Celebrating West End Middle

West End Middle: A Vibrant Community that Empowers Students
Posted on 02/16/2022
West End Middle building

The iconic building of Metro Schools’ West End Middle School, an easily recognizable school that is home to nearly 450 students, has graced numerous music videos, TV shows and films.  West End Middle school clock tower

While the building itself is impressive – it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, after all – the learning environment and supportive culture that greet students and staff inside the building each day are just as remarkable.   

West End is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, which means students are challenged to combine their academic knowledge and learning with the outside world. 

“Our IB framework helps us make learning even more personal and relevant for students, helping to keep them even more engaged in their schoolwork,” says Executive Principal Trey Stephens, who is in his second year at West End.  

The faculty and staff also place a distinct focus on empowering students to explore their own personal interests as they prepare for high school and ultimately college or career. 

“West End is a really unique school that offers a great learning environment for students,” says Caroline Smith, a literacy coach in her third year there. “Our teachers are really dedicated to teaching individual students and growing and developing them the best way they can in their middle school years.”  

Stephens echoed the emphasis on individualized student supports.  West End Middle principal

“We have regular check-ins with students through their homeroom teachers. This effort, among other factors, results in Every Student being Known quite well by our staff in a number of different contexts.” 

To tailor student instruction and support even more this year, West End launched AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) related arts classes for some fifth-grade students. AVID classes teach students healthy learning practices, like study skills, note-taking skills and other habits that can help students succeed in middle school, high school and college, especially those who may be underrepresented in higher education or who are first-generation college students.  

“We found that many of our students could use more time practicing habits of the mind that support a college trajectory,” says Stephens, who plans to expand the fundamental characteristics and strategies of AVID classes school-wide over the next few years.  

West End is the middle school for deaf students in MNPS. Students who are hard of hearing and/or seeing and are enrolled in MNPS are enrolled at West End and learn in full-inclusion classrooms with other students their own age.  

While you will find plenty of student learning and collaboration, there is one thing you will not find in the classrooms and hallways of West End: students using their cellphones. This year, the team at West End implemented a phone-free learning environment, and while students and families were originally hesitant, it has proven to be a popular routine that positively impacts teaching and learning by minimizing distractions in the classroom. 

Every morning, students place their cell phones in a magnetic pouch. The pouches are sealed shut when students arrive, and while students can carry the pouch around all day, they cannot unlock them until dismissal time.  

“As a previous teacher, I know having cell phones in the classroom is a never-ending battle for teachers. While there was some benefit, like students having easy access to look up information, the negative benefits far outweighed any positives,” says Stephens, who was inspired to use these pouches after seeing them at a comedy show. “Now that we are a 1:1 technology district, students can use their laptop for those uses.  

“Phones are designed to take away your attention. That’s hard for an adult, but that’s impossible for a kid (to manage).”  

Other MNPS schools are taking note, and some have started using the same process for cellphones in the classroom.  

Phones or no phones, the culture at West End and the community that surrounds the school support student learning and growth in those most pivotal middle school years. 

“We have a vibrant school community and student body, and our teachers are phenomenal, hardworking, creative and reflective,” says Smith. “They are the driving force in our community.”   

“West End has a very familial culture, with a shared vision of excellence. Our goal is to make sure every student can achieve, no matter what their background is,” Stephens adds.  

West End is an open enrollment middle school. Learn more about West End on the school website, or set up a student-led school tour through West End’s PTSO at the PTSO website.  

Facts about West End

  • The mascot is the Blue Jay, and their school colors are blue, white and gray.  
  • The school motto is “West is Best.” 

West End Middle building


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