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Irvington School

School Grade Levels: K-8

1320 NE Brazee St.Portland, OR 97212Ph 503-916-6185Fx 503-916-2639

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  • Oregon Trail Update (10/20/16)

    Yesterday the Willamette Week published an article about Irvington that teachers and parents met with representatives from Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) to "complain" about the lack of cultural relevancy contained within the 4th grade Oregon Trail overnight experience. The article went on to say that students were boycotting the event. These statements are not accurate and the Willamette Week made no effort to get correct information from school administration. I want to make sure our community has an accurate portrayal of events since the article made inaccurate implications.

    Irvington teachers, parents, and community members met with a representative from MESD on Tuesday afternoon in the spirit of collaboration with the intent to make constructive suggestions for modifications to help the Oregon Trail curriculum become more culturally responsive. These suggestions were drafted over the summer during a series of meetings after concerns were initially raised by students and parents through a video called "Oregon FAIL." These concerns reached the PTA, who has traditionally budgeted $2,000 a year for the trip. After hearing the concerns the PTA membership voted to hold $2,000 in the budget, with the condition that if MESD did not modify the Oregon Trail curriculum to be more culturally responsive, Irvington would look for other options. 

    When MESD was contacted about our concerns last spring, they were very interested in meeting with us in order to get ideas about how their curriculum could be modified. During the meeting Irvington presented the following specific suggestions:
    Possible Activity Modifications (for activities traditionally done during the Oregon Trail experience):

    • Map an Acre activity- discuss the impact on other populations
    • Pictures on the wall depicting students- add a more diverse selection of students
    • Cornhusk Dolls activity- add some other options for hair color, etc. so they can represent all students
    • Toys on the Trail activity- Share toys used by other cultures during that time period
    • Natural Resources activity- Explain trading between White settlers and Native American tribes
    Possible Activity Additions
    • 3 Oregon Exclusion laws
    • Pre-teaching activities for teachers- similar to the Outdoor School workbook
    We also included resources the MESD staff could utilize to make the changes:  “Beyond the Oregon Trail” book, PSU Departments, Grand Ronde online resources, Robi Osborne- PPS Social Studies Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA)

    The MESD representative was very receptive to the suggestions and felt as though they could be incorporated into lesson planning they will be doing this fall and winter. Yesterday I received the following message from Stephen Beaudoin, an MESD Board Member in response to the Willamette Week article:

    Dear Irvington School students,

    Today, I am inspired by you.

    As a board member, and current board chair, of the Multnomah Education Service District, I am inspired by your commitment to naming and confronting oppressive behaviors in our public education system, and your commitment to equity, fairness and getting it right when we tell our histories, and when we learn together. 

    Your advocacy to bring needed improvements to MESD's Outdoor School Oregon Trail field trip program - through your current boycott of the program, and your meeting last night with MESD staff to share your feedback and concerns - is exactly the kind of advocacy and leadership that I always hope is encouraged and developed in our schools. I think it speaks well of the environment of the Irvington school that such leadership is avidly developed.

    I've watched your Oregon FAIL video on YouTube, and listened carefully to your feedback and ideas on the Oregon Trail field trip program. I agree that there are so many ways the program can be much more accurately representative of the realities of our histories, especially with how the experience of Native American peoples and tribes are under- or mis-represented in the curriculum. 

    Too often in public education, we allow a slow-burning racist undercurrent to infect our curricula, our textbooks, and even our teaching and learning.

    It is important when we encounter racism or ableism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia, that we name it, we interrupt it, we address it, and we work for corrective action and transformation. You are modeling this with your advocacy for improvements to our Outdoor School program - and it is enormously appreciated.

    Of course, my hope is that as we listen and learn, the improvements to our program will allow you to reconsider your boycott and return to participating in the program, and that you as students see more accurate and equitable representation of peoples and histories that inspire and challenge you. 

    I expect you will hold us accountable in this regard.

    I've also reached out to our Superintendent, Sam Breyer, to discuss ways we can consider and incorporate your feedback for this program in the short term, and ways that MESD can better engage all our stakeholders - including you, as students we serve - in our strategic planning and program development in the future.

    You are the leaders we need to make our schools and communities better. Keep advocating. Keep using your voices. Keep making change.

    Thank you, and lead on!

    Best regards,

    Stephen Marc Beaudoin
    Board Chair, Multnomah Education Service District

    Next steps include MESD taking Irvington's suggestions and exploring how they can be incorporated into the Oregon trail curriculum. The next meeting time and date will be publicized in In Touch so any interested parents can attend. In addition, there will also be an announcement for a future meeting to gather culturally relevant materials for other grade levels and curricular areas.

    Thank you to everyone who has supported this important work,
    Principal Ellwood


  • Dear Irvington Families,

    Welcome to the 2016-17 school year! Irvington has a number of exciting things going on that I’d like to share with the community.

    SWIFT Grant

    Irvington is in its fourth year as part of the Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) grant. This is a $25 million grant funded by the United States Department of Education and being overseen by the University of Kansas. Irvington is one of 64 schools in the nation chosen to be part of this exciting opportunity that guides schools in combining resources more wisely in order to meet the needs of all students. For more information feel free to visit the national SWIFT website at Irvington has a Leadership Team composed of teachers, students, parents and administrators that meets twice a month and oversees implementation of our school plan called the Comprehensive Assessment Plan (CAP). This summer Irvington’s work was nationally recognized and our school was featured in two videos produced by videographer Dan Habib. I will be sharing more information about this program at monthly Principal’s Coffee meetings.

    Successful Schools Framework

     Successful Schools Framework


    Irvington has been doing racial equity training using Courageous Conversations protocol for the past seven years. Racial disparity in academic achievement, discipline, and graduation rates is a national concern and is unfortunately reflected in Irvington’s data. While our disciplinary disproportionalities have been decreasing, we are continuing to work on raising academic achievement for all students. Each of the following initiative areas are focused on supporting all students in being successful, but with focused attention on decreasing gaps based on race and ethnicity.

    Quality Instruction and Assessment

    This year we have a number of initiatives designed to support quality instruction and assessment in Irvington classrooms:

    • lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), including lesson objectives written in student friendly language
    • curriculum designed in grade level teams based on student data 
    • teacher participation in Learning Walks 
    • staff development around CCSS, differentiation, and culturally responsive instruction
    • strategic scheduling to allow greater differentiation in classrooms
    • participation in the Learning in Depth program.

    Learning in Depth is a research- based program for all ages that was developed by Dr. Kieran Egan consortium at Simon Fraser University. Last year over 300 students in all grades participated in this extracurricular program.We also have some schools in British Columbia that would like to partner with us, so students will have opportunities to communicate with fellow researchers studying the same topic. More information about this research-based program will be shared in September and is available at

    Professional Learning Communities

    Teachers meet in grade level teams once a week to review data, design lessons, and share best practices. Administrators and other support personnel attend these meetings twice a month. K-5 teachers meet during specials, and middle level teachers meet after school.   

    School Climate

    Irvington has been doing training in Culturally-Responsive Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (CR-PBIS) for the past five years. We have a School Climate team that reviews disciplinary data on a monthly basis in order to design more effective interventions and/or provide more structure where needed. For more information about PBIS, feel free to visit the national PBIS website at

    School-Family Partnerships

    Irvington has a history of having strong partnerships with the community. We are working to make our family and community partnerships even stronger through our Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Courageous Conversations parent group, Families of Students of Color group and Latino Families Group, which is now hosting English as a Second Language classes for families twice a week. In addition, two business partners- Arnerich Massena and The Maurice Lucas Foundation- provide valuable resources for many of our students. We hope to continue fostering these positive relationships during the 2016-17 school year.

    Thank you for your continued support. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

    Kathleen Ellwood
    Irvington Principal


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  • PPS High Schools Welcome 8th Grade students

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    Prospective high school students can visit their neighborhood high school or a focus option school at information sessions being held district-wide November through February.
  • Next Steps: Enrollment Balancing

    Dear Portland Public Schools Community,
    I accepted the role of Interim Superintendent of Portland Public Schools (PPS) at a challenging moment in time. During my first month on the job, I initiated an assessment of the programmatic and system priorities identified by the Board of Education for the 2016-17 school year. After these priorities were established, a number of additional priorities emerged that also require attention:

  • Indoor rowing education comes to Portland Public Schools

     Recent Erg Ed event in Seattle WA.
    PPS has been awarded the 2016-2017 Erg Ed Grant. This grant provides erg equipment, access to the Erg Ed Curriculum, and comprehensive teacher training throughout the year.
  • PPS employee recognized as a hero

     Bryan Meyers (left) and Steve Barton (right), courtesy Gladstone Fire Dept.
    Union painter Bryan Meyers has received a Citizen Life Saving Award from local Gladstone police. Bryan’s quick thinking and actions saved his neighbor’s life during a cardiac arrest earlier this year. Click more for a local news story that includes gripping audio of the 911 call.
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