Principal: Melissa A. Spash
Assistant Principal: Jessica Cunningham
Mission: The Guilmette Middle School will prepare all of our students with the academic skills, critical thinking ability, and strength of character to excel in high school, college, careers, and as a member of their community
The student population at Guilmette Middle School has similar characteristics to the student population of Lawrence Public Schools. While Guilmette has a slightly larger proportion of students whose first language is not English, half as many of Gilmette students are categorized as English language learners as compared to the district as a whole.
In 2014 and 2015, the February Acceleration Academies focused primarily on ELA and the April Academies focused on math. Being invited to one Academy did not preclude students from being invited to the second in a given year. In other words, in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, some students participated in one of the two Academies, some participated in both, and some did not participate in either. In 2016 (the 2015-16 school year), the district decided to dedicate the February Academy to English language learners, and held the ELA and math Academies concurrently in April.
Principal Melissa Spash is eager for her students to understand their own learning needs and to pursue them vigorously. "What I Need" – or WIN – is one of the mottos of the school and its first value is growth. In her own words: “You don’t work in Lawrence in a Level 3 school and just think you can do what was done before.” She believes that every aspect of the Academies is core to its success. She also has strong opinions when it comes to utilizing the Academies solely as preparation for high-stakes testing. "Test prep doesn't teach kids," she said. "It's so isolated and kids wouldn't want to come again. I think it does prepare kids by making them think in higher order ways, but there's just no kill and drill. We're really looking for very active, engaging instruction where students are verbally articulating their thinking and reasoning.”
One of the Academies middle school teachers at the Guilmette Middle told us:“What I like best is the work with the students and how deeply we can go with a topic or an activity. We’re not constrained by time, so I can really get their thoughts and kind of lead them, in a way, so they can open up to their full potential, which I don’t always get to do in the classroom.”
A student at the school was very blunt with us about the difference between the regular school year and the Academies: “Since classes are smaller, the teachers aren’t as stressed out and they’re not yelling. [In regular classes], they get stressed out when it’s loud and they start screaming. You can’t learn anything because teachers are trying to get behavior under control.”