Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spelling Bee Winner

Congratulations to the winner of our spelling bee!

Middle School Spelling Bee

The Mountainburg Middle School spelling bee is underway! Our winners at the local level will go on to the County level.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Open Letter to the Mountainburg Community Following the Newtown Tragedy

Dear Friends,
            As with all of America, my thoughts and prayers go out for the people of Connecticut. Something unimaginable was imagined and carried out upon the most innocent of people. Columbine and Paducah and Jonesboro and so many others have made our country painfully aware of gun violence in high schools and middle schools carried about by children; this is something different, though, perpetrated by an adult on mere babies.
            My heart has been heavy all weekend. I have tried to block the scenes of horror that came into my mind Friday afternoon when I first heard of the place called Newtown, but they keep coming back. I cannot fathom the pain or confusion of that community, of that school, or of those families; I just know my hurt.
            Everywhere I went this weekend, people looked at me with a look that said, “What about our town? What about our school?” I am the principal of two of our schools, so people looked to me, and I read the thoughts that were etched across their questioning faces: Are we prepared? What would we do?
            It is Sunday night as I write this, and tomorrow morning Mountainburg Middle School and Mountainburg High School will hold an assembly of remembrance for those who died, a sign of solidarity with Sandy Hook Elementary School; tomorrow we also begin a re-evaluation of ourselves. Our administrative team will meet in the coming days, weeks, even months to ensure our plans are adequate. In the coming days, weeks, and months I will ask my teachers to develop plans of actions for their individual class rooms. In the coming days, weeks, and months we will consult with law enforcement officials to examine our school and our lock down procedures. We will do all that we can to protect your children and keep them safe.
            We desire to be prepared. We have a good school. We have a safe school. And we want to keep it that way.


Jason Rutherford, Principal
Mountainburg Middle School
Mountainburg High School

Christmas Concert--Choir Performance

Here is our choir singing "Christmas in Three Minutes." We are very proud of the work Mr. Lawson has done with Band and Choir this year. They have come a long way this year and have done a great job.

Christmas Concert

Today's Christmas Concert was well attended. We had over 200 people enjoying the music of our bands and our choir. They did an incredible job. We are very proud of you guys!

Christmas Concert

This is the Beginner Band playing at today's Christmas Concert.

Christmas Concert

This is the High School Band performing at today's Band Concert.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Spirit Has Arrived at MMS

Our teachers and students are already excited about Christmas. Decorations are going up, even on some of the teachers' vehicles.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Speaker

We are very pleased to have Mr. Bill Thurman visiting with us. He brought his fiddle/violin and taught us a little music and music history. Take a Listen!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Way To Go, Lady Dragons!

Congratulations to the Lady Dragons on winning the Johnson County Westside Tournament. Magazine played a tough game against us in the finals, but we stayed strong. We're looking forward to a great year for girls and boys.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

5th and 6th grade are voting today along with the rest of the nation. I will post the MMS precinct's results once they have been reported.
Happy voting!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CyberSafety Day Is Underway

Our high school Drama Geeks are leading out in a safety awareness day, accompanied by Stephen Svetz from the Attorney General's Office. We hope that our students listen and learn.
P.S.--I am extremely proud of our students for putting this all together.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Miss Arkansas Visits MMS Today

Sloane Roberts, current Miss Arkansas, spoke to our Middle School students today about how good choices help make a great future. Thank you, Miss Arkansas, for your visit today.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Student Work

Here is an example of 10th grade work for English class. This student did some brainstorming using Prezi.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vortex Cannons

8th grade science is trying their hand at creating vortex cannons as they study wind and vortex currents in science class.

New Banner Going Up

Our High School girls basketball team had a great year last year. As basketball season is almost upon us, we have high hopes for another great year.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Congratulations to one of our High School students. She pulled in quite a haul from the Arkansas State fair. She took a goose-neck trailer of many different chicken breeds down to the state fair. She was awarded 2 grand champion ribbons, along with 2 reserve grand champion ribbons, 47 first place ribbons, 29 second place ribbons, 21 third place ribbons, 6 fourth place ribbons, 5 fifth place ribbons, and 2 sixth place ribbons.

Dance Team

The Dragon Flames recently competed in Van Buren, bringing home several trophies. Way to go, ladies!

Senior Night

We had a very large group of seniors honored at Senior a night this past Friday. Seniors, we are proud of you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flu Clinic Success

Our recent flu clinic was a success. Coach Blanton only cried for awhile. I couldn't get anyone to hold my hand, so I had to go it alone.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Big Game Tonight!

Mountainburg takes on Hackett tonight. It will be a great game well worth the drive. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spirit Week--Hippie Day

This week is Spirit Week at Mountainburg Schools. Today is Hippie Day. These two look great. For a couple of our teachers, dressing this way was not too much of a stretch. :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Visiting Author

Ms. Julia Cook, author of numerous children's books, visited MMS today, sharing with us the writing process and many of her books. Our favorites were about boogers and potty training. Thanks for visiting us today, Julia.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting Ready to Go

Farther Along...

...but still not there.

Our First Ropes Challenge

Not high up in the air, but still a challenge. All of the group has to get up in the air with arms linked. The students are not told how to do it, only what they can't do. Lots of problem-solving going on.

Leadership Training

Our first activity at the Arkansas 4H Center. Our class officers and student council members are undergoing the ExCEL leadership training. We are on the ground now but will be in the air in a couple hours. Whoo-hoo!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mulberry Parade

Ms. Tvrdik, MHS Agriculture teacher, dressed up as a gypsy and drove her buggy in the Mulberry parade. She and all of our FFA students represented Mountainburg well at the Crawford County Fair this past week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

6th Grade Library Opening Day

The 6th grade library located in Ms. Holcomb's room opened yesterday. With several guest speakers, students from the high school, and with cookies, the 6th grade classes celebrated, read, and enjoyed a good day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"I Got Dragon Pride"

One of my middle schoolers came to me this morning, showing me her nails, saying, "I got Dragon pride!" Cool.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Curriculum Content in the Age of Common Core

     I ran across an interesting article on a blog today entitled “I Never Needed to Know That.” The blogger noted things that he learned in High School that he never used. He mentioned Algebraic equations and the like (sorry Mr. H). A lot of good points were made in this article. Is it necessary to be able to do 35 long (I mean really long) division problems without error? Does knowing how to identify the difference between a demonstrative pronoun and a demonstrative adjective demonstrate intelligence or ability outside of a worksheet? (I can do that, by the way, in both English and Spanish. Don’t I sound smart?) Furthermore, technology truly changes the game. Do we need to teach certain skills that are easily and readily taken care of by assistive technology? For instance, while I did a walkthrough in physical science today, a question came up in discussion and the students turned to me to see if I could figure out the answer. I said I would give it a shot, so I literally spoke to my iPad (Google App) and had an answer in .024 seconds. How does this kind of technology change our curriculum?

     The article truly did cause me to stop and think about what is necessary in our curriculum and the changes to it over the next few years. Should there not only be a “canon” in our literature (Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe, and Dickinson) but also in the content of our other subjects (mitosis, Antietam, chemical equations, and polynomials)? Do we have a duty to pass on a cultural literacy from this generation to the next?
This question has been floating around the hallways, emails, and meeting places of MHS this year. We began a discussion this summer about the changes coming and needing to come our way: Common Core State Standards, the needs of our students and their futures, amazing and breath-taking technological advances, and least importantly, new testing requirements. These have caused us to stop, evaluate, re-examine, and re-vision what it means to do school. We know that change in education is coming and absolutely necessary, but how far, and at what cost? Do we sacrifice content at the altar of process and product? In other words, does content go by the wayside as we begin to focus on creation, delivery, and collaboration?

     Our middle school PE/girls basketball coach recently sparked further conversation on this topic by speaking of the need for a cultural literacy, a shared group of knowledge that ties us as a community (in the larger sense) and provides us the shared thinking needed to discuss ideals and what it means to live together in this country. He shared a book with the English teachers called Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch. As all good English teachers do, our English teachers shared what they read with everyone else, inspiring a daily email and daily “bellringer” in English class wherein students and staff are given five terms from what Hirsch thinks every American needs to know: Here is today’s list:
Actions speak louder than words
act of God
I got four out of five fairly easily but had to Google acrophobia—fear of heights. I knew it was fear of something. So I got a B+ today.

     As a principal, this discussion about our profession and our practice encourages me and excites me. I know we will be making changes in the future. I also know some things must stay the same. But to have my faculty actively engaged in this discussion strengthens me and sharpens me as I try to be an instructional leader to my school.

     I have much more to say, especially concerning how we handle content when we do live and teach in a different world and different setting from our formative educational years, but I will save it for another blog post. Please, give me your feedback in the comments section below.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Labor of Our Teachers

Well, Labor Day has a little over an hour left, and I am working. I have been working all day. Perhaps it has been the same with you; nonetheless, we set aside this day to honor all who work and labor. Truly all work (legal, ethical, and moral work, that is) is honorable. From computer programmers to grocers to machinists, labor finds a place of respect and dignity.

I am in the education business, though. Every day I have the privilege of seeing teachers teach, students learn, and progress being made. As principal, I have the greatest job in the world. Just as an obstetrician has the joy of seeing human life form in the womb, I get to see human potential come to life in my school.

And I think that what teachers do is that important. Just as doctors make decisions regarding life (breathing, heart-beating kind of life), teachers help create a life (future, enjoyment, and possibilities) worth living.

Teaching is not easy. We do not get to pick our students. We do not control their home life. We do not work in an environment where all outside factors can be set aside, such as in a factory or even in a retail store. We are given living, breathing, hormone-laden human beings. Some are malnourished, some are over fed. Some are worked too hard at home, some are never challenged. Some sleep too much and some barely get peace and quiet to rest. Some are ignored outside of school, and some have everything done for them. And then some have the perfect balance and have exactly what they need. Regardless of what happens outside of us, they come to us, and we are charged with shaping their lives.

Educators do a vital work. Each moment counts, each lesson counts, each word of praise counts. You know that is true because you went through school and had those experiences--some good, some bad, and some forgettable. Vital--thank you, teachers, for picking up the banner and making the difference. Thank you for shaping lives in this labor of love called teaching.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

MMS and the 7 Habits

Mountainburg Middle School has been experiencing Stephen Covey's 7 Habits in whole new ways. Both teacher created and student created posters and pictures are filling our hallways as we all learn about what it means to be a leader.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homecoming Maids 2012

These 9 young ladies have been selected as our 2012 Dragon Homecoming Court:

Freshman Class - Allyson Gassaway, Sienna West
Sophomore Class - Carly Mann, Taylor Oakes
Junior Class - Katelyn Metcalf, Rachel Hensley
Senior Class - Madison Backus, Alexis Reed, Kelsey Nelson

Congratulations and good job to all who ran!

Homecoming will be Friday, October 5 against the Hector Wildcats. The week of Homecoming the high school student body will select our 2012 Dragon Homecoming Queen from the 3 senior maids.

Career Orientation

As a skill-building activity, Ms. Cater's 8th grade CO is highly engaged in doing a map-reading exercise. Projects such as these help connect our students into learning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Day in Art

Art classes are getting right to it with beginning line drawings. Students are hard at work expressing their creative side.

Way to Go Seniors 2012!

We just recieved the overall performance of last year's seniors on the ACT exam. We are very proud to announce that they scored 1.1 points higher than the State average. As well, this year was the highest district average for the past 5 years. Seniors 2012, we are proud of your accomplishments.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Awesome New Entryway

Students will be greeted back to MHS with an awesome new entryway greeting. Thanks Will and Mr. Copeland.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Football Is Almost Here!

> Can you hear the sounds of shoulder pads popping and our Dragon supporters shouting? We hope you are excited and getting ready. Our facilities received a minor facelift thanks to some volunteers, some students, some cheerleaders, and some alumni. Thanks to Katie Pense, class of 2011, for the "M".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Concession Stand Changes

The concession stand is getting a facelift. We think you will like it once it is all completed. Way to go cheer squad and volunteers.

New Mat for a New Year

School is almost here! We are excited about this upcoming year.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Do Our Students Really Need?

This post is a bit long, and might at first seem like a story about my sister, but it is about us—Mountainburg—our district, our students, our future. So please read, then respond to the link at the end.

Last week my sister found an apartment in Fort Smith. Better yet, my sister found an apartment with the help of Mom, Dad, her boyfriend, my wife, and me. All six of us loaded up illegally in my dad’s new truck and scoured the Van Buren/Fort Smith landscape for an affordable, safe, and pleasing apartment for her to live in as she starts her junior year at UAFS.
We all had our role in this endeavor. My wife served as the guide to what was available and what was safe. Having lived in the area all her life, she knew that some places were not the best place for a single, beautiful 20-year-old female. My sister insisted on a place in Fort Smith that looked nice and had abundant amenities. My Dad insisted on something affordable (he is bankrolling the whole educational effort of my sister, after all) and safe. My mom served as the mediator when those two didn’t see eye to eye or couldn’t quite find a happy medium. I tried to be a sounding board for them both as they discussed the options. And the boyfriend, well, he was just happy to be along for the ride (and knowing my sister, he may not make the next trip to Fort Smith, but that’s a different story).
After we finally found a place that fit all of the qualifications, and after having thought about this day, I began considering what I just experienced. My sister, the youngest of seven in my family, was helped, guided, and coached into finding a place to live in Fort Smith so she could continue her education. She was surrounded by those who had love and experience in doing these sorts of things. Then I began thinking about her family tree. Her father is a college graduate with multiple successful careers. Her mother was a nurse until I was born and mothering became full time. Her oldest sister has a Master’s degree and pulls in six figures. The next sister is a college graduate and a successful mortgage loan officer. Sister three just received her doctorate from Pepperdine and is principal of the coolest Junior High in Mexico. Sister four is a 1st grade teacher in Oklahoma, sibling five is me, and sibling six is a college grad who works in HR in Missouri. College is a requirement for my youngest sister, and if she ever considered dropping out, we all would probably kick her backside and keep her in school.
So my thoughts are, would she have been able to do this, or at least have been able to do this with an equally as satisfactory outcome, without the family support mechanisms? I am not doubting my sister’s ability to succeed on her own. She is resourceful, and perhaps could have done this without any of us helping her. But what if?
Now to our district, our high school, our students. How many first generation college hopefuls do we have? How many first generation high school graduates do we have? How many families do we have that can fully bankroll the education of their children? How many have the support system and educational background like was described above? Do our graduates have the skills necessary to be college and career ready when they leave us, even if they do not have the support system?
Ever since I began teaching here in 2006, I have thought about these questions. I see smart and above average intelligence students struggle when they leave us. I feel that we teach them content. I feel the three R’s (our core subjects and content knowledge) are duly imparted upon our students. Our test scores from kindergarten to high school are average and above average, so we are teaching them the content, but I have always felt that something has been missing. If content was all that was needed, then more of our students would successfully transition to meaningful work and college immediately after they graduate.
So, my question is this: other than core content knowledge (which is an absolute must), what do our students need to be successful in college/further training and in their career? What are the 21st century skills our students need to survive and thrive? Think long and deep, then please answer through the survey link below.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Safety Day at the Park

The Mountainburg Police Department recently hosted a kid's safety day at the park. Many of our Middle School students attended. There were talks and bounce arounds and demonstrations and much more. It appears that a good time was had by all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer FFA Trip

Several of our MHS FFA members just got back from the State FFA Convention. Everyone had a great time and came back on an FFA adrenaline rush.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Welcome Rain

The rain has livened things up at the Middle School. As I looked at these beautiful blooms in front of the Middle School the other day, I realized that this was the first time I had really noticed them. Could it be that without students I finally had time to stop and smell the blooms? Don't know, but they sure look pretty.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Principal

Being Principal in the Summer--lots of phone calls, lots of planning, lots of interviews, lots of cleaning, and then being told to go home a couple hours early on a 3 day weekend for all the hard work at the end of the school year. Nice.

Jason Rutherford, Principal
Mountainburg Middle School
Mountainburg High School

Sent from my iPad

Monday, May 21, 2012

Graduation 2012

Graduation went very smoothly this year. It was nice to have it at the football field for the first time in many years. Graduates, we are proud of you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AYSSP Tournament

The MS trap shooting team shot at the regional tournament in Lonoke this past Friday. Our shooters did well and had a great time. Arkansas has the largest shooting sports program of its kind in the nation.

Dissection Day

Today was frog dissection day at MMS. The MS lab smelled great today!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Teacher Appreciation

As part of teacher appreciation week, our students took turns in an assembly saying what they appreciate about teachers and staff. Charlie's appreciation of Ms. Sherwin rocked. Thank you, students.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Diggin' the New 'do

Mr. Foster is styling with the new shave. He received a hearty round of applause i

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FFA Banquet 2012

Here are some pics from the 2012 FFA Banquet held on Friday, May 4. Our students did a great job producing a well-attended banquet. FFA, we are proud of you!

Friday, May 4, 2012

More Math and Science at MMS

Science and Math

In a combined science and math class, MMS students learn about the properties of propulsion systems, then convert measurements from one unit to another.

Senior Lunch

Thursday was our senior lunch at MHS. Let's see...shrimp, chicken strips, baked potato, awesome rolls, banana pudding...it was a great lunch. Congratulations to all our seniors.

8th Grade Science Experiment

About 20 of our 7th and 8th graders will be heading to Waldron this Friday for a science fair. Looks like this will be a fun day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I heard a great line today while playing dodgeball with my seventh and eighth graders in PE when I crossed the boundary line (I love being principal): "Mr. Rutherford, just because you run this school doesn't mean you can cross that line while playing dodgeball." Thanks Ashley, you made my day!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Speaker

Milton Creagh, a motivational speaker with a powerful anti-drug and anti-alcohol message, spoke to over 300 Mountainburg students today. He kept us captivated for over an hour and a half with moving stories and a moving message. Thanks, Big Milt, for coming today. And thank you, Elks International, for sponsoring him.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Physical Science

Ms. Cater's class is working on a science debate. Here they are researching their assigned topic, choosing a side to be debated, and creating a PowerPoint presentation. In a few class periods, they will debate with another group in class about their topic.

Benchmark Bootcamp

I was able to join in on some of the training this Friday at the 6th grade Benchmark Bootcamp. This was our opening exercise wherein listening skills played a key part. Besides that, it was fun and helped our students have a positive attitude toward the upcoming Benchmark exams.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Benchmark Boot Camp

5th and 6th grades at MMS are gearing up for Benchmark testing with their annual Benchmark Bootcamp. Each year they get our kids excited and ready for the test with fast-paced games, competitions, and challenges.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Cry of Crows

Here is part of the cast and crew of "The Cry of Crows." This is the first play that Mountainburg has performed in some 15 years. They did a fantastic job. We are very proud of them. Thank you, Ms. Bembenek!