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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Learning, Language, Lockdowns-March 20, 2018

Sexton Mt. Families:

Learning is noisy!  Kids talk about what they are learning and share perspectives.  It's always fun to listen to them as they process new information and build understanding.  When kids are absolutely silent, they are able to listen to instructions and respond accordingly.  First graders took advantage of the sun today practice some of our outdoor drills.  They were so quiet  as they practiced I couldn't find them.  I'm proud that our kids know that there is a time and place for everything. 

We practice LOCKOUT (when a threat is outside) and LOCKDOWN (when a threat is inside).  School Resource Officer describes the difference between the drills in this video.
Lockout vs Lockdown Have you heard the terms “lockout” or “lockdown”? While the two terms sound somewhat similar, they mean very different things. It can help ...
In addition to practicing drills this morning, student played math games, read, practiced decomposing numbers, edited writing, explained the inferences they were making as they read (using evidence from the text) and practiced keyboarding.  One student wrote an opinion piece about an early explorer and was careful to cite evidence to support his opinion.  Our kids are doing deep work.

Students in grades 3, 4 and 5 doing monthly assessments in reading and math.  This regular progress monitoring revealed that some students backslide when they don't practice.  Notice the difference between December and January.  


I visited classrooms during morning meetings Monday and students talked about the many different ways they spent time over the weekend.  Our children have very busy lives but they find time to read, relax and recharge through unstructured play and time with books.  Please encourage your child to read every day during the break.  Help them set goals for their time and gather supplies so they will have everything they need to read and learn every day.   I've heard many students talk about the goals they have for reading books in a series or titles by a certain author.  Many of our younger students are reading Mo Willems or Cynthia Rylant books.  Last weekend I saw Alyssa at the used book store and she found three inexpensive Geronimo Stilton books.  She shared her plans for reading.   Proficient readers plan for reading!

Today I visited 2nd grade during math and Brooklyn shared her success with me.  She told me that she's been working hard at home and practicing more frequently on Dreambox.  She was proud that her hard work is paying off!  All students have access to Dreambox throughout the break.  Remember that the program is responsive to students so they should work independently on this particular program.

While we are deeply engaged in this school year, we've also started preparing for 2018-2019.  The overall number of students projected for next year will be similar to this year but we expect to have a larger group of kindergarten students and fewer students in fifth grade.  After the break, we will begin a process of building classes for the upcoming year.  One of the things we find helpful is an All About Me page completed by families.  Feel free to start on the one attached OR look for one in backpack mail soon.  I am sure the new principal will enjoy getting to know your children through their All About Me page.  On the back of the page, feel free to add any information you would like your child's future teacher or principal to know.   AboutMe.pdf 

Thank you very much for sharing your children with us.  As I finish this note today, I hear our 2nd and 3rd graders singing.  They will perform Wednesday afternoon and are excited to share what they've been learning in music.  Our school is a special place to spend the day!

Teresa Clemens-Brower, Ed. D.
Sexton Mt. Elementary School

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Spring, Drills, Screenagers and More-March 13, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Learning Continues-March 6, 2018

Sexton Mt. Families:

As I visited a fifth grade classroom this morning, students discussed what to do if they were lost.  Many students rely heavily on technology so coming up with a plan other than using one’s cellphone was a challenge for some.  Please have a discussion with your children about what to do if they are feeling lost or uncomfortable.  Help kids identify safe places and people in the community.   Because the Beaverton City Police had reported a middle school age student missing in our area last night, this topic was on the minds of many this morning.  The young man was found safely but the news had kids thinking about times when they were lost and what they would do. The family of the young man asked that I share their sincere appreciation to all who jumped into action in helping look for him last night.    Our community rocks!

Another OBOB season is coming to an end at Sexton Mountain, and we're so happy that so many could be a part of it! OBOB is entirely optional for kids and it’s amazing that this year we 168 participants, 73 matches,  and 18 volunteers.  Thanks to Roger Golliver, Jen Fife-Adams, Dawn Kimball and their amazing team of volunteers for supporting readers at Sexton Mt. 

Our teachers have found value in the weekly collaboration times. During collaboration time last Wednesday, one team looked at math assessments and analyzed students work to plan instruction.  The team talked about how they would present information to students.  Another  team was looking a the science standards, non-fiction articles related to the standards and the  reading and thinking skills  students are working on at different levels according to IRLA skill cards.  The team considered the needs of their students and were incredibly thoughtful about how to set up students for success in science, reading and writing.  They  designed assessments and decided how they would share resources. The solid block of uninterrupted time has been valued! 

Science Technology Engineering Art and Math Fair-April 12
During Collaboration time last Wednesday afternoon, a different team I visited was discussing how to teach and assess science standards.  They shared strategies for engaging students in high level ways and how to effectively manage all of the components of teaching and assessing instruction.  I was reminded that students in all grades have a chance to showcase their thinking at our STEAM Fair on April 12 from 6:30-8:00pm.  Now is a great time to start thinking about how your child can be engaged in the fun.

Health  Instructional Materials Review The Beaverton School District is currently involved in the Health Instructional Materials Adoption process K-12. The Project Team, comprised of community members, students, teachers, administrators and specialists has been
 meeting since September 2017 to review existing Health curriculum and practices in order to make curriculum and adoption recommendations to the School Board this Spring. The Beaverton School District reviews and updates its curriculum, instructional practices,
 and classroom materials according to Board policy and Oregon State Statute and Administrative Regulations. The community, parents, students, and Beaverton School District staff are invited to review and provide input on instructional materials in the following
 ways: Online review period - Wednesday, February 28 - Friday, March 16, 2018. Please visit
 Community Public Review Meeting - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Cedar Park Middle School, 11100 SW Park Way, Portland, 97229.

New Principal Update
The Sexton Mt. Principal position was posted in February and closed last week.  Applicants are currently being screened and a series of interviews will take place in the upcoming weeks.  Once the new principal has been selected, we will work together to make sure we have a smooth transition. Families keep asking me about what I’m going to do when I retire.  Quite honestly, my mind is on what is happening in school today and in the upcoming months. 

Thank you so much for sharing your children with us! We treasure our time with them and work hard to maximize every minute of instruction. 


Teresa Clemens-Brower, Ed.D.

*Volunteers played a key role in maximizing  time for staff on Wednesday.  As teachers rolled up their sleeves to deconstruct learning targets or create assessments, they set aside items to be copied or shared materials that had been prepared by volunteers.  Our volunteers rock!
*Thanks to the Hamilton-Kerr Family for dontating Mo Willems books to our classroom and school library.
*Thanks to our PTC for providing nourishment during the long conference days last week.

Wish List
*We continue to add books to classroom libraries.  Visit our Amazon Wish List for specific titles or if you are weeding your home library, Henry and Mudge books will be put to good use.
Books for Sexton Mt. Classrooms Link:

Upcoming Events
March 13-Screenagers Viewing at Beaverton City Library
March 26-30-Spring Break-No School
April 12-STEAM Fair 6:30-8:30pm
April 13-Assessment Day-No School for Students

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Celebrations and Screenagers-February 26, 2018

Sexton Mt. Families:

Over the past week, I’ve had several opportunities to watch kids as they genuinely celebrated in the success of others or encouraged others to do their best.

·      Leon was giving a pep talk to classmates Friday night.  “You will do great!” he said.  “You have practiced and you’ve got this!”

·      Gizelle’s baby brother may have been her biggest fan when she took the stage.  His tiny arms kept time as she performed and he squealed with delight to see her in the spotlight.

·      During an OBOB battle, Ella took deep calming breaths. After the battle, she made sure she made eye contact with each of her opponents before she smiled warmly and congratulated them. 

·      Sean not only congratulated his opponents but he went on to thank each of the volunteers as well.

Our kids support one another in so many special ways.  Last Tuesday, I noticed that Sexton Mt. families supported one another in positive ways too.  Thanks to all who helped last Tuesday’s dismissal go so smoothly.  There was great communication between parents, neighbors, and daycare providers.   Earlier Tuesday morning, when a kindergarten student asked me if I would be closing school later in the day due to snow, I reminded him that our school is one of 53 schools in our 55 square mile school District.  We are a small piece of the bigger puzzle but our piece was especially awesome Tuesday.

Our students succeed because our community works together to make it happen.  We can see evidence of this when families come together on snow days.  Sometimes, this can be more subtle, so it’s important that we develop a shared capacity to support our children in all areas. 

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed an increase in conversations I’ve had with students and families about technology misuse.  Making sure that kids know where you stand when it comes to screen time (what and when) is important.  It’s also important to equip kids with the skills needed to positively and proactively interact when their peers’ family may have different values or expectations.   

An entry point for this conversation could be a special event hosted by our PTC.  On March 13 at the Beaverton City Library, the Sexton Mt. PTC will be co-hosting a special viewing of Screenagers in Meeting Room A from 6:00-8:00pm.  We hope that many of our families will JUST SHOW UP so that we can learn and discuss together.

Learning early how to discuss differences respectfully, in age appropriate ways, will make the conversation easier as kids grow older.  I’ve included a reprint of a newsletter from several years ago on the topic of technology just to reiterate some of the challenges our children face. 

Thank you for sharing your children with us and for helping us create a community where all can thrive.  Sexton Mt. is a great place to learn and grow.


Teresa Clemens-Brower

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:  

This morning on the news, there was a segment about an accidental Tweet that had been sent by a business to thousands of people.  It was one more reminder about how technology is changing our world and was a great opportunity for me to discuss with my son what to do the second one realizes a message is inappropriate. Over my past ten years as a school administrator discipline issues have been pretty similar until the past year or so.  Changes in technology have opened a new world to kids and I wanted to alert all families to some of the things I’m seeing so that you can have a proactive role at home in these changing times.

As a parent, I realize that my own experience as a child have shaped the things I think about.  When I was a child, if I wanted to talk to my friends privately on the phone, I had to stretch the phone cord to the laundry area, sit on the washing machine and close myself into a tiny closet.  There were three television channels to pick from and if it was windy, fewer because our large antennae would be blown around and not pick up the signal. If I wanted to look up the spelling or definition of a word, I would use a dictionary.  If I needed to do research, I’d pull out an encyclopedia.  To access books, I’d go to the library.  To find a location, I’d look on a map.  The Sears catalog provided an opportunity to shop without going to a store.  When I was a child, issues with friends were face to face.  Drama between friends happened in person.  Graphic images were not an option because they were sold behind the counter at a store or in theaters that didn’t allow children.  Life is different for our kids.

For our students today, the world is in their pocket.  With a smart phone or tablet, students can access information, entertainment and other people.  With such easy access a wide range of possibilities is now available to our children.  There are many positive things about having the world at our fingertips but also dangers as well.  While there is a lot of information available for parents on Internet safety, I wanted to share a few things that I’ve noticed over the past year and some thinking around it.  Many families may already be aware of these things but most families I’ve shared info with, after something has been brought to my attention at school, have been genuinely surprised that kids might be having experiences at such young ages.  Please note that these are my personal observations and I offer no solutions BUT I think it’s important that families are aware and I’ve given some things to think about.  Know that students as young as 5 have been referred to the office for almost every area noted.

§  Passwords-Students share many things but passwords should not be something they share.  You may want to talk about this with your child and share strategies you use for keeping important passwords secure.

§  Devices-Some kids have phones or tablets and some don’t.   For the most part, phones have been stolen more than any other item this school year.  When phones are brought to school, they need to be off and away.   When kids brag about phones, show them to others or if they ring during class, this alerts others to the device’s presence.  You may want to teach our children to be mindful of their own property.  For the many students who do not yet have phones, families should let them know why your family has made that decision.  I predict that in the near future, kids will be invited to bring their own device to school for projects.  You may want to think about how you keep your devices secure as you are out and about and share these strategies with your child.  When kids share their devices with others they need to be mindful of how it is being used.  I have had conversations with students when their phone sent bad words to others’ phones when it was not in their possession.  You may want to think about how you will teach your child to prevent things like that from happening.

§  Texting -Kids love to text.  They love to take selfies and send them to others.  Teach children that any message they send can be forwarded to others. Unlike the paper notes of my day that could be passed around to a few, texts can be sent to thousands in a short period of time.  Teach children to be mindful of their words and the images they send.  Remind children that any body part covered by a swimsuit should not be photographed.  Think about how you will teach your child to set limits.  Texts don’t just distract drivers but they can distract during homework, learning, family time, playing and more.  You may want to think about how will you teach your child about what is urgent or important? Think about what you would like your child to do if they receive an inappropriate text.

§  Social Media-If you have a social media account you likely know that some users are positive, some are negative and some are downright mean.  Again, most anything posted can be shared so teach children to be mindful about what they post.  Too many times to count, kids have been shocked when I pull up a message they have sent.  They are amazed that the principal can see their words and they clearly have not thought about who might see it.  You may want to think about how you will share this message with your child.  Some families say, if you wouldn’t write it to Grandma you shouldn’t write it to a friend.  A middle school colleague sent me a picture with guidelines for users.

§  Visual Images-The first time one of my elementary students told me he and a group of friends had viewed pornography, I was almost physically ill.  A group of kids had been at home looking something up and somehow stumbled across it but it pulled them in and they watched it several times.   It was brought to my attention because they were talking to one another about it at school.  All of the families involved had the same response, “I never thought I’d have to worry about this in elementary school!”

§  Advertising-There is so much advertising on different sites.  Teach kids to be mindful.

§  Relationships-Online “friends” through gaming sites, social media sites or elsewhere seem to be popping up more and more. For some, the whole idea of what it means to have or be friend has changed over the years.  Is your child starting with human-to-human contact first then adding the online component?  Have you talked to your child about the friend of a friend and how to know if that person is safe?   Do their friends know?  Do kids know what to do if something unkind is posted or if exchanged words make them feel uncomfortable?

§  Words-Kids are intrigued by unknown words.  Off limit words (i.e. swear words) are very tempting to look up.  Definitions in paper dictionaries are often confusing for younger readers so they don’t really understand the meaning of a word if they look it up.  Online dictionaries, on the other hand, sometimes add graphic images to show meaning so students have a much better understanding of what the word means.  I tell students that if it seems like a questionable word, talking to a trusted adult is always the best route. 

§  Access-Parents will often have strict guidelines and safeguards in their own home and assume that others do too.  Access to dangerous things, whether virtual or real, may be a reality when your child goes next door.

There are many web-based resources for parents regarding safety.  Though much has changed since I was a child, I know that it was easy to talk with my mom about a wide range of things because we talked often.  Establishing open communication with your child now will certainly make it easier as they grow older and the topics become more complex. 

Exclusion Day-100% of our families met expectations for getting immunization records complete and up-to-date by Immunization Exclusion Day.  State law requires that all school children have up-to-date immunizations or have medical exemption. Thanks to Ms. Holste for working so hard to make sure than not a single Sexton Mt. student would miss school today.

Sportsmanship-Students have an opportunity to practice being graceful winners and losers on a daily basis. If your child has been on an OBOB team this year, you know that good sportsmanship is emphasized at the beginning of every battle.  Please talk to your child about how you expect them to act when they win AND when they lose.  If kids think about both options before the games begin and have words to handle both situations, we set them up for success.  Remember that practicing this skill at a young age, when stakes are relatively low, builds the skill for later.  

Thanks to the Hasenmeyer, Lary, and Tymchuk families for a generous donation of Mo Willems books.
Thank you Vivian Ho, Irene Scarborogh, Hina Ali, Rachel Chrisensen, Jenelyn Spurlock, Kelly Taylor, Mamiko Kumasaka-Sunada, Rikki Anderson, Cassandra Buyserie, Cassia Carpio, Heather Rocha, Suzanne Peerenboom, Jocelyn Gregorio, Yana Blinkova, Lisa Ridgway, Adria Eilers, Rachel Christensen, Sarah Manliguez, Yun Jung Nam and Mindy Lary for  making games for our kids to practice a wide range of skills. 
Thanks to all who helped during the Talent Show Friday night.  Thanks to all who helped with set up and clean up.
Thanks to Talent Show Chair, Kate Kristiansen, for planning and organizing this even for the past 6 years. 

Wish List
*We've started a Henry and Mudge book club.  If you have books in this series your child has outgrown, please send them to the office.  We will put them to good use!
We need 12 hula-hoops to help students define our Lego We Do workstations.  Please send donations to Ms. Kramer in the computer lab.
Our kids love to read kids' magazines like Lego or Sports Illustrated.  Please send donations to the office.

Help Wanted
*We have a few games that need to have the laminate trimmed off in order for students to be able to play with them.  Feel free to pick up supplies from Mrs. Z in the office.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Practice, Vocabulary and Review-February 13, 2018

Sexton Mt. Families:

As I watched the Olympics, the snowboarder from my hometown sparked a conversation.  Within seconds, our phones were out and three of us were searching for facts about the boarder from Bend.  Between commentator comments, my family's phone research, and the advertisements that showed athletes starting young and working daily to build skills, I concluded that practice makes proficient.

One of the themes I noticed as I read report cards last week was the importance of practice.  It takes focused practice to grow as a reader.   Just by reading widely, students grow their vocabulary by 1500 words per year or more.  When kids pay attention as they read, they notice new words and are able to use the clues in the text to understand meaning.  By third grade (white level texts) books will have 1 or 2 words per page that are not in students’ every day speech. By this level, readers are learning to notice these words and think about synonyms, literal and non-literal meanings and understanding the difference between words that mean almost the same thing.  Thank you for encouraging your child to read every day and to pay attention to their thinking as they read.  Practice makes proficient.

Last week I shared information about the assessments that students take to show how they are progressing towards the standards.  I tried to kill two birds with one stone by including content about parking lot safety (always an issue at Elementary Schools).  Several people expressed surprise about the complexity of what was expected by fourth grade.  If you haven't recently explored the reading anchor standards  you might be surprised by the depth and complexity of thinking required by students.  Our children have the world at their fingertips and they must know how to navigate thoughtfully (ie-my Bend Olympian search generated 3.9 million results). We must prepare students to thinking critically and creatively as they engage in all of the information they are exposed to daily.

The BEST part of our school is the people!  We have children, families and staff with a wide range of background experiences so we have a rich learning environment.  Our District Goal is to empower all students to achieve post-high school success.  One way we do this is by providing a safe, positive and inclusive learning environment and by defining clear academic and behavioral expectations for students.

Just as there are surprises about academic expectations for children, some of the behavioral expectations and how we talk about the behaviors have also changed.  

Because our community is so diverse,  the purpose of the next part of today's newsletter is to provide some general information and a link to a resource about a few important topics;  suicide, threats and sexual behaviors.  I hope that this brief reminder will help us be better aligned so that we can be more consistent in how we approach reports of words or behaviors involving these things at school. 

Our District has developed protocols so that we implement a systematic approach to investigate and assess concerns.  Please see page 23 of the Beaverton Student Family Handbook ( for specific information. 
Threats-When words (face to face/online) or actions place others in fear of serious bodily injury, it is considered a threat.  Threats should be reported to an adult and are always investigated.  

Suicide-When a student makes any suicide gesture and/or talks about or shares thoughts of suicide, staff are expected to take immediate action. If you have concerns during non-school hours, please call the 24 hour Washington County Crisis Line at 503-291-9111.

Sexual Incidents-When incidents of a sexual nature occur, we are responsible for ensuring that adequate supervision, safety planning, and interventions are put in place.  Our goal is not to sexualize developmentally ‘normal’ behaviors, however, some sexual behaviors are normative, but socially inappropriate. If the inappropriate, but normative behavior continues in spite of adult intervention, we increase support.

Because our school serves students ranging in age from 5 to 12, our interventions and responses will be age appropriate.  We trust our students to be safe and make healthy decisions regarding their behavior.  We know that families and staff will work together to teach skills, academic and behavioral, that have not yet been learned.  We appreciate partnering with you. 

Thank you for sharing your children with us!


Teresa Clemens-Brower

February 19-Presidents' Day-No School
August 27-First Day of School for Students

Mark Your Calendar
If your child will someday have access to technology when you are not around, I encourage you to attend a special event at the Beaverton City Library on March 13 from 6-8 pm. Our PTC and the Beaverton City Library are partnering to feature the movie Screenagers.  

Book Club Wish List
We are continuing to collect books for our Mo Willems book club.  While donations of all books by this author will be put to good use, we are trying to grow our Pigeon collection.  Check out the link below for specific titles we need.
Mo Willems Book Club-Sexton Mt.

Thanks to:
Thanks to the DeMartino, Hamilton-Kerr, and Schilardi families for their generous donation of Mo Willems books.
Thanks to Lisa Van Netta, Mindy Lary, Jennifer Schmidt-Elkins, Katie Gallagher, Suzanne Peerenboom, Jackie Gruginski, Jenna Mumba, Yana Blinkova, and Andrea Treu for sharpening pencils for our school!  
Thanks to all who continue to send items for the new early childhood classroom at another Beaverton School.