Principal's Message

  • Ms Benka-Coker Principal of McNicol MSWelcome to the 2022-2023 school year at McNicol Middle, where “Kindness Begins with Me”. It was great to have all our students back in the building last year, but it did present a few challenges. Students who were restricted to the confines of their homes and going to school in isolation were now expected to return to the building, picking up where they left off. Well, that is what they certainly did. Imagine a child leaving midstream as a 4th grader and returning as a 6th. This student did not have the benefit of living through the remainder of 4th nor being a 5th grader. Going through the emotions, behaviors, and experiences that a child is entitled to go through during this period . We learned last year that there would be no skipping of phases for many of our students, and some of our 6th graders were really 4th or 5th.

    This year, I hope that our children have gotten over the initial shock of transitioning from virtual to a brick-and-mortar school, and reacclimated to the routines and rituals. In the past school year, it was perpetually evident that they were overly excited to again be interacting with their peers. So excited that they sometimes did not make the best choices. Therefore, in an effort to correct this issue, I selected a theme that focuses on kindness.

    KINDNESS to yourself; KINDNESS to your friends, KINDNESS to your families and caregivers; KINDNESS to people you like; and finally, KINDNESS to those you may not like. In a world where you can be anything, be KIND.

    Be assured that the McNicol faculty and staff are committed to supporting your children through their middle school journey, as it is arguably the most difficult phase of their lives. We will provide a safe, secure, and fulfilling environment for your child, both physically and emotionally.

    At McNicol, our support does not just consider the needs of the students, but also those of the family. Please take advantage of the many resources we provide.

    • Aftercare – Unity for Teens
    • Behavior Specialist – (All 6th Graders and 7th Grade Girls) – Tiana Poitier Behavior Specialist – (All 8th Graders and 7th Grade Boys) – Errol Simpson
    • Community Liaison – Ms. Shawquae Robinson
    • ESE Specialist – Ms. Christine Olmeda
    • ESOL Liaison – Ms. Betty Shore
    • 504 Liaison – Mr. Kenneth Bankston
    • Family Counselor – Ms. Sharonda Azemard
    • Psychologist – Ms. Brianna Chin


    Your Proud Principal,

    Ms. Deirdre A. Benka-Coker


Principal's Messages

      November-December 2021

      • Over this Thanksgiving and holiday season we all participate in the act of giving as a part of the rituals performed.  We started the season with our McNicol family giving their labor and their time to those in the community.  We partnered with Farm Share and Do You Have the Time Foundation to conduct our first Hawksgiving, and second Free Curbside Contactless Drive-Thru Food Distribution for our community members. This venture was a huge success, thanks to our many parent volunteers, McNicol students (past and present), McNicol employees, Hollywood PD and Hallandale High volunteers.

        Our partners continued the spirit of giving by donating Thanksgiving dinners:

        **Pastor White of Emmanuel Temple donated $1,100 to our families.  Eleven families received a $100 gift card, sealed with blessings from the pastor.

        **Three families benefited  from the Hollywood Police Department’s annual Adopt-A-Family for Thanksgiving Department Initiative.

        **Broward County PTA donated a pre-cooked, ready-to-heat Publix Thanksgiving Meal to two families.  This generous contribution served 6-8 people each. 

        **Our students, never to be outdone, also did their own food drive to benefit the less fortunate.

        They say that giving makes you happier. Well, we must have a very happy McNicol family during this season, as the giving has just begun.

        Seasons Greetings to all and please be safe.

      October 2021

      • Hawk Families,

        Your child’s experience at McNicol is richest when there is an alliance formed between your family and your child’s McNicol family.  Processes and procedures are always put in place with the safety and success of your child as the focus.  This month I have decided to share with my parents how they can help to accomplish our common goals.


        Safety is our first priority.  Students who don’t feel safe are less likely to learn.  Please take some time to read how you can help with this.

        1. Students are not to be dropped off before 7:15 A.M., as we cannot guarantee any adult supervision at this time.  Although we allow parents to come on campus, we ask that your child remains in the car until 7:15 A.M.
        2. Please drop-off your students in the car loop and not in the parking lot. Again, for your child’s safety, we do not want to have students crossing in the car loop area.  We would like to prevent a tragedy from occurring.
        3. When you visit the school during the day, please have your driver’s license or government issued ID ready to present to the security at the gate. The clerical staff will also need to see your ID before they buzz you in at the single-point-of-entry.
        4. Student Code of Conduct states that students shall not be released within the final 30 minutes of the school day unless the principal/designee determines that it is an emergency, or the student has a medical appointment that cannot be reasonably scheduled at another time. There will be no early release after 1:45 PM except in an extenuating circumstance.
        5. Our supervision of students doesn’t extend beyond the school’s boundary; therefore, we ask that you pick-up your students on the McNicol grounds. If you decide to meet your child off-campus, please ensure that you are there to receive them no later than 2:15 PM. It presents a safety concern when large groups of students congregate outside the school.
        6. In an effort to expedite the car line in the afternoons, we are initiating a QR code system. The directions will be sent home with your child shortly.
        7. Parents of walkers, please urge your children to go straight home and not loiter outside the school.
        8. Finally, if we see, hear or know something, say something. Encourage your child to report to an adult when they are having conflicts with other students.  We are all a part of the McNicol family and need to keep each other safe.


        1. Pursuant to the Face Mask Law signed into effect in our state on November 18, 2021, effective November 19, 2021, face coverings are strongly encouraged for all students, employees, visitors, and vendors on all campuses and administrative offices.
        2. Students are not to be dropped off on campus until 7:15 AM, as there is no adult supervision before this time.
        3. Per District policy, students are not to be picked up for early release after 1:45 PM.
        4. Avoid picking up your students outside the school gates. We have no jurisdiction off campus; therefore, they are unsupervised. This is unsafe.
        5. Please consistently discuss “See/Hear Something Say Something” with your child.
        6. Encourage your children to use social media in a positive manner. It is not to be used to defame or embarrass their fellow students.  These actions are far reaching and can cause emotional scars that never heal.

      September 2021

      • We are one month into our very successful return to 100% face-to-face instruction. Having to navigate these uncharted COVID-19 waters has been a challenge, but so far so good. In our continued effort to provide a safe environment,  it is essential that you immediately inform the school if your child tests positive for the COVID-19 virus.  This step is important for effective contact tracing, to limit the spread of the virus.

        In addition to wearing the mask, students should comply with our HBO policy here at McNicol.  Hands, Body, Objects, keep them to yourself.  This policy was first implemented to minimize physical altercations, but it now plays a dual role to help to stop the spread.  CDC Guidelines still require that we maintain social distancing.

        On another note, thank you for your support with the various events over the first four weeks.  The students’ orientation, open house, and food distribution were all well attended.  Almost 300 families benefited from the food distribution, which was a collaboration between McNicol Middle, Farm Share, and Do You Have the Time Foundation.  We look forward to continuing this effort to support our families that may be in need.

        One of the many advantages of being a student at McNicol is receiving an iPad with 30 GB of data monthly.  As soon as your child returns the forms that have been sent home for your completion, he/she will receive their iPad and charger.  These are to be returned at the end of the school year.

        We would like to revitalize our partnership with our parents via active participation in our PTSA, School Advisory Council (SAC), and School Advisory Forum (SAF).  All three committees meet monthly for less than an hour.  If you are interested in serving on one of these committees, please contact me at 754-323-3407. 

      COVID-19 Stay Home Orders (QUARANTINE)

      • Parents are required to report the reason that their child is not physically present in school. When a student is not physically present in school due to "stay home" orders (quarantine) related to COVID-19, the student will be counted in attendance when they are in quarantine or are asymptomatic and have access to assignments, curriculum, and instructional personnel.

        Parents must communicate the "stay home" order using the same methods for reporting an absence. The District offers three options for communication at all of our public schools.

        1. Online Absence Reporting Form (got to McNicol website, hover over Contact, select Report An Absence); or
        2. Attendance Hotline (754-323-3402) to leave a voice message; or
        3. A written note delivered to the Attendance Manager per McNicol's protocol

        Your Proud Principal,

        Ms. Deirdre A. Benka-Coker

      August 2021

      • Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year at McNicol Middle Magnet and STEM School! It is a new beginning in many ways. I am delighted to now serve you in a slightly different capacity as the principal of our school. It has been a pleasure being here at McNicol for the past five years, supporting and guiding my grade-level families. I now have the opportunity to expand my influence to serve all McNicol families.

        The disruption of our lives over the past 18 months by the pandemic has forced us to make numerous adjustments. Seventy percent of our students took advantage of virtual learning for the entire 2021 school year. Apart from when they came in for testing, most students have not been in the building. These students will now have to be reacclimated to the routines and rituals of attending brick and mortar school.

        Secondly, the school has become accustomed to hosting only 30 % of the students in-person since October of 2020, and we will now be at 100%. Please be assured that every effort will be made to ensure strict adherence to all District mandates and guidelines.

        Charles Darwin stated that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” Our current situation requires us to make changes. We will all have to adjust, ensuring that we do what’s best for all, and not anyone individual. Now more than ever it is evident that our individual choices may impact many.

        I am confident that the McNicol faculty and staff are committed to providing a safe, secure, and fulfilling environment for your child. Our support does not just consider the needs of students, but also of their families. Please take advantage of the many resources we provide.

        Aftercare – Unity for Teens

        Community Liaison – Ms. Jona Brown

        Family Counselor – Ms. Azemard

        Psychologist – Ms. Moscato

        School Resource Officer – Officer L. Rios

        School Counselors – Ms. Gannon (6th Grade); Ms. Lee (7th Grade) and Ms. Montrose (8th Grade)

        Social Worker – Ms. Belizaire

        Parents, students and community members, I welcome your involvement and input on things that may impact how effective we are as a school. We are all members of the McNicol family that has successfully weathered the past 18 months together, and we will continue to do so. Although we are facing many challenges, let’s aim to make it the best year ever.

        Our 2021-22 school theme is:

        Embracing New Adventures, The Possibilities Are endless!


        Your Proud Principal,

        Ms. Deirdre A. Benka-Coker