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Monday, September 29, 2014

Routines, Safe Kids, What Makes Us Special-September 30, 201

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                       

Last week I shared that one of the best parts of working in an elementary school  is getting to see the wide range of  learners.  Another great thing about working in an elementary school is how often I get to step into different roles.  Though my title is principal,  I get to do just about anything that needs to be done.  Last week I got to step into the role of secretary for a few hours and changing my perspective helped me to better understand why some of our procedures are so very important.

I wanted to share my key learning with you regarding attendance, late kids and informing the office if your child will be gone.

CALL THE ATTENDANCE LINE IF YOUR CHILD WILL NOT BE IN CLASS BY 8:30am.  You can find the number on the lovely school magnet the PTC provided or put the number in your phone now so you’ll have it handy (503-259-7635). MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD IS AT SCHOOL BY 8:20AM
·       Safety is our number one goal.  Knowing that each child is accounted for is our first step in school safety. Our school attendance system helps us know who is here and who is not.  We’ve learned from local and national missing children cases that notifying families early in the day if kids don’t show up is very important.  Here is how the process works for us:
o   Teachers take attendance electronically at 8:30am.
o   Any child arriving at or after 8:30am gets a pink tardy slip from the office and their name, teacher’s name and arrival time are marked.
o   At 8:31ish, staff check the attendance line (503-259-7635) and tardy list then make changes in the online system to show which children are accounted for.  If  families have left a message about a child’s whereabouts, the process goes much more quickly.  If we have no or few tardy students, the process also goes much more quickly.  During this time, staff are still attending to urgent needs (bloody noses and knees and sick kids) so these things can interrupt or slow this process. 
o   Next, staff attempt to track down children who have yet to be accounted for.  Again, urgent needs can also interrupt or slow the process.  On average we have about 15 students not in class each day.  During flu season the number can be much larger.  If families have called the attendance line  (503-259-7635) staff can do this much more quickly.
o   Finally, the automated system continues notifying families. 

On the day I got to serve in the secretary’s role 87.5% of absent children were accounted for because families had called us.  Even though it was a rainy day, only 3 students were late to school.  Because I don’t know how to make the changes in the attendance system,  Becky Douvris tracked down the children we hadn’t heard from (all while taking care of headaches, blood and bandages) and the I.T. department quickly made the changes for us.  I am so thankful that kids showed up on time AND parents had called in for those who were sick. 

I noticed the importance of the whole Sexton Mountain team from my perspective in the office.   I am thankful for the volunteers who were in for Passport Club and other things.  I don’t get to see the morning routine from the office perspective so I was thrilled to see adults helping other adults sign in and get visitor’s stickers.  In the main hallway, I even saw a parent direct another adult to the sign in clipboard when the adult was ready to walk the child he was dropping off to the classroom.  I noticed neighbors delivering a late lunch, extended family dropping off homework, and grandparents come in to volunteer.  I noticed volunteers showing genuine care for kids as they came in after a mishap on the playground.  A genuine, “I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well” acknowledged the child’s discomfort until staff were able to deal with the situation.  Our school is as special as it is because WE work together. 

Once again, I was reminded that my white, female, Oregonian perspective is just that;  MY PERSPECTIVE.  It is by no means the right perspective or the only perspective.  I feel fortunate to learn about others’ perspectives and realize that when I push myself to better understand the perspectives of others, I grow and change in positive ways.  I value diversity and realize that my responses to the interactions I described above can demonstrate this value.  In fact, one of our District pillars is EQUITY.  WE EMBRACE EQUITY. 
  • Student success will not be predicted based on race, ethnicity, family economics, mobility, gender, sexual orientation, disability or initial proficiencies.
  • Diversity and bilingualism are honored as assets.
The diversity of the Sexton Mountain learning community makes it extra special. We have VERY SPECIAL KIDS from very SPECIAL FAMILIES.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to continue to share information  about who WE are and what we do. 

Students in our school come from many types of families. Some kids have one parent and some have two parents. Some kids have zero parents so live with grandparents.  Some kids have a mom and dad.  Some kids have foster parents.  Some have a mom and dad plus step-mom and/or step-dad.  Some kids have two moms.  Some kids have two dads.  Some students have a deceased parent.  The combinations are endless and the differences vast but the similarities even more important.  Though we have many different types of families, all of our kids have families who want them to succeed. 

I am proud to be part of a district that recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups.  It is the policy of the Beaverton School District that there will be no discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, marital status, age, veterans' status, genetic information or disability in any educational programs, activities or employment.   We expect students to be respectful, safe and responsible at Sexton Mountain. 


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

Thank you!
·       Thanks to Tristan Kerbo for sorting and putting away all reader board letters.
·       Thanks to Lindsay Zobrist for helping teachers write grants.
·       Thanks to the Ruelle family for noticing vandalism on the playground and covering it up before students returned on Monday.
·       Thanks to Heidi Elliott and team for successfully running the first Passport Club check of the year.

       We won’t disrupt class learning time for late deliveries.  Let kids know if they forgot lunches in the morning and you plan to deliver them, lunchpails will wait for kids on the late lunch cart so they should check there.
       Please continue to update the office with any email, phone or emergency contact info changes.
       Are you on Facebook?  Stay connected by liking the Principal CB’s Facebook page at
       Remind 101 is an app that allows me to send texts to those who have signed up.  Text @drcleme to (971) 340-2104.   Urgent news will be shared this way. 
       Are you a Twitter user?  Follow us at

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
       Volunteer jobs are sometimes posted in the workroom.  If you have a few minutes to spare, check out the back counter and see if you can knock out a task.  From sorting reader board letters to making copies, all these little tasks add up to make our school run efficiently.
       Volunteer needed to create a poster for the playground to notify students when the Play Structure is closed due to weather.  Let Mrs. C.B. know if you can do this job. Materials can be sent home via backpack mail
       Volunteers needed to sort through and change out books in the cafeteria reading boxes.  This can be done anytime between 8:30-11:00 or 1:10-3:05.


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