Welcome to Owatonna Middle School! We are a 6-8 middle school with around 1,000 students. Our story is an interesting one. In 2017, after a massive 60,000 square foot addition, we transitioned from a 7-8 junior high to a true middle school. In addition to the extra space and facelift the building received, we implemented a completely new program. Using an A/B day rotation, we run a four-period block schedule with 82-minute classes. For the most part, our classes run every other day with a few exceptions (6th grade Language Arts meets every day for a full block while 6th grade math is 1 1/2 blocks every two days; 7th grade Math/English are 1 ½ blocks each). We would put our elective (essentials) offerings up against any middle school in the state. With over 70 different classes outside the core classes, Owatonna Middle School really does have something for everyone. From Videography to Theater to Biking to Forensics to 3-D Printing, our offerings run the gamut.
Our programming is based on two foundations: STEM and Relationships. With years of STEM training for staff and nearly twenty staff members who completed a STEM certification program, many of our classes incorporate inquiry-based learning. Our outdoor learning classroom is growing and developing each year, offering a unique outside space to build on curriculum. Relationships are the other key component to our programming. Because of this, we incorporated Husky Connections, a daily, 15-minute advisory program that is a mix of students in grades 6-8 who stay with their advisor for their three years at OMS. The bulk of the time spent in this program is focused on creating a family through activities and games that allow a down time during the day where students can be middle school kids, laughing and getting to know one another.
One of our biggest focuses over the past three years has been our grading. While many are used to the traditional 100-point scale and extra credit, we have spent considerable time as a staff working with experts and with each other to evaluate how we grade, leading to some significant changes. First, we believe a student's grade should reflect what they know against the state standards. We have put this into Learning Targets and base a student's academic score solely on assessments. We view "homework" as practice to gain the skills for the assessments. We have eliminated extra credit as it often inflated grades that did not align with what students know. As part of this process, we have incorporated a bi-monthly SOAR time where students get the chance to retest, relearn, or attend enrichment sessions. This all helps us focus on ensuring students learn the critical learning targets. Separating behaviors/actions/habits from academic grades has also allowed students, parents, and teachers to differentiate between the two. Students receive quarterly scores in three areas: Practicing Kindness, Appropriate Conduct, and Work Habits. These scores are used not only as a communication tool with families but also as a way to gauge a student's standing with our Husky Pride foundation (PBIS). While we are still making the change to this grading process, we are well on our way to aligning student learning with academic grades!
A little about your administration:
Principal Julie Sullivan--The 2022-2023 school year will be my thirty-second year in education. I taught English for one year in Jackson, MN before moving to Owatonna with my husband, Greg, a Chemistry teacher at OHS. After fifteen years in the classroom and coaching, I transitioned to an assistant principal role at Owatonna High School. After four years in that role, I moved to Wilson Elementary as principal. What a blessing both of those experiences were for me! In 2016, I had the opportunity to get involved in the development of the new middle school. I truly love my job “in the middle” and feel blessed to be a part of this school and this district. I have three children: Ty (26), Jay (23), and Josie (20). Ty is a Chemical Engineer in White Bear Lake. Jay graduated from the U of M in the Carlson School of Management and works for Target Corporation. Josie has completed her AA degree from Western Technical and Community College in LaCrosse and works full-time for the YMCA there.
Assistant Principal: Erin Halverson has been at Owatonna Middle School for six years. Prior to this role, Erin was a Social Studies teacher at Owatonna High School, where she also coached Mock Trial. Erin works primarily with the seventh grade teams and one eighth grade team. In addition, she works as the district’s AVID Coordinator and manages all testing at OMS. Erin’s husband Mike is the Director of Technology Innovation for ISD 761. Her two boys, Will and Owen, are in 9th and 7th grades respectively. Erin stays busy following her boys’ sporting activities and spending time at their cabin in the summer.
The 2022-2023 school year is Katie Lenz's first year being part of Owatonna Public Schools. Before joining the OMS, Katie spent 17 years working in the Rochester Public Schools as a physical education teacher, After-School Center Director, and Summer of Service Coordinator. In her time off, Katie enjoys chasing her 5-year-old son around, spending lazy summer days at the cabin, and being with family.