Archive for April, 2013

Teacher Feature – Elizabeth Sanders

April 30, 2013

Encouragement – Elizabeth Sanders states this to be the most important thing she can offer her students. “Every child is capable of being successful; they just need to find the success in themselves and believe in themselves.”


Elizabeth Sanders in her classroom on Hat Day which raises money for the SCW Relay For Life team.

Sanders teaches seventh grade students language arts and history at St. Clare Walker. Before coming to SCW 3 years ago, she taught language arts at Peasley Middle School in Gloucester. A native of Lancaster, Virginia, and graduate of Lancaster High, Sanders still resides there with her husband of almost one year.

After high school graduation, Sanders earned a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s of Art in Education from James Madison University. She declares, “I bleed purple!” concerning her JMU alumni status. Currently, Sanders is working toward her Master’s in Educational Leadership from William and Mary.

In her classroom, the focus is on reading. Sanders loves teaching novel units. She explains, “I enjoy sharing my love for reading, and I am always looking to spark an interest in my students.  When my students start talking about the novel we’re reading without me asking questions first, I know they’re connecting with the book. What’s even better is when a student asks, ‘Is there are sequel?’ or ‘Are there anymore books by this author?’” Every year, Sanders feels her main goal is to keep students engaged in school, and one way she accomplishes this is by helping students deepen or discover their love for reading.

Student role-play is another activity Sanders uses to enrich her students’ reading experience. This year she collaborated with Judy Murray, the SCW media specialist, on a Jerry Spinelli study. After reading Spinelli’s autobiography, Knots in My Yo-Yo String, students read another of the author’s works on their own and completed further research on Spinelli. Following their research, students were grouped together to do Spinelli interviews. Each group had someone play the role of Spinelli, and the rest of the students in the group were either interviewers or cameramen. Through this activity, students were exposed to an author and were able to show their acting skills during the interviews. Sanders states, “The creativity was amazing to watch. I feel that any activity that gets students thinking outside of the box is great!”

In addition to her time in the classroom, Sanders touches the lives of all SCW students through her work as sponsor of SCW’s Student Council Association. Each year, Sanders hosts the SOL pep rally, the variety show, and many other activities for the entertainment and enjoyment of the entire staff and student body of the school. She also sponsors the SCW Relay For Life team, and encourages all students to be community-minded and serve others.

With all that Sanders does for the students of SCW, it’s hard to imagine that she has any free time to herself. In addition to reading when she does manage to carve out a few moments, she enjoys scrapbooking, spending time with friends, and going to the beach, and she is a fan of the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins.

The dedication Elizabeth Sanders has to the students of SCW makes her an asset to Middlesex Schools, and her nomination as SCW Teacher of the Year by her colleagues shows that others recognize her remarkable performance. She is a true asset to the MCPS family.


Teacher Feature – Judy Murray

April 23, 2013

As a 35-year veteran of Middlesex County Public Schools, Judy Murray has touched the lives of hundreds, maybe even a thousand children in our community. Currently the media center specialist at St. Clare Walker, Murray has also filled the roles of first grade teacher, technology specialist, and instructional technology resource teacher during her years as an educator.


As the media center specialist, Murray strives to help students learn to use the media center effectively because in today’s information-driven world, the use of technology is necessary for the future success of the students. Murray also collaborates with teachers to help reinforce skills the students are learning in the classroom to ensure their understanding of required concepts. In addition to the technology and information focus of her lessons, Murray also enjoys the traditional tasks of helping students find a book or genre that will increase their love of reading.

Murray believes the most important thing she can offer her students is “exposure to many uses of the library from research skills and exploring websites to media and how it is used.” She also openly shares her love of reading and thirst for knowledge with her students so they realize “you’re never too old to learn.”

When asked about her favorite lessons, Murray answered, “I like lessons that actively involve the students.” One such lesson for her sixth grade students includes learning the Dewey Decimal System through an activity in which students hunt the library shelves to fill in missing information from a story. Another lesson, one for her seventh grade students, requires online research and the creation of a display describing a reading series in the media center to pique the interest of other students.


Murray’s vast experience and knowledge in education have been recognized in many ways. She is a former Region 3 Technology Teacher of the Year, and she was also the first teacher to earn the “Making It Happen” award for integrating technology in the classroom. Murray has also earned the title of Master Teacher from Intel Education and has trained other educators in the use of Intel’s technology resources for the classroom.


When not at school, Murray plays clarinet in the Peninsula Concert Band and enjoys sewing, reading, knitting and crocheting, music, and computers. Murray lives in Gloucester with her husband, Bill, who retired from Middlesex County Public Schools last year after a distinguished teaching career. They have two daughters, one who is married and recently gave them a brand new grandson. The Murrays also have a dog and two cats.

Murray’s love of children, technology, and reading has helped many students discover interests and achieve success throughout her years of teaching. Middlesex County is fortunate to have educators such as Murray who dedicate their careers to our community.

National Junior Honors Society at SCW

April 7, 2013

St. Clare Walker Middle School is excited to announce its recent establishment as a chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), a prestigious organization which recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of middle school students specifically in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, citizenship, and character.  Membership in this society is a privilege, and St. Clare Walker has a number of students who are deserving of that honor. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to use their unique talents and skills to improve their community.  Members will participate in chapter service projects as well as individual service projects.

Students will be selected for membership in the spring of 2014. St. Clare Walker desires to provide families and students ample time to prepare for this wonderful opportunity. In order to be considered for NJHS membership, students must meet certain selection criteria in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, citizenship, character, and teacher evaluations. Please continue reading to understand the selection process.


To initially be considered for membership, students must hold a 3.75 GPA or higher.  Once students meet the GPA requirement, they will be evaluated in the areas of leadership, service, citizenship, and character.


Students must be able to demonstrate three leadership roles they have held since 6th grade either in the school or in the community.

Examples of leadership roles include but are not limited to:

  • Successfully holding a position in SCA or Builder’s Club
  • Demonstrating proactive club membership
  • Consistently setting a positive examples for peers
  • Successfully holding a leadership role in a sport
  • Successfully holding a position in a church or community organization
  • Taking initiative to enhance civic life of the school and/or community



Candidates for NJHS membership must demonstrate the completion of 10 hours of school or community service and must provide documentation from the adult supervisor of the service activity.  Some examples of service include but are not limited to volunteer work, participation in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, participation in religious groups, and serving as a mentor or a tutor.


Students are also evaluated on how well they demonstrate the following civic traits: trustworthiness, honesty, courteousness, respectfulness, responsibility, accountability, self-reliance, respect for the law, patriotism, and participation in school and the community.


NJHS supports a multi-faceted definition of character known as the Six Pillars of Character.  A person of character demonstrates the following six qualities: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.  As part of meeting the character requirements, candidates will be required to have a teacher recommendation form completed.

Once members are selected, they are expected to uphold the standards of scholarship, leadership, service, citizenship, and character.  Members can be dismissed if they fail to do so.  These instances will be dealt with as they occur.

St. Clare Walker is honored to provide its students with such a valuable opportunity.  Membership into the St. Clare Walker Middle School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society will allow students the occasion to shine by providing members a way to build their character and improve the surrounding community. Thank you for taking the time to talk with your child about this amazing opportunity!

For further questions about NJHS membership, please do not hesitate to contact Melanie Sheets (Chapter Adviser) or Nicole Huntley (Co-Adviser) at 804-758-2561.


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