March 17, 2014

By Allan  

Hello Everyone,

It’s almost Spring Break and not that I’m counting (my wife is the one who told me this) but there are only eleven weeks left in the school year!

Twelve items of note this week:

• Design Team Updates– We had a good turnout for the focus groups meeting last week, where staff looked at six specific areas of the new building (classrooms, specialist spaces, library, gym, music and office). The attached files are the starting points each focus group worked with, so most of these areas underwent changes over the course of the meeting. Probably the biggest news to come out of this meeting was that in the general education classrooms, the coat closet is now gone. The alternative that teachers proposed was to move the student cubbies to the back of the room, but with some sort of sliding door (made of magnetic white boards) that can cover the cubbies during the day and can then function as usable wall space. Without a a separate coat closet, the classroom will be smaller since the closet was considered a separate room that added square footage, but the trade off is teachers won’t have to deal with an unsupervised area in their classrooms. To give perspective on the classroom size, the new classrooms will be slightly larger than the classrooms in the west wing (Rooms 6-10) and slightly smaller than the room in the east wing (Rooms 10-18). Overall, it seemed like a very productive meeting and I’ll share the updated plans once the architects give them to us.

On an unrelated note, here’s a clever life-hack we might be able to use in the new building if you ever feel your classroom is too cold. :)


• All-School Sing-a-Long, Thursday, 9:10-9:40 – Attached is the assembly map for Thursday’s All-school Sing-a-Long with Mr. Adee. Amber and Mellissa had the excellent idea of matching up Buddy classrooms, so the map should have every class matched up with their appropriate cross-age-buddy classroom, where your classes can mix together.

• CLC Hiring Updates – You’ve probably already seen Byron Dudley and Katie Gates subbing in the CLC, but ESS has now officially hired them into their EA positions. Please officially welcome them to Howard!

• TSS Sub Update – You may also have seen our TSS substitute, Sam Bucher, in Room 12 this past week. He will be filling in for James until a permanent person can be hired. Remember to use to put in a request or call the CIS Help Desk at x7777.

On a related topic, schools are going to be allowed to augment their TSS time next year and this is something Howard had always done in the past, which I think we’d be wise to do again next school year.

• PTO Meeting, Tuesday at 6:00 – This Tuesday at 6:00 PM is the March PTO meeting. It’s always nice to have a staff rep or two there if anyone can take the time to attend. Hope to see you there!

• No Staff Meeting and March 21st PD Update – I’ve emailed this out earlier, but for next week we will not meet on Tuesday for a staff meeting. I can shift the two business items I had to the 21st. If you have any “Others” that should be put on the agenda for the 21st, please let me know before the meeting.

The agenda for March 21st has two main topics, which will be Part 2 of Number Talks (please bring your Number Talks book and give it a try with students before the meeting) and also some sharing of information about working with Yong Zhao on some exciting program possibilities. My original hope was to have Yong come to this meeting, but he is out of the state consulting that week. However, he is going to be able to come to the April 3rd Design Team Meeting, which I would like all teachers to attend. To compensate teachers for coming to an additional meeting in April, I’m going to drastically shorten our PD time for the 21st.

Principals are supposed to have 5 hours of PD and give teachers 2.5 hours prep along with a 30 minute lunch, but for us I’m going to do 2 to 2.5 hours of PD and the rest of day will be yours, but with the expectation folks will come to the Design Team Meeting on Thursday, April 3rd (at least for the first hour, with time after 3:30 being voluntary).

EAs are welcome to join in on the March 21st or April 3rd meetings. Remember that the EA Extravaganza will also be happening the morning of the 21st, 8:00 to 11:35 at the Ed Center. This Extravaganza is an optional event. I’ve heard great things about last year’s Extravaganza, but use your discretion as to how best to use your time this day. If you are working in the building, be sure to connect with your primary cooperating teacher for to how you can best help out this day.

And a final repeat, if anyone would like a copy of Yong Zhao’s latest book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, I’d be happy to buy it if you’re interested in reading it. It’s very much a big picture type of book and not a hands-on, how-to book, but it’s a terrific read and presents some very exciting and innovative educational models outside of the dominant paradigm (Including High Tech Elementary). Just let me know if you’d like me to order you the paperback or Kindle version of the book.

Let me know if you have any agenda items or if you have any questions.

• Section 504 Q and A – Last week the District was found non-compliant for Child Find under section 504 and IDEA. “Child find” is the process of locating and identifying students with disabilities. Under Section 504, school districts must annually identify and locate all Section 504 qualified children who are not receiving a FAPE and take appropriate steps to notify their parents and guardians. Principals were asked to communicate with staff that that anytime a parent requests an evaluation for 504 or SPED we need to document it. Further, we need to make decisions related to whether we believe a student should be considered, in a planning meeting. Let me know if you have any questions on this.

• CIS Director Change – 4J’s CIS Director, Peter Tromba, has accepted a job at the Oregon Education Investment Board. His new job starts immediately, but he will continue to work part-time as Technology Director until June 30. The process of finding a new director will be starting very soon.

• Kids in Transition to School Program Description – 4J has been wanting to get involved in Pre-K for quite some time and is taking some first steps with the Kids in Transition to School program. If it takes off, it’s essentially a summer school program for students entering kindergarten in targeted neighborhoods, which Howard would be one of. Attached is a program description. And teachers should not worry about this being housed at Howard over the summer. Construction was a good enough reason for us to be passed over as the location of this summer program.

• ODE Seeks Nominations for 2015 Oregon Teacher of the Year – Downtown asked principals to share the attached information regarding nominations for the Oregon Teacher of the Year. See the email for information.

• The Brain’s Best Friend – Science tells us the brain develops and learns best in safe, supportive environments. Does your classroom fit the bill? See this Teaching Tolerance article for specifics.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for this week:

March 17 (M)
St. Patrick’s Day
1:35-2:05, 3rd Grade Water Safety Presentations (Gym)
2:30-5:00, Allan to Elementary Principal’s Meeting (Ed Center)
4:00-6:00, Allan to 4J Nutrition Services Community Advisory Council Meeting (Ed Center)

March 18 (T)
8:00-4:00, Allan to Jon Saphier Principal Training (Ed Center)
6:00-7:00, PTO Meeting (Library)

March 19 (W)
Data Team Meetings
Mixed Bag Fundraiser Ends

March 20 (H)
School Spirit Day – Wear your favorite color/sports team
9:10-9:40, All-School Sing-a-Long Assembly (Gym)
11:00-12:30, Birthday Lunches with the Principal
1:00-2:00, Class/Grade Level Referral Free Parties
3:30-4:00, Allan to Truancy Hearing (Office)

March 21 (F)
No School — Professional Development/Planning Day
8:30-10:45, Howard Professional Development (Library)
8:00-11:35, EA Extravaganza (Ed Center)

March 31 (M)
Classes Resume

Just five more days until Spring Break!