Updates from Alfonso - Aug 16

Greetings, friends,
Summer has come to Portland, and work is heating up here at school. The very first announcement is Welcome to our New EMT/Security officer Kevin Hawke. Kevin is a registered EMT and firefighter with experience in both fields and as an engine boss with the West Coast Wildland Strike Teams (they fight wildfires). Kevin will be on hand for part of each day to help supervise the playground, and to provide expert first response on any injuries or illnesses if needed. Now the receptionists (who have done a masterful job of first response) can be taken off a hook they shouldn’t be on, and can be more productive with administrative tasks.

Another project this summer was a complete redesign of the way we purchase classroom items such as craft materials, supplies, books, and other hands-on learning resources. You have already seen the new supply fee which has streamlined purchasing for class-specific items. You may also remember that $6000 in Special Appeal proceeds was designated for learning resources - we carefully spent those funds over the summer together with $3500 in Special Appeal matching funds we have received.

In addition, during Teacher Inquiry Week (before students return), each group of grade level teachers will receive a budget of $6000 to $7000 to buy shared resources that directly support the PYP units of inquiry. These funds are allocated from tuition instead of being budgeted separately by individual teachers without an overall agreement on the types of expenditures that are most essential. The grade level teams will be purchasing all books, CDs and DVDs through the library, and we will have an inventory system for everything.

Overall you will see greater focus on creative student learning and classroom resources, with fewer elaborate holiday lunches and material reward systems for students. (Click here for an article by Alfie Kohn about why rewards, even gold stars, are not the best for students.) (Teachers can still budget for two parties per year at $5 per student per party.) Our priority is students- that means paying their teachers well and giving them the resources they need to teach well.

On teacher assignments. We will be working on them this week and then reviewing them with faculty - you’ll get them by e-mail the week before classes begin.

Okay, there is a lot more going on - I’ll have more for you next week. And if you look at Alfie’s website there are some good free podcasts and video-casts.

Take care and love to the kids,
Alfonso