Oceanside Middle School Principal Allison Glickman-Rogers beamed when the school was once again named one of 16 Essential Elements Schools to Watch recently. The school had previously received the honor in 2012, 2016 and 2018.
“I just couldn’t be more proud to be part of a community that, as a whole, remains committed to middle-level education,” Glickman-Rogers said, “and recognizes the unique needs of the adolescent learners and a community that values the expertise at the middle school.”
OMS was recognized by the State Education Department in partnership with the New York State Middle School Association and the Network of Middle Level Liaisons. The designation is “awarded to exceptional middle-level schools that meet rigorous criteria and are on a path of continuous improvement,” according to a SED release.
Because of Covid-19, OMS has operated on a hybrid schedule, with some in-person and some remote students, but will welcome back all students later this month as part of a districtwide reopening plan. The middle school has more than 800 seventh- and eighth-graders, who are divided into four teams: red, orange, green and blue.
“We’re so proud of Dr. Glickman-Rogers and her entire team at Oceanside Middle School,” Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington said. “Oceanside is fortunate to have such strong and dedicated advocates educating our community’s young adolescents.”
Glickman-Rogers is the daughter of the Heralds’ vice president of sales, Rhonda Glickman.
Hundreds of schools apply for the designation, but only a few are named. Glickman-Rogers said that OMS officials take part in an in-depth self-study, which requires them to provide details about their organizational structure, developmental responsiveness, social equity and academic excellence. Not only must the school live up to the standards at the time of applying, but also administrators must demonstrate a commitment to finding out what works educationally, socially and emotionally for the students, and outline goals for future improvement.
“We looked at our practices, our programs, our procedures,” Glickman-Rogers said. “We really look at every aspect of our schools and our middle-level programs to identify strengths, things that we’re doing really well, but the real focus of the Schools to Watch program is to encourage us to look for ways that we can better improve our schools and community, go through it to identify goals for the next few years and put together a plan that includes the goals.”
One area that OMS teachers and administrators honed in on was mental health and wellness, which Glickman-Rogers said was the impetus for the school adding a recess period two years ago and building a basketball court outside where students could take a mental health break. She added that fitness equipment would also be installed outside soon, which the school acquired through a grant.
OMS administrators emphasize teamwork among students and teachers. That goal is evident in the guidance program, in which one guidance counselor leads a team and stays with a group of students for two years. The counselor also teaches a class, enabling students to take part in group guidance.
“It makes a big school feel small,” Glickman-Rogers said, “and provides the much-needed sense of community that middle-schoolers need in their lives.”
Glickman-Rogers called OMS teachers “middle-level advocates,” who understand the needs and characteristics of adolescent learners. She said it is an honor to work with her staff, and although the curriculum is rigorous, she noted, it enables students to become more aware of their strengths, talents and interests. “Our curriculum places a tremendous focus on social and emotional competencies that will help them to lead healthy and productive lives as adults,” she said.
OMS staff emphasize spirit and pride, which Glickman-Rogers said was most evident in the Team Spirit competition, a contest among the school’s four teams in which they compete in skits, dances, sports, singing and cheering. The event also encourages students to take on leadership roles.
She added that officials from other schools come to watch Team Spirit and see what it’s all about so that they can host similar events for their students. The event is usually held before February break, but was postponed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Glickman-Rogers said she hopes to find a way to host the competition before the end of the school year.
“There’s tremendous spirit and pride at the middle school,” Glickman-Rogers said. “We do a lot to make sure that everyone feels part of the community.”