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Celebrate First - A Heartfelt Message from Mr. Krakoff, Principal of YMS

It’s Time to Celebrate our Yearling Middle School Community and for this Principal to Express Thanks

By Principal David Krakoff


It is easy and natural for a school's staff to become lost in the daily activity and work that challenges us while distracting us from our accomplishments.  But the results provide Yearling Middle School staff, students, and families with lots to celebrate. 

Starting with the most recent, YMS has produced back-to-back Okeechobee County School District teachers of the year.  This honor is achieved through evidence of instructional mastery, data that supports tangible impact on student growth, a commitment to professional learning, and leadership. 

Kellyann Campbell, our school’s math instructional coach, was an exemplary classroom teacher, guiding 99% of her students to reach proficiency on the state end-of-course exams in her algebra and geometry classes during her final year in the classroom in 2019.  After being promoted to her current role as an instructional leader and coach, Mrs. Campbell has provided leadership to a math department that has performed the best of all YMS departments in terms of student proficiency and growth rates on state assessments.  Before Mrs. Campbell, Krista Stanley, a sixth-grade math teacher, was named Okeechobee County’s teacher of the year and went on to earn the title of Florida’s 2021 state teacher of the year from the Florida Department of Education.  Mrs. Stanley guided 86% of her students to proficiency on the state assessment in 2019.  Our school’s back-to-back District teachers of the year each proved what’s possible at our Title 1, highly diverse school where 98% of our families are economically disadvantaged.  I share our school’s characteristics because historically, many across our country would describe our YMS school community as, “low expectancy.”  We never agreed with that sentiment and Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Stanley certainly never did.  And neither do the rest of our amazing staff. 

Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Stanley are two incredible examples of professional educators who are deeply committed to serving EVERY student EVERY day.  They live and act with a belief system of all students meaning ALL.  And so does the rest of YMS staff. 

Since 2018, our staff collaborated with community members to create a new vision and mission for YMS.  From there, our staff worked collaboratively to produce systems to support our pursuit of that vision – the vision of, “Yearling Middle School will prepare ALL students for success in college, career, and life.”  The systems created included supports for instruction as well as culture.  Together, our staff and leadership team built an instructional focus on four primary elements, including: Conditions for Learning, Standards-Based Instruction, Collaborative Learning, and Authentic Learning.  We built a professional learning community system focused on teachers working in collaborative teams through a cycle of work involving: identifying target and embedded standards, developing targeted instructional plans that emphasize differentiated instruction, creating common formative assessments (CFAs), and using data from CFAs to drive instruction.  We have worked to share leadership so that YMS teachers across our campus contribute to the coaching and mentoring of our teachers while using data collected from classroom walk-thrus to help us to differentiate our professional development workshops to support all teachers’ growth.  To grow out culture, we have embraced growth mindset research, restorative discipline, and accountable talks.  We have emphasized cultural competency to support our diverse community and to build empathy and relationships.  The YMS staff has all participated in the development of these systems, all contributed to our school’s growth, and all emerged as leaders as we continue to expand our vision for shared, sustainable leadership that will hopefully support success and growth for YMS well beyond any of us are still here. 

Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Stanley each deserve their accolades.  While they are immensely talented and special educators, they have grown and risen as a result of the collaborative culture of student and professional learning that which our entire YMS staff has developed and contributed.  Earning back-to-back District teachers of the year says a lot about Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Stanley but also a whole lot about our whole YMS staff and school culture.  This recognition is shared as all YMS teachers and staff have worked extremely hard to transform YMS and to set it on a course toward emerging as a model school.  All YMS staff, students, and families should take a moment to reflect on the following since 2018:

  • Back-to-back Okeechobee County School District teachers of the year, including the first Okeechobee teacher to earn Florida’s state teacher of the year in 30 years.
  • Increases in student proficiency rates in three of four core areas.
  • Increase in student acceleration score of 14 points, which reflects more students taking and testing proficient in high school credit courses.
  • Increase of 12 points in the Florida Department of Education’s overall school grade evaluation system.
  • Math increase of 5% in student proficiency and a 9% growth rate increase among our bottom quartile of students. 
  • Civics increase of 7% in student proficiency on the state assessment.
  • Decrease of 75% in suspensions due to student discipline.

It truly takes a village to guide children and students.  YMS staff, students, and families should reflect on the past few years with great pride and energy.  These results don’t occur because of the work of a couple or even several.  School-wide improvement happens because of an entire staff and community’s commitment to developing systems that support a school’s vision.  Growth happens when you have a special community of caring people who embrace continuous growth and always put kids first, as our District’s vision states.  At YMS, we have a staff FULL of talented people who puts kids first with every word, action, and belief.  I’m thankful I’m privileged to experience this growth with you and know I am blessed to be surrounded by such a caring, student-centered community.  A principal is only as good as his/her staff and school community.  A principal becomes his/her community.  When I look in my mirror and see all of you looking back at me, I like what I see. 

Kellyann Campbell is Okeechobee District Teacher of the Year

South Central Florida Life News Article

Celebrating Krista Stanley, 2021 Florida Teacher of the Year

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Our Mission and Vision

Yearling Middle School's Mission

Yearling Middle School will support ALL students’ academic and social emotional growth through student-centered, standards-aligned instruction, authentic and collaborative learning, differentiated instruction, and positive, supportive relationships.

Yearling Middle School's Vision

Yearling Middle School will prepare ALL students for success in college, career, and life.