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9/14/2007 6:10:00 AM
Superintendent’s Update #221
Superintendent with Student

1. Learning to lead and leading to learn

2. More kids have a school but not a home

3. Seeking nominations for student representative to the State Board of Education

4. Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

5. Susan’s Schedule

The September 2007 Issue PDF of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website: http://www.ode.state.or.us/pipeline/september-pipeline-07.pdf PDF

1. Learning to lead and leading to learn

By Susan Castillo

September is filled with the excitement of new beginnings as students and educators head back into classrooms. Oregon has an incredible group of strong, creative, and collaborative leaders in our schools who are committed to high quality teaching and learning.

I recently had the opportunity to explore these issues in-depth. In July, I joined representatives from the Department of Education and four Oregon school districts (along with representatives from the state of Massachusetts) at the Executive Leadership Program for Educators at Harvard University. This institute is part of a 3 year collaborative effort involving the Harvard Business School, the Harvard School of Education, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and funding from the Wallace foundation. Oregon is fortunate to have been selected to participate in this wonderful program.

The Institute focuses on a simple yet powerful concept that the improvement of instruction is central to improving student achievement. Improving instruction requires schools, districts and state leadership to remain focused both on content and on student and teacher interactions. The Institute was an in-depth exploration of how we can take our understanding of these issues to a deeper level in every classroom in our state.

Like any good teacher, the instructors at the institute modeled the type of active, engaged, high quality instruction that we all want to see in our schools. And all of us, as participants, focused on being active learners – engaged, taking time to reflect, and sharing and listening to each other. This is the type of learning we want for our students. Learning is a collaborative experience and is enriched by the interactions between students.

My time at Harvard was exhilarating. It was inspiring to see the dedication, commitment, and leadership of every educator and leader there. Over the three years of the program, we hope to create a common definition for high quality teaching and learning, and align our local strategies and goals with our statewide efforts. We also intend to identify the barriers to improving instruction, and to develop state and local strategies to address them, so we can truly enhance the learning experience for all Oregon students. While we are working intensively with four Oregon districts and our partners in Massachusetts, this work will help all Oregon schools as we study various strategies for improving instruction and student success.

As leaders, we need to recognize that no one has all of the answers. We are trying to go where we have never been before--accomplishing our goal of high academic achievement for all students. We need to listen to each other, help each other, and learn from each other. We are in a partnership of continuous improvement for ourselves and the system.

Thank you for your hard work and leadership and have a wonderful school year!

2. More kids have a school but not a home

Excerpt from the Oregonian by Betsy Hammond

Despite a rebounding economy, Oregon schools report a continuing surge in the number of their students who are homeless. The latest count of 15,517 homeless children and youth, released Wednesday, is 18 percent higher than a year ago and 37 percent higher than two years ago.

Educators say schools are doing a better job of identifying students who lack permanent homes and also doing a better job of helping students in those straits to overcome barriers and stay in school. More than 200 homeless education specialists around the state work to make sure that students who become homeless get the bus rides, food baskets, utility assistance, encouragement and red-tape-busting that they and their families need to keep them in class.

But they say the rising numbers also reflect a tough reality for Oregon families with children: Housing costs continue to skyrocket while incomes for those at the bottom of the economic spectrum have not. Affordable housing is extremely scarce, they say.

"Despite the economic trends, there are more kids that are new to homelessness now than ever before," says Dona Bolt, Oregon's coordinator of homeless education. Nearly 2,500 of the homeless students lack not only a home, but also a parent or guardian. Abandoned by parents or having run away from home or foster care, these students "couch surf," staying temporarily with a series of friends and acquaintances.

Since 2001, federal law requires school districts to report annually how many students were homeless during any part of the school year. And every district has had to anoint one person as the liaison between homeless families and its schools. In Oregon this year, the report from districts shows that homelessness for children is most rampant in rural and small-town Oregon, not in the urban areas. The district with the highest rate: tiny Marcola, a logging town north of Springfield, where 25 percent of the students are homeless, primarily because their parents had to move in with friends or relatives. Other rural areas and many coastal communities, with their high-priced beach housing, report homeless student rates more than twice the state average, which is 2.8 percent.

The training that districts received on how to identify students and serve them under the law has spurred schools to step up and do a better job for homeless students, Bolt says. "The fact that we're counting more homeless students in school is positive, in that more homeless students are being able to stay in school, rather than dropping out, because the liaison is there to help them enroll, and stay enrolled and make sure they have everything they need."

That's the same thinking that underlies the federal law requiring schools to help homeless children and the actions of the liaisons in every district: While school officials can't necessarily keep students' home lives smooth, they should focus on keeping the school year intact. Children who change schools during the school year suffer an academic setback averaging at least three months, Bolt says.

"Our whole focus is stability, whatever it takes to keep those kids in the same school," says Kerry Tintera, homeless education coordinator for Portland Public Schools.

3. Seeking nominations for student representative to the State Board of Education

Last year the State Board of Education enacted a one-year pilot program to add a student in an advisory capacity to the State Board, similar to that of the Superintendent, Community College President and faculty advisors. The Board is extending the pilot for one more year. Nominations can be made by a Principal or Superintendent.

To qualify a student representative to the State Board of Education must: be enrolled in a secondary public school through the academic year 2007-2008; be a junior or senior; maintain a cumulative 3.0 G.P.A. and be responsible to makeup school work missed while attending scheduled meetings; be committed to attend monthly board meetings (Thursday and Friday) and special board functions; be willing to participate in policy discussions in an appropriate and professional manner; demonstrate a basic understanding and be knowledgeable about current education issues; be willing to prepare for State Board meetings ahead of time; demonstrate leadership and diplomatic qualities in a group setting; demonstrate a commitment to community involvement; and must have access to a computer as correspondence about meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts will be sent by email.

Selection Procedures
1.Nominations can be made by a Principal or Superintendent (a person can nominate one student only)
2.To apply get your application packet at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/yat/
3.Submit nominees application packet in the form of a letter to include a one page letter addressing the following questions:
  • Why do you want to be on the State Board of Education (SBE)?
  • What would you contribute to the SBE?
  • How will you represent the student body across Oregon?
  • How do you as a candidate fit the qualifications and meet the responsibilities listed above?
Application letters must be postmarked by September 20, 2007.

If you have any questions, please contact Diane Roth, (503) 947-5791.

4. Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools


Get Free 2005-2006 Oregon Blue Books to use as textbooks in your classroom. Hurry, supply is limited. 20 books per case, free to teachers.

You only have to pay the UPS shipping charges - $16.00 per case. If you would like to save the shipping charges by driving to the State Archives Building to pick up your books, you can do that. For more information, contact Julie Yamaka, State Archives for more information (503) 378-5199.


OCSS will hold its fall conference Friday, October 12th, at South Salem High School in Salem Oregon. A representative from Mercy Corps will deliver the key note address and sessions focusing on our theme: ‘Bridges to Global Understanding’ will include a wide range of titles such as; immigration, civics, the cultural Far East, Oregon atlas project, service learning and a special offering from ODE; Are you Highly Qualified. (Special Note: If you are wondering about your own qualifications bring your transcripts along and there will be opportunity to research your qualifications on site.) Registration is $45 for active teachers, $30 for retired/Salem, $15 for pre-service teachers before October 5th. (On-site registration is $55, $30 and $25) Lunch is included with your registration. Go to http://www.oregonsocialstudies.org for more information. Plans are also being made of offer some of the conference presentations via videoconference at some distant ESDs. More information about this option will be available soon from the OCSS web page.

5. Susan’s Schedule

Week of September 10th – Susan Castillo attended the Council for Chief State School Officers, Using Data to Improve Instruction conference in St. Louis.

Week of September 17th – Susan will attend the SUN Outstanding Community School Partnership award ceremony in Portland; meet with Rebecca Hernandez of Hacienda Community Development Corp.; attend the Children's Institute Ready for School reception; attend a Harvard state team planning session; attend the Unified Education Enterprise joint boards committee meeting; and attend the State Board of Education monthly meeting in Salem.

o For scheduling inquires, please visit our website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=848

o Please forward this UPDATE to others who might find it of interest.

If you would like to be added to this list or if you would like to unsubscribe, please email Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Williamson: jennifer.williamson@state.or.us eMail.
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