Oregon Department of Education
News Home News Announcements Announcements
1/21/2010 12:58:00 PM
Superintendent's Update 316
Superintendent's Update
Superintendent Castillo's bi-weekly updates provide an agency-wide perspective on important developments within the Department of Education. Through these regular updates, the Superintendent hopes to increase communications regarding important initiatives for Oregon's children. Click here to access past issues of Superintendent’s Update.

In This Issue:
  • Oregon Submits Race to the Top Application
  • Two Oregon Teachers Earn Presidential Nod
  • National Mentoring Month in Oregon
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Oregon Submits Race to the Top Application
By Susan Castillo

Earlier this week in Gladstone, the Governor and I announced the submission of Oregon’s application for $200 million in federal Race to the Top funding to support education innovation and reform.

Our application reflects the work of nearly 200 Oregon education stakeholders who participated in the Race to the Top design team and work groups. We consulted with school districts, ESDs, researchers and experts around the state to produce a strong proposal that aligns with the work already under way here in Oregon. It is quite incredible what they were able to pull together in just a few short months.

Oregon’s grant application builds on a number of innovative initiatives in Oregon and outlines the next steps for reform. Specifically the application focuses on four key areas identified the federal government for improvement:
  • Turning around the state’s lowest performing schools;
  • Recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals;
  • The use of benchmarked standards and assessments to prepare students for success; and
  • The use of data to improve instruction and practices.
A copy of the application, as well as more information on Race to the Top, can be found on our website here.

I have been inspired by the positive responses from school districts in preparing our application. Oregon’s Race to the Top proposal includes agreements with 112 districts to work with the state to implement the plan if we receive funding. I greatly appreciate those commitments, particularly considering the short time frame for signing up under the federal guidelines.
Two Oregon Teachers Earn Presidential Nod
By Susan Castillo

Cary Cermak-Rudolf understands that a quiet classroom isn't always a good thing. A key part of learning is sharing, so in her math classes, students work in teams, asking questions and challenging each other to solve problems.

"I want my students to understand and experience math, rather than just memorize procedures," says Cermak-Rudolf, an instructional coach in the Roseburg School District. "I want my kids to be excited about doing math."
Cermak-Rudolf's innovative approach earned her a The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award and a trip to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to meet President Obama. Joining her was Linda Kehr, a teacher at Ferguson Elementary in Klamath Falls School District, who won the award for science. The two Oregonians are among 100 educators nationwide picked for the prestigious honor.

The teaching awards are part of President Obama's Educate to Innovate campaign, which involves government, corporations, foundations and non-profits in promoting science and math education. The effort is aimed at improving our nation's commitment to science and math education in schools.

It is an issue that is important to me, too. If the United States is to maintain its leadership in this incredibly complex, incredibly competitive global economy, strong schools must be our No. 1 priority.

Cermak-Rudolf, who previously taught 2nd and 3rd grades at Hucrest Elementary in Roseburg, was cited for designing engaging and interactive math lessons for students, who have exceeded expectations for academic growth. She is a terrific colleague, too, opening up her classroom to share effective teaching strategies with peers. She is also a leader, not only in her school and district, but in our state as part of the Oregon Mathematics Leadership Institute. Cermak-Rudolf encourages her students to think of themselves as junior mathematicians, with "everyone thinking, everyone contributing."
Linda Kehr, our state's other honoree, embraces the same philosophy. Kehr embraces inquiry-based learning, with students posing questions and pursuing answers. Her class experiments are legendary, and included designing, building and launching a high-altitude balloon satellite a few years back.

“I tell teachers not to be afraid to go places where they may not have answers,” Kehr says. “When you go there together with your students to seek the answers, it keeps everyone curious and engaged.”

Kehr has been teaching since 1976 and Cermak-Rudolf since 2001, and both take pride in constantly improving their craft. They understand that to prepare students for the future, they have to work to be their best as teachers.

As Hucrest Principal Jeff Plummer notes, "Ultimately, I think that's the factor that separates teachers who are good or great from the ones who are exceptional."

I wholeheartedly agree. Congratulations to Linda Kehr, Cary Cermak-Rudolf, and all teachers who realize that teaching means learning, too.

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Cary Cermak-Rudolf, an instructional coach for Roseburg School District

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Linda Keher, a teacher at Ferguson Elementary
Mentoring Makes a Difference
By Susan Castillo

January 2010 marks the 9th annual National Mentoring Month. This year’s theme is “Expand Your Universe. Mentor a Child. ‘Harvard Mentoring Project’ of the Harvard School of Public Health and ‘MENTOR’ created National Mentoring Month to focus attention on the need for mentors and the positive impact mentoring has on youth.

Mentors come in many forms: family members, teachers, coaches, neighbors, employers, and friends, all of whom have encouraged youth and touched lives. Mentoring is a very effective strategy contributing to student success. With a mentor to confide in, student are less likely to use drugs, get into fights, or drop out of school.

In Oregon, we have many wonderful mentoring programs and I would like to thank all of them for supporting Oregon students. Last month, I had an opportunity to meet with the Latino Mentoring Advisory Council of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest. This nonprofit is dedicated to helping the youth in their area achieve their potential so that they may live productive and healthy lives. I was so impressed with their caring and targeted approach to mentoring. They make sure that each student in need is matched to a volunteer with the background and experiences best suited to mentor their student. The programs offer a wide range of targeted assistance to children including a unique one for students with incarcerated parents.

Their slogan is “Little Moments, Big Magic” and I think that really captures the essence of mentoring. It’s that human impact, the chance to change the direction of someone’s life, which makes it so valuable. It’s part of why I was able to succeed in my own life. I had a mentor who believed in me, someone who told me I could achieve great things and helped me set a course to make it happen.

All across Oregon, communities are reaching out to students to offer support and guidance. We need to continue to join together to raise awareness of mentoring, recruit individuals to mentor, thank those mentors who have influenced our own lives, and establish school and business partnerships where employees mentor students. Workplace mentoring programs benefit students and provide employees with a community connection. Mentoring programs provide high school students, college students, and community members with the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives. When we join together and mentor others, every student has a chance to succeed. To get involved in Oregon’s mentoring programs visit www.ormentors.org/.

For more information on National Mentoring Month 2010, visit www.WhoMentoredYou.org.
Oregon Diploma Talk
This weekly item highlights actions taken, various questions, and background relating to the Oregon diploma.

The new diploma requires additional credits in core academic subjects and districts have some latitude on how to implement those requirements. Many students will continue to benefit from traditional course offerings while others will need new approaches that maintain rigorous standards while increasing engagement. Districts have been investigating applied academic options to meet those needs. To support the district work in this area, ODE will be publishing common questions and answers related to applied academics. If you have questions that you would like to contribute, please contact Tom Thompson at tom.thompson@state.or.us eMail.

Q. We would like to offer math credit that can meet graduation requirements for students in our drafting classes. How do we decide whether this meets the new diploma requirements?

A. There are two critical questions you should ask when making this type of decision.

      1. Are the mathematics standards included in the course addressed in the 2009 High School Mathematics Academic Content Standards?

      2. Are the standards being explicitly taught and assessed as a part of the course content?

    An applied academic option should provide a different context for students to learn academic content at the same level that would be expected in a more traditional approach.

    Additional guidance related to applied academics, including information related to highly qualified teacher requirements, can be found at: www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1695
    Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

    Intel Schools of Distinction
    Does your school demonstrate 21st century teaching and learning environments that promote excellence in math and science? Enter the 2010 Intel Schools of Distinction Awards and your school could win up to $25,000. Eighteen finalists will win $5,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C. Six winners selected from the eighteen finalists will receive an additional $5,000 from the Intel Foundation and more than $100,000 in products and services from the program award sponsors.

    Application deadline is Feb. 17, 2010 - submit your completed application early and you may win a Netbook. Early bird drawings held every week in January.

    Oregon Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant Request for Proposals
    The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has released the Request For Proposal (RFP) PDF for the Title IIB Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) grant program for the 2010 funding cycle. Applications must be received at the ODE by 12:30 p.m. on April 26, 2010. Title II, Part B of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) authorizes a Mathematics and Science Partnership competitive grant program within each state.

    The program is intended to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science by enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers. ODE is responsible for the administration of this competitive grant program and will make awards to partnerships of high-need school districts and science, mathematics, and/or engineering departments within institutions of higher education. The overall goal is to give school districts, and higher education mathematics and science faculty, joint responsibility for improving mathematics and science instruction through the process of implementing partnerships that provide high-quality professional development for K-12 teachers. Please forward this email to department heads, administrators, and anyone who might benefit from the information. Please contact Cheryl Kleckner eMail or Mark Freed eMail if you have any questions.

    Academies Creating Teacher Scientists
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are partnering to offer a three-year professional development program designed for middle and high school science teachers. The program, Academies Creating Teacher Scientists, will focus on two important elements of science literacy: the nature of science and sustainability. Participating teachers receive a stipend for their participation, a mini-grant for materials in their classroom and professional development, a housing allowance, and travel expenses.

    Through a partnership between teachers and world-renowned scientists at PNNL, middle school and high school teachers will develop a deeper understanding of the nature of science in the context of a real-world experience at a national laboratory. Using the content of sustainability and the cutting edge research being conducted at PNNL, teachers will delve into the world of sustainable energy while being immersed into the nature of science. Based on these opportunities as well as other workshops and seminars, teachers will explore how to use their adult learning at PNNL to enrich and extend the core materials they deliver to students to positively affect the system in which they work.

    For more information and to apply, visit www.scied.science.doe.gov/scied/ACTS/about.htm. If you have questions about curriculum content or the workshops contact: Peggy Willcuts eMail, 509-375-6797 or Karen Wieda eMail,509-375-3811.

    Educate to Innovate
    President Obama, as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, has announced a number of new and innovative partnerships involving companies, universities, foundations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, designed to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These five public-private partnerships -- Intel’s Science and Math Teachers Initiative, expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative’s UTeach Program, a commitment by more than 75 public university presidents to train 10,000 math and science teachers annually by 2015, the PBS Innovative Educators Challenge, and Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships in Math and Science -- represent a combined $250 million in financial and in-kind support, adding to the $260 million in support announced in November 2009 at the launch of the campaign.

    The President called on the 200,000 scientists and engineers working for the federal government to engage in high-impact volunteering alongside STEM educators. In response, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is organizing a multiple-year “Summer of Innovation” enrichment program, in which NASA staff will work with thousands of students and teachers on cutting-edge learning opportunities. For more information, please go to www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/educate-innovate.
    Susan's Schedule

    Week of January 18 – Susan attended a Race & Ethnicity Meeting at the Lane Education Service District; co-hosted a press event with Governor Kulongoski to announce the submission of Oregon’s Race to the Top application to the US Department of Education; and attended the Council of Chief State School Officer’s Board Meeting in Washington DC.

    Week of January 25 –Susan will meet with the Tribes at a Government to Government Meeting in Salem; speak at the Coalition for Equal Access for Girls Annual Meeting in Portland; participate in the State Board of Education Meeting; meet with Senate President Peter Courtney; and will attend the Interagency Council for Hunger and Homelessness Annual Meeting.

    Week of February 1 –Susan will meet with Speaker of House Dave Hunt; and will participate as a judge in the 10th Annual School House Supplies Spelling Bee in Portland.

    The January 2010 issue of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website.

    For scheduling inquiries, please visit our website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=848
    Please forward this UPDATE to others who might find it of interest.

    If you would like to subscribe to the Superintendent's Update, click here eMail.
    If you would like to unsubscribe, simply email susanne.smith@state.or.us eMail
    - end -

    Contact Us

    Oregon Department of Education
    Voice: 503-947-5600
    Fax: 503-378-5156
    255 Capitol Street NE
    Salem, OR 97310-0203

    Helpful Resources

    ODE Accessibility Statement

    Career Opportunities

    Educator Effectiveness

    School Report Cards

    State Board

    Site Map

    About Oregon


    State Directories

    Agencies Listing


    Privacy Policy

    Supported Browsers