N.R. Burger Middle School - Pandemic Partnership Response

2020-2021 N. R. Burger Middle School “Partnering Through a Pandemic” Project

N.R. Burger Middle School is a dynamic learning community that promotes college and career ready students who are prepared to succeed in a diverse, global society. More than ever, it has become evident that educators have to address students, parents, and families from a holistic approach. In doing so, it is vital that we solicit help from our community. Over the years, building strong partnerships with various organizations and members of our community has contributed to the overall success of our school and our school district. In March, when the initial onset of the coronavirus epidemic and national lockdown occurred, naturally, no one was prepared for the unknown. We had no way to predict what the world of education would become, and we definitely had no idea how to proceed in anticipation of the upcoming school year. In the midst of this global pandemic, this school year has looked completely different from any other school year.

Implementing a combination of virtual, hybrid, and traditional scheduling became our “new normal.” This new implementation required flexibility and adjustment for staff and students. Faced with the unfamiliar, the district’s educators have still been tasked with providing quality education, a safe environment, and positive incentives to our students. In the past at Burger, providing these safety nets and rewards has been a result of a collaboration between the school staff and our community partners. Through all the continual unexpected occurrences attached to COVID-19, we were uncertain about participation from our community partners. With social-distancing and mask mandates, we felt that our partners may have been quite apprehensive about supporting the efforts of our school this year. As a school staff, we have been determined to make this a great school year, regardless of the circumstances; however, at times, even we have been riddled with some feelings of insecurity. Therefore, we feared that our community partners may have shared the same feelings of ambiguity. Fortunately for us, this has not been the case. Many of our seasoned community partners, along with a few new ones, contacted us to inquire about the needs of the school and what they could do to assist the Burger team in our efforts.

This year, ”Partnering Through a Pandemic” has consisted of both individuals and members of organizations who have willingly volunteered their time and resources to the staff, students, and community of N. R. Burger Middle School. We have solicited their help in maintaining academic proficiency and social responsibility among our students. During crises, mental health and emotional issues tend to surge, and we have been well-aware that both staff and students will have some challenges in trying to cope with the conditions of the pandemic. Finding ways to, proactively, support the social-emotional needs of our Burger family and attempting to provide them with a good sense of well-being quickly became a priority. Continued focus on our Positive Behavior Incentive System (PBIS) has become even more vital this particular school year. At N. R. Burger, the system is designed to promote and encourage positive trends in academics, behavior, and attendance. We have depended, heavily, on the PBIS system to encourage student attendance, whether it be in-person or virtual, and to place emphasis on strong academic performance.

Our community partners’ human capacity and financial donations have aided in supporting our efforts to achieve the following:

1) Academic Proficiency Through Focus on Attendance - maintain the number of students who are meeting and/or exceeding academic expectations

2.) Social Responsibility With Focus on Social Emotional Well-Being - maintain good attendance-average daily attendance (ADA) among students; maintain appropriate behavior demonstrated by students and promote care to address social and emotional well-being for students and staff (decrease office referrals)

Community Partners:
Sharon Brinson, Jani-King; Jermaine Brown, Kappa Alpha Psi; Chris Dunkley, Hattiesburg Coca-Cola Bottling Company; Adina Green; Robert Johnson, Real Life Church; Mark McLain, Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, Junior Shows, Play It Again Sports; Mrs. Deborah Williams, House of the Lord Baptist Church; Joann Wynn, Rare Edition, Corner Market, Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Wal-Mart, and Winn-Dixie