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10/27/2011 10:21:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #351
Superintendent's Update

Superintendent Castillo's updates showcase the efforts and achievements of Oregon schools. Through these regular updates, the Superintendent hopes to increase communications regarding important initiatives for Oregon's students. Click here to access archived issues of Superintendent’s Update.

In This Issue:
  • Recognizing Excellence: Tigard Teacher Receives Milken Educator Award
  • Closing the Achievement Gap: Spotlight on Riverside Elementary
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Recognizing Excellence: Tigard Teacher Receives Milken Educator Award
By Susan Castillo

Milken' This week, it was my honor to announce that Tigard High School social studies teacher Frank Caro has been selected as a recipient of the Milken National Educator Award. This prestigious award is given to about 40 outstanding teachers around the country each year and as part of this recognition Frank Caro will receive an unrestricted $25,000 cash award from the Milken Family Foundation. Joining me in presenting this award was Milken Family Foundation Board Member Dr. Thomas Boysen.

Great teachers change lives, inspire excellence, and shape the future. They come to work each day excited to share their love of learning with their students, knowing that they can, and they must, make a difference. These teachers believe in the potential of each and every one of their kids, and they work tirelessly to help our students reach that potential. Frank Caro is such a teacher.

Milken' But far too often, our dedicated educators do not receive the appreciation or recognition that they deserve. The Milken Family Foundation is committed to changing that, shining the light on the profession and saying a very big thank you to outstanding young educators like Frank Caro for all that they, and their colleagues, do every day.

Frank Caro is recognized around his district as a passionate and creative educator with a special ability to connect to all kids, whether they are in his International Baccalaureate Psychology class or in a summer credit recovery program. Caro’s ability to make his lessons accessible and interesting to a wide range of kids has endeared him to his students and earned him the respect of his colleagues. He is highly involved in the life of the school, helping with everything from curriculum development to advising multiple student clubs. Caro’s high energy, enthusiasm, and ability to understand students’ diverse needs make him truly stand out, and in recognition of all he has contributed to the school, he was selected as the school district’s Teacher of the Year in 2010.

The Milken Educator Awards were established in 1987 by Lowell Milken to reward, retain, and attract the highest caliber teachers in the profession. Today, the Milken Educator Awards is the nation’s largest teacher recognition program. To learn more about the Milken Family Foundation, go to: http://www.mff.org/mea/. To learn more about past Oregon Milken educators, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=225.

Photos courtesy of Alexis Wagar, student photographer at Tigard High School.

Closing the Achievement Gap: Spotlight on Riverside Elementary
By Susan Castillo

This feature highlights high poverty and/or minority schools recognized in 2011 for their progress in closing the academic achievement gap.

Riverside Elementary teachers consider themselves “instructional doctors,” constantly monitoring the academic health of every student. “We’re taking the temperature of our kids,” says 1st grade teacher Jill Gove, “and prescribing what each kid needs to be successful.”

Riverside has a relatively small minority population and few English Language Learners. But poverty has grown to the point that 4 of 5 students now come from disadvantaged families. “The current economic times have hit hard here,” says Principal Susan Zottola, who taught at the school 18 years before being appointed principal.

Riverside' “When the demographics changed, teaching had to change. We had to let go of some of our assumptions that kids would come in knowing the alphabet or the colors... You go through a little bit of, ‘But they should!’ But that’s our job – to provide them rich literacy experiences, to provide them structure and an environment where there are rules and expectations they may not have at home.”

Riverside makes no excuses – over 90% of students meet or exceed the state benchmarks in reading, math and science, and the school has been ranked Outstanding on the Oregon State Report Card the past three years.

“Reading is our Number 1 priority,” says Zottola. “Reading is the key to the rest of our students’ lives. It doesn’t matter whether they go to college or a technical school or get a job... They need to be literate.”

The Response to Intervention (RTI) program is a key part of the school’s strategy for closing the achievement gap. The program enables teachers to systematically track struggling students, adapting instructional interventions to meet each individual student’s needs. The RTI team meets every six weeks to check in on students’ progress and change instructional strategies as needed. The intervention program changed how teachers approach their job, making them more systematic and more creative at the same time.

Riverside' “We focus in on what each student is doing in the classroom and what they need to progress to the next level,” says 3rd grade teacher Christine Mooney. “I tell my students no matter what struggles you face, if you focus on your goals, you can achieve them.”

By focusing on data, Mooney says teachers are able to target specific weaknesses and give students the support to make remarkable turnarounds. “Just giving them the time and the instruction really makes a difference,” she says.

A part of Riverside’s recent success can be attributed to its embrace of Whole Brain Teaching, an instructional program one of the teachers discovered on YouTube. The teacher was fascinated by the fast-paced, fun strategies – lots of gesturing, moving around, and call-and-response interacting – and started using them in her own classroom. When colleagues saw the success of Whole Brain, they got hooked, too, and now the Whole Brain program has gone “viral” in the school and across the district.

“It’s not OK to stand up in front of a class and present instruction -- you’re going to lose kids,” says Gove. “All the teachers said this is engaging, this is what kids needed, and this is what’s going to get us results.”

Teachers work closely in teams to review student assessment data and coordinate instruction, and teamwork is part of the school culture. Over the years, Zottola says, that commitment to collaboration has evolved, becoming even more focused on achievement. Riverside is a place where everyone is invested in the kids. When 3rd graders were prepping to take the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) tests for the first time, they got encouragement not only from teachers, but everyone from the custodian to the office manager, who wrote good-luck notes to the kids. The music and physical education teachers tutor students in reading in 30-minute daily blocks, giving those students a much-needed extra dose of literacy instruction.

“We don’t have any cynics on board,” says Linda Austin, the Title I coordinator who has been at the school for 38 years. “We don’t have staff who say, ‘What goes around comes around’ or ‘I’ve heard that before.’ We are willing to work hard and make things work.”

Click here to learn more about Riverside Elementary and other schools closing the achievement gap. Also on the website are inspiring short videos of our Closing the Achievement Gap schools. Visit the site to learn more about each school’s story!

Oregon Diploma Talk
This item highlights key topics relating to the Oregon diploma and the Common Core State Standards.

Want to learn more about the Common Core? Want to catch up on all of the recent news in one convenient location? Check out the CCSS Quarterly Updates. This quarterly publication includes previously published articles on the Common Core and can be found on the ODE website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3265.

Also available on this page are Common Core FAQs, fact sheets, videos, audience specific fliers, recordings of recent WebEx presentations, and much more.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship
Kaiser Permanente has partnered with the Oregon Area Health Education Center at OHSU to offer the fourth year of an exciting scholarship program. The Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship Program awards a $2,000 scholarship to one senior pursuing a career in health at each high school in their service district, up to 113 total. In order to be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:
• Must be a senior in high school during the 2011-2012 school year
• Must be pursuing a career in a medical or dental health care field
• Must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
• Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident
• Must reside and attend school in the Kaiser Permanente Northwest service area at an approved high school (see scholarship application for list)
• Must be enrolling at a U.S. accredited college or university as a full-time, degree- or certificate-seeking first-year student in fall 2012

All students who meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply. Additional consideration is given to students for any of the following:
• Being a first-generation college-bound student (neither parent has graduated from a two- or four-year college)
• Demonstrating financial need (e.g., meeting federally set low-income definitions)
• Speaking English plus a second language fluently
• Being a member of an ethnic or racial group currently underrepresented in a health profession

Applications are available online at kp.org/communitybenefit/scholarship/nw, and are due by Saturday, January 14, 2012. Awardees will be announced in April 2012.

Christopher Columbus Awards
The Christopher Columbus Awards are now seeking entries for the 2011-12 school year. Teams of up to four middle school students and a coach identify a community issue and use the scientific process to solve it. Finalist teams win an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World where they compete to attend the Christopher Columbus Academy. The program is designed to help develop STEM skills, enhance critical thinking skills, and encourage community service. For more information and competition guidelines, go to http://www.christophercolumbusawards.com/. Coaches may be teachers, parents, community leaders or mentors. Teams do not need to be affiliated with a school to enter. The deadline for receipt of entries is Monday, February 6, 2012.

Susan's Schedule

Week of October 24 – Superintendent Castillo announced Frank Caro of Tigard High School as the 2011-12 Milken Family Foundation’s Educator Award, attended the Education and Business Partners reception hosted by Governor John Kitzhaber at Mahonia Hall, announced Oregon’s 2011 Title I Distinguished Schools recipients, and presented report card information to the Oregon Education Investment Work Group.

Week of October 31 – Susan will attend the 40-40-20 Summit at Oregon State University hosted by the Oregon University System; speak at the Business Education Compact breakfast meeting in Portland; meet with Mark Jackson, Executive Director of the REAP Program in Portland; host a proficiency panel for the Department of Education; and speak at the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce’s Crystal Apple Awards.

The October 2011 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
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