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RMS Rattler

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Edward J. Richardson Middle School (RMS) is nestled in the hillside of southwest Torrance in Los Angeles County. This neighborhood school opened as Newton School in 1955, originally housing grades K-8, later changing in 1972 to a middle school, and eventually closing in 1986, when it was converted to an adult school. It was renamed Edward J. Richardson Middle School, after a retiring superintendent, when it reopened in 1993 in the current 6-8 grade-level model. The school colors are Teal and Black and the mascot is the Rattlesnake.  Today, the current administrative team at RMS is led by Mr. Ian Drummond, Principal, and Ms. Krystal Alcala, Assistant Principal.

 

Throughout the years, RMS has stayed true its school motto, “Excellence of Mind, Strength of Character.” RMS is a school focused on serving the educational needs of its students by a commitment to excellence in academics and character, as evident through its consistent and extraordinary academic achievement. Although RMS has many school wide and student programs to be proud of, its strength lies in a group of students, staff, and parents who are caring, engaged, and driven. The positive connections and effective collaboration between all stakeholders are the true catalysts in the student achievement at RMS. This continuous commitment to student achievement is most evident in our API scores. Amazingly, RMS has demonstrated an increase in API scores in 12 of the 13 years the API has been utilized by the California Department of Education as a measurement of student learning. This past school year, the API score for RMS increased 17 points from 905 to 922. Learning is the focal point at RMS…for students, for parents, and for teachers.

 

For teachers, learning starts with weekly collaboration time on Tuesday late starts. This part of our Professional Learning Community (PLC) is data-driven from CST scores, classroom grades, citizenship, and effort marks, demographic subgroups, teachers’ surveys, and teacher leadership teams. The RMS professional development calendar is developed with teachers and includes workshops and collaboration on topics such as interventions and data analysis, instructional technology, common assessments, English Learners, special education, instructional strategies, and Common Core State Standards. Over half of the PLC workshops are facilitated by teachers. Each teacher is on a leadership team that either facilitates professional development or celebrates student successes. Teacher learning also includes classroom observations of other teachers by means of Learning Walks and visits to other local area schools. RMS teachers continually demonstrate their desire to improve instruction and student learning through openness to change and embracing each task.

 

For parents, there are a variety of opportunities to impact learning. Monthly or bi-monthly Parent Education nights have been a staple at RMS for years. Recent Parent Education night topics have included drug addiction, internet safety, college and career readiness, and family health and wellness.  With recent financial constraints, our parents have created and been trained for new volunteer positions, such as lunchtime Parent Eyes, library/media lab support, and classroom deep cleaning. Parents and local community members have also been a strong guiding force to our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program by coaching several robotics teams, teaching students engineering best practices in STEM classes, and collaborating with science teachers on hydrogen fuel technology. The relationship and collaboration between our parents and the school is genuine and impactful. Our PTSA, School Site Council, and site Vision and Planning team work together to leverage every possible resource – time, funding, manpower, and intellectual challenge – for our students.

 

For students, learning occurs not only with the expectation of excellence, but also with enjoyment. At RMS, teachers strive to engage students every day through the integration of teamwork, trust, technology, and real-world connections. Teachers have significantly increased the use of blended learning and extended the amount of flexible learning opportunities outside the school day. Students frequently submit assignments, take tests, watch videos, and participate in discussion forums online. During lunch alone, students might be found practicing drum line and jazz band, receiving targeted additional academic support, participating in trivia contests, playing in noon sports leagues, writing for our online newspaper, taking pictures for yearbook, and working on projects in the applied tech lab. Furthermore, the majority of campus activities are led by students, whether it be coordinating scavenger hunts, sports tournaments, environmental campus cleanup, grade-level spirit competitions, or even collecting for a food or sports equipment drive.

 

The Richardson Middle School community embraces it as an opportunity to learn. The challenge for an already high performing, suburban school like RMS is not accepting the status quo. It would be easy to simply point to our test scores. However, we do not believe we are simply preparing our students to take tests well. We are preparing our students to be successful in a global world that is constantly changing technologically and culturally. To further facilitate excellence in academics and character for all students, RMS has shifted its focus in recent years to integrating technology for learning and building a positive school culture through effective communication and collaboration. It is the mission of the RMS staff to educate the whole child, and with that has come a culture where every child knows that we have expectations for them and  that they are cared for and supported on campus.