Grade School Principal's Blog

  • Mid-year Update

    Posted by Principal Joanna Tobin on 1/22/2020 3:00:00 PM

    Dear RGS Community,

    I hope this finds you well and that you are off to a great start in the New Year! Below are a few updates to highlight and welcome your involvement. 

    Equity Team Development

    With this blog, I’d like to share with you my commitment and interest in diving in more deeply to conversations of equity and inclusivity in our school. This week and always, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. help to inspire and guide this work. I invite you to join me in watching his “I Have a Dream'' speech. This past month, our Site Council spent some time discussing initial hopes and direction for an RGS Equity Team. The conversation highlighted a shared desire to intentionally strengthen channels for voices to be heard in our community and to encourage inclusive practices throughout our organization. Please email me directly if you have key items for us to focus our work on, or if you would like to contribute as a team member. 

    Kindness Committee

    Recently, a 4th grade parent, Adam Reiter, approached me about his interest in working with students and parents to form a Kindness Committee. As a starting point, the hope is to recognize and honor staff in a thoughtful way. If you are interested, please connect with Adam…and thank you for the kindness around here.    

    Behavior Specialist/Restorative Coach

    As our student body has increased over time, so has our need for more support in the area of behavior. As the school board recently mentioned in their communication, we currently have a position posted for a Behavior Specialist/Restorative Coach. Here is a link to the position, in the event you are curious to learn more of the ins and outs of this new position. It’s a key role; one that is also set up to strengthen our school culture and build a stronger foundation for restorative practices. This goes hand and hand with equity and kindness, the previous two topics. 

    Please let me know if you would like to be a part of the hiring committee for this important role. 

    Music Update

    With an outstanding, dedicated committee, we interviewed all day this past Friday. I’m pleased to introduce to you our “top” candidate David Top! David comes to us with experience conducting bands and orchestras in the public and private sectors. He also directs a choir in his spare time and is quite comfortable composing and arranging music. He has a bachelor’s degree from Warner Pacific College. He is well versed in the Finale music notation software and enjoys incorporating technology into the music classroom. Most of all, David loves to teach music. Please join me in welcoming David throughout the school year!  

    Thank you Music Committee Members!!

    Lisa Becker - Kindergarten Teacher

    Tricia Bogdon - Instructional Assistant and Classical Musician 

    Tim Bryson - Community School Jazz Teacher

    Aaron Chang - Parent

    Kira Donahoo - Parent

    Kathy FitzGibbon - Parent of Kinder and LC Choir Director

    Clara G-P - Student 

    Dimati McPherson - Parent 

    Todd Migchelbrink - 5/6 Teacher 

    Michael Smith - Parent and Marimba Teacher

    Liz Randall - Art Teacher

     

    All the best, 

    Joanna Tobin, Principal 

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  • Welcome to Fall

    Posted by Joanna Tobin on 9/24/2019

    Welcome officially to fall! We are off to a solid start, and I am excited to share with you promising developments underway this year. Have you heard your student talk about classes taking place in a circle format? If so, this is referring to Circle Forward, or a process of building a restorative community in our school. This is a format for facilitating conversation that I started using with staff meetings and discussions last winter. The process beautifully gives each person in the room an equitable voice and opportunity to contribute and share.    

    Restorative Practices are based on principles and processes that emphasize the importance of positive relationships as central to building community and restoring relationships when harm has occurred (San Francisco Unified School District).

    Last spring we invited Gabi Ross from Resolutions Northwest to lead Restorative Justice, or RJ, professional development with staff.  She also facilitated a discussion at a spring PTC Meeting. We welcomed her back this fall to kick off the first of what will total two days of RJ training. As we strengthened our work in this area, we reviewed an article outlining the unintended harm of zero-tolerance policies, emphasizing the importance of our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and also the need to continue to develop our RJ framework. To quote Resolutions Northwest, “Restorative Justice is about relationships…building, maintaining, and repairing relationships to form healthy, supportive and inclusive communities. When we do things that impact others and create harm in the community, it is our individual and collective responsibility to make things right. Restorative practices help create spaces that hold us accountable in supportive and inclusive ways.”

    Diving into this work, we highlighted the question, what does this look like? As an example, this could be a facilitated conversation after one student hurts another student’s feelings or harms another student at school. The number one rule we pay attention to is to not create more harm. For this reason, we believe it is critical for both parties to be ready and interested in participating. This led to a review and comparison of our Riverdale Grade School Parent Student Handbook from 2018-2019, to the Beaverton School District’s K-12 Student and Family Handbook. From there, we united a district team to draft our new document, which better supports the work of restorative practices and unites our district. I am so excited to share with you our new first draft of the Riverdale School District K-12th Student and Family Handbook! We welcome you input, so please send any feedback to riverdalenews@riverdale.k12.or.us.

    Test Score Info:

    State Test Scores data was released statewide last week. Our students and staff have much to celebrate, including 8th grade students achieving 95% “meets and exceeds” in English Language Arts and 89% “meets and exceeds” in Math. Look for more information coming in the mail this week with your student’s individual data (for students grades 3-8th last year who took the assessments).  

    K-4th Winter Concert Update:

    We have given some thought to the K-4th format and design. We would like to move to a Kindergarten “Informance” or Daytime Concert and invite you to check your calendars for a 2:30-3:00 p.m. Informance on the same day of the evening concert. This is currently scheduled for Dec. 5 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. We would like to move up the start time to 6:30-7:45 p.m. and have the concert be for 1st-4th grade students.

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