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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Eagle Scout, Change, Dress Code and More-October 11, 2017

Sexton Mt. Families:

This week’s newsletter is a bit later than typical because we’ve been very busy with several changes here at Sexton Mt.   Because next week is a short week due to conferences, there will not be a newsletter.  In the midst of our busy-ness, kids are learning and great things are happening for kids at Sexton Mt.  Earlier this week one of our students asked if he could help me by inviting a child to lunch.  His kindness touched my heart and is the perfect example of the many little things that take place every day that make our school so special.  Thank you for sharing your children with us.

Eagle Scout Project-Thanks to Will Zundel for creating a new garden spot for students in our SRC classes.  His team transformed the courtyard last Saturday.  

Changes -Because our projected enrollment did not match our actual enrollment at first grade and kindergarten, we made staffing adjustments at both grade levels.  After careful consideration, we decided to consolidate the first grade classes so that we now have three classes.  Ms. Cohn's class was the smallest class so her first graders joined other classrooms and Ms. Cohn moved to kindergarten.  A more detailed explanation of the change can be found at the end of this newsletter.  This was the information shared with our Kindergarten and First grade families. Our fifth grade classes are at 31 and 32 so we have been allocated 6 hours of instructional assistant time to help our older students and we are deep in the planning for how to maximize this resource.  We’ll communicate with 5th grade families when we have more details. 

Conferences-There will be no school for students on October 19 and 20 so that teachers can meet with families to discuss students and set goals for the upcoming year. While you are at school, make sure you check out student work in our hallways.
Volunteering and Confidentiality
Sexton Mountain School is supported by hundreds of volunteers.  From high-school students working to build community service hours to parents, grandparents and community members willing to give time to make a difference in the lives of our learners, we enjoy GREAT support.  From playing with kids at recess, joining them for lunch, working with students in classrooms or pods to supporting students by preparing materials or doing other behind the scenes work, volunteers learn so much about our school and students as they serve.  We are following the lead of other schools and asking that our volunteers sign an agreement showing that they agree to comply with the Volunteer Confidentiality Policy as stated in the Beaverton School District Volunteer Handbook:  The policy states:

“Volunteers must protect the teachers’ and students’ right to privacy.  You may not disclose school affairs or personal matters which have come to your attention.  Discuss student problems or concerns only with the teacher or staff member with whom you are working; discuss other concerns with the teacher or principal.”

By following the confidentiality policy above, volunteers will help meet an important Beaverton School District priority:

“Staff, students, parents and other community members shall contribute to maintaining the school as a safe, secure and positive center for learning.”  

The Volunteer Confidentiality forms will be available in the pods during conference time and in the office this week too.  Please turn completed forms into your child’s teacher or the office if you plan to volunteer and haven’t already done so.


Each year the PTC provides classrooms with a funds for fall, winter and spring celebrations (a.k.a. parties).  Students look forward to these special days and always appreciate the hard work of the volunteers who do the planning and implementation.  Expectations for parties are based on safety and maintaining an environment focused on instruction.  Several students in our school have severe allergies.  In an effort to maintain a safe environment for all we are very careful about any special things brought into our learning environment.

Student Dress and Accessories for October
Over the past few years, I get the same questions asked over and over regarding attire for the October party.  I’ve included information you might find useful here.

Dress and grooming are primary responsibilities of students and parents/guardians. However, students may be directed to change dress or grooming if it interferes with the learning process or school climate, is unclean, or threatens the health or safety of the student or others. Clothing, jewelry, or wording/graphics on clothing or on the person that is sexually suggestive, drug or alcohol related, vulgar, which depicts violence, insulting, gang membership related, or ridicules a particular person or group may be prohibited.

Students are expected to be safe, respectful and responsible all day, every day.  One aspect of safety is being able to clearly see and identify who is in our school. Faces should not be covered so no masks or head coverings unless it is part of regular religious dress. 

Just as we prevent the spread of germs by not sharing food or utensils, we prevent the spread of lice by not sharing brushes, hats, masks, costumes, coats, hoodies, and other items that come into contact with heads.  As we assume that others’ blood or other body fluids may carry harmful germs and we thereby take universal precautions, we must also assume that others’ hair or things that come into contact with hair may also carry things we wish not to catch and practice precautions.   Please remind kids to be mindful of how easy it is to spread lice when clothing items and hats are shared between kids.  This note is not intended to cause panic but instead provide a reminder about the importance of teaching children prevention techniques.   

Weapons, including play-weapons that sometimes come with costumes or look-alike weapons are NEVER allowed at school.  The use, threat of use, or possession of these at school may result in disciplinary action.  The expectations outlined in the Beaverton School District Student/Parent Resource Handbook are below.  
·      The use, threat of use, possession, or sale of knives and/or look-alike knives of any form and/or length will result in disciplinary action.
·      The possession, use, or threat of use of a look-alike explosive device, firearm, or other dangerous or deadly weapons will result in disciplinary action.

Help Wanted-If you can do a small project at home for our new kindergarten class, let me know and I'll send home the project in backpack mail. (

Head Lice
District policy requires us to share with families if three or more unrelated head lice cases occur in a two-week period but I wanted to pass along this information now since this season brings unique challenges.  During the costume season, I predict that kids will have cool clothing items that friends might ask to try on.  Now is the perfect time for you to teach or reteach your child why they should say, "No."  We expect that parents will check their own children regularly for lice or nits. Students must be lice free at school.  Some experts believe that checking your child's head weekly is a good practice because it helps you to catch outbreaks early and interrupt the life cycle.  

Teaching and Learning
With so many things not really related to teaching or learning in this newsletter, I want to emphasize the importance of creating a safe and inclusive environment as the foundation for great learning.  The structures and systems we have in place show our best thinking and use of resources as of today.  Oregon has the largest class sizes according to the National Center for Education.  Because things have gotten better with recent changes as the Local Option Levy (funds 3 or our 20 classroom teachers) and state revenue forecasts have improved, in order to level the playing field for our students, we need to use every minute.  Thanks for helping us to maximize instruction!


Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.

Learning Options Information for 2018-19
The Beaverton School District is nationally recognized for high student achievement and innovative programs. Beaverton students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to investigate learning options that best fit their academic needs. Students can choose their neighborhood school or one of a number of small learning options. Transportation is provided.  
Applications will be available starting Monday, October 23rd, 2017. All applicants must reside within the Beaverton School District boundaries. Current Beaverton School District students are encouraged to apply online using their student ID, once the application portal opens. Resident students not currently attending a Beaverton school will need to complete a paper application.
Open House information will be available the middle of October at

Pre-K Cadre:
Did you know that we are in the process of adding a new grade in our Beaverton elementary schools? That’s right… we are in the process of planning for a seamless, integrated Pre-K in multiple elementary schools next school year. Are you interested in being part of this exciting movement? If so, we want you to know that we will be starting a Pre-K-3rd grade Cadre soon. Applications for this Cadre will be sent out in the Weekly Bulletin, ELA Memo, and by email on October 6th. Please look for the application and consider partnering with BSD staff, Early Learning partners across the State, and business leaders as we develop a comprehensive, integrated Pre-K in Beaverton. Kudos to Megan Irwin, our Administrator for Early Learning, and a host of other individuals and departments for their support in this critical endeavor! Applications can be found HERE.

More Detailed Explanation of Teacher Changes
Our original staffing school-wide was based on projected enrollment of 501 students.  Our current enrollment is 518. If the difference was evenly distributed between our 20 classroom teachers it would have been ideal but two grade levels have very large class sizes.  We are over projection by 12 at kindergarten and 9 in 5th grade.  

Overall, we believe that the primary grades should always have lower class sizes than upper grades so we are making adjustments in our primary grades. If you have a fifth grader, know that we are working to support there too but in a different way.  

First Grade-Our year started with 4 first grade teachers.  We made the decision last spring to go with 4 teachers for several reasons.  We expected that our first grade group would be bigger than they were last year as kindergartners.  Because our neighborhood has several highly regarded private kindergartens, we usually add new students to our first grade class.  Because our class sizes for 2017-2018 would also include students in our self-contained specialized programs (9 students in this case) this year, we expected our group of first graders to start at 82 and grow to 85-90 like it typically does.  Taking into consideration all of these variables, we aimed to have lower class sizes in first grade in order to better support students.  

Kindergarten-We started the year with 3 kindergarten teachers.  We were projected to have 73 students (24 per class).  By August 24, the group had grown so there were 26 in each class.  In order to support larger classes and ease into the year, we used non-salary dollars to provide one instructional assistant for each kindergarten classroom the first week of school.  Our classes grew so we extended the instructional assistant support.  I predicted that this would be a temporary solution until we received funding from the District for an additional teacher.  While an assistant does help with the management of bodies if an effective sub takes the job, it does not address all of the aspects of instruction including teaching, assessing, planning and communicating with families.  This was not a sustainable solution.  I used dollars from our non-salary budget to pay for the assistants so about 10% of our paper, book and supply budget was used during September. We don't have the funds to continue the support. 

Until last week, I was hopeful that we would get extra staffing allocated to us and I knew the district was closely monitoring our big classes in Kindergarten. Some years, when growth happens in September, additional staffing allocations are made.  Because our overall school allocation is 26 students for every classroom teacher, we did not get extra staffing for kindergarten and are to make adjustments with the staff we have to meet our needs.
Ms. Cohn was selected to be the teacher to move for several reasons. She knows our overall building, community and school routines well.  She's worked with kindergarten students in the past and I'm confident that she will be a fabulous kindergarten teacher.  Additionally, her first grade class is the smallest class so fewer reassignments will need to be made.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Celebrating the Success of Others-October 3, 2017

Sexton Mt. Families:

Our first assembly of the year was Friday.  During our assemblies we celebrate accomplishments and make special announcements.  Before the assembly begins, students come into the cafeteria and sit on the floor by their teacher’s name and picture.  Supervising teachers look for several children who demonstrate EXTRA safe, responsible and respectful behaviors during this time and those kids are invited to serve as assembly helpers. 

During the assembly, one of the helpers got to give her sister a special hug as her sister’s name was called as an Eagle Eye winner.  The older sister’s face radiated with pride!  At a different time during the assembly, students who had shown kindness were recognized.  One student from each class was asked to stand.  As a kindergarten student heard her brother’s name called, her face also radiated with pride.  She was SO VERY excited for his success! 

Active brains are ready for learning!  National Walk and Bike to School day will be Wednesday, October 4.  The Walking School Bus will leave WalMart just before 8:00am.  There will also be other groups of walkers and bikers coming to school together that day.  As Mazzy waked into school Monday morning she told me that she’d seen models of the brain before and after exercise so she knew that it was great for her brain to walk to school.  Her younger brother wasn’t as convinced.   Movement before school and throughout the day is good for learning!

Thank you for sharing your children with us!


Teresa Clemens-Brower, Ed. D.

·      Thanks to the Caprio family for organizing Family Movie Night. 
·      Thanks to our 5th Grade Party Planners for providing snacks for Family Movie Night.
·      Thanks to the Peerenboom family for doing projects at home for our school.

Volunteers Needed
·      We would love to have a volunteer in the office daily between 11:00-1:00 to help monitor visitors and complete projects.  If you are able to volunteer, please let Mrs. Z know when you are available.
·      Do you sew?  Our emergency backpacks need to have straps reattached and reinforced.  If you’d like to help, we can send backpacks home with your child.
Safety Reminders
·      Cross 155th at the crosswalk or designated intersection
·      Thanks for continuing to report suspicious activity or vandalism you see happening by calling the Washington County non-emergency line at 503-629-0111.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I Can Do It Day!-September 26, 2017

Sexton Mt. Families:
Yesterday a 5-year old told me that she was very special.  Her mom had told her she was so she knew it was true!  As she told me why, I once again couldn't help but think that I have the best job in the whole world!

Great things are happening at Sexton Mt. School.  This morning in Ms. Martin's class students were seated in a circle on the carpet.  It was 8:32 and attendance was done, students had supplies on desks and they were ready.  It was "I CAN DO IT!" day!  The teacher described how she recognized that her Monday night mindset about technology was "fixed.”  When she recognized that her self talk and mindset were not conducive to learning, she made a plan to change it.  She described what she did to change her mindset and declared it to be I CAN DO IT Day!  Kids empathized and agreed that a change in mindset can change the day.  

Next during their morning circle time, students shared about what they were reading at home.  Students in the class got to hear about many different books and why they were interesting. This quick check-in time gave every child a chance to have their voice heard and to practice listening and engagement in a low risk setting.  Next, Lily asked the teacher, "What about you?"  Children giggled when Ms. Martin shared that she read the math lesson in order to prepare for the day. 

Morning Circles and growth mindset conversations were taking place around the school today. In a different classroom, children shared a sentence based on a growth mindset prompt.  See if you notice a pattern.
  • Five years ago I wasn't very good at edges in hockey, but now I am.
  • Five years ago I couldn't write and now I can.
  • Five years ago I couldn't play the Pokemon song on the piano; now I can.
The teacher asked students to consider why they can convince themselves that things are too hard to try now.  This produced rich conversation.  If children arrive after 8:30a.m., they miss this very special part of the day.

International Walk and Bike to School Day is Wednesday, October 4.  The Walking School Bus will meet at 8:00am at the Walmart Parking lot.  Look for more information on the PTC webpage.
Thanks for sharing your children with us!


Teresa Clemens-Brower

Because attendance matters, I wanted to let you know that if we are concerned about a child's attendance patterns, the counselor will contact families first.  If attendance irregularities continue, I will meet with families.  Finally, the truancy officer will be invited to meet with the family and school.  

Crossing 155th Avenue
If your child will cross 155th Avenue on the way home, know that our expectation is that all kids will cross with the crossing guard at 155th and Sexton Mt. Drive.  Drivers have noticed a number of people crossing mid-street and have expressed concerns about safety.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Joy, Rain, Growing and More-Sept. 19, 2017

Sexton Mt. Families:

Monday morning at 8:05am the theme song for our school could have been "Singing in the Rain" as kids welcomed the return of cooler weather.  Students were excited about puddles, downspouts and the sound of slogging, squeaking shoes on linoleum.  Thank you for sharing your joyful children with us!
Singing in the Rain original
Rain Boots, Umbrellas and Wet Clothes
Some students find that having a change of shoes and clothing makes staying comfortable during the day easier.  While rain boots keep feet dry, they can be difficult to wear to PE or have on while sitting on the carpet for a story. 

Collaboration Wednesday at Success!
Our first early release Wednesday was a success!  Teachers got right to work and teams spent a productive 90 minutes engaging around student learning in different content areas.  We look forward to our time tomorrow too! 

Meet the Kindergarten Team!
The Kindergarten team met last Wednesday and had rich discussions about how to engage students in "just right" texts for longer and longer periods of time.  Practice makes proficient. Picture below are Gina Smith (left), Jennifer Blumhagen (center) and Christine Leyva (right).  Between them they serve 84 students!  

Growth Mindset
Our students have talked about having a growth mindset in math and that minds are like muscle that get stronger with exercise.  This morning, Ms. Yoshida challenged fifth graders to think about having a growth mindset when it comes to relationships too.  In a different fifth grade classroom, students welcomed a new classmate and shared that one of the core values in the classroom relates to the power of YET.  Just because someone hasn't learned something YET, doesn't mean they don't have the capacity to learn.  

Thank you for sharing your children with us!  It's exciting to see how they are settling in to their new classrooms and routines.  Sexton Mt. School is a great place to spend the day.


Teresa Clemens-Brower, Principal
a.k.a. Mrs. C.-B.
Sexton Mt. Elementary School

Friday, September 8, 2017

Early Release Wednesday Starts Sept. 13

As we have had opportunities to get to know kids over the past week and begin to implement new curriculum in order to better meet the needs of all students, we are incredibly excited about the time staff will have to collaborate on early release Wednesdays.

Remember that Wednesday, September 13th (and every Wednesday thereafter),  Sexton Mt. Elementary School will start at 8:30 a.m.  and will dismiss at 1:35 p.m.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ingredients for Great First Week of School-September 3, 2017

The 2017-2018 school year  promises to be a great adventure for our children.  All great adventures begin with preparation.  Here are some things you can do to prepare for a fabulous first week.

1st Ingredient:  Appropriate Clothing and Hydration
Warm Weather-It looks like it will be a warm first week. Our HVAC system is inconsistent so indoor temperatures can vary.  Label water bottles and layers of clothing with first and last name.

2nd Ingredient: Movement Before School
Walk to School or the Bus Stop Together-Morning movement prepares the brain for learning and provides a time for conversation and connection.  It's also a great way to meet new families along the way.  As you walk, generate a list of things your child is looking forward to (keep it positive-what we focus on grows). Because our parking lot and nearby roads can be so congested in the mornings, some parents drive part way and park 6 or 7 blocks from school in order to enjoy this special walking time with kids.

Remember that dogs are not allowed on school property (except service dogs) so if you walk to school, dogs and the person holding the leash will say goodbye at the sidewalk on 155th or 158th entrance and dogless children will continue into the school.

3rd Ingredient: Knowledge of Routines

Buses Drop Students Off Behind the School
Our buses are met by Mr. Tsakistos and Ms. Galante or members of the Structured Routines Center team.  Because of traffic on the playground in the morning, students are allowed to play under the covered area only.

If you bring your child to school, plan to arrive by 8:08am because 8:08 is  GREAT!  This allows ample time to relax a little in the gym, cafeteria, library or playground before walking to class at 8:25am.

4th Ingredient:  An Attitude that Kids Have "Got This" and will be Independent!

Pastries for Parents on the Stage
At 8:30, class will begin and parents and grandparents will leave the classroom so that teachers can teach and children can learn.  Feel free to join other parents in the cafeteria for pastries and conversation. 

We Practice Growth Mindset
Throughout the day,  children will be encouraged to practice a growth mindset.  Here is a little bit of information that adults might find helpful in supporting the shift from a fixed to growth mindset.  

Children will be encouraged practice good sportsmanship throughout the day too!

5th Ingredient:  More Knowledge of Routines
After seeing who is in your class and recess, LUNCH is the next most exciting part of the day.  Lunch time provides mid-day nourishment and a time to connect with friends.  Because this is a time for kids to grow in their interdependence, we ask that family NOT join children for lunch during the first few weeks of school.  

At the end of recess students will hear a "freeze whistle".  Kids will freeze ( modeled by our staff in the picture below) then listen for directions.
Students will line up then come inside to wash hands then go to the cafeteria.  Kids will be taught the routines and procedures for this before mid-day.  Students will bring lunch from home or purchase lunch from school.

If your child brings lunch from home, the lunch wagon will be in the hallway.  Kids will get their lunch then have a seat at the table with their teacher's name on it.

 If your child buys lunch, kids will need to have their number memorized OR pick up a lunch card (K-1) or  we will make a lunch number wrist band for older kids. Cards for younger kids are near the stage.

Next, children get a tray and milk.  If a child does not drink milk, water is available for pick up later near the salad bar.

After getting a tray and drink, children go into the kitchen and select one entree.   Sometimes kids have a difficult time deciding on ONE thing so families may want to review the choices the night before by visiting the Nutrition Services Website

Children must take an equivalent of 1/2 cup of fruits or vegetables at the salad bar. 

The next stop is the point of sale station.  This is where students scan their card (K and 1) or put in their PIN. The final stop is the condiment station where napkins, forks, spoons and other things are available.

Children sit at assigned tables and enjoy lunch with friends.

When it's time to clean up, students put forks in the fork bucket, spoons, in the spoon bucket, dump extra liquid, throw away trash and put empty trays in the kitchen window for washing.

During the day students will spend time learning.  During the week they may go to PE, Music, Library and technology for "specials" time.   Children will learn about a range of things and we will reinforce the importance of growing daily.

After School
With 500+ children leaving at once, we do over very best to support children and adults to keep pick up time calm.  After an intense 7 hours, tired kids need us to be positive and patient.  If you come to our parking lot, you may appreciate knowing some of the things we'll have taught your children during the day.

First graders wait for grown ups just outside the door to the cafeteria.

 Kindergarten students wait on the kindergarten porch.

Buses and day care vans pick students up from the playground.  Students will wait in the daycare van area (wallball court B) or near the post for their bus.

6th  Ingredient: Know What to Expect so You Plan Proactively for Success
Hot and Tired Kids Need Adults to Show Enthusiasm!
If it's 102 at the end of the school day and IF kids have been focused on doing their very best for the whole day, it's likely they will be tired and emotions will run strong.  From past years as a parent, teacher and principal, I know this gets worse before it gets better.  Tuesday kids will be giddy or goofy, Wednesday they'll be even more so and by Thursday afternoon they could be downright grumpy.  Think about rituals or routines you can have in place to help kids focus on staying positive and productive (regulated).  Just like adults, at the end of a long day, kids need a routine to transition from work to play. 

One of the things we will be teaching kids this year as if they are feeling off, to stop or HALT and think about what they are feeling.  Are they hungry, angry thirsty, lonely or tired?   How can those needs or feelings be addressed in positive productive ways? 

Hungry?  Get a snack--Where are the healthy snacks located?

7th Ingredient:  Positive Attitude-What we focus on grows!

The 2017-2018 school year promises to be the best year YET!  We are excited to be back and look forward to see the kids.  We have positive, enthusiastic staff members ready to care for kids and teach new things!

Enthusiasm is contagious!  Start an epidemic!

It's going to be a great year!


Teresa Clemens-Brower