• Online-Only Classes Will Continue Until At Least January 28

    Following state guidelines on coronavirus data, PPS will stay with Comprehensive Distance Learning through the second quarter. More information

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Grout Elementary School

An Excellence in Education
Award-Winning School

3119 SE Holgate BlvdPortland, OR, OR 97202Ph (503) 916-6209Fx (503) 916-2632

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  • 10/9/20 Family Newsletter



    Oct. 15     Principal’s Chat 

    Oct. 16     Principal’s Chat

    Oct. Principal’s Office Hours



    Last week PPS announced that distance learning will extend through January 28, 2021, the end of the second quarter.  Decisions about distance learning after January 28 will be announced when we return from winter break.  

    I know this is not the result we were hoping for and we would all prefer to get back to in-person instruction.  However, this announcement gives us the opportunity to settle into the rhythm and the plan that we have worked so hard to implement.  I know this will get better.  It will also get easier.  We will continue to work together to find ways to focus and simplify so that what we are doing is sustainable in the long run and we can accomplish the real work (and joy) of teaching.  


    Michael Wehrli, Director of New Moon Productions, and I met last week to discuss options for a “virtual” drama opportunity.  We would like to gauge interest in an elective “after-school” class.  Please see Michael’s message below and respond to the Google survey if interested by clicking on this link:  Drama Class Survey  (This survey does not commit you to participate, but gives an idea of how many students to include in our planning.)  

    Hello Parents!  For 17 years, New Moon Productions has offered a Comprehensive Theater Program for Grout students.  And we will be continuing! 


    Our plan is to offer Online Theater Classes for the following grade levels:  1, 2/3, 4/5.  Each class will meet once a week for one hour, sometime in the afternoon (after your student’s regular online school time). We intend to start the program in early November.


    We need to know how many students/parents are interested in participating in this program! 


    Thank you!


    Our next Principal’s Chat will be Thursday, October 15 at 4:30 pm (this is a revised time) and Friday, October 16 at 9:00 am.  In this week’s presentation, I will share information about the different platforms we are using in distance learning.  The code to access the meeting will be:  meet.google.com/dgx-jkgq-iun.  


    Thank you to those of you who attended our Grout Back-to-School Night.  Google If you were unable to attend, we recorded the presentation and are making it available at this link:  Back to School Night Presentation Video.  

    Ms. Yao would like to share this video in our Back-to-School information:  Ms. Yao's Back-to School Art Video


    This week’s library book distribution schedule for Kindergarten, Second, and Fourth grade:  

    • On the sidewalk on 31st Avenue

    • Monday, October 12, 2:00-4:00 pm:  Last Name beginning with A-L

    • Wednesday, October 14, 2:00-4:00 pm:  Last Name beginning with M-Z

    Please remember to return any books that were previously checked out to you.  



    The Enrollment and Program Balancing process continues as Kellogg Middle School opens in 2021 while a second comprehensive middle school, Harrison Park, also opens in 2022. The focus of this phase of the process is beginning with the Southeast community around:

    • Reopening Kellogg Middle School 

    • Converting Harrison Park from a K-8 to Middle School

    • Identifying their feeder patterns and engaging the school communities that may be potentially reconfigured from K-8’s to K-5’s

    Work recently began with a committee called the Southeast Guiding Coalition for Enrollment and Program Balancing to guide the process this fall, with a recommendation to the board of education in early 2021. This committee consists of Southeast community members, school principals and district administrators. They held their third meeting last week.  

    At that meeting, the coalition received an introduction to data used to evaluate enrollment and program balancing options and began to review a draft springboard presentation of possibilities. This is a starting point of possible options for the Southeast Guiding Coalition to think about,  and they will continue to work together in October to ask questions and develop additional versions of a possible plan.

    As a community, you also have opportunities to give feedback and input.  Starting October 2, some families will receive a phone call to take a survey to help inform the process. The Coalition is approaching this work through the lens of racial equity and social justice. Therefore, the target segments are grades 5-8, students of color, and students enrolled in dual language immersion. 


    There will also be an opportunity to take the survey online soon. The SE Guiding Coalition will host Virtual Open Houses on October 22 and December 3, 2020 so you can see and respond to the proposals they have developed. I will share more info next week with details of how to join those meetings and links to the survey. 


    I will provide regular updates on the SE Guiding Coalition’s progress.  You can also stay informed by reviewing materials posted on their website and livestreaming their meetings. 

    Reminders from previous newsletters:  


    We are excited to announce that Grout has been selected to participate in a district-wide student delivery pilot program.  The district has been searching for a way to support families who are not able to come to the school to pick up curriculum, materials, supplies, or library books.  Over the next couple of weeks we will begin utilizing this system for anyone that is unable to come to the school during classroom or library book distributions.  If your family is unable to come to the school to during school pick-up events and would benefit from this service, please send an email to Maria Carpenter at mcarpenter@pps.net.  When contacting Maria, please include the delivery address (if this is different from your home address) and what you would like to have delivered (i.e. library books, classroom curriculum, etc.).   


    While meals are served at no cost to children ages 1-18 at several Portland Public School sites through December, there are several benefits for eligible families to submit a meal application this school year.  

    • To ensure eligible students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals continue to receive meals at no cost for the entire school year (past December)

    • Families approved for free and reduced-price meals may be eligible to receive future potential government assistance such as Pandemic EBT benefits.  

    • Families may be eligible for other benefits such as school related fee reduction or waivers, low cost internet and health coverage.

    There are also important benefits for Grout that are a direct result of our community assistance needs.  The percentage of families eligible for free and reduced meals is used to provide Grout with additional resources, including support staff, additional supplies, materials, technology, and staff professional development.  It is really important that we have an accurate representation of our community’s eligibility for free and reduced meals.  

    Families have the following options to submit a meal application:

    1. Online at www.schoolcafe.com/pps.

    2. Print, complete and mail back a paper meal application (https://www.pps.net/Page/2464) to PPS Nutrition Services, 501 N. Dixon St., Portland, OR 97227.

    3. Request a paper meal application be mailed home from mealbenefits@pps.net or call 503.916.3402.

    Families do not need to submit a meal application if any of the following apply:

    •  A meal application has been submitted and approved for the 2020-21 school year.

    • The household received a 2020-21 Direct Certification Approval letter.

    • All students in the household attend a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school (list located online: https://www.pps.net/Page/2088) where students eat meals at no cost.

    • The household does not meet the Oregon Expanded Income Guidelines

    For meal benefits related questions, please call 503.916.3402 or email mealbenefits@pps.net.


    I will be hosting office hours on Fridays between 1:00 and 2:00 pm.  There will not be any presentations during these office hours, but I will be available to check-in, answer any questions, or just generally chat about what is happening.  

    Because it is difficult to use a meeting nickname, while students are using their PPS accounts for school, we will use this code for all of our office hour visits::  


  • Grout's Back to School Night 2.0

    Welcome to Grout’s Virtual Back-to-School Night 2.0.  We have rescheduled our school-wide Principal’s Address and Title 1 Meeting for Tuesday, October 6.  

    Principal’s Address and Title 1 Annual Meeting, 6:00 - 6:45 pm              (Google Livestream) 



    Counselor's Open House, 6:45 - 7 pm                                 (Google Meeting)


    TAG Parent/Guardian Meeting  6:45 - 7:15 pm                                  (Google Meeting)



    Principal’s Open House and Office Hours  6:45 - 7:30 pm              (Google Meeting)


    We are trying to simplify the process and increase access, so we are using direct meeting links.  With these codes, you should be able to access the meetings from any account.  (Of course, if that doesn’t work my first troubleshooting suggestion would be to log in to your child’s PPS account.)  

    Because some classrooms were able to hold their classroom presentations and some were not, we will structure the classroom portion a little bit differently.  Teachers will be providing their presentations to families and follow-up with scheduled office hours for parents and guardians to ask questions.  Teachers will be scheduling these class meetings within the next two weeks and include the information in their class newsletters.  

    Thank you for your understanding and patience as we reshape our Back-to-School Night.  If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher or Principal Self at dself@pps.net

  • 9/4/20 Grout Announcements

    Grout Elementary Announcements Header


    Sept. 7    No School - Labor Day                   Sept. 9    Set-up for Success 

    Sept. 8    First Day of Soft Start for               Sept. 14   Full-Day Distance Learning Starts

                   Kindergarten                                   Sept. 24  Virtual Back to School Night

    September 4, 2020

    Dear Grout Families,

    We would like to start out by thanking each of you for your incredible patience and support as we dive into the beginning stages of the “Soft Start.”  Everyone has been excited to connect in the class meetings this week and begin to explore some short lessons and activities in Seesaw.  We hope things went smoothly for you, but technology can be tricky so hang in there and let us know if you continue to have challenges.  

    Last week our dedicated Grout staff met to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development. Our agenda was full, but included how to insert Racial Equity standards in our classroom instruction, best practices in distance learning, setting expectations for a virtual classroom, and grade level schedules and planning.  

    Even though this start of the school year is like none other, and there is a sadness that comes with not seeing everyone in person, we are continuing to work with our staff, district supervisors, and community partners around options for socially distant in-person engagement.  We will be sure to share out any information regarding this as soon as we can.  In the meantime, your child’s teacher will be reaching out to say hello and check-in. 

    Denise Self                           Katy Vawter

    Principal                               Assistant Principal

    dself@pps.net                      kvawter@pps.net          


    Set-Up for Success

    Mrs. Self, Principal,  and Ms. Vawter, Assistant Principal, are excited to host a virtual community gathering to hear and exchange ideas around setting your child(ren) up for success during this unique start to the school year.  As parents and educators, Denise and Katy understand the challenges of navigating this new “normal.”  The goal is that you find connection with other Grout families and leave with some helpful strategies.  Please join them Wednesday, September 9th at 1:00pm and/or 5:30pm.  The code for the Google Meeting is:  GroutFamilies


    Technology Distribution/Pick-up 

    We have distributed over 120 Chromebooks and technology devices this week.  If your child needs a Chromebook or WiFi Hotspot, please email Maria Carpenter at mcarpenter@pps.net, or Emelie Alvarado at ealvarado@pps.net.  We will make sure that we have what you need in inventory and schedule a time for pick up. You can also leave a message on the office phone at (503) 916-6209.  


    Student Daily Schedules

    As you probably know, we will continue our Soft Start schedules through next week.  Beginning on Monday, September 14, students will have a full day of instructional activities.  While this does not mean they will be sitting in front of video lessons for the entire day, there will be synchronous lessons, small group instruction, and independent activities.  Our day will begin at 8:00 am and end at 2:15 pm, just like our regular in-school schedule. Your child’s teacher will be giving you a more detailed schedule by early next week after we take one more look this weekend and make sure all of the pieces are included and fit together.  



    Attendance in this virtual learning environment is important, but we understand the conflicts that can arise for families.  Teachers will be taking attendance each day, but this may look different for each family.  To be marked present, students will need to do one of the following:  attend the class meeting or synchronous lesson with their classroom teacher, attend a small group synchronous meeting, communicate with their teacher by phone or email, or turn in an assignment.  If you have any questions about attendance, please reach out to your child’s teacher.  


    Breakfast/Lunch Pick-Up at Grout

    Starting next Wednesday, September 9, Grout will be serving meals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  This is a slight change from previous announcements, but Nutrition Services was able to expand what they are offering.  Any child, ages 1 - 18, can come to Grout for a meal.  This is just like our summer program.  They will provide two meals on Monday, two meals on Wednesday, and three meals on Friday.  

    Online Schooling Resources for Families

    Please visit https://www.pps.net/familyresources. This page gathers resources for families and students to help you navigate distance learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Resources include how-to videos and documents to help you and your student access Clever, Seesaw, Google Meets, and more. It also has information on using PPS Chromebooks and links to other useful resources.


    PPS Curriculum for Parents on Atlas 

    Families have the opportunity to view Portland Public Schools curriculum in Atlas by visiting https://pps-public.rubiconatlas.org/Atlas/Public/View/Default


    Meet and Greet our PAL Team (PE, Art, and Library teachers) for New Students to Grout

    Our PE teacher, Mr. Kreuz, our Art teacher, Ms. Yao, and our Library teacher, Ms. Lynn are all excited to meet incoming students new to Grout. They invite all Kindergarten families and new students in other grade levels to 'Meet and Greet' for a brief 15-minutes during a Google meeting. We believe that personal connections will greatly enhance our learning experiences with all students.

    You will get 'Google' Meet experience from your classroom teacher and use the same method to attend this quick hello.  Sign up and read detailed instructions at this link: https://bit.ly/3bfWlse   Please note your sign up day, time, and meet code since a reminder or confirmation will not be sent to you. Please also do not change any appointments on this shared sign up sheet.  If you can’t make the meeting times in the link, you can Meet the PAL team on Youtube: https://bit.ly/31ZLcbR

    All returning Grout students, we also look forward to more "face" time online with you and will communicate open online office hours in an upcoming communication.

  • Welcome Back Letter

    August 17, 2020

    Dear Grout Students and Families,

    We have missed you!  You all have been in our hearts and minds.  It is our hope that you have stayed safe and healthy during this extraordinary time. Needless to say, we are really looking forward to seeing each of you and connecting, even through our computer screens. Moving forward, we honor and understand the uneasiness that comes with this major transition. Please know that we are keeping our students and families at the center of our next steps.  With that said, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the details.  We also know that the situation we find ourselves in with the Coronavirus pandemic and continued civil unrest around racial and social justice in our city and country has shaken us all.  Katy and I are committed to the social and emotional wellness of our community, as well as working diligently to dismantle racism. Together we will work through this crisis and become stronger and more united because of it.

    This is the “robust” letter that we promised last week.  It is long, but has important information and we strongly encourage you to read it all the way to the end.  

    Staff Updates and Classroom Assignments

    As you know, we have a dedicated and caring staff who are committed to supporting the students and families at Grout.  You will see some familiar faces teaching new grade levels, as well as new staff members.  Staffing allocations were readjusted during the summer to meet the new budget realities. What follows is a list of our updated changes:

    • Kindergarten:  Julie Crouser, Kari Lindstrom, Chris Retherford

    • First Grade:  Sharese Jewel, Wendy Wager

    • Second Grade:  Angie Hawksford, Karen Liao

    • Third Grade:  Michele Mulvihill, Lisa Van Clock, Jamie Williams

    • Fourth Grade: Jackson Mowe, Michael Solitaria

    • Fifth Grade:  Jonathan Fischer, Karey Kirk

    • K-2 CB:  Susan Gaudreau

    • 2-5 CB:  Ruthie Finnigan

    In an email last week, you were introduced to our new Assistant Principal, Katy Vawter.  Katy and I have hit the ground running and are excited to be working together.  We have already started planning and coordinating our efforts to get Grout off to a strong start.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us.  

    While some other staff assignments are still being determined, we can also introduce you to our new school social worker, Kate O’Brien.  Kate has a strong passion to support all students with a clear and vocal lens for equity.  Kate has a wide variety of experiences working with children and is looking forward to being a part of Grout’s team.

    Some of our staff have left Grout and we wish them all the best on their new adventures.  In addition to the retirements from last spring, Elizabeth Israel-Davis, Tyler Riggs, Brian Schalk, and Devin Gallagher will be teaching in new schools this fall.  We will also miss Sophie Collins, Sue Ledgerwood, and Gwen Welch, but we hope to see them again soon.  

    Classroom Placement

    Teachers, specialists, and administrators have worked collaboratively with thought and care to look at the needs of each individual student and place them in the classroom environment that we believe will help them to be the most successful.  There are many factors that go into these decisions and while we believe it is important to support families as much as possible, we will not be able to switch students into other classrooms.  We appreciate your understanding as we focus on continuity of care for each student.

    Commitment to Equity 

    In May 2020, Superintendent Guerroro shared the following statement regarding Racial Equity, “...my commitment as an anti-racist educational leader is that we will work to educate our students to be critical thinkers, prepared to lead in a more socially just world.”  These words continue to hold true as Katy and I prepare for the new school year.  A Racial Equity and Social Justice lens will be at the forefront of all we do, from curriculum, professional development, to community events.  During the summer, many of our staff read and discussed “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo.  We will continue to read, learn (unlearn) and grow in our collective anti-racism work, specifically amplifying Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) educators, thought leaders, and activists.  Katy and I are dedicated to this work and will be updating the Grout Community on our clear next steps and actions.

    Distance Learning Update

    Tomorrow marks three weeks since the district announced the decision to move to distance learning.  Many decisions and supports have been put into place behind the scenes.  As I write this, administrators and district staff are working on a revised and focused curriculum.  They are also figuring out logistics, such as technology use and distribution, nutrition and food services, and building access and safety. Teachers return on August 27 and we will then have their valuable voices and input on remaining decisions.  

    Here is what we know: 

    • Grout will be using a full-time distance learning model through at least November 5.

    • The newly designed model will include a more consistent schedule and daily contact with students.  Grades and attendance will be taken.  This model will meet more rigorous and specific instructional expectations.  It will look and feel different than this spring, but we are still committed to supporting students and families through the process.

    • School begins for Grades 1 - 5 on September 2.

    • School begins for Kindergarten on September 8.

    • School will begin with a “soft start” schedule.  This means there will be daily contact with the teacher in the form of a check-in lesson that is focused on supporting social emotional learning.  During this time, teachers will also be reaching out to individual families, planning, and participating in professional development. 

    • All K-5 classrooms will be using the platform Seesaw.  Grades 6-12 will be using Canvas.

    • Decisions about extending distance learning past November 5 will be made and communicated by October 10.

    • With this new model and schedule each student will need access to a Chromebook or computer.  Technology will be provided to students as needed.  

    As we move into this year, some families have asked about support in creating “learning pods.”  As parents, Katy and I understand the impact on families and the importance of creating a network of support.  From an equity lens, we, along with PPS and the Grout PTA, believe this opportunity would have to be provided to ALL students.  Grout administration, staff, and the PTA will work together to support all of our families, however, we are unable to take part in the creation and/or implementation of the learning pods.  

    Technology Needs

    Technology distribution will be site based and available directly from Grout.  We are currently trying to determine how many computers will be needed and working with the district to get this inventory on site.  After these numbers and dates are determined, we will communicate with families on where and when to pick up the devices.  This distribution will take place between August 24 and September 2.  We will have multiple times available to accommodate families’ chedules.  In the meantime, please send an email to dself@pps.net or call (503) 916-6209 and leave a message if you need to check out a Chromebook. Please include the name of the Grout student(s).  If you need a wifi hotspot or or have any other technology needs, please let us know.  

    Grout Parent/Guardian Orientation

    In addition to the district provided orientation for parents and guardians, we will have our own orientation for Grout families.  Families will learn how to use the virtual learning technology, hear suggestions for helping students be successful, and meet Katy and I.  This will also be an opportunity to ask questions and share your thoughts.  We will offer a morning and an evening session the week of September 3.  Please stay tuned for details.

    Nutrition Services

    Grout will continue to be a food distribution site with “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunch provided free of charge for Grout students.  Beginning September 2, lunch and breakfast will be provided on Mondays (2 meals) and Wednesdays (3 meals) between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm.  The last day for summer meal distribution will be August 20.  

    In the Works: 

    As you can imagine, with every solution we discover new questions.  Ideally, we would have every detail sorted out.  This is what we are still working on:  

    • We are scheduling a virtual Back to School Night on Thursday, September 24.  Mark your calendar.  More details to follow.  

    • Daily schedules are still being drafted.  While these schedules will be individualized by the classroom teacher, the district will be sharing a schedule that clarifies expectations for time and instruction. They are planning to share these schedules this week.  

    • With the virtual learning environment, we do not yet know what school supplies students will need.  As teachers return and get a better idea of what the new distance learning model looks like, they may have a request, but most students will be safe to start the year with paper and pencil.  We will support any student who needs school supplies.  

    Upcoming Dates

    • September 2 - Schools starts, grades 1-5 

    • September 2 - Grab & Go meals begin at Grout

    • September 2 to September 11 - Soft Start

    • September 8 - School starts, Kindergarten

    • September 14 - Full day distance learning begins

    • September 24 - Virtual Back to School Night

    • October 10 - District announcement about continuing distance learning

    • November 5 -  End of distance learning, unless extended by the district

    Again, we know this is a great deal of information and thank you for your perseverance.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  Please know that at the center of all of this work is the safety and well being of our students and families.

    Stay safe!

    Denise Self                Katy Vawter

    Principal                     Assistant Principal

    dself@pps.net           kvawter@pps.net


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