Vikings in the Middle

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

Hello, North Shore Middle School!

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.