One day in late October, second grader Carter Lee Buyas grabbed a pair of pom poms from a pile of objects laid out on a bench in the Kelly Elementary School courtyard.
“I like the sound pom poms make,” Carter said. “I like how they shake, shake, shake. Maybe I’ll mop with them. You know, clean the ground. Or I could be a cheerleader.” He pointed to a group of three girls doing a lively cheer on the sidewalk. “Or I could plant them. The pom poms could be flags. Or plants.”
He paused and looked thoughtful. “They can be whatever I want them to be.”
Last spring, when Portland Public Schools moved to ensure that every middle school in the district had an active advisory program, the focus was on relationship building and giving students and teachers the tools needed to nurture a sense of belonging.
The goals for the advisory programs were clear. What the district had yet to arrive at was a curriculum that would help everyone achieve those goals.