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. (Teresa_Clemens-Brower@beaverton.k12.or.us)
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
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.