Newsletter August 19 20208/19/2020
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