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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.

Twitter--Are you a Twitter user?  Follow us at

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