Dear Beach Families,
Congratulations on completing our “Hard start” to the 2020-21 school year; virtually! The front office at Beach would like to show our deepest appreciation to all parents who are wearing multiple hats during this time, and working through the kinks that come with distance learning. We miss you all very much, and are hopeful that in-person connections will be made with our new students and families when it is safe to do so. As your office staff we are here to assist you with school related questions and issues, but we are also a resource for the community. Do not hesitate to reach out if you are in need of support. We are happy to help or connect you with someone who can. Things are a bit different this year, so to make it easier we’d like to break down some of our duties so that you may find solutions quicker. Ms. Esther, the school secretary deals with attendance, synergy, registration questions. Ms. Tina, the Principal Secretary, connects Ms. Hawking with families, tends to the needs of teachers and staff, and takes care of the Beach website and communications. If you are unsure of who to speak with please include us both via email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We look forward to an awesome year with you all, and encourage you to keep hanging in there; You are doing great!
Tina & EstherThank you so much Tina & Esther, and now a quick note from me about our School Supplies Drive and our Back to School Night this Thursday evening:School Supplies for Beach Students
Can you help with Donation &/or Distribution?
Our PTA president, Kelly Orehovec is organizing parent volunteers to distribute school supply kits to every student in our school for home learning. Teachers have determined a minimum, K-5 list that will help them teach and meet students’ needs, including headphones. We are grateful for any size donation you can contribute-- you might even share the link with grandparents or other family members? Thank you so much.
Can you contribute to the needed supplies Wish List for our Beach students? Please click the following link-- donation options range from just a few dollars, to larger contributions.
***It is vitally important to choose to ship to Kelly Orehovec which will show up as an option when you place your order. If you want to volunteer to distribute the school supply kits the week of October 8th, please email Kelly Orehovec at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pick up times will be the week of October 8th at book pick up and meal pick up.
Please join us this Thursday evening, September 24 for our
Beach Elementary School Virtual Back to School Night
We hope you will join us! This is such an important time to connect as a school community… to learn and to share. We want to hear from you as much as we have information to share.
In addition to the sessions below, each grade level team is preparing their own versions of our school-wide Google Slides presentation. Teachers will send their slides presentations out to families via email by Wednesday morning and will then work to ensure all families know about and received access; these slides are our core, consistent, school-wide distribution of Back To School Night content this year. Teachers are also ensuring access to the content in Spanish or other languages needed. Slide content will include grade level benchmarks, classroom schedule, home school communication plans and classroom routines such as volunteer opportunities and celebrations.
Please see below for details now, then look at our Beach Website for general meeting links on Thursday evening.
If you aren’t available to join us Thursday evening, please be sure to read the slides content that will be emailed to you by your child’s teacher(s) by Wednesday morning, and connect with your child’s teacher and any other staff for any questions or ideas you’d like to share with us (see our contact information and letters to students on our “Staff” page of our website. You matter to Beach, and we are striving to work and serve in ways that ensure we positively matter to you, and to your child.
Dear Beach Parents and Families,
Today was the first day of Soft Start for our kindergartners! A warm welcome to all our new Beach Bobcats. We’ve ordered each child and staff member in our school community a special bobcat sticker with our school motto (I matter to Beach & Beach matters to me!) and will be getting those to you soon! Somehow! Today was also Day 4 of Soft Start for our 1st-5th grade students. I hope your child and family have enjoyed a chance to talk with your child’s teacher, and that you are feeling connected with us and hopeful for a strong year of learning within the challenges we’re facing. We’re committed to that experience for your child!
We’re excited about a PPS library program called Let’s Get Reading. Starting the week of 9/14, you will be able to pick up pre-packed bags of books for your students. Each bag will contain books chosen for grades K-2 or grades 3-5 and can be swapped out every 2 weeks as long as we are distance learning. The full schedule is available on the Library website in the announcements or by clicking the "Let's Get Reading!" bag in Library at Home. Please contact Ms. Hughes at email@example.com with any questions or requests for home drop-offs. Book bags are probably where we will distribute our Beach Bobcat stickers (re, above) once they arrive!
I know you received information from PPS about school attendance, and I want to make sure you know that our top school priority is establishing positive relationships with your child and you, to ensure a sense of belonging for every student: this directly impacts strong academic achievement. The best way our staff (teachers but also our specialists, secretaries, and assistants) can connect and build relationships with your child, is if they get to connect with them via whole class and small group meetings. Following classroom schedules will be important, but we know there are so many challenges, from children’s individual preferences and needs, to the schedule itself. When/if it may become relevant, please remember the ultimate goal during distance learning is maintaining connection between family (child) and school. Again,even if your child ends up missing some days in a row, just reach out to the teacher or any staff member (please see our full list of staff and letters each staff wrote to students on our Teachers & Staff website link) so we can help determine which meetings or structures will be most workable for you/them.
If you can make time tonight, there is a Family Friendly March from Sunnyside Elementary tonight, Tuesday September 8, at 6:30. People gather at 6 to make signs. This march is posted on the Black Lives Matter calendar. We all need as much connection as possible and to connect as a Beach school community around committing to Black lives and equity is a most important way forward.
Beach Elementary has been approved as a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) site for this coming school year. This means students who are enrolled at our school automatically qualify for free meals. If students enrolled opt to request a home delivery, there will be no charge for their meals. The next meal service at Beach Elementary will be tomorrow, 9/9/20 from 3-5PM on the corner of N Concord and N Humboldt for walk up or drive thru. The Nutrition Services department will have meals available at each of the schools found through this link operating with grab and go meal services.
For families who are unable to get to the school to pick up food, we will offer meal deliveries to family homes. Deliveries are made possible by the transportation department. Meal delivery schedules are still being determined and will depend on the demand for the service. To sign up for home meal delivery, please click on the link here: Home Meal Delivery Link
In closing, we invite native Spanish speaking families to join us Friday, September 18 for Café en Español. We will share information about the services that Portland schools offer and answer your questions regarding the educational experience that your children are receiving these two weeks.
Here’s to a strong, final week of Soft Start and start to the “regular” school year next week. We’ll send another newsletter a week from this Friday (the 18th), and each Friday throughout distance learning. During regular times, we send our newsletters monthly.
Dear Beach Parents and Families,
Welcome to what is sure to be an adventurous 2020-21 school year! I hope you’ve been able to experience as much warmth and joy as possible this summer. I’m happy and honored to be entering my 4th year as your principal and you continue to have my full commitment in service to each and every one of our Beach children. It’s a year for creativity and persistence in finding ways to create opportunities for inclusivity, connection and exchange across our beautiful school community.
The first day of (distance learning) school for 1st-5th graders is Wednesday, September 2nd and for Kindergartners, Tuesday September 8. We will begin the school year with a “Soft Start” as you know from PPS Communications (if you are not yet receiving PPS messages, text “yes” to 68453 and click here for Soft Start info). Our staff will be trying out new, innovative ways to connect with, learn from and partner with you, to come to know and teach your children well, and we’ll evolve things as necessary.
I’m proud to announce some excellent staff members joining us this year! Each brings a commitment to building positive relationships, to best practices in teaching and learning, and to success, engagement and joy for each of our Beach children.
Seann Combs, Kindergartners (Mr. Combs’ joined us mid-September last year and is now a permanent member of our staff).
Wintry Whitt, 1st graders
Ms. Suta (Hara) 1st graders in Spanish Immersion (Ms. Suta was Ms. Fitzhenry-Jaurez’s long term sub last spring and is now a permanent member of our staff).
Gabriel Dominguez Lopez, 2nd graders; Spanish Immersion
Rhys Hills, Half-Time Beach Social Worker (K-5) (also finishing his MSW Program at PSU)
Veronica Hughes, Full Time Media Specialist/Teacher Librarian (K-5)
Ryan Duff, Half-Time Music Specialist (K-5; also Half-Time Music Specialist at Woodlawn School)
David Amundson, .1 PE (Monday afternoons)
Staff making changes…
Ms. Fitzhenry-Juarez returns from maternity leave.
Ms. Marquez will teach 2nd graders in Spanish Immersion.
Ms. O’Leary is our full-time Reading Specialist.
Ms. Hazard is our K-5 Student and Teacher Support (formerly School Climate Coach/Instructional Specialist)
Ms. Edwards will teach 1st graders at Ainsworth Elementary School in SW Portland, a school where a close colleague teaches and with which she’s had ties for many years. We wish her the best and will miss her very much.
Mrs. Seymour and her family moved back to Texas to be closer to their extended family. We will miss her and our other teachers who have made moves...
Ms. Herenandez-Solis will teach 1st graders at Atkinson where her own children attend.
Ms. Lockett will teach 2nd graders at Bridlemile, closer to her new home in SW Portland (you’ll find a message from Ms. Lockett further on)
Ms. Marwa Almahalawy will be EA at Cesar Chavez (we did not have enough FTE to keep her with us.)
Here are messages from many of our new staff:
Gabriel Dominguez Lopez
Hola me llamo Gabriel. I am a Master’s in Education candidate at Portland State University in the International Teacher Education Program. I taught elementary school education in Mexico for 11 years, and I came to California in 2005 as part of a binational cultural interchange to teach Art and Spanish to Elementary and High school level students. I called Oregon home since 2007. In Oregon, I had the opportunity to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Spanish with a minor in Elementary Education, both my passion. During my studies, I had the opportunity to work and volunteer in diverse schools, that included Spanish immersion settings. I worked with Preschool and first grade children in order to understand the development of the students during early stages of their life. I have also worked in the hospitality industry, which provided me with the scope of attending the public needs aiming satisfaction of expectations. All those skills led me into Portland Public School Dual Language Residency Program. My eagerness for teaching in the immersion setting was finally awarded with the Second Grade Spanish Immersion Students at Beach Elementary School. I am looking forward to hear from my students, the parents, teachers and the community to continue developing the Spanish language that bridge cultures.
My name is Wintry, and I am so excited to be a part of the Beach Community! I graduated from Concordia in December 2019 and started teaching first grade at Vernon in January. Prior to returning to school for my master’s degree, I ran a small non-profit, Peace Village Global, teaching children and youth conflict resolution and mindfulness. I love to travel, and I spent six years teaching in Kenya and traveling through eastern and southern Africa. I have two daughters, ages 10 and 12, and together we love to camp, hike, cook, and bake. I look forward to meeting and working with you all.
Hi Bobcats! My name is Veronica Hughes, and I am so excited to be Beach's new teacher librarian. I know I have big shoes to fill, and I'm ready for the challenge of both maintaining the strong library program in place and doing so digitally this fall. I moved out here from the Chicagoland area last fall after working at the same school for 9 years in both ELA and library. My experience has been predominantly in middle school, but I was offered the opportunity to work in Astor's library last school year and enjoyed working with elementary students so much. Outside of school, I love to read (obviously!), run, be outdoors, travel, and spend time with my husband Joe and dog Southpaw. The move west has brought so many new opportunities for personal growth and trying new things, and I am excited to add working at Beach to that list.
Hi everyone, I'm Rhys Hills (Mr. Rhys to the students). I had the opportunity to get to know a lot of you last year as an intern, and this year I am really looking forward to strengthening those connections as Beach's school social worker. I am working on finishing up my Master's degree this year, and in my spare time I enjoy art and family sitcoms. This upcoming year, I will be focusing a lot on students' mental health, particularly around issues of grief and anxiety. I am also really interested in finding creative ways to support the whole Beach community; I want to help continue to develop the resources available to us all, and I really want to help us build community connections like we did in-person. My last priority this year is around equity-- it is clear that coronavirus, as well as our current social environment, are disproportionately impacting Black, Latino and Indigenous families, and I want to do anything I can to lift us all up. I am so excited to be working with you all this year!
Hi everyone! My name is Ryan Duff and I am honored to join the team at Beach School as the Music Teacher. I look forward to working with all of you as we build the new music program at our school.I've been working in elementary schools since 2010 and have spent the last three years serving as music teacher at schools in Gresham and Woodburn. I am a proud graduate of Washington State University but I consider myself a life-long learner and strive to learn something new every day. As you might have guessed I have a deep love for music of all kinds but I have a special place in my heart for jazz music. In the past I have played clarinet, flute, and saxophone professionally in a military band. In my spare time I like to garden with my family and I keep honey bees with my father.
Here is Ms. Suta’s introduction to 1st grade families last spring: My name is Sujata Hara but I go by Ms. Suta. My parents are originally from Japan but moved to Hawaii where I was born and raised on the island of Maui. After graduating from UCSD, I went back to Maui but life took me to Spain where I met my husband (better known as Mr. Almazan at Beach) and stayed for 7 years (where I learned Spanish). We came to the U.S. almost 6 years ago now and landed in Santa Fe, NM, where I decided to get my teaching license. I started as a substitute teacher and was also a food educator for 1½ years for a non-profit organization called Cooking With Kids that helped teach kids and families to make healthy food and food choices. I also taught for 2 years in a computer lab class for students K-6th grades in a dual language school and after moving to OR, as a para-educator within PPS while waiting for my Oregon licensure to finalize. Some of my favorite things to do are photography and making art. I also play a bit of violin and like to bake.
My name is Seann Combs, and I am proud to be returning to Beach Elementary as a kindergarten teacher for the upcoming school year. While this is my second year serving in this role, I have over a decade of experience teaching students in third and fourth grade. I am a graduate of Saint Leo University in Florida and have a Masters Degree in Education Leadership. When I'm not inspiring tomorrow's leaders, I enjoy learning new recipes, reading, writing, and playing with my dog. I am looking forward to a wonderful year at this fantastic school!
(Here are farewell messages from Ms. Lockett and Ms. Edwards)
Dear Beach Community, I have some bittersweet news to share, as I will be leaving Beach this year. My family is relocating to SW Portland for my husband's job and as I'm excited about our next step, I am also heartbroken to leave all of you! Thank you for the amazing opportunity to teach your children and work with your family. The staff as Beach will always have a special place in my heart and I will miss them greatly as well. Thank you for your support and stay well! I miss you all already. Take care! Sincerely, Mrs. Lockett
Dear Beach Families, I leave Beach School with great memories of my time with the community the last 7 years. At the same time I am very excited to start a new chapter of my teaching experience, I’m also a little sad to leave. Beach is the school that I worked for the longest and I’ve enjoyed my time here. I will miss all of you and I hope that we can stay in touch in the future. Until our paths cross again! Hasta Pronto! Peace, Mila
Thus, here is our awesome Beach Classroom Teacher Staff for 2020-21!
Kindergarten: Seann Combs, Deisy Guzman, Jose Siam
1st Grade: Wintry Whitt, Sujata (Suta) Hara, AnnMarie Fitzhenry-Juarez
2nd Grade: Julianne Stevens, Anna Davila-Marquez, Gabriel Dominguez Lopez
3rd Grade: Cameron Shaw, Ani Ponz, Rodrigo Aguirre
4th Grade: Mika Hilbers, Kimmy Kenyon, Molly Sheean
5th Grade: Ali Piff, Oskar Almazan-Lopez, Stephanie Macdonald
How can I help during this most unusual start to the school year?
1. We are calling on all our Beach Families to engage in whole community care and connection. All have different strengths and capacities to exchange and share. Inequity results when some families can provide a privilege or resource for their child while other families can't (such as with learning pods), disadvantaging students and hurting our entire community. On this "Beach Parent Return to School Survey" you will find the question: Are there specific ways (skills, resources, time, opportunities, services, etc.) that you can volunteer to support our Beach community this school year? It's exciting to imagine parents across our community providing a meet for children to speak only Spanish (a Spanish speaker facilitates discussions or companionships), hosting virtual read alouds or book clubs on various topics, hosting game sessions, etc. -- and intentionally offering to invite children in (staff would facilitate the connections).
We encourage families with family members from all immigration backgrounds to share ways they can exchange services with other Beach families. We will never ask you to disclose your immigration status, and no particular immigration status is necessary to access any of these mutual aid resources from our community. None of your contact information will be shared with anyone outside of the Beach community, especially not immigration officials. Your information will only be used to connect you with resource offerings and requests within the Beach community.
2. In the interests of inclusion and connection for all our students we will create a Beach School Directory. You may "opt out" from sharing directory information on your child's registration form. Please be sure to go online and complete the yearly verification form. We are double-checking your preferences about sharing your contact information on our survey, and you can find information here: Directory information
3. Again, please complete our Beach Parent Return to School Survey. By doing this, you will make space for our staff to reach out to those who aren’t able to do so because of language, access, or other barriers. Here is what the survey will help us do:
Identify families who need assistance with technology
Identify safety preferences as we confirm class lists
Understand which families have various resources they’d like to exchange with each other
Identify which families are comfortable participating in a directory
Please apply for Free & Reduced meals even if you won’t be accessing school meals or don’t think you’ll qualify. The percentage of students who qualify for Free & Reduced lunch has a direct impact on the number of teachers with which schools are staffed. The application process and whether you qualify are strictly confidential.
Who will my child’s teacher be?
During the four days teachers are “back” before the Soft Start begins, we will consider additional factors and finalize class lists. This includes making note of families who are sharing childcare or have other requests due to the pandemic. This process will take some time and has many steps:
Removing students who have moved
Adding students who are new to Beach
Adding/Removing students who are transferring into other PPS schools
Balancing for gender, academic achievement, race, access, ESL, Special Education
Compiling and analyzing parent preferences from the parent survey
Reaching out to families who do not complete the parent survey
Because teachers return on August 27th, adjusting and finalizing placement can’t begin until just 4 days before school begins. I anticipate that class lists may be ready on September 1st; the classroom teacher’s name will be available on Parent Vue.
When and how does school start?
As mentioned above all PPS schools will have a soft start. For 1st-5th graders, this means that from September 2- 11, students will have a daily Google Meets with their homeroom teacher that will focus on community building and learning the technology tools. Students will be assigned just a few tasks to practice the tools. Full academic instruction will begin on September 14th and will include whole group and small group instruction, paper and pencil assignments and assignments online.
Kindergarten teachers will be reaching out to families September 2-4. Kindergarten Google Meets will begin on September 8th.
Attendance will be taken every day starting September 2nd. It will be important for your child to be ready to sign on with their class on time so they can experience the community connection and understand the plan (it’s confusing and less engaging for children to join in to their class meetings late, same as it’s challenging for children to arrive late to school. The soft start will allow staff to reach out to families and provide time to learn new tools and requirements for online learning.
Upcoming Events For Your Calendar (all events are virtual via Google Meet) --
Topic Talk: Kindergarten! Monday August 24 at 9:30 a.m.
Cafe en Espanol, Friday September 4 at 9:30 am, facilitated by Ms. Romero
Class Assignment available on Parent Vue & Teacher Letter sent via email by Sept. 1
1st Day of Soft Start Gr. 1-5: September 2
1st Day of Soft Start for Kindergarten: Tuesday September 8
Back to School Night: Thursday, September 24, 6-7 pm.
ESL Presentation 5:30-5:50 (will also be recorded/available on our website)
Gifted Education Presentation, 5:30-5:50 (same as above; available on website)
SUN Registration: TBA
All School presentation with staff introductions 6-6:10 and individual classroom presentations, 6:15-7
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused and illuminated so many challenges and injustices and we’re navigating a nationwide awakening to the persistent injustices of systemic racism. Within this time, I find myself so grateful to be part of our Beach community, for our caring, committed, skilled and joyful staff, and for you and your children. Together we can keep our children safe and teach them toward a better future. As individuals within our community we must pull together, support each other, and teach our children to see and name injustice, realize and question their own privilege where appropriate, and take action toward a more just society.
You are so important to us! We will do our best work in collaboration and partnership with you. If you have a comment, question or concern, please always feel welcome to call or email. A request: could you please put the words “message from Beach parent” in your subject line if you email me? This will help me search for and find you within my email.
Lisa Hawking, Principal
Hello Beach Parents and Families!
Our office staff is back on contract this week, and we are in process preparing for our (distance learning) start of the school year. I'll have a message for you by the beginning of next week, possibly sooner, even though we are still waiting for many details to be finalized within district and teachers union negotiations. I know you are all trying to figure out plans for your child for this year, from childcare, to considering learning pods, to how you'll manage within your home. We must address and plan for the needs of every child and family in our community. Two resources I've found of particular interest in the past weeks are the podcast "Nice White Parents" (I'm one of them, and the history of our impact on public school is important to understand) and the article Pandemic pods for kids will make school inequality worse. It doesn't have to be this way. Please check them both out, and I will have another message for you as soon as possible. Please also give your child a warm hello and smile for me!
June 25, 2020
Dear Beach Parents and Community,
I hope your family is doing as well as can be this 3rd day into your child’s summer vacation! Thank you for your partnership during our most unexpected end to the 2019-20 school year, and over the course of the whole school year as well. As we plan for the unknowns of next school year, know that I’m committed to and love this school and our community! While this year ended in an unexpected way and next year will begin in an unusual way, our staff will be ready to welcome your child and family into the new school year however it unfolds.
One of the many strengths of our staff is the love we have for our students and school community. We want Beach to be a joyful, inclusive, safe and engaging place for every child, we value partnering with you every step of the way throughout your child’s K-5 experience, and we are committed to facilitating strong learning outcomes and success, with racial equity and social justice at the forefront, for every one of our students. As a white principal, I want you to know I am committed to listening, reflecting, learning, and taking action to interrupt systemic racism, white bias and oppression in our own school and beyond. (Please let me know any thoughts, concerns, questions, etc..) Our staff’s love for our students and community is powerful when we come together as a team with a shared vision. We are committed to listening, reflecting, learning and taking action on behalf of each of your children next year.
Some specific actions we’re planning include
- Deepening and expanding the ways we reach out to, hear and support parents
- Black Family Affinity Group, Topicas Para Hablar, Topic Talk
- Listen closely to students in our circles (or solid rectangles). What are students telling us?
- Black Student Union, GSA (Gay Straight Alliance)
- Figure out new ways to be responsive and flexible in our responses to students
- Utilize Successful Schools Survey data to help us critically examine our practices and school environments. For example: what do our students need and want in order to feel a “sense of belonging” at Beach? What do words such as “sense of belonging”, “safe”, “respectful” mean to our students? To our families?
- Re-launch our “4 Be’s” (Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible) framework through lenses of equity, social emotional learning and needs, cultural relevance, and what it means to be anti-racist
- Evaluate our lessons, resources and practices utilizing a framework for anti-bias education
Some other quick updates for you:
- If you missed our student materials pick-up day last week, we’ll have your child’s paper bag of supplies for them in the fall. Staff (other than custodians) are not permitted to re-enter schools until a date TBA.
- If you saw the messaging from Mr. Ramirez last week about advocating for funding for PE, and/or if you advocated, please know that funding for PE to this year’s levels, as well as adaptive PE, was restored! The current plan is that our students will maintain the same amount of PE they had this year with Coach Ramirez and Ms. Orr.
- Last year’s school supply lists are posted on our website, with the most important items to focus on during summer sales for next year highlighted. Please feel free to hold off on purchasing the other items until we know more. We want to minimize school supply costs for families, but also ensure all students are ready with basic supplies for school and/or home, and don't want you to miss sales in the interim. If your budget is limited, please prioritize a good sturdy backpack big enough to zip around a pocket folder, pencils, markers, folders, and paper (see your particular grade level list for specific kinds of folder and paper requested). We will update the lists with additional needed items when we know what school will look like. Please don’t feel you must prioritize purchasing school supplies over basic needs for your family. We will partner with organizations and fund-raise as necessary to ensure all children have needed supplies next year. If your family is able to double up on supplies to provide them for a family whose resources have been more impacted during the COVID-19 crisis, please do! (Please just let the office know if you purchased an extra set of supplies, and for what grade level.)
- The “Grade Level Benchmarks” insert you received with your child’s report card, with sections called Academic and Social Behaviors, Writing, Reading, and Math, was our staff’s effort to provide you with a visual reference for what we’d hope students at each grade would be able to understand or produce by the end of a regular school year. I want to highlight the “Academic and Social Behaviors” section. Students need to understand those academic and social behaviors, as well as regular academic skills. Often, they need help mastering the academic and social behaviors before they can successfully learn academic skills. If you recognize skills your child needs to learn (which is pretty likely for many if not most students!), helping them practice this summer could have a huge positive impact on their academic learning next year.
If you haven’t yet read Ms. de Boer’s message about supporting children’s social and emotional needs, alongside helping them understand the significance of current events around racial injustice and police brutality (sent via school messenger June 9) please keep scrolling-- we have begun posting our school newsletters in chronological order under this tab. Her message as well as her linked reading/listening and website are amazing resources!
My very best wishes for all kinds of goodness for your family, and our world, this summer.
Dear Beach Families,
We are very near to the end of an historic school year on multiple fronts. In the midst of a global pandemic wrought with uncertainty, anxiety, and fear, school in its traditional sense was abruptly interrupted and the bulk of the work was suddenly thrust into your laps. This, for many families, was likely nothing shy of a nightmare. For others, your children thrived. No matter how this impacted your family, we made it to the end of the school year. That being said, the concerns regarding COVID-19 that closed schools in March remain unresolved.
With COVID-19 as a backdrop, we also find ourselves in the midst of another profoundly important and historic movement with people in our city, state, country, and around the world taking to the streets to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Conversation about race and racism are likely new to some families and for others this has been an ongoing conversation or a profoundly personal experience. Helping even our youngest students understand these concepts and the concept of white privilege and how to be an antiracist are critically important.
As we approach summer a whole new set of questions and concerns arise for me, especially around supporting the social and emotional needs of our kids while helping them understand the significance of the current events of today. Some ideas to support this work can be found below.
Take care of yourselves, be safe, and congratulations on finishing the school year. I will see many of you again in September.
How to talk to kids about race and racism and how to be an antiracist:
This open letter to White families from Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacob, a Black parent writing for Romper.com is a much better and much more personal explanation as to why this work is so important. I encourage you to start by reading her letter before continuing with my response below.
As a biracial Asian/White woman I will be the very first to admit that I am not an expert on this topic. My family is the beneficiary of many positive social determinants of health including a history of access to education including higher education, access to high quality health care, and financial security. With that caveat I am happy to share what my family is doing as we engage in the work of becoming antiracists. First and foremost, I need to continue to educate myself on the history of systemic racism that has been present in this country since it was founded so that I can understand how I have participated and caused harm. I do not feel that I can support my children’s growth in this area unless I am personally and actively engaging in this work. To do this I read/listen to books, podcasts, newspapers, and anything else I can get my hands on to help me better understand the experience of what it is like to be Black in the United States, on how to better understand my privilege, on how to be an ally and an antiracist. I talk to people about what I am seeing, hearing, and reading. I try to notice when I am uncomfortable around people that are racially different than me to better understand whether my own biases are causing this discomfort. My husband and I talk about what is in the news with our kids, and we talk with them about what it means to have white privilege. We talk about how their skin color is different compared to mine and to some of our friends. We take them to child friendly protests (with masks on) so that they have a physical experience of being part of this movement. We talk about how my interactions with and perceptions of the police are different from those of our Black friends. We read fiction and nonfiction books and movies together and separately and talk about them. We talk about stereotypes, race and racism in what we are seeing, hearing, and reading and in the context of when the movies/books were filmed and written and whether things are different now. When we were in Washington, DC a little over a year ago we visited the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum. My son was 7 at the time. It was too much for him to fully understand, but definitely planted a seed for having more conversations about what it is like to be Black in this country especially now in light of the long overdue reckoning for racial justice for Black Americans. It gave both of my children the opportunity to begin to understand the historical context of why and how we got to this place today. The link below is a great resource to start talking with your kids about race.
My child is having having big emotional outbursts and more behavioral concerns:
Recently many families have mentioned an increase in challenges managing emotions and the related behavior concerns. I want to take a minute to fully appreciate what we have required of our children. We told them that they couldn’t go to school, see their friends, and play sports or engage in other activities because of a virus that was making people critically ill. They saw parents staying home from work. They saw parents wondering how they were going to buy groceries and pay bills and rent. And now they are seeing and hearing protests for racial justice and against police brutality directed at Black Americans. They may be seeing images of George Floyd dying under the knee of a police officer, protesters being beaten with batons and gassed by police in riot gear. This is terrifying for adults, let alone children that have no locus of control and limited understanding of what all of this means. Remember this when your child acts out or is more emotional than usual. Their reactions are normal and expected. When responding to kids, ask yourself, ”How do I act when I am scared and anxious?” and “How do I want people to respond to me when I feel that way?” This doesn’t make challenging behaviors go away, but sometimes understanding why a child is behaving a certain way can be immensely helpful when trying to support them.
All students have been taught about their amygdala and prefrontal cortex. They know that the amygdala is the emotion center of their brain, and when activated by strong emotions, it can disengage from the rational prefrontal cortex. When we consider behavior in this regard, their occasional irrational behaviors often make a lot more sense. The key is to teach them skills to manage big feelings before they find themselves in a fight or flight state. My website has 42 days of very short mindfulness exercises that your kids can practice. They can be found here. I would encourage you to go through the archives with your kids to find some that work for your child. Scroll through the slides to see each day’s activity. Additionally, I have a series of lessons/activities on my website that focus on helping kids build resilience. They are linked here in English and here in Spanish. A book list with links to digital books to support emotional regulation and information about our brain’s emotion center can be found here.
How do I support my children’s need to be with friends during the coronavirus and social distancing?
There is no easy solution for this. Families need to decide what their personal comfort level is with the risk of seeing others. Younger kids especially struggle to maintain social distancing. It is not a natural way for them to play. I recommend reading to educate yourself on what is safer and more risky. Determining what you are comfortable with and having candid discussions with other families is of the utmost importance.
Personally, I am seeing that both of my children really need to be with their friends in some capacity. My middle schooler has been doing well through this crisis, but has not liked weekends. She is grumpy and sullen and complains that she has nothing to do without the structure of school. I anticipate that this will get worse as soon as school is over. I struggle to balance physical safety with the mental health and wellness of my children. We have been talking with other families about the possibility of letting the kids get together. For me that would likely mean outside only. I know that they won’t likely be able to maintain social distancing, but I do know that they will keep their masks on and use copious amounts of hand sanitizer. I also trust the families with whom we would do this to share the same expectation of their kids that I do and that they would practice similar social distancing expectations as my family when we are not together. This likely feels too risky for some families and ridiculously cautious for others. I want to acknowledge this openly because, again, there is not an easy answer.
Dear Beach Parents, Families and Community,
Our car parade and clap out for our 5th graders yesterday afternoon shone light on the love our staff and community has for our children. Thank you so much if you were able to help or participate. I hope your child had fun, and that you had fun! The end of elementary school and being promoted to middle school is such a big, emotional milestone. I hope you will take time to pause and reflect on all your hard work and effort as a parent, and celebrate what you feel most proud of. Remember to include your efforts to build strong relationships with your child’s teachers-- such an important component of children’s success in school, and an area in which our staff wants to do better. Each of our Beach students are beautiful and full of spirit, capacity, potential, and you have everything to do with that! Our 5th graders go out into the rest of their lives representing a very loved group of people from Beach Primary School. We’re still holding them tight right now though. Next Tuesday evening at 5 pm we’ll be posting a virtual ceremony for our whole community to enjoy, 5th grade or incoming K or anywhere in-between. In the video, 5th graders will share reflections, our student body will be represented in a photo clap-out, and many staff will share comments.
Many of us, including me, recorded our comments pre-Memorial Day, thus before George Floyd was killed. This has brought up some feelings. Our messages will feel cheerful and focused on celebrating our children. I’ve thought about re-recording my remarks, but we have two things running parallel right now-- love for and joyful celebration of our children. And, an urgency to respond to George Floyd’s murder as well as the innumberable Black Americans who have died due to police brutality.
Our community is resilient, empowered and incredible when we come together as a team to make something happen. As we celebrate the way that who we are, and what we can do together, played out yesterday, we can also carry our collective efficacy forward in the most important work we are doing in our own reflection and growth, as well as with our students, every day. Our staff is considering: What do our Black students need to feel safe and valued in their learning spaces? What do our non-Black students need, in order to better understand how to provide support and stand against injustice?
I believe in our staff and know we believe in each other, to carry our love, passion and our ability to do hard things that need our full commitment and a large, diverse collaborative team, forward. I was struck with the many effective and powerful ways that collaboration between family and school resulted in the amazingness of our car parade yesterday. Our collaboration, spirit, desire to make it happen well, willingness to take on the necessary pieces and belief in ourselves-- was why it worked. Let's remember the power of our collective efficacy as we prioritize racial equity for our school and for the world.
And now, an important logistic for next week (student materials pick up Thursday June 11) and also a reminder: Please join us for Topic Talk this afternoon at 4 pm.
Student Materials Pick Up Plan
Some students still have belongings such as water bottles, coats or beautiful work at school; others have everything from school already. If your child or children are in the first category, you will be able to come to school next Thursday at a scheduled time to pick up their materials (and drop off library books). Please know that PPS has decided parents and students are not permitted to enter school buildings for any reason. Here is how this will work.
- Teachers will still provide instruction to students next week. It is possible that there may be a day teachers provide an asynchronous activity vs. a classroom meeting. Your teacher will let you know their plan for students for next week, as always.
- Next week staff are scheduled at various times between Monday-Thursday to come to Beach following social distancing rules to organize student materials and their classrooms for summer break.
- Our staff will write student names,
teacher names, teacher’s room number, and student’s locker number if
relevant, onto paper bags, place all student materials (including
medication if relevant) in the bags, then organize them for delivery to
parents or designee (written permission required) in cars on Humboldt at
a time organized by student last name on Thursday (only):
- Student’s last name begins with A-H: 8-10 am
- Student’s last name begins with I-Q: 10 am-12 pm
- Student’s last name begins with R-Z: 12-2 pm
- Organizing bags and pick-up alphabetically by teacher enables parents who have children in multiple grades to pick up items from more than one class at the same time.
- Please pull up so you are facing the school-side of Humboldt: you’ll want to pull up to the curb facing forward toward Denver (not facing toward Concord/Interstate).
- Parents are encouraged to bring in library and textbooks and place them in a stack (or bins if it’s raining) by the main entrance; our staff will carry them to the library.
- Within your scheduled time (above),
please pull up on Humboldt, in front of the auditorium doors (right
between the main doors and the entrance closest to Concord).
- Please bring and hold up a paper out your car window that clearly names your child’s last name and each teacher’s last name so our staff can locate your bag(s) and carry them to the curbside, step back, and you will then pick them up.
- Parents and staff are asked to adhere to Social Distancing guidelines throughout the process.
- If we end up with confusion about locker items we will use this plan at the Pick Up location: a staff member will show the student/parent (who remains in their car) all of the items in the bag and the student can identify if items are theirs. Items that were in the bag but don’t belong to the student will be returned for retrieval by the student to whom they do belong.
- We are starting the day with a smaller band of names to allow us to see where the glitches are and make necessary changes before the next grade band.We hope you won’t have a long wait and apologize in advance if you do. Please plan to arrive during your scheduled time so we don’t end up with (even more) traffic congestion; if you come off-schedule we will have to work differently to find your child’s materials which will create delays.
- Neighbors, friends, family etc. can pick up items for other students as long as the parent provided a note (you could hold up a text requesting that you pick up, or hand staff a paper request, etc.) designating permission. Please communicate this and provide the note to staff when you pull up.
- Report cards will either be sent home in paper bags or be mailed the week of June 15. Many teachers will still be working on report cards through next Thursday June 11 (June 11 is a district work day intended for writing report cards). Thus, some report cards will be mailed home, but if teachers have completed theirs early, they will come to you in your paper bag.
Dear Beach Parents and Community,
Can you believe there are only 7 more days of school before this school year will be over? This year will likely stand out in the memories of all of us, and it is a stage in our 5th graders’ education in particular, that they will surely remember forever. Our 5th grade teachers and other staff have been collaborating to plan special events for our 5th graders’ end of year and end of elementary school that we are excited to share with you.
Virtual Promotion Ceremony On Tuesday, June 9 at 5 pm, we will send out and post on our website, a video ceremony our staff is making for (and in collaboration with) our 5th grade students. We hope our whole community (5th grade of course, but also everyone else!) can join us in viewing the video from home at 5 pm on Tuesday (in the spirit of being together). We know some families will need to view it at a different time as schedules permit. On the last day of school (the next day) 5th grade teachers will then show the video in their classes so that students can watch together; any who weren’t able to view the night before, can see with their class. Following that, classes will have individual google classroom “parties” that all staff will be invited to drop into. (All our classes will be holding special meetings this day.)
Final car parade and Clap-Out. This coming week on June 3rd at 5pm (one week prior to the last day of school) we are hosting a parade to clap out and celebrate our 5th grade students! 5th grade parents are invited to bring their 5th grader to school beginning at 4:30; 5th grade students will be positioned 6 feet apart in an assigned (yet chosen) spot along either Humboldt or Denver, to be honored and celebrated as their last week of elementary school approaches.
Here are the details. All are welcome to join in to celebrate our 5th graders and be together as a school community, according to the specified guidelines.
5th graders and Beach staff will be the only people allowed outside of cars and will be positioned on the school side of the streets (all other people must stay in cars or be distanced across the street under family supervision).
5th graders should be dropped off or arrive between 4:30-4:50pm. (Once dropped off students will stay on the x marked spot in their class’ section of the route until their adult picks them back up.)
- Ms.Piff’s class stands between the corner of Concord and halfway down Humboldt. (Thick orange line on the photo)
- Mr.Almazan’s class stands halfway down Humboldt to the corner of Denver. (Thick orange line)
- Ms.Macdonald’s class stands from the corner of Denver and Humboldt half way down Denver. (Thick orange line)
Other people: 5th grade families and siblings, other students and families, friends, Beach staff and partners are invited to drive the route and cheer! While it’s safest to be in cars, attendees on foot are responsible for their own social distancing and need to stand on Humboldt on the opposite side of the school. (Thin orange line)
Route starts at the corner of Concord and Humboldt going past the front of the school down Humboldt, turning left on Denver and heading around the block. (The pink arrows on the map)
Picking up your student - We ask that all 5th grade students who participate be permitted to stay standing in their spot until 5:30 (or when the parade is over). Parents can drive around a second time, picking up their student right at their individual location.
Please keep in mind: We have created these procedures that must be followed, and also ask you to come with awareness we are doing this for the first time and there could be challenges with timing, despite all our efforts to be precise and organized. We hope our route will prevent traffic jams and we simultaneously recognize there may be congestion and waiting. We want to ensure we celebrate every 5th grader and are putting together an alternate plan for those who can’t attend the parade.
Safety is priority. 5th grade students are expected to stay in their individual spots (marked with an X) until you pick them up. We realize it will be challenging for students not to go up to each other; please help your student understand they must stay 6 feet apart from every adult and child other than their family. Much as they will want to, they can’t hug anyone. It is hard to know who this will be hardest for… we’ll all be in it together though, and we’ll celebrate and have fun despite the challenge.If your 5th grade student will walk, please send them with a note giving your permission for them to be released from school at 5:30 without you picking them up.
No bathrooms will be available.
We are not able to allow anyone to enter the school. Please be sure your child uses the bathroom before arriving.
No candy or any items thrown. Let’s celebrate with bubbles. Blow them from your car window.
Again, only 5th graders are allowed out of cars or to come unaccompanied.
Our staff is only supervising 5th graders.Younger students must be accompanied and supervised by an adult to be present.
We will be delivering notices to our neighbors ahead of time..Please be as considerate of them we will definitely be changing their regular environment.
Parade route map
A few other components of our 5th grade celebration to know about...
Farewell Heart Mosaic-Mandala ~ During 5th grade classroom meetings the idea of doing something together, completed by all 5th graders to serve as a tribute and farewell for the year emerged and is now in process. As a symbol of students belonging to Beach Elementary and to this community, Mr. Almazan drew a heart on the school blacktop composed of many pieces, with each piece representing one of our students. The goal is for each 5th grade student to come to school with their family to color a piece of the heart with chalk, then take a photo of their colored piece and a photo of the family that will be put together into a mandala and sent to 5th grade families. Teachers are coloring the piece for any student who can't get to school (those students are still sending a photo of their family. We have until tomorrow before the rain on Saturday! Here’s what the image looked like earlier this week.
Minecraft. 5th grade students have all been invited to participate in replicating Beach Elementary using the Minecraft Bedrock program! Minecraft is an open virtual space where participants must build their own world. In this world, participants have special powers and there are creatures very different from the real world that allow them to foster the creativity of the participants while developing another set of skills. However, the versatility of these virtual spaces allows them to replicate places and constructions from the real world, where avatars of people can visit the Louvre Museum, climb the Eiffel Tower or hold their graduation ceremony in an environment very similar to Beach Elementary! Check out Mr. Almazan’s inspiration for creating this opportunity for our students via two videos, linked here for you.
Minecraft Virtual Graduation at UC Berkeley https://youtu.be/-iYTZwJwiLo
Elementary students in Japan Hold Minecraft School Promotion https://youtu.be/k0_xRaFY628
Have a wonderful weekend, and hope to see you driving down Humboldt or Denver cheering for our 5th graders next Wednesday afternoon!
Warmly, Ms. Hawking, Ms. Piff, Mr. Almazan, and Ms. Macdonald
Dear Beach Parents,
We hope you will join us for one of two “Topic Talks” coming up the next two Thursday afternoons.Our goal is to invite a (virtual) space for our adult community to come together, connect and share around our current experiences as parents. Our staff deeply values the voices, perspectives and insights you have to offer each other and also us, in our efforts to best serve your child(ren) and you as we “re-frame” school this spring and, likely, into next fall. We are so very proud of, and grateful for, the amazing ways you are supporting your children, our staff, and our community, and we want to be here for you in new ways… in whatever ways we find and can accomplish together.
Our staff’s Equity Team, which meets twice per month, is bringing the question “Thinking about our future, and our need and desire to disrupt inequities in our system, what are things you want to do differently, individually or as a school?” forward to our staff next week. Our staff cares so deeply about the success of each and every one of our students, and we want to figure out ways to adjust Distance Learning in order to meet the varying needs of families... for example, whose children are being cared for by grandparents without the ability to support online learning, or who are are working or caring for younger children all day long thus can’t prioritize or help students attend classroom meetings. Or, for whom our district and staff’s current efforts just aren’t yet the right opportunity for school-based connection and learning.
We’ll start with a quick presentation/overview of some very accessible and engaging resources on Ms. de Boer’s website, for helping children learn resilience. Then, we’ll invite you to share about how what you saw/heard resonates for you and what you’re going through or supporting, with your child. You’ll also be able to ask questions of any topic in the chat (a feature of Google Hangouts Meet) that we will either answer in the space if there is time, or through following up later either in the school newsletter or by calling or emailing with individuals or small groups.
Our first “Topicos Para Hablar” is at 4 pm next Thursday, May 28 (for our Spanish speaking community, facilitated by Ms. Romero and Ms.Marquez), then the following Thursday, June 4 Ms. Mo and I will co-host in English. Members of our Equity Team and other staff will also likely join either or both conversations. We know the time won’t work for everyone so please let us know what time would work better for the future. In addition, a staff member will synthesize each meeting and we’ll post that synthesis on our website, for reference for those who can’t attend.
These are conversations about ways to support your child socially and emotionally, and an opportunity for our adult community to come together in community and solidarity. Please join us!Sincerely,
Dear Beach Parents and Community,
This week I’d like to shine a light on our Community Partners & Case Management team, who came together at the beginning of our school closure to organize supports for our most vulnerable students and families. We are in connection and partnership with many parents and volunteers as we work to support the acquisition of basic needs (food, shelter and work), access to internet connectivity and devices, and in development of effective, enduring ways to foster the emotional well-being of everyone in our community. As of this week, 100% of our students have been able to connect with their class online! I extend my deepest appreciation for team facilitator and school counselor Ms. de Boer and the daily commitment of team members: Ms. Mo (SUN Manager), our REAP staff Ms. I, Mr. E, Ms. Megan, and Mr. Anderson, and 9 other non-classroom teaching staff including myself-- Ms. Marquez, Ms. Megan, Mr. Ramirez, Ms. Romero, Ms. Tina, Ms. Helen, Ms. Amanda, Mr. Baca, and Ms. Singer.
The COVID-19 crisis has very clearly illuminated the challenges that families face everyday, and unfortunately, right now we have even more families that are suffering. The ongoing commitment, compassion and energy of our community volunteers has been incredibly heart-warming and provides essential supports to families who are experiencing difficulty or suffering during this pandemic. We anticipate that as the state lifts closures many volunteers will return to work and summer routines. Volunteer availability to sustain current levels of support and commitment will naturally wane. We want to ensure families have a way of accessing resources when volunteers are unavailable. As we work to foster the emotional well-being of everyone, we also want to ensure that our amazing volunteer community knows that it is okay to step back and take care of yourselves and your families.
Our school community is so incredibly fortunate to be partnered with REAP and SEI; Ms. Mo has been instrumental in supporting our team and our PTA to connect families to community resources. Our goal is to build resiliency and connection throughout our community, and we want your engagement. How can our community stay connected in what feels to many like an unconnected world? What can I do to support our community? I need your help to identify those needs and find solutions. Please submit your feedback here (use the “anything else” box) or via email -- my virtual door is always open to you.
Belle Chesler, another brilliant mind in our parent community, wrote in her powerful article published in “The Nation” this week: “we are not going to solve the problems of our present and near future with the usual solutions… Now is not the time to be silent but to raise our voices, using any privilege we may have, be it in time, money, or simply access, to demand major changes both in how all of us think about our American world and in the systems that perpetuate such inhumane and unconscionable disparities for so many.”
Please join our efforts to build a space in which we all learn from each other, where connections are made and whole family friendships are grown and fostered, equitably. We have an opportunity as a larger community to learn from one another and replace old systems with new possibilities.
Our PTA is a dynamic, integrated and essential partner in these efforts, and is asking for continued donations to support Beach families. All donations will go towards supporting basic needs and expenses like utilities, rent, and gift cards to supplement food and household supplies. Please provide financial support via our Beach Family Fund on the Beach PTA page.
Our Beach community is here-- large, resilient, capable, and full of love and care for our own and for all. Thank you from all parts of my heart to all of you doing so much already, and to those who will join our efforts in whatever way works for you and your family, let’s continue to unite and act.
I miss our students so much, and love seeing their faces when I visit virtual classrooms. Every week I enjoy visiting a few more classes. A highlight today has been presenting in 5th grade classes, one of several exciting end of year projects our staff is in process planning for them. More to come on that soon! Take good care of yourself and each other, and thank you for your part in our Beach community.