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Express Newsletter

OES Lower School Express Newsletter
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A Message from the Division Head

by David Lowell

Before closing down the Lower School Office for the summer, I wanted to give you an update on our planning for the 2020-21 school year. During the summer we will be working on four Lower School goals.

  • Develop a Lower School hybrid learning program that meets the state requirements for reopening school
  • Enhance our distance learning program knowing we will likely return to distance learning at some time during the school year
  • Implement a racial literacy program to develop skills our students need to learn towards equity and inclusion
  • Renew our student wellness program to better support our students as they relearn how to learn in a social setting

Develop the Lower School hybrid learning program

Based on the opening of school guidelines from the Oregon Department of Education, Chris, Kirstin and I are working on Lower School models that meet the state’s requirements for social distancing, education and health and safety. We are reviewing each model’s impact on four factors:

  • The physical, mental and social health and safety of school community
  • The educational effectiveness for Lower School students
  • The educational support provided to our families
  • Equity of access and engagement for our students

While we are still in the early stages of our planning, we are striving for models that maximize the amount of time Lower School students can be in school in each week. Look for communication from OES about our hybrid model during the first week of August followed by a more detailed communication about the Lower School program specifically. We are planning to offer a parent session on the hybrid learning model late in August.

Enhance our distance learning program

Chris, Kirstin and I have begun training with the Global Online Academy (GOA) to learn how we might enhance our Lower School distance learning program. The faculty will join us for additional training with GOA the first week in August. We will have access to GOA coaches for the remainder of August as each grade level further develops their distance learning plans. The technology team is working on standardizing the technology tools we use to manage and support Lower School student learning to simplify the experience for faculty, students and parents. We are striving to create a schedule that works well whether we are in a hybrid learning or distance learning environment. Look for a communication in mid-August about dates and times for parent trainings related to the Lower School remote learning technology tools and teaching your children at home.

Implement a racial literacy program

We are working on several initiatives to support the development of racial literacy for the students, faculty and parents in Lower School. 

  • Piloting a racial literacy curriculum Prekindergarten through Fifth grade through a shared inquiry with all Lower School faculty. The curriculum with focus on three areas:
    • gaining knowledge about race
    • acquiring an awareness of students own racial socialization
    • developing skills for engaging in productive conversations about race and racism

Anthony Villasenor, First grade teacher and Suzanne Lee, Third grade teacher, will support this work as Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

  • The Lower School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team, Student Wellness Team and Community Engagement Coordinator will be collaborating to support integration of their work around student identity development and self-awareness, sense of belonging and inclusion and learning mindset and racial literacy development.
  • Lora Worden, Lower School Librarian, in collaboration with teachers across the division, has curated resources to support families in their efforts to talk about race and raise racially literate children. See her site, Lets Talk About Race.
  • Kirstin, Chris and I will be offering a summer parent book group on Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race? (2019). See details below.

Renew our student wellness program

The Lower School will be renewing our student wellness practice knowing our students have been away from school for an extended time and will need to learn a new social and emotional skills that they will need when learning within a social context. Vickie Soli Compton, Lower School Counselor, will be leading a Lower School Student Wellness Team, to coordinate this work. We will start by renewing our commitment to the First Six Weeks of School program which is built around these beliefs:

  • The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum
  • How children learn is as important as what they learn
  • The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interactions
  • Children need to learn a set of social skills to be successful academically and socially

We have a lot of good and important work to do both to prepare for the opening of school and then to teach your children well. Have a good summer. I look forward to seeing you back on campus when the time is right.

Summer Parent Book Group

Our summer parent book group selection is So You Want To Talk About Race? (2019) by Ijeoma Oluo. 

"What Ijeoma Oluo has done, and continues to do, is nothing short of revolutionary -- she has created a conversational guide and laid out a movement-building blueprint for people of all races who are invested in self-assessment, open to being challenged, and committed to collective progress. One of the most important voices of our time, Oluo encourages us to be the conversation starters in our own lives and to keep talking -- someone who needs to hear us is listening. — Feminista Jones, author of Reclaiming Our Space

Purchase this book from a Black-owned bookstore

Purchase this book from local Green Bean books (when we last checked they had copies in stock in the store and can do no-contact pick-up or delivery to some areas)

Check this ebook or audiobook out from your public library (Note: wait may be long, though some libraries and audio services are offering the audiobook immediately).

Book Group Dates/Times: Book Groups will be hosted on Zoom (RSVP below for link)

All book groups will begin as all LS parents together and will then break into BY/IY groups with an additional breakout room for People of Color who prefer an affinity space for their discussion. In addition to adult discussion, each evening will also introduce one picture book suggestion for holding conversations with your kids. 

Please read the Basic Guidelines on p. 251-253 before joining the conversation. 

Monday August 3rd 7-8 pm: Introduction and Chapters 1-5

Monday August 10th 7-8 pm: Chapters 6-12

Monday August 17th 7-8 pm: Chapters 12-17