Sunday Memo Presidents' day, 2017

The Rain. Is. Ceaseless. The weather teases us with sun breaks and then returns to the torrential downpour. I've lived here most of my life and I consider myself a native Oregonian. Even so, I tire of the rain this time of year. My husband likes to remind me that he is a 5th generation Oregonian. That makes my children 6th generation. Maybe that's why they escaped to the East Coast - it was time to experience the diversity of our Eastern cities. And four seasons. And snow. And public transportation. Humans like an adventure. When their ancestors hit the Pacific Ocean, where else could they go? They settled and helped to build our Oregon. With. The. Ceaseless. Rain. They started the town of Maupin. Then, they migrated to Albany and finally, they helped build the railroad to Klamath Falls. In Klamath Falls, they raised cattle, worked at the mill and the potato fields. They stayed put. They persisted.

My family was restless. Both sides. They moved around a lot. From Ireland to Ohio to Oklahoma then California and Oregon. From Tennessee to Oklahoma, on the trail of tears, then to California and finally Oregon. They ran restaurants, raised cattle and hogs, were sheriffs and welders. They were sharecroppers and worked in factories. They farmed and lost their farms. They survived the dustbowl. And they eventually escaped to the West as economic refugees. Somehow, Doug and I met and merged these stories, this history of escape and persistence, into a single experience - here. On this President's Day, I am proud of these family stories, of the rootedness and the escape. We are a country that keeps evolving, a moving target, a great experiment - and what an experiment it is. I celebrate the dream of America today, a country that contains multitudes. And so many family stories. Think about your stories today and the stories of your neighbors, here in the land of ceaseless rain. Stay warm and dry!

Reminders for the week

  • I will be shadowing a student on Tuesday, all day. Please welcome me into your classrooms and make sure I do my assignments. I look forward to seeing CVMS from a new perspective. Thank you for welcoming me.
  • Our staff meeting starts at 3 PM on Tuesday afternoon in the library. Please be prompt. Our focus will be on preparing for conferences with parents.
  • Wednesday morning is a PLC late-start.
  • Wednesday is a full school day and an evening of conferences. Conferences will run from 5-8 in the gym. Our parent group is providing dinner after school so you don't have to leave unless you want to. You will have 2:45-5 PM for your personal time. Please relax a bit - we know it is a long haul on Wednesday.
  • Thursday is a conference schedule, from 1-8 PM Again, our parent group will provide a dinner between 4-5 PM. If you want to work from home in the AM, just let me know. If you are a probationary teacher with us you need to be onsite for the AM portion. If you choose not to work in the AM, just let me know when you will make up the tim on Friday.
  • Friday is an optional day. If you make up your time on Thursday, you are not required to come in at all. Casey and I will be at the 2nd day of our School Retool day in Dayton on Friday.

Friday, I attended the Newberg Chamber of Conference dinner with Kym LeBlanc-Esparza and Emily Chumak. Emily was recognized as a community partner with Newberg School District for her work at CVMS. I was so proud of Emily, our parents and our school for this amazing award. Emily has truly been a gift over the last two years and even though she is transitioning out of CV, she has set up a system that is sustainable and powerful. Emily-Garrick-Steenson is moving into the parent group leader position next year, but Emily promises to be part of the transition plan. I can't imagine life without our wonderful parent community. This work continues, even if folks change focus. It is work worth doing. Congratulations to Emily for her much deserved award. It was an honor to be there on Friday and watch the celebration.

Tuesday, I will shadow a student for the day. During this shadow experience I will not be an administrator in the school, but an observer of my student's experience. I will not carry a walkie talkie, or communicate with the office. I will immerse myself in the experience of my student. My student is a 6th grade boy who is part of the special education program at CV. After the shadowing experience, I will reflect on my observations and Casey, Cassandra and I will debrief together. This observation is part of the School Retool leadership practice and I look forward to looking at the school day with curiosity and a questioning mind. We will share our learning with school retool staff on Friday. In addition, our Community Council will participate in a student shadow experience before the end of the year. We want to look through the data to the student experiences at CV so that we can craft the next steps in our school improvement plan. More details to follow.

Please consider opening up your classroom to peers who want to observe. This is a great opportunity to get feedback and to share strategies. In my experience, this is the best way to learn together. It breaks down walls, establishes relationships and students benefit. If you want to participate, it will count for your snow make-up days. You do have to follow a protocol. I sent out the details last week. If you have any questions, please contact me directly. I hope to see some #observeme postings outside of doors this week. Let me know if I can help.


This edutopia article focuses on the cycle of improvement we as teachers follow to refine our practice. According to David Hawley, the key is the following three questions:

  • What should we stop doing?
  • What should we start doing?
  • What should we continue doing?

As simple as these sound, they provide us a safe, predictable set of questions that became habits of mind, a way to pause and reflect before engaging in something else. Our aim is to get better at what we are doing. To learn more about this process of reflection and renewal, click on the following link:

Cheers, Karen

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