Vikings in the Middle

What's Happening at North Shore Middle School? posts by Rob Dennis, Principal

Hello, North Shore Middle School!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Last night, I gave a presentation to the Board of Education highlighting achievement of our students over the course of the year. The presentation can be found by clicking HERE. One thing that is abundantly clear: we value all of our students first as individuals, and recognize that that is the starting point for great teaching and learning. We are proud of the relationships we are building with students and excited to see them continue to grow as learners and as people.

As we gear up for E3 Day on November 20th, please speak with your child about the importance of caring for one self, caring for others, and being committed to being going "all in" for a worthy cause. Take a look at this heartwarming video clip that focuses on the impact that one individual can have on others.

Attention 7th & 8th graders: our first social of the year is scheduled for Friday, November 16th from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. Tickets will be on sale next week during lunch and will be available at the door.

Have a nice weekend. To those of you who are veterans, thank you for your service.

Rob Dennis


Friday, November 2, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Time is flying! Did you know that there are only about ten school days in November until Thanksgiving? That is unbelievable. With Halloween behind us, the holiday season is sure to sneak up on us really quickly. With it, we have many really exciting days at NSMS, including E3 Day, Greenkill, the start of winter sports, and our musical concerts. Get ready - it's going to go by like that!

Thank you to the PTSO for sponsoring the gifts at our Halloween Costume Contest. Our grade-level winners were really appreciative of the Dunkin' Donuts gift cards. The costumes were creative, artistic, and really funny. We had fast food friends, Bob Ross impersonators, superheros, vending machines, magic carpet rides, and many, many more. And, thank you to everyone who helped make our 6th Grade Halloween Social a success last week. A special thank you to Mrs. Henneberger and the class board, parents for donating snacks, and chaperones for helping to make the night a fun one.

The sixth grade teachers are in the middle of Parent Teacher Conferences. Thank you for taking the time to join us at school and hear from the educators working with your child every day. From what I have heard, the conferences have all been positive, informative, and important building blocks to supportive relationships in our school.

Take a look at our calendar for the coming days:

  • No School - November 6th (Election Day)
  • No School - November 12th (Veterans' Day)
  • Grades 7/8 Social - November 16th, 7pm - 9pm
  • E3 Day - November 20th
  • No School - November 21 - November 23rd (Thanksgiving Holiday)

Sixth and seventh graders just began their second cycle class of the year. Ask your child about the new learning they've started in classes like technology, health, FACS, theater, research skills, wow! you made what?, public speaking, moving images, and so many more. This next week is our school's last week of quarter 1, which means report cards will be available online soon. Be on the lookout for a future email with details indicating how to access report cards.

Strike up a conversation with your child this weekend about some of the following:

  • How can you tell if a graph, table, or equation is a function? (math 8)
  • What are some communication goals you have to help deepen and strengthen your book club discussions? (ELA 8)
  • What are some elements of dystopian literature? (ELA 8)
  • What are the elements of revision? (ELA 7)

Finally, students picked their E3 Day commiunity/school service activity during Squad this morning. Ask your child what they chose, and continue the conversation happening in E3 Squad about volunteerism, care for others, and gratitude.

Have a nice weekend - don't forget to set the clocks back!

Rob Dennis


Friday, October 26, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Boo! Are you ready for Halloween yet? Have your costume? As a reminder, our Halloween Social for sixth grade is tonight from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm. Students can purchase tickets at the door if they haven't done so already. To celebrate Halloween, students are invited to wear their costumes to school on Wednesday, October 31. Please note that masks are not allowed to be worn during the day, except during participation in the Costume Contest at the end of the day. Please refer to my previous e-mail about appropriate Halloween attire. And, while Halloween is definitely a fun and exciting day, it is still a day of regular instruction.

It was nice to see so many of you at our October Coffee Talk this week. For those of you who weren't able to join us, some things we discussed:

  • 6th & 7th graders begin CYCLE 2 elective classes on Monday, October 29th. They will begin a new class and will receive the information about that class during E3 Squad on Monday morning.
  • The quarter ends for all students on Friday, November 9th. Be sure to finish the quarter strong - complete homework assignments, study for assessments, attend extra help, and manage time wisely.

This week at NSMS, we celebrated Red Ribbon Week. In E3 Squad, at lunch, and during health classes, students discussed the importance of living a healthy life, making healthy choices, and developing "no skills" in difficult social situations. Thank you to the leadership of Ms. Finn, one of our school social workers, students signed pledges, created posters to promote a healthy lifestyle, and discussed peer pressure and self-confidence in small groups during health classes. In addition, we had a great time taking photos in our photo booth. Take a look at the pictures by clicking HERE. We hope the conversation that you have with your child about the dangers of substance abuse and the importance of healthy decisions is something that continues. Be on the lookout in the future for continued opportunities for conversations and presentations both from NSMS and from NS CASA.

Get involved in a club! Look at the club calendar for the month of November by clicking HERE. And, as a reminder, middle school SPORTS begin on Monday, November 5th. Announcements will be made regarding meetings, tryouts, and practices in the coming days.

Some upcoming dates:

  • November 12 - Veterans' Day - Schools closed
  • November 16 - Grades 7/8 Social (7:00 pm - 9:00 pm)
  • November 20 - E3 Day
  • November 21 - November 23 - Schools closed (Thanksgiving!)
  • December 5 - 7 - Greenkill (Grade 6)
  • December 14 - Coffee Talk @ 8:30 am

Have a nice weekend!

Rob Dennis


Friday, October 19, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Purple. Orange. Red. Green. Blue. Crazy Hats. Decades. Halloween. These are just some of the thoughts that might be rushing through your head over the last several days as you frantically look through your closet to select the best wardrobe for the day, based on the theme of the day. Welcome to Middle School! The attention that we give to our wardrobe with respect to its color does let us send a clear and unified message that we are standing up to support worthy causes. This week, we wore purple to support International Spirit Day. We wore orange today to support Unity Day and to raise awareness of social isolation. Next week, we'll wear red to support Red Ribbon Week and substance abuse prevention. Thank you for continuing to partner with us to ensure that our children are exposed to and learn more than just the academic content in our classrooms.

Here's what's coming up at NSMS over the next few days:

  • Coffee Talk - October 24th, 8:30 am **** (NOTE THE DATE CHANGE, previously 10/23)
  • 6th Grade Halloween Social - October 26th, 7:00 pm
  • Halloween Costume Contest - October 31st
  • Parent Teacher Conferences for 6th Grade Parents - end of October/beginning of November (check with team leader)

E3 Day is fast approaching. This year, we will celebrate our day of service learning on Tuesday, November 20th. Over the next few weeks, students will choose a service learning activity for the day and will meet with their group to discuss the details. We have a variety of opportunities for students to engage with their community - Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, soup kitchens, Crayons for Cancer, Raking a Difference, and many more school-based activities and fundraisers. The day will begin with a motivational speaker who will speak with the students about going "all in" and committing yourself to a worthwhile cause. Our speaker is scheduled to be Gian Paul Gonzalez. Take a look at one of his videos by clicking HERE. Click this link to read more about the work of Mr. Gonzalez.

If you know of a charitable organization that would like to host some middle school students in learning about the importance of giving and helping others, please click this link to provide some information.

I was lucky to join many students in their classrooms each day this week. Take a look at some of these interesting conversation starters:

  • How can the vertical line test be used to determine a function? (Algebra 8)
  • What are the various forms of energy and how can they be best categorized? (Science 7)
  • What role did injustice have in the European slave trade and colonization? (Social Studies 7)
  • In what ways are characters shaped by groups and setting? (ELA 7)
  • How are fractions used to measure ingredients in a recipe? (FACS 6)

Each of our ensemble groups (band, chorus, orchestra) are in the middle of preparing for a great winter concert series. The students are really collaborating well and demonstrating individual and collective group, both in rehearsal and group lessons.

Congratulations to each of our sports teams on some impressive victories this week, too!

Attention sixth graders! Our Halloween Social is next Friday - October 26th at 7:00 pm. Tickets will be on sale during lunch and before school. See Mrs. Henneberger for questions.

Have a great weekend - turn up the heat - and Go, Red Sox!

-Rob Dennis


Friday, October 12, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Happy Homecoming Weekend! This afternoon's middle school Pep Rally was the first time our study body came together this school year in the spirit of collaboration, team spirit, and positive communication. We had a great time and so much fun! The seventh and eighth grade academic teams (Teams A, B, C, & I, II, III) performed enthusiastic cheers and dances, and proudly displayed some really impressive and artistic banners. We hope you have some time this weekend to celebrate all things North Shore by attending the Homecoming Festivities tomorrow (October 13th).

October is almost done! And with that, the end of the first quarter is approaching. For your information, the first quarter ends on Friday, November 9th. This might be a good time to review with your child some tips for academic success:

  • Encourage your child to take advantage of the myriad of extra help opportunities available. Take a look at the extra help schedule here.
  • Studying for tests a few days ahead of time is a really important key to success. Organization experts suggest mapping out academic assessments and projects at the beginning of each week (Monday, for example). Ask your child to create a study schedule so that they begin to tackle one or two subjects at a time, and are not waiting until the night before the test to study for 5 different subjects.
  • Homework is given on a routine basis in most classes. Assignments range from long-term in nature (due several days or weeks in the future) or more immediate. Set up a system with your child - when will homework be done? Where will it be done? How will it be done? Middle school students find success when expectations are clear and routines are in place.
  • The school day begins at 8:00 am with E3 Squad. All students are expected to be in their class by 8:00 am. If your child arrives late to school, please be sure to provide a signed note and present it to the front desk.

In our continued efforts to ensure a positive, supportive, and welcoming environment for all students, our counselors are working to prepare for our annual Unity Day celebration. This year, Unity Day is Friday, October 19th. WEAR ORANGE in a unified message to stand-up to social isolation and bullying behavior. Counselors are planning some small-group and large-group activities to encourage positive interactions and a spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance within all of our students.

Also coming up soon:

  • PTSO Book Fair - October 15th - October 19th (Students visit Book Fair during ELA class)
  • College Fair (8th grade) - October 16th
  • Unity Day - October 19th
  • Coffee Talk - October 24th, 8:30 am **** (NOTE THE DATE CHANGE, previously 10/23)
  • 6th Grade Halloween Social - October 26th, 7:00 pm
  • Halloween Costume Contest - October 31st
  • Parent Teacher Conferences for 6th Grade Parents - end of October/beginning of November (check with team leader)

Join us this weekend for our annual North Shore District Homecoming Carnival, Parade, & Game. Meet at Glen Head Train Station at 9:30 am to march in the parade with the NSMS Student Government.

Ask your child to talk about the learning going on in their classes. Consider some of these questions:

  • What is the difference between an observation and an inference? (Resource Room 6)
  • How can algebraic expressions be simplified? (Pre-Algebra 7)
  • How can annotating primary and secondary sources support your research for National History Day? (Social Studies 8)
  • What does it mean to look more deeply at something? How can a deeper look be applied to observational drawings? (Art 7)

Get involved in a club! Check out October's club meeting dates:

Finally, this week we hosted our Parent Information Meeting for sixth graders interested in attending the annual trip to Greenkill. To review the contents of that meeting, click here for the presentation. And, as a reminder, encourage your child to join us for breakfast, served daily in the cafeteria from 7:15 am - 7:45 am.

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, October 5, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

It was so nice to see you last night at our annual Back to School Night. After speaking to so many of you, it is clear that your children have supportive, caring, and loving families who have high expectations for their academic, social, and emotional well-being. This week at school has been a busy one. Many of our athletic teams have been practicing, scrimmaging, and facing off against their first competitors of the season. We wish them continued luck. Clubs are in full swing and meeting to plan exciting events and activities for the year.

Attention eighth grade families! This year, the counseling department is hosting a College Fair at NS High School on October 16th. Our eighth graders will be attending the event to learn about college - ask questions about courses, learn about social and academic life, discuss areas of interest, and get a general feel of the opportunities that lie ahead in 2023. Mr. Jackson will be visiting with students during their classes in the coming weeks to brainstorm questions to ask and discuss how to make the experience an enjoyable one.

Some upcoming events:

  • Spirit Week - October 5th - October 12th
  • 6th Grade Parent Greenkill Meeting - October 10th, 7:00 pm
  • Homecoming - October 13th
  • PTSO Book Fair - October 15th - October 19th
  • College Fair (8th grade) - October 16th
  • Coffee Talk - October 18th, 8:30 am
  • 6th Grade Halloween Social - October 26th, 7:00 pm
  • Halloween Costume Contest - October 31st

Spirit Week Theme:

  • Tuesday 10/9 - Hat Day
  • Wednesday 10/10 - Decade Day
  • Thursday 10/11 - Superhero Day
  • Friday 10/12 - Maroon & White Day

Don't forget to join a club! Check out our October schedule of club meetings by clicking the following link:

We hope you have a great long weekend.


Rob Dennis


Friday, September 28, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Fall is here - we celebrated our first Team Jersey Day today in honor of the Yankees and their hopes for a winning October. Thank you to all of the parents who joined us this past Monday for our Parent Technology Night. Over 100 parents attended workshops to learn about social media, online study resources, Google Drive, Google Classroom, and Parent Portal. We will look to offer similar workshops in the future. If you attended the event, please share your thoughts with us by clicking HERE to complete a survey.

To see the presentations that were given at the Tech Night, click each of the links below:

What's going on in classes? Find out by following us on Twitter @NSMSVikings. Have a conversation with your child this weekend using some of these question prompts:

  • What is a target statement in math and how can it help you frame your answers? (Math 6)
  • What is the sixth amendment and how is it relevant to Guantanamo Bay? (Criminal Justice 6)
  • How can you talk about the past using the preterit or the passato prossimo in Spanish or Italian? (Spanish, Italian 8)

To learn more about your child's learning and curriculum for the year, please join us at our annual Back to School Night on Thursday, October 4, 2018. The evening begins at 6:30 pm in the library. The first class (E3 Squad) begins at 7:00 pm.

This week was a busy one! Thanks to Ms. Finn, one of our social workers, students were greeted at their lockers on Tuesday morning with a post-it note stuck to each locker with a positive message of inspiration or motivation. This activity was one of many examples of activities done during Start with Hello Week.

Take a look at the events coming up. The month of October is a busy and exciting one!

  • CASA Event at Tappen Beach - September 29th @ 10:00 am
  • Photo Day - October 2nd & October 3rd (by team)
  • Back to School Night - October 4th, 6:30 pm
  • Spirit Week - October 5th - October 12th
  • 6th Grade Parent Greenkill Meeting - October 10th, 7:00 pm
  • Homecoming - October 13th
  • PTSO Book Fair - October 15th - October 19th
  • Coffee Talk - October 18th, 8:30 am
  • 6th Grade Halloween Social - October 26th, 7:00 pm
  • Halloween Costume Contest - October 31st

The following links are here to remind you of important information.

Team Websites & Google Classroom

Extra Help Schedule

Club Descriptions

Club Calendar for October

Beginning Monday, October 1st, we will begin selling breakfast in our cafeteria, from 7:15 - 7:45 am. Please see the attachment in the body of this email to read our menu for a healthy breakfast.

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, September 21, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Happy Friday! We have completed our longest stretch of school yet - 4 days. For those of you who have celebrated recent holidays, I hope they have been enjoyable and meaningful. At NSMS, routines are settling in to place and teachers and students are doing great work together.

As part of our yearlong focus on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), our E3 Squads continue to be places where students develop relationships with one another and with an adult in the building. Next week, NSMS is observing a national campaign entitled, "Start with Hello." Encourage your child to be a positive force in the world by being kind to others, greeting someone new, and working to help those who are socially isolated. To learn more about Start with Hello week, click here. SWH Week raises awareness of social isolation. Is your child someone who knows how to start a conversation with someone who appears to be struggling socially? How can social skills be built to develop confidence to interact with a peer in the cafeteria who seems to be struggling socially? What can we each do to help children who struggle to fit in in larger social situations, like the cafeteria or athletic fields? We have so many kind, caring, supportive, and friendly students in our school. Let's build on that momentum to ensure that interactions outside of school are positive and inclusive to the extent possible as well.

While visiting classrooms this week, I was amazed by the really interesting conversations and learning taking place. Consider asking your child some of the following questions:

  • Why do paleontologists excavate? What information can fossils reveal? (Jurassic Investigations 6)
  • Aside from location, what do maps tell us? (Social Studies 6)
  • How can a multiplication expression compare to an addition expression? (Pre-Algebra 7)
  • What are symbols of America? How does experience impact perspective of these symbols? (Social Studies 7)
  • How can transformations or reflections be observed in game pieces? (Math Showdown 8)

This week, students in seventh grade social studies participated in our inaugural culture fest. Students spent time researching elements of their own culture and/or a culture of additional interest and shared their learning with their peers. Thank you to all families who helped extend the experience by bringing in original recipes for classes to sample. The presentations were really well-done - a special thank you to the seventh grade social studies teachers for their work in preparing for this event.

I am looking forward to our first Middle School Parent Technology Night - this MONDAY SEPTEMBER 24th at 7:00 pm. Join us to learn more about the technology and platforms that your child is using. To register in advance, click here.

Don't forget about our upcoming grade-level socials: Grade 6 is tonight (Friday 9/21) and Grade 7/8 is next week, Friday 9/28. Both events are from 7-9 pm. It will be a great chance for students to socialize, have fun, listen to music, dance, and play some games in the gym. Donations of snacks and/or water bottles are greatly appreciated.

Mark your calendar for Back to School Night: Thursday, October 4th at 6:30 pm. We will begin in our library - fresh with brand new furniture courtesy of our generous PTSO.

Exercise your brain with your child! Take a look at some of these challenges and facts:

Enjoy the weekend.

Rob Dennis


*As a reminder, to receive text messages from NSMS, please text "@NSMSfam" to 81010.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

At our first faculty meeting of the year, our faculty viewed the following clip, which stresses the importance and value of every child having at least one positive relationship with a caring adult. Take a look at the clip here:

Over the last few days, I am happy and proud to share with you that it is clearly evident that so many positive relationships are being forged between students and the caring adults in our building. One of the many strengths of our faculty in addition to their passion and creativity is the level of importance that is placed on relationship and community building. It is inspiring to see them in action with your children. We certainly know the importance of the "40 marbles" (or, 40 weeks) that we have as educators.

This week, students were invited to learn about the variety of extracurricular opportunities at our annual Club Fair. For a complete list of clubs, please visit the link below:

Clubs have an "open registration" policy; that is, students can join a club (or leave a club) at any point in the school year. Encourage your child to get involved in a club - it is a great way to socialize and explore areas of interest.

Check out our upcoming events and feel free to join us:

  • Friday, September 21, 8:30 am - Coffee Talk (in the library)
  • Monday, September 24, 7:00 pm - Parent Technology Night
  • Saturday, September 29, 10:00 am - CASA Wellness Day @ Tappen Beach (click HERE for more information)
  • Thursday, October 4, 6:30 pm - Back to School Night

We also have two fun-filled evenings planned for our students at our Welcome Back Socials!

  • Friday, September 21st - Grade 6 Social - 7-9 pm
  • Friday, September 28th - Grade 7/8 Social 7-9 pm

Admission to these events is $5 and will be on sale the week of each social before school outside the main office and during lunch outside the cafeteria. Students can also pay for an admission ticket at the door.

As a reminder, please check the following link for access to Google Sites or to find out which teachers utilize Google Classroom:

Here is a link to our EXTRA HELP SCHEDULE for each of our academic teams:

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, September 7, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Happy September! We opened our doors to over 600 students on Wednesday and the halls have been alive with such energy, excitement, and positivity. The staff and I are looking forward to teaching and learning this year, so let's make it a great one!

Get a glimpse of what has been going on the last few days by watching our annual "NSMS First Days" video:

Some important reminders:

  • Stay in touch with all things NSMS by joining our Remind text messaging group. Simply text @NSMSFam to 81010 for updates.
  • This year, many teachers and teams have embraced Google Classroom as a means to virtually extend the four walls of their learning spaces. In order to help your child stay organized, and to be aware of upcoming assignments and announcements, log in to Google Classroom by using your child's username and password.
  • In the event that a teacher prefers using Google Sites instead of Google Classroom, you can access the course information and updates by clicking the following link:
  • Cell phones are not permitted during the school day and must be on silent and stored in lockers between 8:00 am and 2:50 pm. We will notify parents in the event that a student violates this rule and warrants a consequence.

Please check your calendar and join us at any and all of the following events:

  • Club Fair - September 12th, 3:00 pm
  • Coffee Talk with the Principal - September 21st, 8:30 am
  • Parent Technology Night - September 24th, 7:00 pm
  • Back to School Night - October 4th, 6:30 pm

As I began to spend time in classrooms over the last couple of days, I was instantly amazed at how quickly a culture of connectedness is being built between teachers and students. Classes are spending time talking about growth mindset, developing grit and stamina, goal setting, kindness, and the power of yet. Consider asking your child the following questions:

  • What can maps reveal about a culture or society? (Social Studies Grade 6)
  • How can you be an innovator and change something about school? (Design Squad Grade 7)
  • Can the human brain grow? What does that say about our capacity to learn new things? (Pre-Algebra Grade 7)
  • What are the characteristics of living v. non-living things? How can you tell if something is living? (Living Environment Gr. 8)
  • What are the elements of a memoir? How can you describe your identity using succinct and precise language? (ELA Gr. 8)

I look forward to seeing you all in the coming weeks. Enjoy the long weekend, and to those celebrating, happy holiday.

Take care.

Rob Dennis


Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! The first post will be published on Friday, September 7th.

If you are interested in receiving text message updates and announcements from NSMS, please text @NSMSFam to 81010.

See you soon!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Congratulations! We have made it to the last Friday of the school year. It's been a terrific year and I hope that your children have had the most positive and academically stimulating experience imaginable. The last day of classes is Monday, June 11th. Regents and final exams begin next week. Take a look below at the calendar of upcoming events and assessments. Please note that final exams are scheduled from 8am-10am, at which point students are dismissed. For Regents exams, students who do not have accommodations should arrive to school by 12:00 in order to begin the exam on time. If your child's IEP indicates extended time, you should have received a separate letter informing you of the start time.

  • Tuesday June 12th
    • AM: Math 6, 7
    • PM: Algebra Regents
  • Wednesday June 13th
    • AM: Science 6, 7
    • PM: Living Environment Regents
  • Thursday June 14th
    • AM: ELA 6, 7, 8
  • Friday June 15th
    • AM: Social Studies 6, 7, 8
  • Monday June 18th
    • AM: Foreign Language 8
  • Friday June 22nd
    • Last Day of School - All students, 8:00 am -9:30 am

Thank you to those of you who completed the Parent Communication Survey. I appreciate the time you took to provide feedback with respect to effective communication. Beginning in the fall, we will make some changes, including the option of parents receiving text messages to be informed about club, practice, and game cancellations. In addition, we will communicate through Vikings in the Middle on Fridays as a "week in review" and at the beginning of the week as a "look ahead to this week."

Finally, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so welcoming this school year. It has been a great experience and I'm glad to have met so many of you. Our school is a great one, in part due to the high expectations and strong support that the parent community demonstrates to us. I look forward to many more years working together. Enjoy the summer.


Rob Dennis


Friday, June 1, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

We continue to celebrate great student achievement and success at North Shore Middle School. At last night's Board of Education meeting, eighth grade students were recognized for their achievement in foreign language as well as in science. Congratulations to the students who won awards and competitions in their respective disciplines - you continue to make NSMS proud.

As we wind down the school year, please be mindful of some important dates:

  • Friday June 8th & Monday June 11th are designated as "Locker Clean Out" - all students should empty their lockers of all materials so that the lockers can be cleaned over the summer vacation
  • Monday June 11th is the last day of regular classes
  • Tuesday June 12th - Monday June 18th: Final Exams - students should only report to school for their scheduled final exam
  • Thursday June 21st - Grade 8 Moving On Ceremony & Party
  • Friday June 22nd - Last Day of School!

Please take advantage of the extra help opportunities and review sessions offered by teachers in the coming days.

This past week, sixth graders participated in our annual Field Day event and a trip to the Museum of Natural History. The trip to the museum was interesting, fun, and helped to connect to curriculum areas in science and social studies.

The visits by our eighth graders to NSHS were also a success. Students met with administrators, teachers, counselors, and current high school students for a tour of the building and a discussion about high school life and expectations. We are excited to celebrate the accomplishment of our eighth graders as they move on to the high school in our Moving On Ceremony on Thursday, June 21st.

Please join me for our final Coffee Talk of the school year on Monday, June 4th at 8:30 am in the library. I always look forward to discussing your ideas and concerns. This month, our Coffee Talk is "extra special" as we will be joined by our new Assistant Principal, Mr. Brendan Nelson. If you are available, please stop by and introduce yourself to the newest member of our team.

Finally, I sent an e-mail earlier this week about communication at the middle school. As I reflect on the 2017-2018 school year, I want to make sure I have a good understanding of your communication preferences and the effectiveness of a streamlined communication system. Please share your opinions and questions by completing the survey found here:

Have a really nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, May 25, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

We are in the home stretch! Our seventh grade trip to Philadelphia was such a success! If you haven't done so already, take a look at our Twitter feed at the great pictures and videos. We visited the National Mint, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the Betsy Ross House, Independence Hall, and so much more.

As we begin to prepare for the end of the year, please speak with your child about creating a clear routine for studying for final exams and completing necessary course requirements. The following suggestions are good to reinforce with your child:

    • Homework assignments and long-term projects and due dates are located on the Team Website. Please check that site regularly using your child's login information.
    • Be mindful of due dates. Plan a few minutes each afternoon or evening to review what is due the next day and what other deadlines are looming.
    • Find a quiet, relaxing, and distraction-free environment to study and complete homework.
    • Research suggests that a routine with respect to homework is important: the same location and time, if possible, help to cement the structured routine in place.
    • Seek out extra help opportunities. All teachers provide extra help either before or after school.
    • Utilize the Homework Center Mondays-Fridays from 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm.

Please emphasize the importance of finishing the year strong so that the summer can be an enjoyable experience.

In reviewing for academic success, please be reminded of the following building policies:

    • The school day begins at 8:00 am. All students are expected to be in class and on-time.
    • As the weather gets warmer, please remind your child of appropriate attire to school.
    • Cell phones are not permitted in classrooms or in the cafeteria. All students should keep their cell phones stored in their locker from 8:00 am - 2:50 pm.
    • According to page 24 of the Parent-Student Handbook, "no take-out orders or special deliveries made by vendors or parents are permitted during the school day. Parents are not permitted to bring in food or snacks for special events unless cleared by the Assistant Principal or Principal."

Thank you for your attention to these matters. Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, May 18, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Our concert season came to a close this week as we enjoyed the sounds of our chamber orchestra, seventh and eighth grade chorus, and band ensembles. The great work, commitment, dedication, collaboration, and creativity of our musicians and their teachers was on display for all to enjoy. Thank you, parents, for helping us grow your students as artists and musicians. Thank you to our great teachers, especially the music faculty and the eighth grade English teachers, for your collaboration and commitment.

Even though the school year is winding down, the learning is certainly still deep, meaningful, and engaging. Check out some of these questions, and consider talking to your child about these:

  • How is chemistry used in crime scene investigation? (science 7)
  • What are gender norms, and how do heroes in literature and movies demonstrate and/or break those norms? (ELA 6)
  • What is fair share? When is it advantageous or disadvantageous to use the mean to discuss a set of data? (math 6)
  • What are the different stressors in your life and how do you juggle them? (health 8)

This week, our school recognized Mental Health Awareness Week. Health classes and social groups had important conversations about how to manage stress, the differences between good stress and bad stress and the importance of finding time to balance needs and wants.

Upcoming Next Week:

  • Incoming Grade 6 Students from GWL & SC visit NSMS (GH visits in June)
  • Grade 7 field trip to Philadelphia

Have an enjoyable weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, May 11, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

This week, America honors its educators as we celebrate National Teacher & School Nurse Appreciation Day. The relationships between the educators and students at NSMS is such a strong one. I am so grateful to work among such talented and caring individuals. Our PTSO celebrates our teachers at our annual staff appreciation luncheon in June. We thank them for their efforts every year to help ensure a positive school environment.

Now that spring has finally arrived, our athletic program is in full swing. This week, teams began their competitive season and continued practicing, demonstrating hard work and team spirit. If you have a chance, stop by for a game to see our committed student athletes in action!

And, our music program continues to amaze us with the sounds - and sights - of our talented musicians. This week, the community enjoyed the 6th. 7th, and 8th grade orchestras, the select chorus, the 6th grade chorus, and the 6th grade band. It was so nice to see the collaboration of technology and music come together to provide a unique experience to the audience - bows that light up! It truly was an innovative moment that our students will remember for years to come.

We are also busily preparing for our newest sixth graders to join us in September. Thanks to the work of Mrs. Finning and some charismatic sixth grade ambassadors, we were able to present what makes NSMS the special place that it is to each of the elementary schools. Shortly, they will join us for an orientation day later this spring.

Coming up next week:

  • Monday May 14th: PTSO sponsors a presentation by Kim Laube on substance abuse & vaping. This conversation is designed for middle school parents. Please join us at 7:00 pm in the library.
  • Tuesday May 15th: School Budget Vote at NSHS. Bring your child with you from 3pm-9pm so they can cast their vote for an issue related to our school (Field Day Treat for sixth graders)
  • Thursday May 17th: Spring Concert, part 2, 7:00 pm @ NSHS

As a reminder, to be kept up to date on all things North Shore Middle School, please check the following link, which is updated daily:

Have a really nice weekend. And, to those celebrating, Happy Mother's Day!

Rob Dennis


Friday, May 4, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Our sixth grade social held last Friday night was a huge success! The games, music, and delicious food made the night really fun and memorable. Thank you to the PTSO and to Ms. Abel and the sixth grade student government for doing such a great job planning the event. We are looking forward to more fun as seventh graders!

The next few weeks are full of busy and important events at NSMS. Take a look:

  • Week of May 7th: Sixth grade student ambassadors visit fifth grade classrooms
  • May 23rd: Seventh grade field trip to Philadelphia
  • Week of May 29th: Eighth graders visit North Shore High School
  • May 29th: Sixth grade Field Day
  • May 31st: Sixth grade field trip to American Museum of Natural History

In addition, please join us at our next PTSO meeting, scheduled for Monday, May 7th at 7:00 pm in the library. Join us as Dr. Giarrizzo discusses the school budget for 2018-2019. And, on Monday, May 14th at 7:00 pm we will be joined by guest speaker Kim Laube for a presentation on substance abuse prevention. It will be a really informative and important conversation on both nights - please plan to attend!

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, April 27, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Please be reminded that the New York State math assessments are scheduled to take place on Wednesday May 2nd and Thursday May 3rd. If your child is not taking the exam, please e-mail Ms. Green at as soon as possible.

Our students continue to be inspired by great work and thinking in their classes. Start a conversation this weekend with your child about any of the topics below:

  • Did ancient Egyptians value life or death more? (grade 6 social studies)
  • What are the differences and similarities between the lwh formula and the Bh formula, and when is it appropriate to use one or the other? (grade 6 math)
  • Did Andrew Jackson's presidency benefit America? (grade 7 social studies)
  • What are the differences between reflection and refraction, and what examples can you provide of each? (grade 7 science)
  • What are the implications of cloning? (grade 8 living environment)

Thank you to those of you who were able to join us at our PTSO meeting. Our Entrepreneurship class presented their business idea for a Travel Packing app - certainly something to be on the lookout for in the future! The next PTSO meeting is scheduled for May 7th. Please join us at 7:00 for a conversation with Dr. Giarrizzo related to the school budget. In addition, guest speaker Kym Laube will host a conversation related to vaping and substance abuse with middle school parents on May 14th at 7:00 pm. Please join us for this important conversation.

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, April 20, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

We have celebrated so many great student and teacher accomplishments this week - there is a lot to be proud of at NSMS. Student scientists participated in the LI Science Fair; student mathematicians competed at the LI Math Fair; our student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas shark tank style to local business owners (thanks to our PTSO for the Amazon gift card donations to the winning team!); our jazz band lit up the stage last night at the combined middle school/high school jazz concert; and students celebrated what makes us unique in Autism awareness activities. Thank you so much for your continued support, and to our dedicated faculty members who work so hard to help our students shine.

Eighth graders also met with high school students from Key Club and national speaker Kym Laube to learn about what awaits them in high school, both socially and academically. Students talked about healthy decision making skills, peer pressure, the dangers of substance abuse, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

Each grade also met with NCPD to hear about the importance of safety while on social media. Please speak with your child about online safety. You should know their passwords and usernames for all accounts. I also encourage you to have a centralized charging station in your house (not in their bedroom) after a nighttime curfew. Another component of the conversation was centered around the fact that what we do online becomes a digital tattoo, that is, our actions, words, and images are there permanently. Please speak with your child about the importance of remaining positive and appropriate online, protecting their dignity and privacy as well as that of others. As students become more mature they may be tempted to share compromising photographs of themselves, commonly known as sexting. Please be vigilant of their actions - having the conversation in an honest and upfront matter is a good start. This is a serious issue that requires serious, dedicated, and ongoing conversations related to long term consequences. In the event your child has a concern related to online behavior, please feel free to call your grade level counselor.

Our Sixth Grade Social is scheduled for Friday, April 27th. Tickets will be on sale for $5 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during lunch.

Please join us on Wednesday, April 25th for our next PTSO meeting. And - save the date: May 14th: Substance Abuse Prevention speaker, Kym Laube, speaks to NSMS parents at 7:00 pm. More details to follow.

Finally, if you are interested in serving on the interview committee for Assistant Principal, please contact me at by May 1st. Thank you!

Have a nice weekend - maybe some sun & warm weather!?!

Rob Dennis


Friday, April 13, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

It's Friday the 13th! But, it's finally nice weather and beginning to feel more like spring. This week was another busy one at NSMS. The ELA assessments are complete, spring sports have begun, Stage E3 is getting ready for their debut, and our musical ensembles are rehearsing for our spring concerts. Take a look at some upcoming dates:

  • Monday April 16th - NCPD Presentations to all students; focus: cyberbullying and appropriate use of social media
  • Wednesday April 18th - Assembly for 8th graders; focus: Substance Abuse Prevention & Healthy Choices Workshop
  • Wednesday April 18th - Coffee Talk with the Principal, 8:30 am Library
  • Wednesday April 25th - PTSO Meeting, 7:00 pm Library
  • Friday April 27th - Sixth Grade Social, 7:00 pm

Following along the lines of our building's conversations related to social emotional learning, I'd like to share an article with you from the New York Times:

The article, "Should We Speak to Little Boys as We Do Little Dogs," while not my favorite choice of words, does put into spotlight that adolescent and pre-adolescent boys often times struggle with maintaining positive attention. Much of the advice geared to parents and teachers with respect to strategies for speaking with boys can also be applied to girls.

Enjoy the weekend.

Rob Dennis


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

This week, we welcomed our parents of incoming sixth graders to our school community. In a presentation on Tuesday night, parents were introduced to our school, the opportunities that await their children, and the E3 ethos that permeates our school culture. I am so excited for September and to have the chance to meet our newest NSMS students.

I hope you all enjoy a restful break and have the chance to spend important time with your children and families. When we return from break, we will be in the fourth and final quarter of the year. Our NYS ELA exams are Thursday and Friday, April 12th and 13th. The data gleaned from these exams will help our teachers, counselors, and administrators to craft a purposeful and individualized schedule for your child for the 2018-2019 school year. Students not taking the exam should report to school at the start of our instructional day, which will be at 10:00 am.

Have a nice week.

Rob Dennis


Friday, March 23, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

March is certainly not going out like a lamb. While I am always sad to not be in school with all of our students and teachers, I do hope that you found some time to spend quality time with your children and family during the most recent snow day. The next time you see one of our custodians, please join me in thanking them - they did a great job at getting our school and grounds ready for all of us on Thursday. As a result of the snow day on Wednesday, the NCPD presentation on social media and cyberbullying has been postponed to April. For some tips related to monitoring your child's use of social media, please read the article here: from US News & World Report. As a rule of thumb, you should know the passwords and username information to every one of your child's devices and apps. In addition, your child's phone should be charged in your bedroom, in order to prevent and minimize instances of inappropriate and/or excessive use.

This week, the PTSO welcomed a presentation by Ms. Linda Binion, NS Director of Counseling. During the presentation, we talked about how to maneuver and navigate difficult but important topics with your children. Consider some of these strategies:

  • Ask your child their opinion related to what is going on (the topic at hand, current events, a disappointing grade, the death of a loved one, etc.)
  • Understand that it's ok to provide your opinion - your child wants to know what you think, too.
  • Strike up a conversation when engaged in a fun, family-centered activity. Consider asking their opinion about the issue at hand while you are cooking together, going for a walk/drive, playing a game, shopping, etc.
  • Demonstrate healthy relationships with technology: it's ok to turn off the news or disconnect from social media for a while

The presentation was well-received and provided a great opportunity for some important advice. Thank you to all who were able to join us.

Our students are busy learning so much. Consider asking them:

  • What are the different types of energy? (science 7)
  • How does an insulator affect the temperature of a space? (science 7)
  • What is the significance of FDR's Four Freedoms? (social studies 8)
  • What are some of the physical changes that occur during puberty? (health 6)

By now, you should have received an e-mail discussing the upcoming NYS ELA assessments, scheduled for April 12th and April 13th. The test will begin at 8:00 am and regular classes will begin at 10:10 am. If your child is staying home from school and not taking the test on those mornings, please e-mail Ms. Green at

I am excited to meet the parents of NSMS Class of 2021 on Tuesday, March 27th. Our incoming sixth grade parents will get a chance to meet new families, learn about our school, and get ready for a new chapter in their child's education.

Have a great weekend - Keep Calm, It's Almost Vacation.

Rob Dennis


Friday, March 16, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Social emotional learning has been at the forefront of conversations in educational and psychological circles for the last few years. What has been previously identified and considered to be the "hidden curriculum" is no longer an afterthought, but rather, is an explicit point of instruction in helping to grow children as responsible, kind, compassionate, and balanced individuals. Please watch the video about social emotional learning by clicking the link below:

I invite you to join us at our next PTSO meeting on Tuesday, March 20th at 7:00 pm in the library. The topic of social emotional learning will be discussed as well as the important conversations that we as teachers and parents can have with students about difficult situations in personal life and within the news. Our District's Director of Counseling, Mrs. Linda Binion, will be leading this presentation and Q&A session.

Important to the social emotional learning conversation is the role that technology and social media play in the lives of our children. To that end, we have partnered with our Nassau County Police Officers to provide our students with a presentation related to appropriate use of social media and how to detect and report cyberbullying. The presentation was given to our PTSO earlier in January and it was a well-received presentation. These presentations will take place on Wednesday, March 21st during the school day.

Enjoy the weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, March 9, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

An important aspect of the middle school experience is the ability for our students to feel connected to a larger purpose and that their voices matter. On Wednesday, March 14th, students across the country are organizing a walkout for 17 minutes beginning at 10:00 am, in honor of the seventeen victims of the Parkland school shooting. The purpose of the walkout is to draw attention to the important issue of school safety, peace and kindness in schools, and the value of inclusion.

North Shore Middle School will focus our efforts on the importance of making all students feel accepted and connected to our learning community. During an extended advisory on March 14th, students will discuss kindness and ways to be inclusive and accepting. Our purpose is to continue to build a culture of connectedness where Everyone Matters, Everyone Cares, and Everyone Learns. Our faculty and staff are caring and committed individuals who strive to ensure that our school is a welcoming and safe place for all students.

Respecting students' first amendment rights and freedom of speech and assembly, the administration at North Shore Middle School will not impede the efforts of those students who feel compelled to demonstrate their concern by walking out from class. That said, there are parameters that will be put into place in order to ensure a peaceful, respectful, and safe environment for all, whether participating or not. Please note the enforcement of the following parameters for students who choose to walk out from class at 10:00 am on March 14th for 17 minutes:

  • Students must exit their classroom in a quiet and organized manner. No disruption to the learning environment of those choosing to not exercise this right will be tolerated.
  • Students must exit from the cafeteria doors.
  • Students will assemble on our athletic fields and will be supervised by faculty and staff members who are not otherwise occupied.
  • Students must return to class at the conclusion of the walkout.

Failure to comply with the above mentioned parameters will result in a disciplinary consequence.

Please also note that the campus will be closed from 9:45 am - 10:30 am. No cars will be permitted to exit or leave the campus at this time, except for the presence of Nassau County Police.

I look forward to a positive school day on March 14th, where all students feel that their actions directly impact our school and society, whether they choose to be accepting and kind to all, or peacefully demonstrate their hope for change.


Rob Dennis

Friday, March 2, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Time is flying by! It's the first Friday in March and NSMS has returned from February vacation ready to continue great learning and thinking. Students in our foreign language classes are preparing to #LeadWithLanguages as they gear up for World Language Week beginning next week. The language department is sponsoring a t-shirt design contest, encouraging students to create a design that promotes and highlights cultural curiosity. We are excited to see their work. Additionally, students are preparing to present their National History Day Projects as well as their Math Fair Projects. The students who have participated in these research courses recently presented to a panel of parents and teachers in preparation for their more formal presentations at Hofstra University. We wish the students good luck and congratulate them and their teachers on a job well done.

Sixth and seventh graders began the week with the introduction of a new cycle and are beginning to study a new enrichment/elective topic. Speaking of electives, right before vacation the sixth graders in the Entrepreneurship class presented their business concepts to a panel of judges, including local business owners. The students were professional, well-researched, well-spoken, and so excited to have participated in the process. Their teacher was so proud of their hard work - it was truly a remarkable presentation! Similarly, sixth graders in the Research Enrichment class presented their concluding work to their peers.

Do you like poetry? Are you a poet, but perhaps don't know it? Talk to one of our eighth grade students about poetry. Inspired by the great work of their teachers, students participated in a poetry cafe, reading original poems. Some students even tested their knowledge of poetry alla "Escape the Room" - it was a great way to combine competition, fun, and a growing love of poetry.

Classrooms continue to be busy and productive environments where students are engaged in meaningful and interesting work. Consider asking your child about what they are learning in their classes. From the classrooms I have had the opportunity to visit this week, here are some questions being answered by our students:

  • How did social classes differ and vary in Mesopotamian society? Do social classes exist in today's society? How has the idea of class evolved, if at all? (grade 6 social studies)
  • What are the characteristics of a central idea vs. a main idea, and how do these concepts help to summarize a text? (grade 6 ELA)
  • How can the knowledge of the area formula contribute to understanding of factoring? (grade 8 algebra)

I could go on and on about the learning and teaching that take place in our school every day. We are truly fortunate to be able to work with such excited and curious students.

The next time you are in our school, take a look on the wall outside of the main office. Thanks to the advocacy of students from the Viking Voice newspaper, and the generous donation of the PTSO, we now have a touchscreen digital monitor that streams our school paper as well as pictures of NSMS happenings. We are grateful for the caring PTSO and our important partnership.

Finally, I hope you know that your child's safety and security continue to be the most important responsibility that we have at NSMS. We will continue to monitor our practices and drills to ensure that our approach to safety is constantly evolving and improving.

Have a great weekend.


Rob Dennis


Friday, February 16, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Did you hear the excitement this week from the middle school? We geared up for a really successful and fun Team Challenge. Beginning Monday, students and teachers met during extended advisory to speak about good sportsmanship, healthy competition, and the importance of being positive and inclusive. Our school community enjoyed Opening Ceremonies, Team Dances and Cheers, Lip Sync competitions, Athletic Bowl events, and an Academic Bowl. It was so nice to see our students come together and demonstrate team pride, and even better to see the entire school community focused on a positive goal.

February vacation has arrived. I hope you take the time to unwind with your child(ren). The following article came across my e-mail and I think it is timely:

The article suggests that parents, children, and families take a "tech detox." What better time to encourage your child to spend some time free from their phones than a vacation week. I hope your child will take this advice and consider playing outside with friends, going to the park or beach, trying a new food at a restaurant, reading a book, or spending some time meditating and getting focused on the here and now. Children are fortunate to have this time off from school - let's use it in a really productive and engaging way.

Finally, please know that your child's safety is our number one concern at North Shore Middle School. We will continue to refine our safety protocols to ensure that all children and staff are safe while in our care.

Take care - March is almost here.


Rob Dennis


Friday, February 9, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Are you looking for something exciting to do this weekend? How about next week? Consider stopping by one of our athletic events or practices to see the great progress and athleticism of our students. In addition, I hope you will join us tonight at 7:00 to enjoy our musical, Into the Woods, being performed by our students in the HS theater. Additional showtimes include Saturday, February 10th at 2:00 pm and again at 7:00 pm. The students have worked really hard and their faculty advisors have done a great job at motivating them and teaching them the skills they need to be successful. I can't wait!

Our annual Team Challenge is just around the corner - opening ceremonies are next Thursday morning. Academic teams are busy preparing their banners, dance moves, cheers, lip sync performances, and fine tuning their athleticism for a really fun - and competitively healthy - event. One of the goals of Team Challenge is to promote good sportsmanship, kindness, and perseverance. Next week, during extended advisory, in addition to final preparations, teams will be discussing these concepts and making a pact to show good sportsmanship for our event. Take a look at this motivational video from the 2016 Olympics:

As a reminder, to stay up-to-date with the middle school events and announcements, please bookmark the following site on your phone:

Have a great weekend.


Rob Dennis


Friday, February 2, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

It's Groundhog Day - and, the shadow was seen! Six more weeks of winter. The year is flying by, and before you know it, we will be enjoying some time with family and friends during the February vacation. Until then, here is a list of some exciting events occurring at our school:

  • Tuesday February 6th - PTSO Meeting, 7pm in the library
  • Wednesday February 7th - NSMS National History Day, 5 pm in the library
  • Friday February 9th (7pm) & Saturday February 10th (2pm & 7pm) - NSMS Musical, Into the Woods @ HS Theatre
  • Thursday February 15th & Friday February 16th: Team Challenge

Have a nice weekend - I hope your team wins on Sunday!


Rob Dennis


Friday, January 26, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Thank you for spending some time at our school this week. On Monday evening, we had two great turnouts for our Incoming Grade 7 & 8 Curriculum & Scheduling Meetings. We discussed the great opportunities that our school has to offer for 2018-2019. For your convenience, the presentation can be found by clicking on the link below:

On Tuesday evening, I joined parents of eighth graders to learn about the exciting opportunities at North Shore High School. Beginning Monday, the curriculum leaders from the high school will visit with eighth graders to discuss expectations and curriculum within each department. Additionally, eighth graders will learn more about the scheduling process and the opportunities that await them from their current counselor, Mrs. Finning, as well as the high school counselors. A lot of transition is beginning to take place, and we are glad to support your children.

I also spent some time with parents at a Coffee Talk. Their ideas and questions will continue to help our school grow. Please join us for our next Coffee Talk on Friday, March 2nd. More information to follow.

Have a great weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, January 19, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

I am in the middle of re-reading the book, "Grading Smarter Not Harder." The author, Myron Dueck, suggests that we as parents and educators as partners in learning, have a common understanding of grading, assessments, expectations, and the notion of learning for mastery. There is a great interview with Dueck as he explains a scenario he encountered as a parent with one of his children. In the interview, he noted that the goal he was trying to achieve with his child was not being clearly communicated. Take a look at the interview here:

Let's begin a conversation as a community invested in deep learning for our students. At our March Coffee Talk with the Principal, I would like to host a book talk to discuss Grading Smarter Not Harder. More information will follow.

Some other important dates:

  • Monday, January 22nd - 7 pm, Incoming Grade 7 Parent Information Night: Curriculum & Scheduling @ MS Library
  • Monday, January 22nd - 8 pm, Incoming Grade 8 Parent Information Night: Curriculum & Scheduling @ MS Library

At each of these meetings, the curriculum leaders and directors of our academic program will discuss expectations and curriculum in each grade level, as well as state and Regents assessments, managing stress and anxiety, and nurturing the interests of our students through our robust enrichment elective program.

  • Tuesday, January 23rd - 8:30 am, Coffee Talk @ MS Library
  • Tuesday, January 23rd - 7pm, Incoming Grade 9 Parent Open House @ HS

At our Coffee Talk, parents will be invited to provide feedback for our faculty "Goals and Vision Committee." As part of this committee, we are striving to form a vision for our school's future. This should take into account the ideals we have as an educational community. The Coffee Talk will also provide an opportunity to discuss some initiatives, including a Symbols of Hate workshop and The Great Kindness Challenge.

Our sixth and seventh grade students have selected their enrichment options for next year. Seventh graders will be scheduled for two enrichment classes and eighth graders will be scheduled for three enrichment classes. To find out about your child's selection, please log in to their Google Drive account and review the Google Form Survey with them. This will be discussed in greater detail at our Parent Information Meetings.

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, January 12, 2018

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Happy New Year! I hope the first few days of 2018 have been positive. Our first full week of 2018 has been busy. Earlier in the week, sixth and seventh graders visited our first Enrichment Fair. This provided students with an opportunity to see some sample projects and assignments that each course offers while also being able to ask questions of teachers to learn more about the content of the course. Students found the fair to be informative and it helped them to make informed decisions related to their 2018-2019 enrichment elective courses.

Please join us for a meeting to discuss scheduling and curricular expectations for the 2018-2019 school year. The meeting times are below:

  • Incoming Grade 7 Parent Meeting: Monday, January 22 @ 7:00 pm
  • Incoming Grade 8 Parent Meeting: Monday, January 22 @ 8:00 pm

I hope you are able to join us for these meetings. Additionally, our next Coffee Talk is scheduled for Tuesday, January 23 @ 8:30 am. At this discussion, I invite you to have a voice in our Goals & Vision Committee. Your feedback for a unified vision for our school will be solicited and shared with teachers and students as we collaborate to build this vision together.

Have a great weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, December 15, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

If it didn't feel like the holiday season yet, it certainly started to this week with the two bouts of snow that we had. I'd like to thank the NSMS buildings & grounds staff for the great response to both snowfalls that we had. Our parking lots are clear, our sidewalks are safe, and the custodial staff made sure that our building was ready to receive students and faculty each morning. Thank you!

This past Monday, we enjoyed the sounds of the second winter concert. All of our musicians performed beautifully, demonstrating tremendous growth, collaboration, and commitment. Thank you, too, to the teachers who have worked tirelessly with our students in preparation for the concert and for their continued love of music.

Many of our seventh grade students are in the middle of an inquiry-based research process in their social studies classes. Students are learning about open and closed questions, how to ask an impactful question, and the research process. We are excited to see their final product.

We will begin the process of planning for next year when we return from vacation. On Monday, January 8th, sixth and seventh graders will visit our "Enrichment Fair" during one of their afternoon enrichment classes. We will also be posting within the next few weeks our course catalog, which will include video links to the variety of rich enrichment courses that we offer students. Please join us for an informational parent meeting:

  • Monday, January 22nd - 7:00 pm, library - Incoming Grade 7 Parent Meeting
  • Monday, January 22nd - 8:00 pm, library - Incoming Grade 8 Parent Meeting

These discussions will focus on curriculum opportunities and expectations of each grade. Our eighth graders will begin their scheduling for the high school towards the end of January as well, with an "Incoming Grade 9" Informational Open House meeting on Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:00 pm. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the high school programs, expectations, curriculum, and scheduling process.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend.

Take care.

Rob Dennis


Friday, December 8, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Can you believe that the first full week of December is behind us? We have had a great week at school. Our sixth graders and their teachers left for Greenkill early Wednesday morning. So far, they are having a great time. In addition to important team-building and socialization activities, they are spending time outdoors, learning about nature, and connecting with themselves and others in a meaningful way. For so many of these students, this is their first experience away from home. They are handling the transition well - and so are all of their brave parents!

Earlier this week, our "Principal for the Day" spent time as the instructional leader of our school. During her time in office, Emma presented a "Student Reality Report" to Ms. Green, our counselors, and I. Emma has great ideas that are representative of the larger student body. Some of the ideas include ensuring that we teach acceptance and respect, embed volunteer opportunities into our curriculum, and work to ensure that we are preparing students for the future. Emma represented her peers well.

This week was also our first of two winter concerts. The performing groups were amazing and demonstrated such growth and talent. Kudos to the teachers of these students who work tirelessly to develop and nurture their musical talent. Please join us for our second winter concert this Monday, December 11th at 7:00 pm ion the HS auditorium.

Finally, believe it or not, January will begin our scheduling process for the 2018-2019 school year. Look for a future e-mail and mailing about our Enrichment Fair, which will be an opportunity for students to "visit" and learn about the extensive elective opportunities offered in our school. I will also host two informational meetings in January for parents: one will be for incoming seventh grade parents and the other will be for incoming eighth grade parents. The purpose of the meetings will be to discuss upcoming curriculum in the future grade, as well as expectations and planning for high school. I am excited about the possibilities of planning.

Enjoy the weekend.


Rob Dennis


Friday, December 1, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

It's been a busy week since returning from our Thanksgiving break. First, you should know that E3 Day was a huge success. So many of our students reported that they learned so much about the importance of helping others, especially those in need in local communities. The faculty and staff in our building have done a great job in building this program and ensuring that students feel empowered that they can make a difference.

On Monday evening, approximately 80 parents and students listened to a presentation related to the potential advantages and disadvantages of cell phone usage and social media. The conversation and questions that unfolded during the presentation were informative and impactful. Several strategies were shared with parents, with the overall message that monitoring student usage of screen time and social media presence is critical in order to ensure a safe and positive environment. Some tips that were offered include:

  • securing all cell phones, iPads, laptops and electronic devices in one centralized location for a designated "curfew" time every night.
  • making it your business to know who every contact is in your child's phone.
  • knowing the passwords, usernames, and all account information for all social media apps.

These tips can be helpful in ensuring that your child have a positive digital presence.

On an academic note, consider asking your child the following questions this weekend in order to find out more about what they are learning in school:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of hunting and gathering? (Grade 6 social studies)
  • How can generalizations be used to create understanding? (Grade 6 social studies)
  • What is the scale factor and how can it be used to create enlargements and reductions of original products? (Grade 7 math)
  • How does the composition of water impact an (onion) cell? (Grade 8 living environment)

We are excited with all the great learning experiences that take place every day in our school.

Please join me for our next "Coffee Talk" on Tuesday, December 5th at 8:30 am in the library. I look forward to seeing you then.

And, feel free to encourage your child to join in on our tradition of wearing a holiday sweater on Fridays in the month of December. Don't have a holiday sweater? No problem - wear something representative of the good hope and fortune for 2018!

Have a great weekend.

Rob Dennis


Friday, November 17, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Our first Career Week at North Shore Middle School was a success. I would like to personally thank the 27 community volunteers who took the time to share their expertise, experiences, and advice with our students. We enjoyed hearing from a wide range of successful professionals, including business owners, investors, doctors, nurses, lawyers, pilots, journalists, writers, just to name a few. Our students asked insightful and goal-oriented questions that encouraged meaningful conversation. I'd like to explore how we can continue to build upon the momentum of this event and involve the community and career professionals as part of valued members of our school on a more consistent basis.

We worked on interview skills this week, too. Over 75 students interviewed for "Principal for the Day" as part of our "Dress to Impress" theme of Career Week. I'm happy to report that one eighth grade student, Emma, will be our Principal on December 4th. The day will be a busy one, but will provide great insights for forward-thinking conversations.

Tuesday of next week is our annual E3 Day. We are excited to work as a learning community to benefit the larger community. Students met with their E3 Teacher Leaders and group members to plan the day, and they are looking forward to a collaborative and enriching experience.

Our lost and found is getting full. Please encourage your child to look in the lost and found, located outside the cafeteria, for any missing items. All items remaining after school on Tuesday, November 21st will be donated to St. Christopher's.

This past Wednesday evening, I presented at a PTSO meeting some information related to social media usage and screen time with respect to middle school students. To access the presentation, please click the link below:

I invite you to a very informative presentation and Q&A session with the Nassau County Police Department on Monday, November 27th. The presentation will be at 7:00 pm in our middle school library. I encourage all parents and students to attend, and learn about appropriate use of social media, advantages and disadvantages, and some consequences related to inappropriate and/or unlawful use.

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy some much needed family time.

With gratitude,

Rob Dennis


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

November is the season for giving thanks, not only on Thanksgiving, but the idea of giving thanks and demonstrating gratitude to our country's brave veterans. As your children enjoy the day off from school on Friday, please remind them the importance of demonstrating gratitude for all the positives in their lives. So many of our students at NSMS are taking that idea of gratitude and paying it forward: the student government is collecting food for a local food pantry, students are creating and selling greeting cards to be given to Veterans, and, perhaps our school's biggest demonstration of organized gratitude: our annual E3 Day. On Tuesday, November 21st, regular instruction will cease for a day so that we as a community of learners can participate in moments and activities that truly pay it forward. Students and teachers will lead donation drives, fundraisers, community service projects, and school improvement projects. I am looking forward to my first E3 day and am extremely proud to come to work in an environment that honors the importance of demonstrating gratitude and paying it forward.

While November is a short month with a few important holidays, we have a jam-packed schedule at NSMS:

  • November 13 - November 17 - Career Week
    • Our counseling department has organized a program that teaches students the value of goal setting, forward thinking, and interview and resume skills. In addition, I am excited to share that we have over 20 volunteers from within our parent community who will be serving as guest speakers in many of our classes to talk with students about the connections between the curriculum in the classroom and its application to the "real world."
    • Each day next week will be a different dress theme:
      • Monday - Dress like your future self (wear the clothes of your dream career)
      • Tuesday - College t-shirt day
      • Wednesday - Interview Day - Dress to impress!
      • Thursday - Set Goals for Yourself - wear a team jersey
      • Friday - Dream Big - wear comfy PJs
  • Students interested in developing interview skills will have the chance to interview on Wednesday for the position of "Principal for a Day." Participating students' names will be entered into a raffle for the chance to be the principal of our school for a day. Take the challenge!

Some other important dates:

  • November 14th - 7th Grade Philadelphia Trip Meeting, cafeteria
  • November 15th - PTSO Meeting **I will lead a discussion about social media & cell phones
  • November 17th - 7th Grade Social, 7:00 pm
  • November 21st - E3 Day
  • November 27th - Nassau County Police Officers Presentation: Social Media, Cell Phones

Looking at all of the great things happening in our building, I'd like to close by expressing my gratitude. I am thankful to be a part of a learning community that values the whole-child. I am thankful to work with caring and talented educators. I am thankful to work with supportive parents. And, most of all, I am thankful that I work with students who are beginning to leave impacts on tomorrow.

Have a nice weekend.


Rob Dennis


Friday, November 3, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

We have had a busy and productive week at the middle school. Students in sixth and seventh grades began studying a new cycle class and learning new skills in their exciting enrichment elective courses. All students were invited to participate in our Halloween activities, including our Halloween Costume Contest. A special thank you to the PTSO for their contribution towards prizes for each of the winning contests.

As I've stated in the past, we are having a Career Week during the week of November 13th. We've gotten a lot of responses from parents and community members interested in sharing their work experiences with students. This is the last chance to sign-up. Please consider spending some time with us and sharing your career related advice and experiences. Here is the link: We have many exciting and informative lessons and workshops that will take place throughout the week, including goal setting, interest surveys, and interview preparation. The prize for the best interview - Principal of NSMS for a Day.

In our ongoing effort to ensure that parents and students have the most relevant information related to appropriate use of cell phones, technology, and social media, I am partnering with our POP officers (Problem Oriented Policing) through Nassau County Police Department. On Thursday of this week, two POP officers met me at school to plan a presentation to be given to parents related to social media, cell phones, and cyberbullying. These topics are important as they pertain to all of our children. Please join us in the cafeteria for a presentation on Tuesday, November 28th at 7:00 pm. More information will follow in future mailings.

Here are some important upcoming events:

November 8th – Picture Retakes

November 9th – End of Quarter 1

November 14th – 7th Grade Philadelphia Field Trip Meeting, 7:00 pm

November 15th – PTSO Meeting, 7:00 pm

November 21st – E3 Day

November 28th – Parent & Student Information Meeting: Cell Phones, CyberBullying, and Social Media

Enjoy the weekend - and the extra hour of sleep due to daylight savings time.


Rob Dennis


Friday, October 27, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Happy Friday! This week, NSMS celebrated two national campaigns: Red Ribbon Week, to raise awareness about the importance of rejecting drugs and alcohol and living a sober life, and Unity Day, to encourage students to promote acceptance and tolerance to all. A special thank-you is due to the counseling staff and the social workers for their help and dedication in organizing these worthy activities. Today, the NSMS community participated in a "walk-out" against drugs and alcohol. We convened on the field in the shape of a ribbon. In our sea of red shirts, we pledged to make good choices.

With respect to Unity Day, the message we sent to our students is an important one: be kind to others and stand up for what is right. I use the word simple, however, it is actually a difficult charge. Please click the link below to watch an ad from Burger King about standing up to bullies and intolerance:

I encourage you to watch this video with your child and talk with them about why we stand up for our principles. And, that putting others down to promote yourself is never acceptable, whether it be face-to-face or online.

Here are some good conversation starters related to our school for you this weekend:

  • What are some strategies to disorient a defender when playing soccer? (grade 6 PE)
  • What are warm and cool colors? (grade 7 art)
  • How is percent increase calculated? (grade 7 math)
  • What are terms relevant to westward expansion? (grade 8 social studies)

Tuesday is Halloween. Students are welcome to wear their costumes to school. The PTSO sponsors a costume contest - prizes will be given to the most creative costumes during a costume contest ninth period. Please be sure that your child's costume is appropriate for school, including not depicting drugs, violence, weapons, sexually explicit content, or any negative message.

Please join us to be a guest speaker during our first Career Week, November 13-November 17. If you are interested, please click this link and submit your information:

I'm looking forward to our sixth grade Halloween Party, and to celebrating with students next week.

Have a nice weekend.

Rob Dennis



Friday, October 20, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Learning, learning, learning! This week, students have been participating in a variety of interesting and engaging experiences. Take a look at some of these topics:

  • When do we use subjective or objective reasoning? (Grade 6 science)
  • How does the logo of a product contribute to its popularity and advertising? (Grade 6 entrepreneurship)
  • How does the origin and purpose of a document impact its reliability? (Grade 7 social studies)
  • How do you multiply or divide decimals? (Grade 7 math)
  • How do external and internal pressures affect a character? (Grade 7 ELA)
  • Can you talk about your shopping preferences? (Grade 8 Spanish)

Teachers at North Shore Middle School are committed to illustrating the applications of course content to the "real world." Frequently, teachers challenge students to think like artists, musicians, historians, scientists, and mathematicians. Students are beginning to see the connections between their learning and its purpose.

November 13-November 17 is National Career Development Week. At North Shore Middle School, we will host a variety of activities that support learning about careers, learning about strengths and preferences, preparing for an interview, preparing a resume, and exploring areas of interest. I invite you, or a friend of yours, to complete the survey if you are interested in being a guest speaker in our classes to talk with students about your career. Are you a doctor? A business owner? A carpenter? A lawyer? An artist? - Our students would benefit greatly from learning about your professions. Please consider joining us for a career conversation. If interested, please click the link HERE:

Please join me for a cup of coffee on Wednesday, October 25th for our next "Coffee with the Principal." We will meet from 8:30 am - 10:00 am in the library.

Save the Date - our 6th grade Halloween Social is Friday, October 27th! Students are invited to join us, in costume, for a night of fun! We will be in the cafeteria from 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely ,

Rob Dennis


Friday, October 13, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

We are extremely fortunate to live in a time where the answers to any question we have can be answered with the click of a button or the reassuring robotic voice of a pal named Siri. The role technology plays in our life is remarkable. The children in our classrooms today have never known life without the Internet, or social media, or cell phones, or the like. I am a strong proponent of the advantages of technology with respect to education. I will always adhere to the adage that "Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of a great teacher can be transformational."

Social media provides students with great freedom but also, the obligation to accept greater responsibility. The following article, "Why Are More Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?" appeared in the New York Times on October 11th. In the article, the author explores a connection between teens' reliance on social media and the increase in teen mental health issues. Social media, as it's pointed out, provides users with instant everything and that (over-) reliance on and access to instant knowledge is not a reality of everyday life and situations. Albeit long, I hope you find the read worth your time. This crystallizes, or helps to, a belief that I have that mindfulness is important and working with students to face adversity and setbacks, and develop resilience and stamina in doing so, is a critical component of educating the 21st century learner.

Here is the link to the article:

As a reminder, we are meeting on Tuesday, October 17th at 6:00 pm in the library to discuss the book The Gift of Failure. Please join us for a great discussion before our PTSO meeting. Speaking of books - our annual book fair is next week. The book fair will also be open during the PTSO meeting.

We held an informational meeting for parents of sixth graders about our annual Greenkill trip on Wednesday evening. For your convenience, the link to the presentation is here: Thank you to all of the parents in attendance - we are really looking forward to a great experience for our students.

Staying current with important news is important for you and your child. Please "bookmark" the following site on your phone: You can also save this link to appear as an app icon on your phone's home screen. This site will maintain important "Daily News" events relevant to NSMS, including club dates and meetings, cancellations, etc. Also attached to this e-mail is a club calendar for the months of October and November. Please encourage your child to join a club that meets her/his interest.

Another important date: October 27th marks the conclusion of our first cycle for students in sixth and seventh grades. A new cycle, and thus, a new elective class, will begin on October 30th. Please speak with your child to ensure that all work is being completed for any elective classes that they have that will conclude in a few short weeks.

Have a nice weekend - pick some pumpinks!

Rob Dennis



Friday, October 6, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

The hallways were abuzz with excited, albeit lost and wandering, parents on Tuesday evening at our annual Back to School Night. It was so great to meet you and even better to hear so many parents say, "I wish my middle school was like this!" I am glad you had the chance to see a small glimpse of your child's day, meeting the caring and talented team of teachers and learning about what makes our school so unique. Your feedback is important to us. Please click the link below to take a brief survey about your experience at our BTSN:

As I continued visiting classrooms this week and speaking with students about their learning, I can't help but feel thrilled with the opportunities that our children have to meaningfully connect curricular skills and concepts with real world applications. Consider speaking with your child this weekend (3 days!!) about some of the following questions:

  • What do images and artifacts tell us about a culture or society? (grade 6 social studies)
  • What are contour lines? How does the message in the book "Ish" relate to the growth mindset mentality of an artist? (grade 6 art)
  • What are the elements of the design process? (grade 6 FACS and technology) - FYI - our students are creating stress balls in FACS and cars to test safety protocols in technology!
  • How do groups form and identify? How can group psychology relate to the formation of Native American alliances? (grade 7 social studies)
  • What are important elements to analyze in order to solve a crime? (grade 7 criminal justice)
  • How do you convert a fraction into a decimal? What role can a number line play in comparing these values? (grade 7 math)
  • What are indicators? (grade 8 living environment)

Looking at this list of questions, it's no wonder so many adults wish they were students in our classrooms today!

Below are some important reminders about upcoming dates:

Meeting for sixth grade Greenkill Trip is October 11th at 7:00 pm.

Book Fair is October 17th - October 20th. The online fair is available at

PTSO meeting on October 17th. Our first Book Talk will begin at 6:00 pm - get your copy of The Gift of Failure at your local bookstore or get a reserved copy at either of our two public libraries.

The sixth grade Halloween Party is October 27th at 7:00 pm in the cafeteria - games, music, fun, & more - come in your Halloween costume!

The seventh grade party is November 17th. More information will follow.

Staying current with important news is important for you and your child. Please "bookmark" the following site on your phone: You can also save this link to appear as an app icon on your phone's home screen. This site will maintain important "Daily News" events relevant to NSMS, including club dates and meetings, cancellations, etc. Next week, I will be sending out a club calendar for the months of October and November.

Finally, as you continue your conversations with your child about the importance of a growth mindset, please ask your child to reflect on the following shared values outcomes that we instill in our classrooms at NSMS. We strive to develop students as:

  • thinkers
  • problem solvers
  • communicators
  • collaborators
  • innovators
  • individuals committed to growth in self and growth in others

These skills are not measured on standardized tests, but are critically important to the development of well-rounded people. I am confident our curriculum is addressing all of these areas.

Enjoy the three-day weekend.

Rob Dennis



Friday, September 29, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

Not Yet. This is a powerful idea. In it, live hope and positivity. Think about the last time you used the term:

  • Did you buy the groceries? Not yet.
  • Did you finish the show? Not yet.
  • Did you solve the problem? Not yet.

The examples are endless. Each of these scenarios implies that the question at hand will be accomplished, or at least attempted, in the future. How can we instill this hope, positive thinking, and future-forward planning within our children?

In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck describes the characteristics of a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, and the connection to being a successful and well-adjusted individual by embracing a growth mindset. To hear her speak eloquently on the topic, please click here:

The beginning of the school year is a great time to set goals with students and discuss their potential. Please partner with us in nurturing a growth mindset within all of our students. How powerful would it be if students faced setback and failures with the idea of Not Yet as a framework! Mastered the quadratic formula? - Not yet Learned the -ar verb conjugations? - Not yet Created a solution to that problem? - Not yet Learned how to play the new sport? Not yet.

I invite you to continue learning with me about instilling this growth mindset within our students and discussing the importance of learning from setback and failure. Please join me at our PTSO meeting on October 17th at 6:00 pm for our first book talk. We will be discussing the book, The Gift of Failure. As a courtesy, the Sea Cliff and Gold Coast Libraries have reserved copies of this book.

Speaking of the PTSO, I'd like to thank everyone who was able to join us for the Parent Mixer this past Monday evening. I enjoyed meeting new faces and learning about your hopes and dreams for your children and their middle school experience. Thank you to the PTSO for organizing the event, especially to co-presidents Lisa and Leti, and to the teachers who joined us as well.

Throughout my travels into classrooms this week, I have continued to witness great learning and growth in action. Consider starting a conversation with your child this weekend about:

  • What are the traits of a scientist? (6th grade science)
  • How are the five senses used to make subjective and objective observations? (6th grade science)
  • What method(s) of note-taking is your preference? (6th grade resource room)
  • How have you developed one of your independent reading post-its into a longer, more complex demonstration of your thinking? (7th grade ELA)
  • How are the terms solve, evaluate, and simplify used in algebra? (8th grade algebra)
  • Can you talk about your school day and education in French? (8th grade French)

Please be sure to join us at our annual Back to School Night on October 3rd at 7:00 pm. Parking will be limited due to the large turnout. Parents are encouraged to carpool and park across the street at the high school.

Finally, check out the latest newsletter from the Counseling Department:

Have a great weekend.

Rob Dennis

P.S. As a reminder, click this link to access the list of teacher website addresses:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Families,

The last week may have been a short one, but it has been filled with new learning at NSMS. Having established new classroom routines and cultures, students and teachers have begun to “roll up their sleeves” and get busy learning new content and skills, while making meaningful connections to real life applications. Over the last few days it has been a pleasure to visit your children in a variety of different classes. Consider asking your students some of the following questions to connect to their classroom experiences:

· What is the difference between greatest common factor and least common multiple? (grade 6 math)

· What is an emotional timeline? Why is it important to know how a character feels, or how an author describes a setting? (grade 6 ELA)

· To what extent are natural resources important to a civilization? (grade 7 social studies)

· Why is it important to know the origin, content, and purpose of a document in order to analyze it well? (grade 7 social studies)

· What are some tools of measurement used in science? (grade 8 living environment)

· What are the characteristics of an algebraic expression? (grade 8 algebra)

· Ask your child to tell you something that they did in the past. (grade 8 Italian/Spanish)

· What are the characteristics of a memoir? How will your memoir balance narrative and expository writing? (grade 8 ELA)

In each classroom that I’ve visited, students have been happily engaged in meaningful learning experiences. It’s so great to see smiles on the faces of students and teachers, and to see the care to individualized relationships that are beginning to develop between teachers and their students. NSMS truly is a magical place.

Over the course of the last few weeks, Ms. Canzoniero, Ms. Green, and I have called every sixth grade parent to “check in” on our newest students. We are thrilled to report that students are excited to come to school, are beginning to make new friends, learning the ins-and-outs of lockers and hallway navigation, and are feeling like a valued member of our E3 community.

The PTSO is hosting a Parent Mixer at the Sea Cliff Yacht Club on September 25th from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. This is a great opportunity to continue to build relationships with families and with our school. I hope to see you there.

As a reminder, our Back to School Night is October 3rd at 7:00 pm. There will also be a Book Talk on October 17th at 6:00 pm, followed by our monthly PTSO meeting. Please join us for the book talk, as we will be discussing The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.

Have a great long weekend and, for those of you celebrating, have a sweet holiday.

Rob Dennis

Follow us on Twitter - @NSMSVikings

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dear North Shore Middle School Community,

Have you caught the spirit? Spirit Week was a huge success at NSMS over the last few days. The building celebrated with a variety of theme days, including USA Day, Pajama Day, Superhero Day, Mix-Match Day, and Maroon & White Day. Students, teachers, and staff filled the halls and their classrooms with laughter and enthusiasm centered around Vikings Pride! Our Pep Rally kicked off Homecoming weekend. Academic teams identified themselves with team names, team dances, and team songs. Students even had the chance to pie their favorite principal & assistant principal in our event, “Pie the Principals.” All students are invited and encouraged to show their #NSMSPride at the Homecoming Carnival on Saturday morning at 10:45. There will be a designated area for middle school students, including games, challenges, and a “Dunk the Principal” station.

Students are encouraged to find their niche, explore their interests, and join a club this year. Our Club Fair was held on Tuesday and provided a great opportunity for students to learn about the variety of exciting and meaningful clubs available to them.

Throughout the course of the last few days and over the next few weeks, Ms. Green and I have begun to meet with all students during team meetings to discuss academic, behavioral, and social expectations. Please revisit the following topics with your students:

· E3 philosophy

· It is important to present your best self at all times.

· Setting goals and monitoring goals is a vital step to being successful.

· Responsibility for learning on the part of all students is an important lifelong skill.

Today was the first day that the Music of the World class performed in our outdoor classroom. The students had so much fun as they performed together and made creative and exciting beats.

On behalf of all of NSMS, we hope that you have enjoyed the first full week of school and have begun to learn some exciting new things. Please join us at the Homecoming Carnival at 10:30 on Saturday morning and later at the Parade at 12:45 pm.

Finally, along with the PTSO’s support, I will be hosting my first “Coffee with the Principal” event this Monday, September 18th, from 8:30 am – 10:00 am in the library. Please join me if you are available at this time.

Have a restful weekend.

Rob Dennis

P.S. – For updates and pictures of exciting happenings throughout our building, please follow us on Twitter @NSMSVikings.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dear NSMS Families,

Wow! What a great first three days of school we’ve had at North Shore Middle School. I have to start by saying THANK YOU! Thank you for sending us and trusting us with your most precious gifts. Judging from the smiles on all of the faces I’ve seen over the last few days, we are off to a great school year. Friends reconnected, new students were eagerly greeted and welcomed by returning students, and teachers embraced their new learning communities, setting meaningful and purposeful goals for an engaging school year.

We have created a video slideshow for your enjoyment, capturing some of the most exciting moments from our first week together. Please enjoy it! Click HERE to view the video.

This weekend will be a great opportunity to speak with your children about new routines and habits they are forming, including timeliness for school, a positive attitude, a growth mindset, and some academic goals for the school year. Ask your children what they would like to DO this year in middle school, and what steps they will take to monitor their progress and, overtime, work towards the achievement of the goal(s).

Drop-Off & Pick-Up:

The drop-off and pick-up routines have gone very smoothly. I am appreciative that our students are entering school at our main entrance. A request to parents who drop-off or pick-up their students in the front circle: please do your best to park as close to the front of the circle, nearest the exit of the main entrance, as possible, in order to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. It will be important to review with your children that they should practice safety while not only walking to school, but while they are in the upper circle as well.

Spirit Week:

Next week is a busy week at North Shore Middle School – our first Spirit Week! Please see the suggested fun dress schedule below:

Monday - “USA Patriotic Day”

Tuesday- “Super Hero Day”

Wednesday- “Pajama Day”

Thursday- “Mix Match Day”

Friday- “Maroon and White Day”

Pep Rally, period 9

The purpose of the week is to raise excitement surrounding our District Homecoming on Saturday, September 16th. All middle school students and families are encouraged to join us in our parade and for our fun activities – including Dunk the Middle School Principal! That’s right, I agreed to be in a dunk tank for the purpose of this event. I’d love the chance to meet you here, and see you take your best shot and, hopefully, miss!

Club Fair:

Does your child have any interest in joining a club? Our annual CLUB FAIR is Tuesday, September 12th at 3:00 pm in the library. Please click HERE for our club brochure. The PTSO will be selling Ralph’s Italian Ices as a school fundraiser. Come on down, join a club, and grab an ice!


Regular communication between school and home is crucial to the success of all of our students. To that end, NSMS teachers utilize websites to communicate homework, post assignments and rubrics, and update parents and students with important announcements and documents. Our middle school website with links to these pages is currently under construction. In the meantime, please click HERE to access the links for teacher and team websites, which contain important content for your child’s curriculum. Please note that the websites are a work in progress. As other sites become available, you will have access to them. I strongly suggest that you “bookmark” these links as favorites for immediate and timely access.


I’d also like to take an opportunity to thank the PTSO for the tremendous work they have done for the start of the school year. Our “Ices with the Principal” event and sixth grade BBQ were both successful. Please consider joining the PTSO and attending any of the following events:

Coffee Talk - September 18th, library NSMS, 8:30 am

NSMS Parent Mixer – September 18th, Sea Cliff Yacht Club, 7pm

PTSO Meeting – October 17th, NSMS library, 7pm

I will be hosting a book talk before the PTSO meeting on October 17th at 6:00 pm. This will be a great way to meet and discuss the book, The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.


Finally, our E3 motto continues to be the driving force of our building: Everyone Matters, Everyone Cares, and Everyone Learns. Please visit this topic with your children. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be meeting with every team to talk with students about this concept, in addition to a variety of other topics, including establishing study habits, social media etiquette, and opportunities afforded to the students at NSMS.

Enjoy the weekend.


Rob Dennis

August 2017

Middle School is such an exciting opportunity in the lives of our students. There is so much potential, so many questions, and so much opportunity. As we begin our journey together, I think it's important that you know some of my core values as an educator:

  • All students can and will learn.
  • The whole child matters.
  • A positive and supportive school culture promotes community and growth.
  • Parents and families are important partners in education.
  • Teachers are leaders. Teachers are innovators. Teachers care.

Schools are about people. Bottom line. Period.

As we focus on the development of the whole child, we will work diligently to ensure that students develop skills to be excellent communicators, collaborators, thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and individuals committed to themselves and others. These shared valued outcomes embody the ethos at North Shore Middle School of E3: Everyone Matters, Everyone Cares, Everyone Learns!

Teams for 2017-2018

Great care and attention are given when considering placement of a student on an academic team. Teams are the heart and soul of NSMS. Each team shares a group of students and is responsible for ensuring that those students have a wonderful school experience. Our Team Leaders facilitate team meetings, help to organize parent communication, and are here as a contact point for parents and students that need support or guidance. Our team leaders for 2017-2018 are:

Grade 6

Yellow Team: Mr. Hert

Orange Team: Mr. Chemnitz

Purple Team: Mr. Chillemi

Grade 7

Team A: Ms. Corrao

Team B: Ms. Shea

Team C: Mr. Lang

Grade 8

Team I: Ms. Larkin

Team II: Mr. Keenan

Team III: Mr. Freund

You can reach any of our team leaders, or any teacher for that matter, via email. For a list of e-mail addresses, please click HERE.


You and your child will develop a very special relationship with the grade level counselor over the course of the three years at NSMS. Below are the guidance assignments for 2017-2018:

Grade 6

Mrs. Canzoniero

Grade 7

Mr. Jackson

Grade 8

Mrs. Finning

Coffee Talk

In a continued effort to ensure positive and open communication between home and school, I invite you to join me for a cup of coffee and some conversation:

September 18th

October 25th

December 5th

Coffee talks will meet from 8:30 - 10:00 am in the library at NSMS. Coffee is provided by the PTSO. Start your morning with a delicious cup of Joe! Additional dates for the second half of the year will be communicated in a future post and e-mail.

I recently came across a resource entitled Parent Toolkit from NBC News Education Nation. The site offers great articles, videos, and other resources with respect to doing your job, the most important one - parenting. To visit the page, please click the link below.