A fresh start for Washington Middle School

GREEN BAY, Wis. Tuesday is the first day of classes for Green Bay Public Schools, and marks a fresh start for Washington Middle School. The school is in the spotlight after a teacher resigned citing a climate of student aggression, violence and verbal abuse.

First day of school at Washington Middle School

Washington Middle School Principal, Dennis Christensen, says the day began with high energy, setting the tone for a key first week of classes.

"That's goal number one is to support positive behavior you know, and when we know there's a behavioral piece that there are consequences," said Christensen.

The parent sessions held throughout the summer helped Christensen understand communication is a big part of improving student behavior.

"Better communication, making sure we that we reinforce the expectations and that we’re communicating what our expectations are. I think one of the clear messages though was that of communication," Christensen adds.

Green Bay police officers including Chief Andrew Smith greeted arriving students first thing in the morning.

"We get to talk to the administrators a little bit and listen to what kind of concerns they have, and it also gives our officers an opportunity to be around kids in a non-threatening, you know not 9-1-1 call situations," said Chief Smith.

This year Washington Middle School will have more adult student support, they've hired three auxiliary teachers that can step in to any classroom every time they need help or a substitute teacher. The auxiliary teachers are certified teachers and they are a part of the Washington Middle School staff.

One of those auxiliary teachers, Tracy Lenoble, says relating on a personal level is key.

"Once I find the connection I'm able to have a good conversation with students, I'm able to gain their respect because of that," Lenoble says.

"We want to have adults in every classroom ready to teach the important work that needs to be taught, and that we continue to work on developing that culture of safety, respect, responsibility. Really a key piece to that is caring," said Christensen.