In his second year at Sultan Middle School, Principal Nathan Plummer is planning on continuing the work he started last year; changing the perception of the middle school.
For starters, with the help of Sultan School District Superintendent Dan Chaplik and Director of Operations Charlie Weaver, he made sure that the school received a brand new Skyhawk-themed paint job over the summer. Plummer hopes that the black and red highlights, which have been added to the outside of the building, will help to instill some Skyhawk pride among the students.
“It’s amazing what a little paint can do,” said Plummer. “It goes a long way.”
Plummer came to the Sultan School District last year from Ridgefield High School, which is located near Vancouver, Wash., where he was the assistant principal. A notoriously spirited administrator, in March of this year he decided to employ some rather unconventional tactics to help motivate students to sell more books at the school book fair.
Not only did he vow to shave his head into a Mohawk if students achieved a certain dollar amount in book sales, his tasks grew incrementally as the dollar amount increased.
For sales of over $1400, Plummer pledged to dress up as a Skyhawk, complete with a red-colored Mohawk. If students achieved sales of over $1700, he vowed to get a Mohawk, dress up as a Skyhawk and sing the National Anthem over the school’s intercom system. If students achieved sales of $2,000 or more, Plummer agreed to perform all of the previously mentioned tasks and also eat a habanero pepper during each lunch period.
Students raised a total of $2,136 in book sales during the book fair, and true to his word, Plummer performed all of the promised tasks. He had his head shaved into a Mohawk in the middle of the gym during a school assembly.
This year, Plummer plans to continue to work with staff to utilize the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) methodology to help facilitate a reduction in the number of student incidents requiring disciplinary action. The PBIS concept is designed to reduce problematic student behaviors by rewarding positive actions and accomplishments.
“The idea is that we’re just trying to support positive behaviors, and teach those expectations, and really try to take more of a proactive approach,” said Plummer.
He explained that, at times, it can be taken for granted that students know exactly what behavior is expected of them. The PBIS system helps remind instructors to go back to the basics, and start by teaching the students what the expectations actually are.
Plummer also shared that, from an academic standpoint, this year he will be heavily focused on data-analysis, and plans to make sure that student performance is assessed regularly.
“I think some of these kids are definitely meeting and exceeding their potential, and some of them haven’t even realized what their potential is yet,” said Plummer. “We need to be looking at each and every one of our students to really kind of understand how they’re performing, and to see what we can do as a system in order to better support them.”
One way that he hopes to better support the accomplishments of students is by increasing student recognition by honoring them for significant achievements.
“Not just for athletics and academics, but for all the great things that are going on,” said Plummer. “Whether that be for music, whether it be for art or technology, or just flat-out turnaround.”
He hopes to accomplish student recognition consistently, and not only at the end of the school year.
According to some of his students from last year, Plummer definitely had a positive impact on school; particularly when it came to raising school spirit. Sultan resident and recent 8th grade graduate Camry Zaffram shared that Plummer placed great emphasis on student interaction and genuinely seemed to enjoy socializing with both the students and their families.
He stated that Plummer immediately established a presence at the school.
“He was supportive and I noticed he brought his family to all of the sporting events and the band concerts, which was really big,” said Zaffram. “He was trying to get involved in every way you possibly can.”
Zaffram, who will be attending Sultan High School this year, is a 4.0 student and will be serving as the freshman class president. He enjoyed the middle school principal’s enthusiasm, and thought the Mohawk tactic, as a motivational tool, was entertaining.
“That was the last thing I would have expected anybody to do,” said Zaffram. “He definitely made things interesting.”
Claire Sorgen, another student who just completed 8th grade, spoke about the principal with enthusiasm.
“He was fantastic; I loved him,” said Sorgen. “He was a great principal; he did so many fun things. Before he was there we never really had great success with getting people pumped up for assemblies.”
Sorgen, who will be a freshman at Sultan High School this year, is also a 4.0 student and will be serving as the freshman vice president. She shared that Plummer always made an effort to talk to students, whether it was in the hallways between classes or at school events and assemblies.
“I wish he was following me up to the high school,” said Sorgen. “I’m sure the principal at the high school is fantastic but I really like Mr. Plummer.”
The first full day of school at Sultan Middle School will be on Wednesday, Sept. 3, and will be for 6th grade students only. Plummer stated that having the first day dedicated solely to the 6th grade students has been a successful method as far as helping to ease the new students in, allowing them to feel more comfortable with their surroundings and less intimidated by the new environment.
“We’ve been really kind of working on that transition with the 6th graders, to help them feel comfortable and to help them to know that this is a safe place,” said Plummer. “We want them to wa