Middle school students and staff plan to SOAR under new leadership

Phoebe Girimonte is committed to helping students succeed in her new role as Winters Middle School Principal this school year.

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In the changeover of her role from assistant principal to principal at Winters Middle School, Phoebe Girimonte looks forward to expanding on her work to offer resources and support to students, as well as providing a professional learning community for staff. Girimonte said that although it isn’t always viewed in a positive light, middle school is a magical time in a student’s life. If individuals are able to look past their own conceptions of middle school they’d recognize it is one of the most important and unique transitional windows where children begin to transform into young people. I’m so excited to be a part of the learning and growing that happens in sixth through eight grade, and to work with a staff that has so much heart and cares for students,” said Girimonte. In her three years as assistant principal, Girimonte has worked with staff and students to establish a positive behavior interventions and supports program to address both social emotional and behavioral needs of middle school students in Winters.   This includes helping to set the standard of the SOAR program where WMS students are encouraged to live each day putting Safety first, to Own your actions, to Always be kind and to have Respect for all. Girimonte said now that they’ve worked to lay the foundations they can shift their focus to a multi-tiered support system to ensure all students get what they need instructionally, intervention, enrichment or differentiation pending on each student’s specific social emotional, behavioral needs so that each student can learn effectively. “We’re thinking of ways we can serve all the needs that a student brings to the table,” Girimonte said. Her drive to work with youth is fueled by the belief that all students can succeed because through the help of adults and mentors in their life. She said working in education is an intrinsically rewarding profession, as educators get to see the impact of their work in the lives of the students they serve. “There’s a great deal of pride in what we’re able to achieve as a community in working with families, students and staff to help the students achieve and make those strides,” said Girimonte.  While looking back at her teachers from elementary through high school, Girimonte said if she has to point to a single educator who inspired her it would be Giles Turner, her drama teacher at Amador High School, who gave her something to aspire toward as an educator.  “He helped me to see how an educator is more than someone who just teaches the content,” Girimonte said. “They (educators) are someone who shapes the character of young people and someone who helps you to see and achieve your potential.” Girimonte said as she knew she wanted to be an educator as early as high school. After receiving her   degrees at UC Davis, Girimonte worked in a variety of capacities from teacher to site administrator at Dixon High School, C.A. Jacobs Middle School and Treemont Elementary School. She also served as the Dixon Human Resources Coordinator of personnel for two years. She said her first student teaching position in 2001 was in a WMS English core class teaching language arts and social science. She made the choice to come to Winters because she missed working directly with teachers, students and their families. She said she viewed it as the ultimate opportunity to work in the town where she lived and where her own kids attended school.  Girimonte said teachers have an amazing influence with students, and because of that belief she found the decision to leave the classroom difficult. She said she enjoys working with a variety of people across a variety of settings, and wants to work hard and collaborate to remove impediments to make improvements—which made an administrative role ideal. “There was a lot of appeal to an administrative role, where you do lose some of the amazing connection in a classroom setting, but you gain the opportunity to have a different kind of influence that can improve the educational experience for students,” said Girimonte. One of Girimonte’s greatest personal goals as WMS Principal, and as a parent, is to ensure all students feel welcomed, safe and supported at the middle school. She said that requires a wrap-around community approach that their doors are always open, and a goal to work with students, families and community members to make WMS the very best middle school experience for students. Girimonte’s theory behind helping WMS students (and all youth) grow is based upon a collective edificacy and harnessing the skills of staff to reach all students. She said she believes that educators need to make sure their curriculum and approach is relevant and culturally responsive to the student population. Educators also need to ensure that they provide scaffolds and support for students, while administrators provide teachers and staff time to dive into assessments of their instruction cycle to better student outcomes and success and working toward becoming a data informed culture.   “We are challenging students to access content that is going to prepare them for college and career pathways instead of teaching around it. In that same vein we need to work together to ensure we are providing students the opportunity to utilize 21st century skills like collaboration and working together,” said Girimonte.]]>

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