Sally Stauffer, PTO liaison and parent of a RCP 5th grader and RHMS 7th grader, has compiled the following update to share. Thanks, Sally!
Hello RCP families! I just wanted to pop on here to say that things have been changing over at RHMS! It's perhaps frightening to imagine your fifth grader there next year given what you've heard, read and seen on the news. I want to assure you that there have been some really positive changes that, as the parent of a current 7th grader at the school, I can testify have shifted (and continue to shift) the culture of the school. I also want to share that even during the most difficult days this fall, my daughter never once said she didn't want to attend this school--she loves it and with intentional coaching from me, understands why re-entry from the pandemic has been a challenge for students at this school (and most middle schools). I recommend you talk to other parents of current RHMS students willing to share their experience at the school to hear as many perspectives as possible. Here's what I've seen (and learned from teachers) in terms of progress so far this year:
-An additional Assistant Principal will be added to provide leadership support while easing the burden of time-consuming administrative duties (like contact tracing)
-A new, permanent BIPOC Campus Security Associate has been hired. Her name is Tia Cunningham and she is trained in verbal de-escalation techniques and my daughter says she is "really cool!"
-Lunchtime Affinity Groups are in full swing. These include: Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Group, Black Student Union, Gay/Straight Alliance, SOL by the Latino Network, The Show with Mo (Mr Mo), YEP (for 7th/8th grade boys) and Conexiones Girls Group through the after school SUN Program.
-The House/Village Model has been implemented where students are divided into small groups and assigned to a teacher (like a homeroom). They meet every Monday for 45-60 min for social/emotional support, to discuss rules/expectations at school and the model acts as a vessel for the school admin to communicate news (academic, enrichment, etc) to the students.
-Teachers have now been trained in Restorative Justice practices by RJ staff from McDaniel. They will be using the House/Village Model to teach Restorative Justice circles where students are going to be taught RJ principles and practices. More info on RJ here: http://restorativejustice.org/restorative-justice/about-restorative-justice/tutorial-intro-to-restorative-justice/#sthash.sslq9spG.dpbs
-The teachers are getting organized after being out of the building during the pandemic and now have a better understanding of student/teacher needs from both the district and parent community. They have assigned a new "External Organizer" for RHMS Parent Association of Teachers (PAT). Her name is Stephanie Rege and she, "will work to build and strengthen relationships between teachers and community members like parents, business owners, nonprofit organizations, etc., with a focus on parent-teacher partnerships." She will attend PTA meetings and be a teacher/parent liaison and advocate.
-On January 13th and 14th 2022, RHMS is joining the Multnomah Deputy District Attorney, BJ Park, for two presentations on Social Media and Internet Safety. One will be for parents and the other for students.
-They are shifting away from reactive interventions to proactive interventions to build community through bringing fun games/activities to the Houses, PJ and Teddy Bear Day, increasing the amount of Spirit Weeks throughout the year, supporting AVID program through College t-shirt/sweatshirt Day and increasing activities/celebrations during Black History Month.
-They are also increasing Positive Behavior Support strategies to recognize students who are demonstrating positive behavior at school through a Tickets program during which teachers identify students for positive behaviors and write a kind note on a ticket that the student redeems for items in the student store.
-If you have a student on an IEP or with different learning needs, there are many supports offered including, but not limited to:
-wellness room access (a quiet space in the school to take breaks)
-they typically use a Push-In model of service delivery (SPED team works with teachers to fully include student by offering services in learning spaces with other students vs separate from), but also will Pull-Out individually if needed
-regular outreach/check-ins with students/families from Social Worker, Kate Sherwood (she also runs small groups and does home visits)
-daily check ins before the day begins
matching students with teachers who offer specific supports (like increased structure in class, using visuals to teach, previewing changes with students, etc)
-using visual schedules if needed
-offering quiet spaces to eat lunch (library)
-daily/weekly communication from student's SPED team
-small groups with Speech Language Pathologist extraordinaire, Jill Valeski, who is also a parent of children at both RCP and RHMS.
Please let me know if you have any questions!