Parent Welcome Letter & Permission Forms

John F. Kennedy Middle School
Honors Earth Space Science Course

Parent Welcome Letter

Instructor - Mr. Lawrence

2010 – 2011

Dear Parents;      

          I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being able to have your son/daughter in my class this year.   I look forward to our year long journey into Earth and Space science.   As you may already be aware, your child’s science course this year is an Honors Course where high school credit can be received if completed successfully.      

          Honors Earth Space science is a rigorous curriculum and your child will be expected to maintain their participation at an appropriate level.  Much of the investigations conducted in class are via teams.  Your child is expected to carry their fair share of the work load.  Some students will participate in activities and investigations that may be new to them.  Some students come to eighth grade with very good preparation and training.  This training includes, but is not limited to, an understanding as to why they are in school, a desire to learn, and the accompanying study skills necessary for success.   Unfortunately, some students enter eighth grade with weaknesses in one or more of these fundamental areas.       

         A high school honors course also requires students to be more responsible for their own actions, performance and behavior.  Teachers no longer “spoon feed” students - - telling them when to write something down, where to put it into their notebook, or exactly what to do and how to do it.  They do however place before their students a well set table containing many different, enticing and challenging learning activities and fields of study.        

Students are expected to begin to think for themselves.  They need to develop the confidence that the ideas that they might have may well be as valid as their neighbor or their teacher’s.  They need to learn that they have within themselves the ability to address issues and find credible solutions to those issues as they work together with their classmates.   They need to learn to work as a member of a team, knowing that the success or failure of the team is directly based upon what they do or don’t do to carry their own load.  They should loose the need to always have the teacher’s attention directed toward them and replace it with the desire to see their team succeed, thus assuring their own success.     

Eighth grade is a time in most students’ lives when they realize that there is a difference between boys and girls.  As their hormones begin to flow, they need to learn proper behavior with regards to these differences.  Because of these changes that are taking affect in their lives, eighth graders sometime become preoccupied with the related socialization aspects - - to the exclusion of their school work.  They spend valuable classroom time attempting to talk about their current circumstances or trying to catch the eye of someone else in the room.  The ability to control these urges is an issue that eighth grade students have to acquire.  The sooner they gain control, the sooner they perform at grade level in their classes, and the happier they will become.       

Because of the time restraints placed upon the class schedule of our students, work that is given in class needs to be worked on diligently and completed within the time frame provided.  At times the work is continued as homework to allow sufficient time to complete the task.  Excuses as to why the activity was not completed at home are normally unacceptable and usually have a basis in the fact that the time was spent “off task” due to the student’s need to socialize or their lack of organization.       

A student’s grade is based upon their performance, not upon how much the teacher likes them or upon how cute they are.  A student’s grade is based upon a performance standard and is not derived from comparing one student to another or upon the resulting proportional scale.   Because a student’s grade is based upon a standard, it is possible for all students to receive an “A” or an “F”.   As is stated in the “Course Syllabus” it is expected that all students will perform on grade level.  Student’s performing below grade level will be graded accordingly.  Any student who has low performance will automatically receive assistance from the other members of their team as well as from the teacher during class.  They may also receive additional assistance before or after school by requesting that assistance and by making arrangements to participate in the various tutoring opportunities provided. 

Teacher Communication      

 I do NOT have a phone in my classroom, therefore I will be unable to return a phone call made to the school. Feel free however at any time to e-mail me a question or concern.  Realize that I teach a full schedule and have no breaks and therefore my response may take a little while based upon the volume.  Please feel free to make an appointment to meet with your child’s teachers before school through the BEAT Office.  Communications may be made via a note sent with your child -- which will be responded to and returned the same or next day, or by my e-mail -- the response of which will be more immediate.       

Please read through the Course Syllabus and the accompanying forms in this packet.  Please print, then date and sign the Permission Forms Report and the Syllabus Receipt Form found on this website.  Return these forms to me at your earliest convenience, but please no later than the end of the second week of school.    

Again, it is my privilege to have your child in my classroom this year.  I look forward to mutual cooperation and respect, and our year long journey of investigations into Honors Earth Space science. 

                                                        Richard W. Lawrence Sr. 

                                                                                        Mr. Richard Lawrence
                                                                                        Instructor – Honors Earth Space Science