subject and why?
Cassandra Le (6th grade)
My favorite subject is English. I love to write. I really like creative writing.

Nathan Conlan (6th grade)
My favorite subject is Choir because singing is my passion and it is what I love to do.

What do you like best about Thurgood Marshall Middle and why?
Shruti Verma (7th grade)
I like how we [students] are so diverse. I like how we can be ourselves and not be pressured to be someone else. Everyone is nice to each other and that makes Marshall a great place to learn.

Gabriel Munoz (7th grade)
I like hanging out with my friends and I love having PE. I really like playing soccer during PE.

How has MMS made an impact with you?
Kacey Roche (8th grade)
Marshall Middle has given me the opportunity to develop good relationships with not only my classmates, but with students older and younger than me. I also have built positive relationships with the MMS staff members. The MMS staff really care about us.

Darius Boamah (8th grade)
The Marshall teachers have impacted me the most. I’ve learned so much here. I also have met a lot of great people who have become my friends.

[box title=”Marshall Middle School At A Glance” box_color=”#9da0c3″]

School Name: Thurgood Marshall Middle School
Principal: Michelle Irwin
Assistant Principals: David Braun/Melissa Jeffers
Total # of Students: 1,509 students
Total # of Staff Members: 80 (certificated/classified staff members)
Grades Served: 6-8
School Motto: Creating thoughtful productive citizens for our global society

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POP QUIZ!

 We are giving away two 5-packs of tickets for Disney on Ice Rockin’ Ever After to the first person that writes in with the correct answers to contest@92131magazine.com, with the subject line titled “92131 Pop Quiz!” 

Answer the questions below for your chance to win.

 1. What is the name of the principal at MMS?
 2. Name one of the movie-themed clubs that MMS students can participate in?
3. What is the MMS school motto?
4. Who is the highest performing middle school is SDUSD?