As new Swanton Middle School students learned their houses earlier this month, they also learned of a pair of statewide awards for the school.
Students are placed into one of four houses as part of the building’s Swanton Seven initiative, which is in its third year. The Swanton Seven is devoted to promoting a positive culture and creating well rounded citizens.
“Parents have stated how The Swanton Seven has changed their child’s outlook on school; students are excited to attend, they are accountable to someone because they are included,” said Assistant Principal Leigh Pancoast. “As an individual, and also as a team, each student is expected to meet the expectations. On Fridays, which we call, ‘FriYay’, our staff celebrates the end of a successful week by being present in the morning outside of school, dancing and welcoming each student.”
The excitement, commitment, and success of the initiative was recognized by neighboring schools. That recognition went statewide when school leaders presented and shared Swanton Middle School’s culture at the Ohio Middle Level Association 2019 Annual Conference.
“Sharing our success and receiving encouragement from colleagues was the greatest compliment,” said Pancoast.
The recognition went a step further when the Ohio Middle Level Association (OMLA) announced a pair of awards for the school. The team of Swanton Middle School teachers was named Team of the Year, while Principal Matt Smith was named Educator of the Year.
“I am very proud of the staff at SMS and Mr. Smith, not just for receiving the OMLA awards but for all the hard work that has gone into making SMS such a special place for students to be every day. What they have accomplished over the last two years is remarkable,” said Superintendent Chris Lake. “They have rejuvenated the culture of the building and made SMS a place that kids love to be and a place that teachers love to work.”
Pancoast spoke highly of Smith, adding that his first question is always, “Is this best for the kids?”
“He values the individual student and instills that in all of his teachers,” she said. “Mr. Smith is always one step ahead and ready for what’s next… Swanton Middle School is an amazing place and I believe it is due to the leadership of Matt Smith. Mr. Smith.”
She also said that as educators, they are salesmen, and few are born to make a sale this big.
“We are selling knowledge to our students, we are selling trust to the parents, and we are selling confidence to our community,” said Pancoast. “The Swanton Seven Initiative has sold. In just two years, our little dream to shake things up, challenge the students to take ownership, teachers to reach the individual, the parents to entrust in us, and the community to believe in the future, has worked.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010