Blog: OES Insights

Welcome to Insights! Intentionally eclectic, Insights is a blog that lets teachers, administrators, and other OES thought leaders share some of their thinking on important areas of education. Insights is also designed to give members of the OES community a “sneak peek” into key conversations at the school. Our hope is to help you get to know some of our great leaders around the campus. We hope you enjoy it!

Gretchen Reed

By Gretchen Reed, CFO

Gretchen Reed joined OES in 2015. She has more than two decades of experience in education and nonprofit finance, including serving as CFO at other independent schools, association executive, assistant treasurer of a liberal arts college, and an investment banker for public and nonprofit clients. Her volunteer experience includes being president, search chair, treasurer and parent committee president for several nonprofits and schools. She earned her AB from Occidental College and her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

In January, I wrote that the status of whether a 529 plan can be used to pay K-12 tuition in Oregon was not yet clear. In April, Governor Brown signed into law Oregon HB 4080, which clarifies the tax treatment in Oregon. Essentially, if a taxpayer pays K-12 tuition with 529 funds and a state tax deduction was taken when the contribution to the 529 was made, that tax deduction must be repaid. Further, any earnings on the amount withdrawn are subject to state income tax. The effect of this law means that there is no state tax benefit in Oregon when using a 529 plan to pay K-12 tuition.

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Global Education at Our Doorstep

Sarah Grenert-Funk joined OES in 2010. She is in her first year as Director of Residential Life, and in her eight years has served as a Seventh Grade Team Leader, English teacher, Varsity Lacrosse Coach, Dorm Parent, and Intercultural Communication Facilitator. A graduate of Middlebury College, Sarah worked in publishing before pursuing a Masters in English from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. Sarah is passionate about leadership and collaboration in independent schools.

While OES began as a boarding school for girls in 1869, these days the students in the Residential Life program make up just six percent of the total student population. Dorm students are a community that may be small in number, but they make an incredible impact on OES.

Each year we welcome around 55 young students from as nearby as Sisters, Oregon and Seattle, Washington and as far away as Seoul, South Korea and Kabul, Afghanistan to join our family.  No matter where our students come from, they all bring a deep commitment to their education, a curiosity about Portland and the surrounding region, and diversity of thought, culture, and experience. 

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The Power of Questions at OES

By Anna Rozzi, Winningstad Science Chair and Eighth Grade Inquiry Leader

Anna joined OES in 2012, and in her decade of working in public and independent schools has served many roles. She is passionate about student-centered, inquiry-based education, curricular innovation, and equity and inclusion in education. Anna is a graduate of the University of California Davis, has served as an interdisciplinary research team member at Harvard University’s GSE Project Zero Institute, and consulted for The Cloud Institute for Sustainable Education. She is currently an Innovation Fellow through the Innovation Collaborative where she is researching varied interdisciplinary strategies in the sciences and arts. She is excited to continue her learning, collaborate to design creative solutions for the challenges of tomorrow, and to empower individuals to ask and seek out beautiful questions.

A beautiful question (n): An ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something -- and that might serve as a catalyst for change.

We talk and wonder a lot about questions at OES, and in fewer places are there more beautiful questions than in the Middle School hallways where the inaugural 8th grade inquiry program Project X is in full swing!

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Can I Use a 529 Plan to Pay OES Tuition?

By Gretchen Reed, CFO

Gretchen Reed joined OES in 2015. She has more than two decades of experience in education and nonprofit finance, including serving as CFO at other independent schools, association executive, assistant treasurer of a liberal arts college, and an investment banker for public and nonprofit clients. Her volunteer experience includes being president, search chair, treasurer and parent committee president for several nonprofits and schools. She earned her AB from Occidental College and her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Many families are aware that the new Federal Tax Act includes a provision allowing the use of 529 accounts for paying the cost of up to $10,000 of K–12 public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school per student per year. As a result, I am hearing a lot of OES parents asking the logical question, “Can I use a 529 plan to pay OES tuition?”

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I Pray for my Dog Who is Depresed

By Phillip Craig, Head of Chaplaincy

The Reverend Phillip Craig joined OES in 2007, having served 10 years prior as Head Chaplain at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1995, he received his BA from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and his MDiv from Virginia Theological Seminary.

More than 10 years ago, our then Lower School Chaplain Jenny Cleveland introduced a new and simple liturgical element to Chapel - a prayer basket. From that point forward, this invitation has been regularly visible and accessible to all lower school children (and employees).  Small pieces of colored paper and pencils have provided easy access for anyone to write down a prayer for something important.

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