Professional Development for CSD Staff
We are off with a strong start to the 2017-18 school year. I’d like to thank our district office staff for managing several professional development activities this summer, which got us started.
Suzanne McFarland Price facilitated the New Teacher Academy welcoming 24 teachers with 2+ years experience and 17 teachers who are just starting out in the teaching profession. It is always a highlight for me to have the opportunity to meet with the newest members of our teaching staff.
Next, More than 750 district staff gathered on August 31st at Corvallis High School to kick off the school year and we were pleased to host keynote speaker Manny Scott. Manny’s story touched and inspired everyone in attendance and reminded each of us that meaningful connections with students can turn a life around and set a new course for success. The keynote was followed by a wellness rally and additional training opportunities. Thank you to Chris Hawkins, Gigi Sims, and Karen Selander for taking the lead on this annual event.
All elementary staff attended a workshop the following day by Dr. Stuart Ablon to learn about collaborative problem solving. This model includes two major beliefs: 1) Kids do well if they can and 2) when they struggle behaviorally it is due to a lagging skill we can help them acquire.
The Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and Apple Inc. in conjunction with our district will be providing a free opportunity on September 28-29 for select Oregon school districts to receive training for 5 elementary or middle school teachers per district to receive training to support coding instruction in their schools. Coding is essential to help students thrive in a future driven by technology. The curriculum, apps (SWIFT) and this training session are all free.
As of this week, total district enrollment is 6,731 students, while our projected enrollment was 6,632. Overall enrollment is 99 students above our projections and we have added teaching staff to address high class loads.
Thank you to the Corvallis Public School Foundation
We are grateful to the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation for their support of kindergarten students this fall with a grant of $20,500. The goal of the Foundation with this grant is to close the kindergarten readiness gap and, in the long run, to improve graduation rates across our district. Thank you to our community donors and to the Foundation for their support. Liv Gifford will be invited to present an annual update to the school board later this fall.
District Media Specialist Hired
Dana Zachary has been hired as our new district media specialist. This is a first step to enhance the library media programs throughout the district. Dana is a licensed language arts teacher and librarian and was previously the media assistant at Cheldelin. She was a critical part of making the library at Cheldelin Middle School the hub of daily school activities with weekly lunch participation opportunities of Reader Theater, Student performances, and Slam Poetry. She also started book clubs, book talks, writers club, and story time for kids. Her goal for this year is to create a district-wide program that includes professional development for staff, developing digital resources, and helping school libraries become the place where students can explore their interests. We will be inviting Dana to a future board meeting to share her ideas moving forward.
Activities in Support of Inclusion and Diversity in Our District
Our community is diverse and our schools include students from more than fifty birth countries. We know that many families and staff are uncertain and concerned about how the announced changes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) will affect our current students, graduates and families.
We want to remind and reassure our families and our community that the Corvallis School District welcomes and educates all students. I am proud that last December our school board unanimously approved Resolution Number 16-1201- Rights of Undocumented Students and Protocols for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Access to Schools. Since that time, we have developed and implemented a plan to train all teachers, administrators and other staff on how to respond if ICE personnel attempt to enter CSD property or request information about our students and their families. As a reminder, we do not collect student immigration status.
We are committed to supporting the success of every student and creating a safe and welcoming environment for every family. Our schools should be safe places where everyone treats each other with kindness and respect, regardless of race, culture, socio-economic status or language. I am committed to making sure our schools are safe spaces for all students to learn and grow.
Our equity leadership team will continue to collaborate with community partners to support students and families with events such as Know Your Rights, DACA awareness training and how to support students impacted by recent events (for staff), and a special program offered through the Mexican Consulate to provide information and resources for passports and consular ID cards for Mexican citizens.
New Community partnership
Community is one of our core values and developing stronger community partnerships is a priority as we work to provide a well-rounded and culturally relevant education for our students. Last spring, our teaching and learning team began working to create a family welcome center at Western View Center (which is located just north of the district administration building). During that time, we learned that the board of directors of Casa Latinos Unidos de Benton County was searching for a new location. Casa Latinos Unidos is a 501(c) 3 non-profit whose mission is to facilitate the integration of Latinos into the broader community by promoting the well-being of Latino families, by providing opportunities for leadership and capacity building, supporting and advancing their equal rights and equal access, and creating a climate of tolerance and cross-cultural understanding.
Casa Latinos Unidos de Benton County has been a key partner in our work around inclusive practices and removing systemic inequities in our system and we initiated a discussion about a possible new partnership and shared facility space. After preliminary meetings with district staff and a tour of the site, the Casa Latinos Unidos board met and voted unanimously to relocate their operations to the Western View Center. Our facilities staff is drafting an agreement between the two organizations and we expect this facility to serve a wide range of student and family needs starting later this fall.
Our student artwork on display this month in the board room is an exhibit from Linus Pauling 8th graders. They made a trip to Mary’s Peak last spring and were asked to reflect on the natural environment through paintings, drawings, and poems.
Ryan Noss, Superintendent