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Monday, September 28, 2015

Reading IS thinking, Welcome Ms. Lawson, Graditude, and Reminders-Sept. 29, 2015

The purpose of today’s newsletter is to:
·       Share a bit of information about the importance of developing THINKING READERS
·       Introduce our new fourth grade teacher
·       Remind you about parking lot CHANGES
·       Remind you about safety-based snack policy CHANGES
·       Show appreciation for our amazing community members

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

More than once a concerned parent has told me, “my child reads beautifully but doesn’t understand or remember a thing he/she has read!”  Reading is a complex skill made up of many small skills and habits of mind that go far beyond simply decoding text.  My number one goal this year is to support teachers and families as they support students in building the range of critical thinking skills needed in order to be strong readers AND to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to fall in love with close reading.  If  our children love reading they will spend more time reading and this practice will increase their proficiency.  Throughout the school year, I will give you information about what we are doing to develop the habits of mind our kids need in order to become THINKING readers and thereby have futures full of options.  I will share the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading and show you what they look like at the elementary level.

Reading Anchor Standard 1-Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
As I visited classrooms Monday morning, students were hard at work! 

Some students were sharing their reading log.  They told others about what they’d read over the weekend.  By sharing, they were thinking about what they had read and telling the most important parts. 
Some students were reading with a reading response log nearby.  They had sticky notes  and were ready to make predictions or record inportant events as they read. 

Some students were working to find books of interest.  They thought about their interests and reading level and picked books they thought they’d enjoy.  By picking the right book, students will read for a longer period and they will build skills and stamina.  In all grade levels, students as a group are working on building Reading Stamina.  One kindergarten class is charting their progress.  Following the reading time, kids talk about what they learned from the books.  Students are realizing how much they can learn from illustrations, photos AND words as they spend time engaged in text.  It’s an exciting time at Sexton Mt. School!

You can help with this process at home by:
·       Read aloud to your child—Your modeling teaches them so much and provides a shared experience for discussion. 
o   Share not only the words but your thinking about the words and how you draw conclusions based on what you’ve read.  You might try some of these sentence frames to get you started.
§  The author said ___ which tells me…
§  The author said ___ which suggests….
§  The author said ____ which shows…..
§  I believe ____ because according to the text it states…..
§  I feel____ because according to the text it states…..
§  I think____ because according to the text it states…..
o   Invite your child to read to you their favorite parts of what they are reading.  Ask why they liked that part the most.  Help them build the language to describe their thoughts about books and let them know it’s okay not to love every part of every book.
o   Encourage your child to think about why they stick with some books and not others so they can put words to their feelings about characters, author’s style, word choice and more.  Model this for them as well. 
o   Try to visit the library or bookstore on a regular basis just to show all that’s available and get them talking and thinking about books.  As they select books to check out or purchase, have them tell you what they expect from the book based on their predictions.  Ask them, “Why this book?”

Welcome New Staff

I wanted to introduce you to the newest member of the Sexton Mt. family.  Stephanie Johnson Lawson (Ms. Lawson) has joined the 4th grade team. We were allocated an additional 4th grade teacher when our numbers grew to 33.  Students met Ms. Lawson last week and started in class with her today. 

For the 24 students who changed class 14 days into the school year this could be an emotional time.  I have been so proud of how our children and families have worked through the transition.  Thanks for your positive support even when things are different than what we expect.

Thanks also to the families of all fourth grade students who were so patient and caring during the time of anticipated change and the change itself.  The complexity of taking into consideration the needs, gifts, talents and unique qualities of 96 children was quite a task indeed, so your support through the change was very much appreciated.

Every single day I am filled with awe by what I see in your children.  The future of our nation is in school today and I’m so excited that the kind, caring, creative, compassionate, friendly, interesting, interested and resilient children you send to school every day.  Thank you for sharing your children with us. 


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

Reminder-Parking Lot Changes and Procedures
*Left Lane-Thru Lane
*Right Lane-Drop Off Lane
*Drop Off along Yellow Curb Front Circle AND along the curb near K and 4th Grade

Snack Safety Reminder

·       Peanut and tree nut products will no longer be allowed in classrooms. (see possible nut free snack ideas below)
·       Handwashing at home before school is always good but it is especially important if students eat peanut or tree nut products for breakfast. 
·       Handwashing after lunch is important if students had peanut or tree nut products for lunch.
Nut Free Snack Options include *any fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, pears, plums, clementine’s, strawberries, melons, berries, etc.) * Fresh vegetables (baby carrots, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, broccoli, pepper strips, etc.) * *Yogurt, String cheese or other cheese * Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Vegetable Thins (all flavors)* Saltines, Oyster crackers* Breton brand crackers* Goldfish crackers* Annie’s Bunnies* Graham crackers, Graham cracker sticks* Teddy Grahams or Teddy Graham character brand
Please note:
Food labels/ingredients may change over time, so it is always recommended that you read the label before purchasing snacks. Please read labels carefully to make sure that products are nut free. This includes labels that read “May contain traces of peanuts/nuts”.

Thank you!  WE can’t do the important work of educating our school alone.  WE appreciate our many volunteers and generous donors of materials and time.
Thanks to Lindsay Zobrist for making many phone calls for us as we worked to track down the best teacher for our fourth grade team.
Thanks to Holly, Cynthia, and Chloe for helping set up our new fourth grade classroom.
Thank you to the Paterson and McCloud families for donating kid’s magazines for our cafeteria book bins.
Thanks to Roger Goliver and Karen Stratton for sharing their telescope with families Sunday night. 

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.

Organizer Needed—If you are a great organizer, we would love to have you organize a work party to get our remote work room (near the 4th grade pod) and office workroom organized and easy to use.  This job would include organizing the supplies, labeling cupboards and making best use of the space and materials we currently have.  Please let Mrs. Z know if you would like to take on part or all of this project.

Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.

Read to Me volunteers are needed.  Please email if you need more information.
Clothes Closet Volunteers Needed-Sexton Mountain Elementary will be staffing the BSD Clothes Closet on November 4th, 2015 from 9:30am to 4:15pm. All adults--including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors, community members (but no kiddos, please)--are welcome to sign up for one or all time slots, no background check needed. We are in need of a minimum of 4-5 people per time slot, but more are welcome as well. Visit for a simple online signup page.  Spread the word and join us in this rewarding volunteer opportunity to help children in our community!  The Clothes Closet is located in a portable building off the west parking lot of the Beaverton School District Office at 16550 SW Merlo Road.  Those arriving at 9:30am will receive an orientation from the program director, and all following time slots will receive instruction from the group before them during the 15 minutes overlapping the time slots.  For more information about the Clothes Closet, visit their FAQ page at For any further questions please email Erin Eberlein
Upcoming Events
Sept. 29-Ice Cream Social Night for Ms. Lawson’s Class (our new 4th grade classroom)
Oct. 8- Fourth Grade Back to School/Curriculum Night-6:30-7:30pm
Oct. 1-Assembly at 8:30am-Students will go directly to the cafeteria at 8:25am.
Oct. 9-Teacher Learning Day (a.k.a. Professional Development Day)-No School for Students

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Change, Change, Change-Sept. 15, 2015

The purpose of today’s newsletter is to:
·       Inform you about a great volunteer opportunity
·       Inform you about parking lot CHANGES
·       Restate parking lot expectations and encourage you to share these with anyone who might visit our school
·       Inform you about snack policy CHANGES due safety
·       Indroduce new staff
·       Remind you about our dogs on campus policy
·       Compare melt downs and tantrums

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

As I visited classrooms Monday morning, I got the overall feeling that students are back in school mode.  All were showing student behaviors.  They were listening, following directions and working independently. 

Volunteer Opportunity

Our volunteers also started the week strong.  There were several in the Kindergarten pod doing the VERY important job of reading to children.   There is a growing body of evidence that supports the importance of students being read to prior to formal reading instruction happening.  By the time a 5 year old come to kindergarten, we hope that they will have a background of 500+ books that have been shared with them.  This exposure to so many books provides them with the foundation for literacy.  By listening to books,  they know that reading makes sense, that it’s fun, is done for many reasons, and there are patterns.  By having the big picture of the joy of reading, it then makes more sense to study the parts of reading. 

If  the overall reading experience were a great chocolate chip cookie and kids had lot of cookie experience, it would then been easier to understand the importance of quality ingredients (like baking soda or butter) that might not be as engaging or meaningful if presented in isolation.  If students know great books and the purpose and joy of reading, then phonics or punctuation marks will be more meaningful.

In order for all kids to be ready, we are hoping to FLOOD our kinders with great reading experiences through a Read to Me program.  If you have 15 minutes to spare, I ask that you consider reading to a child during any of theses time blocks (8:30-9:30, 9:45-10:40, 11:30-12:30, 1:20-3:00).  In the Kindergarten pod there is a "Read to Me Volunteers" station between Ms. Leyva and Ms. Hiatt's classrooms. The station includes a log book, bag with 10 books, and guidance for volunteers.  

Parking Lot Changes (changes underlined) and Procedures

Getting to school on time and ready to learn sets the stage for the day.  We want to practice safe habits now so habits are well in place when the rain starts and we tend to have a more congested parking lot.  We also want to teach safe, independent habits in the loving, safe environment of the school so that children learn the habits of mind to navigate locally so they’ll be ready to go into the world later in life. 

Walk to School or the Bus Stop for a Brain Boost—Studies have found that morning movement can boost mood for up to 12 hours (Sibold, 2010) and my personal observation of students who walk to school confirms that morning exercise not only makes for a more positive mood but seems to increase curiosity as well.  If you typically drive to school, consider parking a few blocks from school and walking with your child the last few blocks.  Side by side, walking and talking while observing the world around might be one of the experiences your child remembers the most later in life.

8:08 is GREAT-Please know that supervision in the cafeteria begins at 8:05am and at 8:10 students can also go to the gym, playground or library, if space is available.  Traffic is very light at 8:05am.   It is a perfect time to bring students to school.  By getting to school at that time, it gives kids a chance to settle into the school day a bit before instruction begins (like getting to a movie before it begins).  Know that instruction begins promptly at 8:30am.  When the 8:25am bell rings, students walk directly to the classroom.  Teachers take attendance electronically at 8:30am then begin instruction.  If a child arrives after the 8:30am bell, the child will be marked absent.  As to not interrupt instruction, children not in class at 8:30am need to get a pink slip from the office.  When they show this to the teacher, the teacher knows that the office has changed the electronic record to show the child is at school. 

Please make being on time and ready to learn a habit.  Children who are frequently tardy in elementary school are more likely have poor grades in middle school, drop out in high school, and even experience employment issues later in life.  Plan ahead for congestion and let kids know that the start of the day is a lot like the scheduled departure of an airplane to Disneyland in that if you arrive late, you may miss something important, no matter what the excuse. 

Because our parking lot can get CONGESTED it is important to follow the established traffic patterns.  IF students are able to independently get in and out of the car on the passenger side, they can be dropped off curbside.   Please pull as far forward as possible when dropping students along the yellow curb.   There is no longer a bus lane so cars can pull along the curb to drop students at any point along the yellow curb.  Students will exit the car on the curb side while drivers remain at the wheel then vehicles will pull safely into the through lane. 

Cars should pull forward to the end of the curb if there is room.  The daycare van pictured below is a perfect example of this!  If cars pull forward like this, we are able to have multiple cars at a time unload children and this makes for a faster drop off.  Children should only get out of the car through the door closest to the curb and drivers should remain at the wheel.

Notice how the cars pictured have students exiting only on the passenger side.  They’ve left just enough room between cars to easily pull away from the curb and into the imaginary lane that runs parallel to the drop off lane, making for a smooth traffic flow.  Put your car in park while your child gets out then wait to pull away until the child is on the curb.  This allows the driver to be sure that cords on jackets or backpack parts aren’t trapped in the car door.

Once on the sidewalk, students will stay on the building side of the yellow like as they walk to the entry doors.  Students enter through the door closest to the cafeteria then go to the cafeteria, gym, library or playground until 8:25am.   At 8:25, the front doors will be open and students may go directly to class.

IF students are not yet able to be dropped curbside independently, drivers should park in a legal parking space then help the child out of the car and walk them across the crosswalk to the building.  The child can then go to the cafeteria, gym, library or playground until 8:25am. If adults come into the building with children, they need to enter through the front door then go to the office to sign in and get a visitor or volunteer badge.

If you park in the parking lot or along 155th or behind the school on 158th, it’s important to park in a legal space.  Teach your child pedestrian safety skills they will need in order to be independent someday.

Please be patient and follow the law.   One of our parents snapped the picture below showing where a car had parked on 155th Avenue in front of the school.  By not parking legally, traffic was essentially stopped.  Our neighbors behind the school have reported cars parked in the no parking zone on 158th and expressed concern about how this is not only illegal but creates blindspots for kids who may be crossing the street.   Our staff members DO NOT direct traffic on public streets but we can report dangerous or illegal behaviors to Beaverton City Police just as you can.     Check out the BSD Public Safety webpage for links:

Your children are dear to us and we want to maximize our time with them.  Making sure they get to school safely and are in class by 8:30am when instruction starts is important for everyone.

Snack Safety

Because more and more students in our school have severe nut allergies, we take hand washing and snacking seriously!    We have three policies we want to emphasize with an additional explanation for each below.

1-Peanut and tree nut products will no longer be allowed in classrooms.

2-Handwashing at home before school is always good but it is especially important if students eat peanut or tree nut products for breakfast. 

3-Handwashing after lunch is important if students had peanut or tree nut products for lunch.

Strict avoidance of peanut/nut products is the only way to prevent a life threatening allergic reaction.  If exposed to peanut or tree nut products through contact or ingestion, those allergic may develop a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency medical treatment. 

In order to avoid accidental ingestion, students are NEVER allowed to share food at school.  We emphasize sharing so much in other areas this is a difficult lesson for some to understand but it's an essential practice.  

In order to avoid accidental contact, we ask that all children wash hands BEFORE coming to school.    If your child has eaten peanut or nut products prior to coming to school, please be sure your child’s hands have been thoroughly washed prior to entering the school. Nut butter on toast, for example, can sometimes get on cheeks so make sure faces are clean too.  

In order to avoid accidental contact, we ask that children bring only nut-free snacks into the classroom. Students often snack as they work so nut products could come into contact with pencils, books or other shared supplies leaving an unsafe residue behind.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best snacks for children to bring but a list is attached of the many other snacks as well.  Please have your child pack his or her snack in the front part of the backpack separate from lunch and for younger students, you may even want to label it “snack” so they know what is intended for the classroom snack.

At lunch, we expect kids to do their best to keep hands to themselves and never share food. We will expect students who are allergic to employ safe practices like putting a napkin or placemat on the table to make sure that foods they eat don't come into contact with possible allergens.  All children wash hands before entering the cafeteria.  If students eat nut products for lunch, we expect they will wash hands after lunch too so they have removed all nut traces before returning to class.  For some classrooms with especially sensitive children, students will have all children wash hands with soap and water before they enter the classroom.

Know that our students with severe allergies are expected to be diligent and not make assumptions that what the will come into contact with in the world around this is entirely allergen-residue free.  As we prepare students to for College and Career Readiness by being prepared to THINK-KNOW-ACT-GO our students with allergies will need to have the skills and habits necessary to navigate their world.  All students need to be mindful of their impact on others and how to help those around them through their actions.  Learning these important lessons early in life will make it easier for all kids to navigate locally and globally later. 

On a personal note, as a mom and aunt, I am glad that my own children had experience in thinking about the health needs of others before they went off to college.  As they’ve encounter special friends and roommates, their early practice has come in handy. I was surprised by the tenderness of one of my son's decision when he made the choice to give up nuts (even his favorite almond Kisses) when he was dating someone with life-threatening allergies.  Though peanut butter is a staple in our home, when my nieces and nephews come from Florida each summer, we remove all of it from our cupboards before they come since I add peanut butter to so many of our dinner recipes by habit.  

We want to do our best to prove a safe environment for our students and we thank you for partnering with us in this effort. Though our efforts we hope to teach healthy habits that will last a lifetime.  

Welcome New Staff
I wanted to introduce you to some new members of the Sexton Mt. family.  Many are pictured with their own families doing things they love.

Jeff Anderson will supervise students on the playground on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-noon and drive bus 163 before and after school daily.

Colleeen Melendrez will also supervise students on the playground from 9:30-noon and drive bus 164 before and after school.

Ryan Cutsforth will serve as a crossing guard on Nora and 155th before and after school.  He will serve students in Ms. Burnett’s class during the school day.

Margaret Long joined the kindergarten team. Her family are self-proclaimed Disney fanatics.

Megan Smith was on leave last year and returns this year as a member of our kindergarten team.  She enjoyed time at the beach with her daughter last summer.

Trina Simkins-Moore is our intervention teacher. Her family enjoys swimming.

Karalyn Galante is our music teacher.  She will see each class once every 4 days for music instruction.  She enjoys spending time out doors being silly with her girls.

Carli Bates (not pictured) is also a music teacher.  We will share her with Cooper Mt. School.  She will see each class once every 8 days for music instruction

Jill Lew will teach PE.  We will share her with Cooper Mt. School.  She will see each class once every 8 days for music instruction.  She enjoyed hiking in the Tetons with her family last summer.

Chelsea Sanderson will serve as an instructional assistant, playground supervisor and crossing guard.  She enjoyed a trip to Disney World last summer

Ryan Johnson will be student teaching with Kristin Antich in first grade.

MacKenzie Spencer will do her student teaching this year with Marcia Frame, Ashlee Rice and Amanda Burnett

Diane Holste is our new secretary.

New Names but Familiar Faces
Sue Mills got married over the summer and now goes by Sue Knapp. 

Ashlee Yokom also got married this summer and now goes by Ashlee Rice.

Dogs on Campus
My dog Lilly is the best dog in the whole world. Every day she wants to come to school with me to see the kids but I remind her, "Service Dogs Only at Sexton Mt. School”.  Thank you for leaving your pets home too.  Unpredictable animals, even when on leashes, coupled with 500+ sometimes-unpredictable children, can create unsafe conditions even with the nicest dogs (like Lilly).

Meltdowns and Tantrums
As I visited classrooms last week, I came across two first graders near the kindergarten pod.  They matter-of-factly told me that someone was having a hard time in the bathroom near the pink pod and was being helped by an adult so they were using a different restroom.”  I listened for a minute and could hear that they were indeed correct.  A child was having a meltdown in the restroom and was being helped by staff just as they staff had been trained.  It’s important that our families realize that our school is made up of a wide range of students. All students have unique ways of doing school.  Some of the typical school behaviors are familiar to you and some may be different.  Because our students learn by being surrounded by supportive adults and the adults feel more supported when others are supportive around them, I want to share a great article comparing sensory-processing issues and the meltdowns sometimes associated with them and tantrums.  Please know that our students have meltdowns and tantrums.   

Thank you for sharing your very special children with us and supporting the learning that happens in our school every day.  I look forward to seeing you Thursday night for Back to School night but I also hope we visit regularly throughout the year. 


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

Thank you!
Thanks to Aubrey for organizing a small neighborhood book drive for our school.
Thanks to Nicole Moes for making Mondays a recycling day in our cafeteria.
Thanks to all who helped this week and last with kindergarten and first grade lunch time.
Thanks to Generations Church for setting up classrooms in August.

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.
Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.
Read to Me volunteers are needed.  Please email if you need more information.
Upcoming Events
Sept. 17-Back to School/Curriculum Night
6:00-6:25-Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers Present in Classrooms
6:30-6:55-Second and Third Grade Teachers Present in Classrooms
7:00-7:25-Fourth and Fifth Grade Teachers Present in Classrooms
Also visit our information fair in the gym.

Facebook-Are you on Facebook?  Stay connected by liking the Principal CB’s Facebook page. at

Remind 101--Text @drcleme to 81010 to receive text messages regarding “breaking news” for our school.

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