CVMS 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 92130, 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 Carmel Valley Middle School. CVMS Principal Laurie Brady 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.
with Carmel Valley Middle School Principal, Laurie Brady
What is your role as principal of Carmel Valley Middle School (CVMS)?
My role as principal has many facets. It can best be summed up as supporting the implementation of best practices in teaching and learning by cultivating a collaborative school culture that is student-centered and conducive to innovation.
What is your responsibility to the students on campus?
My responsibility to students on our campus is to ensure structures and supports for best classroom practices as well as a positive and safe school climate and culture. Every student should leave CVMS prepared for the rigors of high school and beyond.
What is the most rewarding part about being principal? The most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of being a principal is working with all stakeholders in the learning community. Teachers, students, support staff, parents and the community at large provide a world class education for our students (our kids!), putting the best interest of students first. Conversely, the most challenging aspect of being a principal is meeting the needs and desires of all stakeholders in the learning community – teachers, students, support staff, parents and the community at large!
What are you most proud of as a principal?
At all three schools where I have served as an administrator, Muirlands Middle School, Del Mar Hills Academy and Carmel Valley Middle School, I have been most proud of the staff that I have worked with. Carmel Valley Middle School truly has a staff that is second to none. They are here for students and the best interest of the school community. The CVMS teaching staff strives for excellence and has keen insight into working with the mid-level student. They are collaborators and innovators, consistently on the “cutting edge” – creative with curriculum, great instincts about best practices, and, might I add, fun to work with!
What do you hope to accomplish?
At every school where I have served, it is my hope that I have cultivated a student-centered culture that is complimented by support staff and teachers that put the needs of students first. It is my goal to make sure that staff feels comfortable and supported with regard to creativity and innovation with best instructional practices and curriculum.
What does the Foundation do to assist with year-round activities? The PTSA?
CVMS has a very active, supportive and involved PTSA. We have over 300+ parents who actively volunteer at our school in one way or another throughout the year. PTSA volunteers help at the school site on a daily basis; from lunch lines to our Media Center, to a myriad of activities for kids! Our extraordinary partnership with PTSA is integral to the success of our school. PTSA supports many school events. This year and over the years, they have done much to support the expanding of our integration of technology into the curriculum. In support of our goal to reduce paper/copying use and encourage our “Bring Your Own Device Policy”, PTSA has purchased a vast library of Chromebooks to supplement students using tablets in the classroom. Our PTSA supports our award-winning Science Olympiad and Math Counts teams. Both teams are run by parent volunteers. PTSA also uses dollars to directly support classroom instruction through their Mini-Grant and Giving PAWS Program. PTSA was integral to the maintenance of many supplemental programs at CVMS through the managing of the budget deficit over the last several years.
What are the major events CVMS is hosting this school year?
CVMS hosts many amazing events throughout the school year. They are posted monthly on our website calendar scroll. Some highlights include our Spring Articulation Nights, August New Student (WEB) “Welcome Everybody!” Event, ASB Friendship Week, Back to School Night, fall and spring concerts, Coffee Concerts, ASB Dances and Movie Night, ASB School Spirit Days, Spring Carnival, Multi-Media Students Film Festival Night, Club Days (we host over twenty clubs that meet weekly), Math Counts, Science Olympiad, Talent Show, Fall and Spring Plays, 8th Grade Promotion Exercises, and Career Day (to name a few).
What does CVMS do to prepare students for their future as professionals?
CVMS’s well-rounded program, in conjunction with our feeder districts and award-winning high schools prepares students for the future. Implementation of Common Core State Standards will help to ensure that students are prepared in all areas for what I like to call “13th grade” – whether it is college, career or both. Students in the Carmel Valley Learning Community enjoy many great successes. They are masters of the 4Cs: Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Communication!
What are some of the highlights of students’ time at CVMS?
Middle School is an extremely exciting time in a student’s life. It is very rewarding for us to see a student enter from elementary school at the inception of 7th grade. Most 7th graders are eager and unsure, yet at the same time ready for a new adventure. In two short years, they speak fondly at promotion of memories and friendships made at CVMS. Most extraordinary is watching them move on again, eager and unsure about the next adventure in high school. The CVMS staff and I take great pride in our confidence in every Bobcat student being well prepared for 9th grade.
What sports are offered to students of CVMS?
Carmel Valley Bobcat teams are hosted through the adjacent/shared use facility, Boys and Girls Club, Polster Branch. The Boys and Girls Club hosts three sports teams (two cut teams and one no-cut team) three times each school year. This is called the “Big Eight” sports opportunities offered include girls field hockey, boys basketball, wrestling (no cut), flag football, track and field (no cut), girls basketball, boys soccer, and girls soccer. We are proud of our Bobcat athletes! We value our partnership with The Boys and Girls Club.
Please tell us about the wide range of after-school activities that CVMS offers.
Carmel Valley Middle School’s robust program offers a variety of opportunities for everyone! Our elective program can be found online on our counseling site. Many electives are tied with our great activities. For instance, our ASB Leadership Program, under the direction of advisor, Holly Vermilyea organizes many activities tied to school spirit, such as our Spirit Week that includes student favorites: Bobcat Derby, Bobcat 500, The Amazing Race, Dance-Offs and Carnival Day. We offer a variety of before, during (lunchtime) and after-school programs for all students. Some examples include our Academic Power Hour, Math Tutorials, Intramural Sports Program, Club Program, Science Olympiad, Jazz Band, and Math Counts Programs.
What are some of the activities that CVMS puts on throughout the year that students look forward to?Bobcat students love their school. Our students have so much to offer. They enjoy great friendships, academic rigor, fine arts, the thrill of competition and “just being a middle school kid.” Each day there are many curricular activities that are engaging and of value to our students. Many of our lesson are hands-on and of high interest to our students. Each day offers memorable learning experiences for our kids! We offer a wide range of activities to connect students to school.
What is your favorite thing to partake in with students?
I thoroughly enjoy just being around kids. I love their energy, their sense of humor, and particularly their divergent thinking and creativity (especially at this age). The first things that come to mind when I hear this question are: watching kids interact at lunch (trying to look cool and confidant) and “chit chatting” with them, watching our music ensembles perform, watching our Jazz Band in the morning, watching kids film our Bobcat News Network (BNN) in front of the green screen, watching kids in drama (they love the fencing unit!), observing carefree creativity in art class, observing a bottle rocket launch in science class or a first run with a robot created in our Engineering elective. It is exciting to listen to kids discuss literature in English and connect themes to their own lives, seeing students from diverse backgrounds and languages work collaboratively in science or debate a “big idea” in Social Studies. I am also always amazed at our students’ (digital learners) proficiency and know-how with technology – it is incredible to see. It has also been fun to talk to students in math classes this year as we roll out Common Core based lessons (characterized by deep and critical thinking). Talking to kids about their assessment regarding the “why” of an answer to a problem is pretty fun.
Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know.
I love the fine arts both in and outside the school setting. I am determined to spend a few periods with our phenomenal Physical Education Program this year and run the Super Lap in under seven minutes – now that it is in writing, I have to do it! Both of my eldest children went to Earl Warren Middle School. They elected to stay there when we moved from Rancho Santa Fe to Carmel Valley. (They loved it so much, they didn’t want to leave.) It is a blessing that parents in 92130 can choose between two great middle schools!
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
This is a nice opportunity to acknowledge our awesome Administrative Team, my partner, Assistant Principal, Adam Camacho and our Bobcat Counseling Staff, Toni Zurcher and Karen Infantino. CVMS has a great community of parents, kids, and feeder districts, a supportive District Office and School Board, and, again, a phenomenal teaching and support staff. Our Front Office staff is the best I have ever worked with. Together, they are all what makes CVMS a remarkable school! This is also a great opportunity to thank our community for supporting improvements at our school through Prop AA. We are already enjoying more efficient and increased Network performance throughout our school. We are no longer “bogged down” trying to access the Internet. This project was completed last month and has made all the difference for a technology-rich program! We are also very excited about the next Prop AA Project at CVMS as we finalize plans for the modernization of our Media Center! And, our students and community have enjoyed great excitement watching improvements at our high schools and anticipating the new Middle School in Pacific Highlands Ranch. This is a historical time for the community and the San Dieguito Union High School District! I am proud to be a part of it.