Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My Monthly Column – August 2018

Gearing up for the 2018-2019 school year
By Xavier Botana

School doesn’t start for Portland Public Schools students until September, but families can use the month of August to help ensure that their children make a seamless transition from summer to school.

The 2018-2019 school year begins after Labor Day for our students. The first day for students in grades 1-12 is Tuesday, Sept. 4. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will start on Thursday, Sept. 6.

To view the Portland Public Schools’ 2018-2019 calendar, go to our website, https://www.portlandschools.org/ and click on “News & Calendars.”

However, we encourage our families to start engaging with us before the first day of school. One important way to do that this year is by attending a Back to School Fair the Portland Public Schools is hosting on Saturday, Aug. 25. Families are invited to stop by Ocean Avenue Elementary School, located at 150 Ocean Avenue, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

At the fair, a team of trained staff will help parents set up their parent login and fill out essential paperwork. This year, all start-of-school paperwork is going online and parents can get help filling it out.

Parents also will have a chance to sign their children up for after-school programs and athletics and other activities. In addition, families can meet with more than 25 local organizations to learn about programs, resources, and volunteer opportunities.

Interpreters will be available and there also will be activities for children and light refreshments.

If your child is new to the district and not yet registered for the new school year, please don’t wait for the first day of school to enroll your child. You can register your child online using our new Online Enrollment Application process. For more information, go to “School Enrollment” under the blue “Families” box on our website or use this link: https://www.portlandschools.org/families/school_enrollment

Also, many of our schools hold back-to-school barbeques, ice cream socials and other welcoming events before the first day of school. Attending helps both parents and children. Familiarizing students with their school and teachers beforehand helps quell first-day-of-school anxiety. Our families are valued partners in educating our students, so we always look forward to meeting students’ families!

Look for more details about these events on the website of your child’s school and also on the district website.

As the new school year is about to begin, I want to remind parents how important it is that students attend regularly, starting from the first day. The start of school is a critical time when students and teachers get to know one another, build relationships and establish important classroom routines.

By contrast, missing school has consequences for students. Those who miss school frequently are more likely to fall behind academically; research shows this has long-term negative consequences.  

Finally, I’ll close with a note about what to expect from this column during the 2018-2019 school year.

At the suggestion of our district’s Parent Advisory Committee, this column will focus on our seven Core Beliefs about Learning and the Core Teaching Practices you should look for in connection with those beliefs.

Our Beliefs about Learning are:
  • All learners can rise to high expectations.
  • Learners have different strengths, needs and starting points, based on who they are and what they’ve experienced. They learn in different ways and timeframes.
  • Academics, work habits, and social-emotional skills are equally important in school and in life.
  • Students can learn better when they are empowered and feel capable.
  • Learning in diverse groups prepares students to thrive in an increasingly diverse, complex, and connected world.
  • Practicing and learning from mistakes are natural and necessary parts of the learning process.
  • Belonging, engagement, and joy help a learner achieve.

I have invited Melea Nalli, our Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, to join me in writing this column as we explain to our families and community how the Portland Public School teaches to these beliefs. We’ll also tell you how the four goals in our Portland Promise – Achievement, Whole Student, Equity and People – connect to our Core Beliefs.  

I’m looking forward to working closely with our families and the Portland community to ensure that our students have a successful 2018-2019 school year!