Randall Middle School receives distinguished national honor

Randall Middle School, part of the Cortland Enlarged City School District, was recently recognized as a “Model Professional Learning Community” by Solution Tree. Amanda Viel (left), CECSD’s director of curriculum and instruction, and Juli Quinn, principal at Randall Middle School, pose with the certificate of achievement that the school received last July. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

Randall Middle School, which is part of the Cortland Enlarged City School District (CECSD), recently received a national honor for its success in the classroom.

The school received a certificate of achievement (and a flag) from Solution Tree, which recognized Randall Middle School as a “Model Professional Learning Community” for its “exemplary work in establishing a high-achieving professional learning community.”

Model PLC, which is part of Solution Tree’s PLC at Work program, honors schools who have met certain criteria, including:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to PLC at Work concepts
  • Implement those concepts for at least three years
  • Present clear evidence of improved student learning
  • Provide data on a yearly basis that shows they continue to meet the criteria of the PLC at Work process

Randall Middle School was honored with the achievement last July, said Amanda Viel, director of curriculum and instruction at CECSD.

“Our teachers are involved in collaborative work around student achievement and growth,” Viel said. “(The achievement) is for all of the staff and students that recognizes their great work.”

Juli Quinn, first-year principal at Randall Middle School who’s been with CECSD for 17 years, said teachers worked together to “determine the best way to teach different standards.”

“Essential standards are determined for each grade level,” Quinn said, noting that Randall Middle School includes grades 5th and 6th. “We are laser-focused on those high essential standards for learning.”

The teachers at Randall Middle School used subjects like Math and English/Language Arts, and looked at students and “how they’ve learned,” Quinn said.

“Teachers adjust their teaching and small-group instruction to help our students best meet those essential standards,” Quinn added, who noted it is called “multi-tier systems of support.”

The multi-tier systems support that Randall Middle School implemented is why they were recognized as a model school, Quinn said.

“It’s really amazing because the teachers look at data and analyze the gaps and strengths of the kids,” Viel said. “They group the kids and address any needs there.”

Viel mentioned that people may think it's the teachers’ version of adult-based planning, but added that the students know about the collaborative work between the teachers as well.

“They’re switching groups and teachers, know the routine and they seem to really enjoy it,” Viel said.

The hard work in the classroom led to Randall Middle School holding a model school celebration on Friday. The students were awarded activities outside of the classroom, including an inflatable hungry, hungry hippo area, live human foosball, an inflatable obstacle course, a photo booth and more.

Quinn mentioned that the celebration was slated to be held last fall, however, it was postponed to the spring due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We didn’t just want to celebrate with the adults. We also wanted to celebrate with the kids today,” Viel said.

Quinn said the achievement not only honors Randall Middle School, but the entire school district.

“Having this achievement really speaks volumes for our district and this journey we’re on,” she added, who noted Randall Middle School was the first within CECSD to receive the Model PLC Certificate of Achievement. “We’re all going to be Model PLC schools before too long here.”