Kestrel Heights School

4700 S. Alston Ave., Durham, NC 27713

Office Phone: (919) 484-1300
Office Fax: (919) 484-1355    

6th grade website --



KHS 6th grade Parent Handbook – 2011-2012


Hello parents and students!  Welcome to the Kestrel Heights Community!


This handbook is to help answer your questions about the upcoming school year.  6th grade is the first official year of middle school, and we hope to make this a good year for  both students and parents. 


1) Your teachers and their email addresses are -

Hunter Credle (Math) email:

Camden Cook (Language Arts) email:

Philip Smith (Social Studies) email: 

Mavis Ottley (Science) email: 


2) Lunches

We eat lunch in our classrooms (after our core classes) and the students can either bring their lunch or can purchase lunch from the lunch program.  In addition we will have pizza days throughout the year, when students can buy pizza (this will be every Friday, once it gets going.  We will inform students when this starts).


We do have some microwaves for the students.  However, there is a 2 min limit for each child (otherwise there would not be enough time other students to use the microwaves).


3) Parent Visitation

We welcome parents to our classrooms!  This is the best way we have of getting the word out to the community on our school and will increase communication between teachers and parents.  So, if you want to come in and visit just let us know.  A days notice would be appreciated so we can let you know if the visit is worth your time (watching a test being taken is not the most exciting thing).  You can stay the whole day, half day, or part of a day.  The only thing we ask is that you allow us to do our job; if you wish to talk with us, just make an appointment with us and we will be glad to talk at an appropriate time.


4) Student absences/tardies

If a student is absent we must have an excuse note the day the child returns to school.  If we do not receive a note after 2 days then the student may receive a 0 on any assignments the student missed.  Please have your child give us this note to their SOAR teacher (this is the first class they will go to each day).  Thank you in advance for this!


When a student misses school, it is their responsibility to ask for and make up all missed work. 

Or, the student could ask the teacher at the appropriate time. 


A student is considered tardy if they arrive at school past 8:00 am.  The student is to report to their SOAR class if it is before 8:15 am.  After 8:15 am please sign in through the front office.

3 tardies will equal 1 day absent and it may result in school consequences (lunch detention and/or after school detention). 

*If tardies become excessive then a meeting with the middle school director will be required.


5) Website

The 6th grade website is    This website will have homework, projects, pictures, field trip information etc. on it and is a valuable resource for parents as well as students.  We recommend checking the website on a daily basis, especially the homework page.


6) Transportation


7) General Schedule

The 6th grade works on a block schedule; students have 2 core classes a day and then have the other 2 core classes on the following day. For example, a 6th  grader will have Math and Social Studies on one day and the next day will be Lang. Arts and Science.  So, each 6th grader will have 2 core classes a day; each core class block will be about 2 hrs.  After the core classes in the mornings, 6th graders will have lunch followed by their non-core classes (Band, PE, Intro to Paideia, Media Analysis, typing, etc.  Courses designed to enrich the students).


Sample schedule

Day A                                                                         Day B

Block I (and SOAR) – Math                                      Block I (and SOAR)—Science

Block II – Social Studies                                            Block II – English

Period 5 and Period 6 – Typing, Paideia, Media Analysis, Japanese, PE, Band, Strings


8) Interaction with upper grade students

We limit the interaction of our 6th graders with the other grades.  We change classes at different times most of the day and have a separate lunch period.  We recognize 6th graders are at a different maturity and social level then the other grades.


9) PE

Almost every 6th grader will get PE every day; however, students who have a conflict in their schedule may not have PE (for example, a special study hall, or a special pull out). 

*Band and strings students will have PE every other day.




10) Lockers

Students will be issued lockers within the first 2 weeks of school so please provide locks for these.  We recommend combination locks.


11) Morning routine

Please drop off 6th-grade students at the 6th grade door (back of the school that leads to the 6th grade hallway) between 7:30 am and 8:00 am. 


Students will go to their lockers (if needed) then to their assigned seat in their SOAR class.  Students will be allowed to the bathroom at 8:30 AM but not before (so, students need to get in the routine of “potty” time before they come to school).


12) Parent/teacher contact

A) Email:  Our email addresses are listed above and also at   We will respond within 1-2 business days.

B) Conferences:  We are more then happy to sit down and talk to you about your child but please keep the following in mind:


13) Grades

At Kestrel we grade in three areas – Citizenship, Effort and Academic Content. Citizenship and effort grades are based on a 5 pt scale (5 being the best) while we are on a traditional 7 point scale for academic content (see code of conduct for more details).


Citizenship will be based on peer relations, general behavior, tardies, dress code, general respect, and other areas where we expect students to be a good citizen.  A 5 is very difficult to achieve and a 3 is what most 6th graders earn.  Anything above a 3 is considered very good and a celebration is in order.  Anything below a 3 means there are some behaviors the student/parent needs to address.


Effort is based on homework completion and general classroom participation.  A 4 or 5 is expected.  Anything below a 3 is cause for serious concern.  This means the student is not giving enough effort to be successful in 6th grade.


Academic content is based on quizzes, tests, projects, classroom activities, etc. 


14) Homework

Students are given homework on a daily basis and are expected to complete it.  We grade homework based on completion and good effort being made.  If a student does not have their homework then a 0 is recorded.  Some classes offer chances for late homework, but the student will have to check with each teacher on this policy.


15) Progress reports and Report cards

Progress reports will be given out mid way through each quarter, and report cards come out at the end of each quarter.  Progress reports are brought home by the students, and report cards are mailed by the school. If you do not see a report around the dates on the school calendar then please contact us.  Both progress reports and report cards are expected to be signed and returned (this will be a homework grade).


16) Planners

School planners are free (the first is free; any additional ones, due to the student losing them or destroying them, will cost $5) and every student will be receiving them the first week of school.  Students are required to bring them to every core class every day.  Teachers will also sign them daily. 


Smiley face system:  if you want daily feedback about your child then we can do the “smiley face system” in the planners.  If you would like to do this, simply tell your child to ask us for a face when we are signing their planner (smiley is good, straight is neutral, frowny is not so good).  We will not remember each child on this system, so the student must ask us for the face.  This system can be used to address behavior issues or academic issues.  You do not need to even contact us, just tell your child to ask us for a face.


17) Discipline

We treat discipline concerns very seriously.  We want every child to be able to succeed.  This means we cannot allow 1 child (or more) to ruin the class for all of the rest of the other students.  We also want to help any child not making good choices so they will become better people and be productive in their respective communities.


Below is a list of possible actions we take to keep a safe, educational setting:

a) Letting a student know what they are doing wrong (no yelling and screaming, just simply letting the student know what is not accepted)

b) A private conversation with the student to let them know what is not acceptable.

c) An email home or a phone call.

d) Lunch detention (eating silently in their lunch class, no socializing)

e) After school detention

f) In School Suspension (ISS) – A student stays in a classroom on the side and completes their work for the day in that location.  No going to afternoon classes, no socializing throughout the day.

g) Out of school suspension (OSS) – students will be allowed to request work and make it up while at home.

h) A review board – the student will be required to stay home until a board can meet to determine the best action needed for what is best for the school and the child.


*We obviously base our actions on what the student has done and their past behavior.


We are committed to keeping a safe school so any student that comes to school with drugs or weapons will automatically be long term suspended.  In addition any physical contact in a violent matter will result in major consequences (example: pushing or hitting in a fighting situation).


Bullying is also taken very seriously.  Any type of bulling (physical, teasing, internet, cell phone messages, etc) will result in serious consequences.


With any incident we will always investigate anything brought to our attention and make our decision based on what we find.  This will include talking to all people directly involved (students, teachers, staff, etc) and people who may not be directly involved but can give helpful information.


*Note:  when we talk to students we do it to find out any details that will be helpful to us to handle all situations.  This allows us to keep a safe school and keep a positive educational setting.  We are sorry but we do not have the time and luxury to have a parent present every time we speak to a child.  When we feel the situation requires that parents be informed of the information, then we will contact the parent. 


18) Miscellaneous items

a) Please remember to check on a regular basis.

b) If you move, please give us your new address

c) If your phone numbers change, please keep us updated

d) Another way to contact us is to put a note into the student’s planner for us to read. If you chose to communicate in this way, please make sure to request our signature to confirm that we have seen the note.

e) If during a conference there is any yelling, cussing, screaming, or inappropriate communication then the conference will be immediately stopped.

f)  If we are teaching then we will be unable to talk with parents (unless there is an emergency)


Some helpful hints so your child is successful in 6th grade:

1)      A student will have homework each day from at the most 2 classes and they have 2 nights to complete this.  So, this allows families to plan their days and still stay caught up.

For example:  Suppose Sally has math and social studies on Monday and Sally has a really busy night on Tuesday night and won’t be able to do any homework, then she can do her Monday classes homework (math and social studies) on Monday night and her Tuesday classes (lang. arts and science) on Wednesday night. 

2)      If your child is not organized or has lots of loose papers, then we suggest stepping in and sitting down 15 minutes a night and help your child get organized.  We do organizing in the classroom so students should have little organizing issues; however, this is an area that students can find difficult.

3)      Take time to look at progress reports and report cards.  They offer very helpful information.  Also, talk to your child about each one.  A 15 minute discussion for each one will show your child they are taken seriously.

4)      15 minute of studying for each subject a few times a week will keep students up to date and they will perform better on assessments.

5)      If your child says they are done with their homework, then ask to see it (we have seen over the years that at times students may say this but may be twisting the truth a bit).  Don’t worry too much about “grading” it; worry more about reasonable and good quality answers.

6)       If you child receives a lower grade then you expect or is disciplined at school or needs an extra nudge to be a better student, don’t take this as a personal attack on your child.  Everything we do is to make the student a better person.  We treat the kids just like our own children at school.  It is not personal; it is to motivate each student to reach a higher level in every way.

7)      Please give us deputy power!  This means, keep negative comments about the teachers away from your child and to support us. You will not agree with everything we do, this is not realistic, but you can assume that all of our decisions are based on what is best for the children.


Some FAQ

1)      Will you contact me anytime my child doesn’t turn in a homework?

No. There are several reasons why this is difficult:  a) the time it would take each day for us  b) this is micro managing, students need to start taking responsibility.  c) every 4.5 weeks you will get an indication of homework completion 

With that said, we will try to do our best, we just can’t promise contact every single time.

2)      When are test and quizzes?

Various days for each class.  You can check through the student’s planner or the website or with your child to get upcoming assessments.

3)      Is it the end of the world if my child does not do well on a test or quiz?

It may seem like it at the time, but the answer is no.  So, what you do is to help your child learn from their mistakes.  Maybe better study time, maybe check over their work, maybe rework the incorrect parts.  We go over good test taking skills but it never hurts to have it said many times from many adults.

4)      What are some qualities successful students share?

Throughout our many combined years of teaching we have found the following items common in successful students:

Successful students…

a)      have few excuses – successful students do not make excuses and are not allowed to have excuses

b)     complete all homework assigned

c)      ask questions in class

d)     ask for help when they feel lost

e)      study for upcoming assessments

f)       stay organized on a daily basis (they don’t wait to organize later)

g)      keep up with due dates for projects (they don’t wait until the last minute to complete projects)

h)      they try all work assigned in class

i)        they behave in class and help create a positive environment


5)      My child is acting weird, becoming less organized, and seems to not take school as seriously as we would like, what is going on?  What happened to my child?

Simple answer:  growing up.  Be ready for many changes this year with your child.  Some good and some that may give you a few grey hairs. 


Middle school is an “exciting” time for students and parents.  Students go through many changes and it will take a lot of trial and error to help with issues that may arise.  Don’t get frustrated, keep a good routine at home, have a positive environment at home, and help your child with the social and academic issues that will arise throughout the year.


We are here for you and your child.  We want to make 6th grade a great experience.  Have a great year!



H. Credle, M. Ottley, C. Cook, P. Smith