February 12 2021 Newsletter2/12/2021
Dear Beach Families,
A quick update on LIPI (limited in person instruction) and hybrid models. Were it not for our exciting weather, we would have begun our “LIPI” program today, the same model I shared with you previously (just a very small number of 1st and 2nd graders with similar learning intervention needs, coming to Beach with a teacher who has volunteered to teach LIPI, for 2 hours once per week). We will begin next week instead. Regarding hybrid models, a survey should be coming out to families today; possibly in the interim between when I’m writing this to you and when translation is complete and we’ve sent out to you. My understanding is the survey will give you a chance to say whether you’d choose hybrid or to remain in CDL. I wish I could give you concrete answers about the many related questions; I feel for how stressful it is to have possible schedule changes and childcare needs looming. If I had dates or concrete information for you, I would tell you. One thing I do know is that our staff has worked really hard this year to create systems and schedules that support individual student needs and have quite a number of small groups in place. If teachers were to begin teaching half the class at a time in a.m. and p.m. blocks, know that CDL supports as they look now would have to change. Obviously, most if not all of us want CDL to disappear and never return! However, I think it’s important to understand that any return to school at this point in the pandemic would not begin to resemble how it looked and felt way back last March 3. We would have very strict safety and social distancing procedures in place, and it is unlikely that teachers would be able to follow the expectations of any hybrid structure (whatever it turns out to be) and simultaneously be able to continue to plan and implement CDL as they currently are.
And, alongside all of that, Kindergarten Registration approaches! Hopefully, we will be back together in our beautiful brick school next year, but wherever we are, we’re going to be joyfully welcoming our new kindergartners. A lot of thinking and planning is currently happening for our current kindergarten and 1st grade children that will directly benefit next year’s incoming kindergarten students too! With current kindergartners who haven’t actually learned in a school building yet, and current 1st graders who didn’t have a full year of kindergarten at school last year, schools are planning for an especially “soft start” next year, with intentional time to build relationships, to ensure our staff knows children’s strengths, and time to learn and practice routines.
As we all know, Beach School houses two programs, our English Instruction/English Scholars* program, and our Spanish Immersion program. I’d like to share some important related thoughts with you all. (Just thoughts, not proposals or anything else, although we’ll create opportunities to talk, think and share as a whole community in discussing these thoughts in the coming months.) We are so fortunate to offer Spanish Immersion; DLI is the one educational program model that closes the opportunity gap for Emerging Bilingual students (students who receive English Language Development services). And, students who participate have the opportunity to become bilingual, bi-literate and to develop the cultural competency to succeed in a global society. We are proud and fortunate that many of our staff speak Spanish. With our many bilingual (and even a few multilingual) teachers and staff, we’re thinking about ways to expand opportunities for all our students, regardless of program, so that all students are able to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for Spanish language and the diverse cultures of the Spanish speaking world/countries. We continue to strive to ensure every child in either of our programs feels a sense of solidarity and community.
As a Beach family it’s important to understand that two way immersion programs are intended to serve native Spanish speaking children, and simultaneously offer non-native Spanish speakers the opportunity to become bilingual and biliterate. In order to meet the definition of two way Immersion, ⅓ to ⅔ of our DLI classes should be composed of native Spanish speaking children, and the other ⅓ to ⅔, native speakers of English of other languages. This is an important issue of equity that helps us ensure our program is serving the population of students for whom it was created. Back when our immersion program began, there were many Spanish-speaking families in our community. However, gentrification has changed our community composition, and our program no longer achieves the target range for two way Immersion. This is an important conversation for us to engage in together as a Beach community, even as our lottery for next year begins as usual (it opens next Wednesday, February 17).
Last summer, I met with the director of Albina Head Start and we continue building a pathway for Native Spanish speaking preschoolers from Albina into our immersion program (ie, priority for native Spanish speakers into our program). I would love to hear your ideas for getting the word out about our strong kindergarten program at Beach for next year-- to native Spanish speaking families but also to all families in our Beach neighborhood. Our kindergarten program is strong and our teachers are amazing… recently Mr. Combs presented the way he is using one of our literacy resources with our Instructional Leadership Team to help us think about supporting our whole staff, and Ms. Guzman shared the thoughtful plans our Kindergarten team has created to teach students about Being an Upstander during Black History Month (and always). We are excited for the kindergarten registration process to begin, and hope families will register for kindergarten early! Please see the “Kindergarten” page on our website for video or print detail.
*Many children from our Beach neighborhood boundary enroll in our immersion program, so we move away from referring to our English Scholars program as our neighborhood program.
Successful Schools Survey
This week, you should have received a school email with information about the district-wide Successful Schools Survey. The 2021 Successful Schools Survey window is open now until March 19th, but our Beach staff hopes you will fill the survey out right away. It doesn’t take long, and your voice and information are very important to us. Various school and larger community teams and councils analyze, reflect on and utilize the data from this survey to discuss and set school goals. It is important that all voices and perspectives across our community are represented in our data. This survey is our annual district-wide school climate and feedback survey. It provides students, families, staff and leaders the opportunity to provide feedback on their school’s climate and their experiences at school. For more information about the Successful School Survey please visit this link. We look forward to hearing your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.