I was able to attend #EDCampPDX today at the Oregon Episcopal School in Southwest Portland. There was a pretty large turnout, and the organizers did a great job staging the event. It was great to connect with so many friends and learn with others. Particularly enjoyed the sessions on Scratch and Virtual and Augmented Reality. An added bonus was that the event was held in the new Lower School at OES. The building opened just this year and is a wonderful learning environment. Below are a few pictures.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Leading Schools Summit at the Friday Institute. The event was sponsored jointly by the Friday Institute and OETC. The event brought together school leaders from 9 states to explore school culture, professional learning, community engagement, and flexible learning spaces. The opportunity to dive into these issues with other school leaders, and in an environment such as provided by the Friday Institute, was an inspiring and satisfying experience.
One highlight in particular was a behind the scenes tour of the Hunt Library. The Hunt Library provides students with inspiring open spaces for study and collaboration. A decision was made during the design phase of the library to house the vast 1.5 million volume collection in robotic stacks, thus freeing up more room for students. The result is an amazing space.
Below is a link to a short video that provides more information about the library.
This weekend I shared with the Meriwether Lewis School communty that I would be retiring from Portland Public Schools and taking a position with the Evergreen School District in Vancouver, Washington as Director of Digital Learning.
It is very difficult to leave a place that you have grown to love. While excited for the new opportunity with the Evergreen School District, it is with a bit of sadness that I say goodbye to Lewis. To all of the staff, students, and parents I have had the honor to have worked with, I want to say thank you all for the opportunity to have served as your principal.
Dear Lewis Community,
I have had the distinct honor and privilege of serving as principal of Lewis Elementary School for the past 13 years. The trust placed in me by staff, students, and families is something that I don’t believe I can ever replicate or replace. Today I am announcing my retirement from Lewis Elementary, and Portland Public Schools. I have accepted a position as Director of Digital Leaning with the Evergreen School District, in Vancouver, Wa.
This is a difficult decision, but one that I have made after lengthy consideration. I am sad to leave such a dedicated and talented staff, and the wonderful students and families that bring out the best in them. Lewis is a special place, and the work that staff is doing is exceptional. I will miss my daily visits to classrooms, and my interactions with the staff, students, and families of Lewis, but look forward to following your work and keeping pace with your achievements. I also plan to bring my granddaughter by to play on our new playground, so I’ll be around.
Portland Public Schools has appointed, Helen Nolan, a PPS retired administrator, to be the interim principal to serve at Lewis for the 2016-2017 school year. Ms. Nolan is a very experienced principal, serving most recently at Buckman Elementary and Sellwood Middle School before retiring in 2009. Ms. Nolan will be in the building on August 8. The process for selecting a new principal will begin in January next year.
I thank you all for your support and kindness over the years, and thank you for the opportunity to have served as your principal.
At Lewis Elementary School we are fortunate to have a large garden space adjacent to the west side of the school. This is an area with garden beds, tress, shrubs, and flower beds. In addition we have several benches and an outdoor classroom space that provide places for students to work on various projects.
Recently, students from Mr. Richner’s 4th grade spent time in the garden space writing poetry, and then illustrating those poems. Their work is currently on display in the “dip” hallway between our two wings of the building. The poetry has also been compiled into a booklet, and you can find a copy linked on the Lewis Elementary web site: Team 20 Poetry Book.pdf
At Lewis the arts are valued and we have worked over the years to make sure our students are provided opportunities to express themselves via the arts. In my last post I shared about our annual Art Night and the work we do to provide our students with opportunities to express themselves via visual arts.
Last Thursday our music students had the opportunity to perform at our annual Spring Music Concert. Under the direction of our music teacher, Tony Jamesbarry, students from our Recorder Club, String Group, Instrumental Band, and Orff Ensemble performed for family and friends. In addition, our students also performed for on Friday afternoon for our student body.
We were able to stream a portion of the school concert via Periscope. You can see an archive of that stream below.
On Thursday, May 12, 2016 Lewis Elementary held its annual Art Night. This annual evening (I believe our 28th year) is an opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate the creativity of our students and staff. At Lewis, visual art and music are core parts of our program. Our annual Art Night is an opportunity to share our work with our community. Students act as docents, explaining the displayed art work to visitors, and our music students perform in our cafeteria. All in all, a great evening that reinforces the power of the arts in learning.
As April comes to a close, I wanted to share a great project that our 4th grade students took part in this past month. The #Write-On challenge involves writing a letter every day of the month. Through the generous support of Egg Press and Hello Lucky Cards, classrooms received a large quantity of letter cards to use in the project. It was great see our students involved in the daily practice of reflecting and writing to family and friends. Many parents and grandparents commented on how much they enjoyed receiving the cards, and the messages they contained.
Pictured below are just a few of the cards I received this month. A great project, and a great practice, that we plan to continue with...
The Nutrition Services department in my school district has made great efforts over the past few years to increase the quality and variety of food being served in our school cafeterias. One aspect of this effort is something they call Harvest of the Month. Items in this program our locally sourced and are an attempt to expose students to fruits and vegetables that they might not normally eat. Our most recent Harvest of the Month involved the serving of parsnips.
Parsnips were offered twice in a one month period and this provided an opportunity for our 5th grade students to do to do a little parsnip marketing. Under the direction of our school support staff member, Kathleen Witter, our 5th grade students embarked on a marketing campaign. Students created posters advertising the virtues of parsnips and proceeded to post them around the school. This provided many opportunities for discussion and to generate interest in parsnips.
By the time the next parsnips serving day came around, we saw a larger interest in parsnips and more students willing to give them a try. All in all, a great way to increase the interest in our school lunch program and in the health benefits of parsnips, and also provide our fifth-grade students with an opportunity to help spread the word.
Just before our Spring Break we held three performances of our production of “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. Our director Tori Padellford closed our final performance by addressing the audience with something that really resonated with me. She talked about the whole production has a gift. A gift from our staff and families to our students and a gift from our students to our community. It was the product of all of our efforts to provided our students with experiences that will stay with them and ground them as they grow up. It was a very memorable performance and something I am proud that we were able to provide for our students.
Our students, cast, orchestra, and crew, did an a phenomenal job. Current and former staff members Mr. Colvin, Mr. Jamesbarry, and Ms Tori did an outstanding job leading our effort. A big thank you to them, and to all the volunteers that helped to make our production such a memorable event.
Mr. Colvin has a great collection of photos from the performances and from rehearsals. Please follow the link below to share them with your students:
On Saturday, Lewis Elementary hosted Educate Engage 2016. The event was organized by Melissa Lim (@actionhero) of Portland Public Schools, and sponsored by Portland Public School and Concordia University, and was inspired by a similar event, ENGAGE 2015 Parent Tech Conference, put on last fall by several suburban Chicago school districts.
Educate/Engage 2016 was described as
“an opportunity to hear from teachers about the roles and implications of technology both in and out of today's modern classroom.”
It was a great event and the parents that attended indicated they appreciated the opportunity to learn and discuss with educators, the opportunities and challenges that technology can present in a school setting.
It was also nice to see so many of our regional education leaders lend their time and expertise to the event. A big thank you to all that took part.