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Monday, November 9, 2015

Safety Drills, Student Behaviors, Learning Teams-November 10, 2015

Dear Sexton Mt. Families: 
Volunteers in the first grade area were curious about the group of my colleagues who visited classrooms last Thursday. Though the adults in the area noticed the increased observers, our first graders just kept working.  My Southside Principals’ Learning Team met with the purpose of improving our practice.  A learning team is a group of educators who regularly collaborate to analyze evidence of student performance to improve both student learning and instructional practices.  Teacher Learning Teams meet twice monthly after school for this very important work.  My group meets once a month and our focus is coaching for instructional improvement with an emphasis on Culturally Responsive Practices.  The Sexton Mt. first grade team was gracious enough to open their doors for our learning last week.  My team’s focus this time was on English Language Arts instruction.  We gathered information, analyzed the trends we saw across the team and I got some powerful strategies for providing feedback.  Thanks to the first grade teachers and students for allowing us to think about my learning. 

On Friday of last week we had a Safety Drill.  "It's great that it's sunny during your fire drill.  That was lucky!" During this fire drill we had many extra volunteers in our school because of a BizTown event.  The dry weather comment was heard multiple times. A fire drill on a sunny day wasn’t lucky.  Drills happen when it's dry so we don't have 533 soaked kids.  Soaked kids are uncomfortable and they don't learn when basic needs (like the comfort of dry clothes) aren't met.

LUCKILY, we control the timing of drills.  If there were a real need to evacuate immediately (all 533 students were out and accounted for in less than 3 minutes Friday), we would like to have grab and go supplies including rain gear.  Currently, we have items in large rolling trashcans so supplies can make it easily to the classroom porch but not down the stairs.  For his Eagle Scout project, Nicholas Boss has taken on making our emergency supplies mobile.  His plan is to make EMERGENCY BACKPACKS that staff and kids can grab and go.  Rain ponchos, snacks, water, and other things will be ready to grab and go at the completion of this project.   He has canvassed the community and is working to get what we need.  Learn more about his project at:

During the past six-months two of our families have had house fires. Thankfully, everyone got out okay. We practice drills at school and have a plan for a wide range of scenarios.  Does your family practice and have a plan for a wide range of strategies?  

How we practice at school may be different than your plan for home.  It will be one of the many differences between HOME and SCHOOL .  How we play at school may also be different than what happens at home.  When I was a child, my brother and I spent hours playing outside and we almost always ended up playing a game where the sticks we found became swords or guns and our actions resembled a wild west film.  Like in the picture below, my brother usually had a toy that often resembled a weapon in one hand.
  My childhood took place  long before before Sandy Hook, Columbine, Thurston High or other acts of violence around our nation had schools rethinking how we play at school and the words and actions that are simply not allowed here. 

I met with a group of second graders recently and had them look at these pictures and answer the following questions.   What does the audience do at each even? How do audience members behave? Why?

We compared different types of events with behaviors in a classroom and talked about how behaviors change depending on where you are and the purpose of the event, as well as what others are doing.  Most of the second graders knew that you clap differently at a symphony than a Timbers game.  Though the purpose of both might be entertainment, the expectations of those at the event, changed how one might respond.

We applied the idea that behavior expectations change based on location.   

Wrestling at home may be okay but wresting at school is not. We talked about how certain words, when used in a school setting, result in different consequences than they would at home or elsewhere.   Talking about a game where we hope the other team “kills them” may be okay in some spots but at school, it is absolutely not okay to say “my team will kill you” or “I will kill you”.    Our students seem to understand this concept HOWEVER, for some kids, it’s very hard to transition from one place to the next and therefore, some words or behaviors should not be used anywhere in order to ensure they don’t happen at school. 

Historically the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break we see an increase in student’s unsafe, disrespectful or irresponsible behaviors.  We know that if we pre-teach, reteach and reinforce positive expectations, we can make a difference.  This year, it seems that the behaviors typical of December are already appearing so I ask that families partner with us in getting a jump on letting children know our expectations.  Additionally, keep in mind that routines, sleep patterns, and a healthy balanced diet are more important than ever as days get shorter, colder, and darker.

As the mornings and our parking lots are get darker, I want to remind families that getting to school on time and ready to learn sets the stage for the day. We 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. 

Thank you for sharing your very special children with us and supporting the learning that happens in our school every day.


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

Thank you!
*Thanks to Lindsey Zobrist for doing such an amazing job of helping our school access Donor’s Choose grants. 

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.
A volunteer is needed to organize our storage space in Portable 6 into a useable learning space.  If you like to inventory, pack or label, please email for directions.
Upcoming Events
Nov. 11-No School Veterans’ Day
Nov. 12-Parent Teacher Club (PTC) meeting at 3:05pm
Nov. 25-School Closed
Nov. 26-Thanksgiving Holiday-No School
Nov. 27-School Closed
Nov. 30-Grading Day-No School for Students
Dec. 21-Winter Break Begins
Jan. 4-School Resumes

No Dogs on Campus -Service Dogs Only at Sexton Mt. School
animals, even when on leashes, coupled with 500+ sometimes-unpredictable children, can create unsafe conditions even with the nicest dogs.

8:08 is GREAT
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. 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. 

Yellow Curb Drop Off Zone
IF students are able to independently get in and out of the car on the passenger side, they can be dropped off 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. 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. 

Remind 101--Text @drcleme to 81010 to receive text messages regarding “breaking news” for our school.
District Goal for 2010-2015:  All students will show continuous progress toward their personal learning goals, developed in collaboration with teachers and parents, and will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success.
The Beaverton School District 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. 

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