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Monday, April 30, 2012

Cultural Celebration and Budget Update-May 1, 2012


 Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

After my regular home chores on Saturday, I spent my day reading letters from parents about what they hope for in next year’s classroom teacher.  As you can imagine, there were some recurring themes in the letters.  Most families hope their child will love school and learning.  Most hope their child will be challenged.  They hope for teachers who will recognize and build on their child’s strengths while having high expectations and providing clear guidance.  I recognized many of my own hopes and dreams for my children in your letters.  Thanks for sharing and rest assured that though I’m making decisions for 600+ children, I do try to embed my parent’s perspective in all that I do.

Now that we have collected parent input, we will be moving toward the next steps in planning for the 2012-2013 school year.  Last week, I received a tentative staffing allocation so my plan is to move forward with this information.  Our classroom teacher allocation for the upcoming year is 20.5.  This means we will have three sessions of half-day kindergarten, three first grade classrooms, three, second grade classrooms, three third grade classrooms, four fourth grade classrooms, four fifth grade classrooms and two Structured Routine Centers (SRC).  As far as support staff, we’ve been allocated one PE teacher, a half-time music position, and an instructional assistant for technology and library. Our instructional assistant allocation for recess supervision, English as a Second Language (ESL), and literacy support has been reduced.  Our media specialist position has been eliminated and a certified half-time teacher has been added to support kids struggling in math or reading.  Because Mr. Mori’s position was funded through the Nike Innovative School Leadership Fund and that grant ends this year, the administrative intern/student supervisor position will also be eliminated.

With so much change, I’m sure there will be many questions about everything from class size to if students will get to have special classes like library, PE, music or technology regularly.  Because many of you are so close with staff, you may also be wondering what this will mean for them since we are clearly overstaffed.  I hope to address some of these questions below.

Class size will increase and kids will have specials.  The good news is that, based on projections, our largest class will be about 33.  Earlier in the year, some of the predictions about class size had some classes up to 39 so 33 seems much more reasonable.  Based on projections our Class Size Committee, made up with teachers from each grade level and departments, made recommendations for how our allocated staff members should be assigned. Our class size range will be from 25-33.  The good news is that based on our allocations of specialist, we will get to have music, PE, technology, counseling lessons and library.  Music class will be reduced by half so will not happen as frequently as it does now.  Library time will still include check out and a story but the lessons taught by a certified teacher will not be part of the experience.  Technology time will remain much as it has this year with students assigned projects by the classroom teacher and supervised by an instructional assistant in the lab.  At this point, I’m not sure what the schedule will look like, but I’m confident that we will strive to do the best we can for our kids!

The people in our building will be changing as there are moves around the District.  Mrs. Clark has served students in the Beaverton School District for 34 years.  She will be retiring at the end of this school year.  She is ready to spend more time with her grown children, pursue her own hobbies and sports (including masters bowling, soccer and softball), and spend time in her garden.  She shared this news with students last week.  She has agreed to step in to help our future PE teacher, one who will likely be appointed by the District as so many positions are being reduced elsewhere, with the transition.  She knows that Sexton Mountain has an excellent reputation, so many will want to come here and we are sure to get an excellent replacement.

Mr. Morgan and his family will be relocating to central Washington.  He has served students in Beaverton for the last eight years as a second and third grade teacher at Sexton Mountain and McKay.  He is excited about moving closer to extended family.

Ms. Cunningham will be retiring from teaching in Beaverton but she has teaching adventures planned in far away places.  She has served students in the Beaverton School District for the past two decades.  She also taught around the United States and in London.  She excited about her next adventure.

Family additions have also made for some changes.  Mrs. Jenkins has decided to stay home with her new baby next year so has resigned her position and will not be returning to Sexton Mountain in the fall.  Britta Jaques is serving as her long-term sub, so is on a temporary contract that will end in June.  Mrs. Hiatt and Mrs. Loumena will be on leave through the end of the year as they welcome new family as well.  Karen Grant and Kathy Moore were introduced to families in these classes during conference week.   Mrs. Parson is also on a temporary contract that will end in June.

Mrs. Simmons, our literacy instructional assistant, has been offered a position at Portland State University, so will return to the field of technical writing in the fall.  She has served students for the past 6 years in the area of literacy and mathematics support.

Mrs. Ferraro has served in our library for the past 22 years and  she’s decided to retire to spend more time with her grandchildren. She has also offered to help her replacement get settled in the fall.

With remaining staff, we have done surveys to determine which grade levels teachers would prefer and we will be working to match teachers with classes in the upcoming weeks.  We are trying to be proactive and productive in preparation for the upcoming year but recognize that there may be staff moves throughout the summer as other schools are staffed and adjustments made.  If you attended the “Class Placement” meetings, you know that the contract coupled with individual teacher licensure makes for a clear process but may mean for readjustments district-wide throughout the summer.  There will likely be more changes and moves as well as introductions in the upcoming months and I plan to keep you posted as we have information.

With so much uncertainty, we are continuing to try to do everything we can to create a positive, calm climate focused on learning. Thank you for supporting our school through these next few difficult months as we go through changes. Thanks also for all you are doing for Staff Appreciation Week next week.  I know Lori Laraway has planned a magnificent celebration.  Your kind words and acts make a world of difference to our staff.

In addition to Staff Appreciation Week and the Carnival, we also have another special upcoming celebration.  On Tuesday, May 22 we will be having a special day of learning.  Our 2nd Annual Cultural Celebration is planned as an opportunity for our students to learn about the many cultures represented in the Sexton Mountain community.  This is a time for families to come in and share about their own culture.  We will have six different areas set up for children to visit sometime between 8:45am and 1:00pm.  We are looking for volunteers willing to share.  Please contact me if you would be willing to help with this special day.

Fondly,

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

Upcoming Events
·       May 1-Incoming Kindergarten Math Night-6:30-7:15pm
·       May 10-Signal to Noise Media Festival-7:00pm at Sunset Presbyterian Church
·       May 11-PTC Meeting at 9:30am
·       May 18-Carnival 6:30-8:30pm (Volunteers Needed)
·       May 22-PTC Taiko Assembly  (Primary grades at 10:00am, Intermediate Grades at 8:45am)
·       May 22-Cultural Celebration-8:45am-1:00pm)
·       May 22-Incoming Kindergarten Writing Night-6:30-7:15pm
·       May 22- GoogleDocs for Families Presented by Pam LeLand at 8:45am in the Computer Lab
·       May 25-Furlough Day-No School
·       May 31-Volunteer Appreciation Day
·       June 3-Hayhurst Triathlon
·       June 5- Intermediate Music Program at 6:30pm (DiResta, Stratton, Skiba, Shotola)
·       June 6- Intermediate Music Program at 6:30pm (Krueger, McConnell, Tanksley, Parson)
·       June 7-Kindergarten Music Program
·       June 8-Field Day-9:00-10:50 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, Yokom and AM K.)  and 1:00-2:45 (4th, 5th, PM and Full-Day K.and Burnett)
·       June 12-PBIS Assembly at 8:45am
·       June 12-Mt. Guide Picnic
·       June 13-Fifth Grade Party
·       June 13-Last Day of School
·       June 14-Teacher Workday
·       June 15-Furlough Day
·       June 22-Canfield Art Fair and BBQ (Please let us know if you have student artwork to display and would like to attend the BBQ with your child between 11:00am and 1:30pm.)
·        

Monday, April 23, 2012

Science and Sunshine-April 24, 2012


Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

Friday night we had a great turn out for Family Science Night.  Thanks to Grace Campbell for organizing such a special week for our students.  In addition to all of the hands on projects provided by Mad Science and facilitated by our helpful volunteers, we also had Lego Robotics demonstrations, and hundreds of interesting display boards.  Several students shared their projects with me.  Nihir’s project was inspired by Myth Busters and I now know that I can use root beer to clean my car’s exterior.  Kaleb shared theories about the differences between different types of citrus fruits’ ability to carry a current.  Joshua provided me with strategies for improving my Angry Birds score.  I enjoyed seeing the many ways our students engaged in science.  I also enjoyed seeing how our community responded to the special day.  Our friends from Canfield place viewed the projects and we had many extended family members present too.

Monday morning, kids were still talking about their Science Night adventures.  As I visited classrooms, students in Mrs. Loumena’s classroom were writing about the weekend.  Mr. Hayhurst’s students were doing the same.   Science and sun both made for interesting writing topics.  We also had a number of excited fifth graders Monday since many of the student’s projects were selected for viewing at the Signal-to-Noise Media Festival on May 10th hosted at Sunset Presbyterian Church. 

Because of conferences on Thursday and Friday, our teachers are busy packing a lot of learning into our three days of school this week.    Next week, Beaverton Rotary Club President, Ken Dailey, will serve as Principal for the Day.  Across the District, many community members will be learning more about the day-to-day operations of schools.  I am happy that community members will get to see our teachers teaching and students learning here at Sexton Mountain.  Great things are happening here for our kids!  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,

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

Upcoming Events
·      April 27-28-Parent Teacher Conferences-No School for Students
·      May 1-Incoming Kindergarten Math Night-6:30-7:15pm
·      May 10-Signal to Noise Media Festival-7:00pm at Sunset Presbyterian Church
·      May 11-PTC Meeting at 9:30am
·      May 18-Carnival 6:30-8:30pm
·      May 22-PTC Taiko Assembly  (Primary grades at 10:00am, Intermediate Grades at 8:45am)
·      May 22- GoogleDocs for Families Presented by Pam LeLand at 8:45am in the Computer Lab
·      May 25-Furlough Day-No School
 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Exciting Learning, Enrichment and Community Engagement-April 17, 2012


Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

At 8:30am Monday morning, students in Mrs. McConnell’s class were hard at work learning about the upcoming events of the week.  They were making plans for a very busy Wednesday.  OMSI will be here for a special assembly that day, then the class will be off to the Oregon Trail Interpretive center for a field trip.  Both of these special events are made possible thanks to our generous PTC.  Starting the day talking about the “extra enrichment” made for a special start.  Following the morning announcements, fourth graders dove quickly into their math lesson.  Students were analyzing strategies for finding the area and perimeter of different shapes.  Grayson shared the equation for finding perimeter and Mallory shared the equation for finding area.  Areeba noted the way the units need to be shown for each.  Hallie was able to share strategies for finding the area of triangles. Next, students started a game where they practiced these skills. 

As I walked back to the office, I came across Kaia and Alexa in the third grade area working on adding and subtracting fractions.  Kaia explained that the denominator for each problem was the same so it was simple addition or subtraction.

Throughout the school, kids were not only solving math problems but they were also explaining and defending their thinking about their work.  Many of our students have been bringing in their Science Fair projects this week and last and it’s amazing to see the depth of explanation and analysis on these projects.  I look forward to seeing the projects Friday.  Our Science Night coordinator, Grace Campbell,
has done an outstanding job of planning a special day and evening for our students.  Mad Science will have several hands on projects for students.  Thanks in advance to all who plan to help with set up, clean up and helping with all the small jobs that will make the experience so special for our students.  These enriching activities really do make a huge difference for our students.

Our PTC and families are doing so many things to make our school a special place to learn and grow. Last week, five houses opened their doors so that teachers could get to know our attendance zone a bit better while team building.  Thanks to the Robsons, Awads, Yans, Zimmermans, and Heavers for hosting “Amazing Race” stations. Teams spent a productive 40 minutes completing tasks and had great opportunities to think about clear parameters around assessment and the importance of inter-rater reliability.  Canfield Place also invited teams in for fun and staff enjoyed their special cheering section!

We have been partnering with Canfield for several projects.  Right now, volunteers come in weekly to work with students in the intermediate grades on math facts.  Canfield has invited us to also take part in a garden project and an Art Show.  More news will follow on the garden club but because the Art Show will take place after school gets out, I wanted to ask families to consider participating.  If you would like to participate, you would need to be able to attend the event with your child on Friday, June 22 between 11:30-1:30.  You would enjoy looking at the artwork displayed and join the residents and other students for a BBQ lunch. Up to 30 students can participate in this special event.  Please let me know if you are interested.

As I think of all the things that will take place between now and the end of June I am delighted by the many experiences our students will have in the upcoming weeks.  The week of June 3 for instance we have Mr. Hayhurst’s triathlon that many students participate in plus evening music performances for kindergarten, fourth and fifth grade and Field Day.  Between now and then we have OMSI and Taiko assemblies,  a Carnival, staff and volunteer appreciation functions and much more.  All the while, teachers will be teaching and learners will be learning. 

April 26 and 27 students will not come to school for regular classes so that teachers can meet with families for conferences.  This is the time the District has set aside for you to review your child’s plan and profile sheet.  By contract, teachers are given several hours to prepare for the conferences and that makes for a pretty tight schedule for the actual conferences.  Thank you in advance for respecting the scheduled time.  When families and teachers come together to discuss a child, it’s pretty exciting!  Our kids are so lucky to have so many caring adults in their lives.

Teachers are teaching and students are learning here at Sexton Mountain.  Great things are happening here for our kids!  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,


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

Silent Auction
Between now and April 20, we will have a silent auction to raise money for next year’s 5th Grade Biztown trip.  We have two beautiful adirondack chairs made at Biztown by our students that will go to the highest bidder on April 20.   The high bid is currently $100. 


Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·      Volunteers to review our Student Handbook and offer suggestions for improvement for next year

Classroom Placement Info
As we plan for the 2012-2013 school year, we are asking for parent input regarding the learning environment that fits your child.  If you desire, please write a letter commenting on the following points:
*Your child's learning style. 
*The type of teaching which best suits you child. Please do not list specific teacher names as teaching assignments have not been determined. 
*The type of classroom situation/environment you prefer. 
*Any special concerns that need to be considered.
Please drop letters by the office or send letter to Teresa_Clemens-Brower@beaverton.k12.or.us by April 28.  No letters will be accepted after April 28. 


Upcoming Workshops for Families
·      Reading Assessments Revealed-April 19 at 9:30am
·      GoogleDocs for Families Presented by Pam LeLand-May 22 at 8:45am

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Language of Math-April 10, 2012


Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

At 8:30am Friday morning, students in Ms. Hunt’s class were hard at work identifying equivalent fractions.  Using manipulatives they thought critically and solved the problems.  Thinking back to second grade, I don’t think I was asked to do such complex work and I’m certain that my attitude toward solving problems wasn’t nearly as positive as this group of second grade students.  I am certainly proud of our hard working students!  Those who arrived on time were fully engaged in the learning.

As stated in earlier newsletters, being late for school hurts a child’s learning.  Children can copy notes or make up assignments but they can never get back what’s most important:  the discussions, the questions, the explanations by the teacher and the thinking that makes learning come alive.  Thanks for your hard work in helping students be in class by 8:30 a.m. each day.

One of the things I notice about the learning that is happening in the classroom each day is the rich vocabulary development and discussion taking place.  In Ms. Hunt’s room for instance, students needed to know words like equvalent and fraction.  In Mrs. Hiatt’s class I noticed that kids knew words like trapezoid and equilateral triangle and were able to describe each and give examples. All fifth graders were using terms to compare algebraic relationships. 

Teachers are teaching and students are learning here at Sexton Mountain.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,

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

Silent Auction
Between now and April 20, we will have a silent auction to raise money for next year’s 5th Grade Biztown trip.  We have two beautiful adirondack chairs made at Biztown by our students that will go to the highest bidder on April 20.   The bidding sheet is in the office above the lunch moneybox.

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·       Volunteers to review our Student Handbook and offer suggestions for improvement for next year

Classroom Placement Info
As we plan for the 2012-2013 school year, we are asking for parent input regarding the learning environment that fits your child.  If you desire, please write a letter commenting on the following points:
*Your child's learning style. 
*The type of teaching which best suits you child. Please do not list specific teacher names as teaching assignments have not been determined. 
*The type of classroom situation/environment you prefer. 
*Any special concerns that need to be considered.
Please drop letters by the office or send letter to Teresa_Clemens-Brower@beaverton.k12.or.us by April 28.  No letters will be accepted after April 28. 

Upcoming Workshops for Families
·       Positive Behavior Support-Teach, Reinforce, Reteach-April 12 at 8:45am
·       Make and Take Math Games-Strategies for Keeping Skills Strong During the Summer -April 12 at 6:30pm
·       Reading Assessments Revealed-April 19 at 9:30am
·       GoogleDocs for Families Presented by Pam LeLand-May 22 at 8:45am