Archive for the 'Letter from the Director' Category

Feb 11th, 2018

Letter from the Director

Posted by admin

The testing periods for the Smarter Balanced assessments in English and Math and the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) Science and Social Sciences assessments are fast approaching. Last year, we gleaned important insights into how Trillium students test, and where they stand in relation to other schools in the PPS district. Historically, we have tested very well; we have exceeded district averages across the board. Recently, however, test scores have gone down.

After an extensive review of the results, we have come to the following conclusions:

  • We need to raise our testing scores in Math, from 10% (grades 3-5), 18% (grades 6-8), to meet or exceed the district average of 50% in similar grades.
  • We need to raise our testing scores in Reading, from 26% (grades 3-5), 39% (grades 6-8), to meet or exceed  the district average of 59% in similar grades.

  • In meeting the needs of our specialized populations, economically disadvantaged, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and historically underserved populations; we need to raise our scores an average of 35%.

Testing and graduation data is one of the few metrics that the school district has to measure our success as a school, locally and statewide; and so is very important. Knowing this, many parents have reached out to see what they can do to support us in raising our scores. One way is to have your student “opt-in” to testing. As years of testing data begin to accumulate, it is possible to analyze trends and identify broad areas of concern, such as a significant achievement gap between one group of students and another. Effort can then be focused on identifying the reasons for this gap, and finding means to address it.

We understand that many parents choose Trillium because we are less focused on testing and scores, and more on a whole-child curriculum. We understand your concerns around test anxiety, and are committed to supporting your student, to feel as safe and confident as possible while testing.

In an effort to ease the climate around testing, we will roll out the following interventions:

  • Administer practice tests

  • Offer tests in smaller increments

  • Develop shorter prompts that mirror official questions

  • Increase math instructional hours

  • Increase computer literacy instructional purposes

  • Share our approaches across grade levels

  • Ensure students receive accommodations tailored to individual needs

  • Ensure our specialized populations have no barriers to their education

Under Oregon Administrative Rule 581-022-1910, parents may request that their student be exempted from taking the OAKS Online Science and/or ELPA21 tests to accommodate a student’s disabilities or religious beliefs. To best support school planning, please download and submit the 2017-18 Parent Request for Exemption by March 12, 2018.

Thank you,
Patrice Mays
Interim Executive Director

 

Dec 30th, 2017

Letter from the Director

Posted by admin

Some of you may have had an opportunity to read the article written by Shasta Kearns Moore in the Portland Tribune, on December 21, 2017, titled: “Trillium Charter School Roils in Turmoil: Racial Divide One Factor as Students Leave in Droves.” Another byline was:  “Kids Said to Be Out of Control.” Ms. Moore was present at the December 13, 2017 Board Meeting, alongside 80 staff, students, and parents. She interviewed current and former staff, parents at the board meeting and I was interviewed as well.

The article, I believe, provided a fairly balanced view of the current state of the school.  There are divisions.  There is tension.  Test scores are low, enrollment has declined; there is staff instability and poor staff morale, and student management issues.  There is dissatisfaction with the Trillium School Board and me as the Interim Education Director.  Despite the current state of affairs, I believe that improvements can be made that will enable us to sustain the mission and vision of Trillium.  I understand the importance of listening to the school community and gaining a deeper understanding of your concerns.  It is my intention to be open to your perspectives and points of view.  My decisions at all times are based on what is in the best interest of our students.  What will increase student achievement?

My effort is to continue to work diligently with school staff, parents and students to address the divides and other issues that are negatively impacting our school.  I cannot do this work alone.  I will need the collaboration of all groups as we work together toward accomplishing the goal of increasing student achievement, improving staff morale, increasing student retention and maintaining staff mobility.  I realize the importance of effective communication and am committed to increasing lines of communication with the school and community.

We have important work to accomplish.  Your children deserve a quality education here at Trillium. Having worked in this assignment for six  months, I am keenly aware of its dynamics. I will continue to strive each day to successfully fulfill the responsibilities of the Interim Executive Director and I look forward to us working together.

Respectfully,
Patrice Mays
Interim Executive Director

Nov 14th, 2017

Letter from the Director

Posted by admin

In two short months of the school year, Trillium has addressed several longstanding challenges, and initiated as many positive changes. I am writing from a place of deep gratitude for the students, parents, teachers, and outside community members who have brought their questions, concerns, and ideas to the table. In addition to parent listening sessions, TFT and Trillium Board meetings, I am excited to announce a new way for you to become a leader in our community. Committees.

Historically, committee work at Trillium has been performed by staff, on projects that fall outside any one person’s scope of work and/or especially benefit from the perspective of diverse staff members. If Trillium believes that “many hands make light work,” and that “diversity makes us stronger,” we ought to stand by our convictions, by inviting students and parents to co-create and join committees. Designations that are under consideration include: Equity, Curriculum, Events, Restorative Justice, Fundraising, Enrollment, and Outreach. If you have feedback, questions, or are interested in committee membership, please email me, email hidden; JavaScript is required. The time commitment for committee membership is two hours per month.

Another positive change that I am proud to announce is the return of afterschool programming at Trillium. This is something that our community has been asking for, for a while now. A handful of tuition-based programs have reached out to me, with interest in establishing a branch a Trillium. These include Girl Scouts (trans-friendly), Circus in Motion, Chess Wizards, and a lacrosse organization. It is now on you to show that Trillium is a worthwhile partner, by completing the Afterschool Program Interest Survey. A certain number of students must be interested for a program to run. Additionally, we have scheduled several free opportunities for students and families to connect afterschool, such as the upcoming Movie Night, presented by TFT, on Friday, December 1st.

Speaking of upcoming events, we are proud to present Trillium Holiday Bazaar on Friday, December 15th, from 12:30-5pm, and 6-8pm. We want to create an opportunity to support each others’ work and support our school at the same time. If you, or someone you know, is a crafter or vendor, or simply has a flair for art, craft, or cooking, please inquire to me and Kay, email hidden; JavaScript is required, about selling with us. You do not need to be an established business! We will accept anyone with family-friendly goods or services to display, and are especially interested in featuring youth. Tell your kids!

Note: Trillium Holiday Bazaar is the culminating event of our end-of-year giving campaign, during which we hope you set up a recurring donation of $10 per month or more. You can either do so by mail (letters are coming soon) or online. To learn more about how your contributions will be used, visit the campaign page here.

If you would rather keep your holiday purchases under wraps from the kids, or just have a night of alone time, consider dropping them off with us on Parents Night Out. For a nominal fee, we will entertain, drain, and feed your kids, providing games, activities, and a movie. They can even come in their pajamas, and bring a sleeping bag. Friday, December 8th, 6-10PM.  So, there is something fun scheduled for every Friday in December, and most importantly, something fun for everyone.

On a heavier note, in the time since I last wrote, some staff members have decided to move on to other opportunities. After the Thanksgiving Break, Chris Scott, Upper School Student Support Specialist, will be working for Portland Public Schools. Dekin Hom, our beloved School Chef, will leave for a position elsewhere. Alfred Ada, Head of Upper School, resigned last month. I will share their personalized communication detailing their reasons for leaving. Trillium can have a summer camp feel. People come, create memories, and eventually move on. Such is the reality for schools. While we had hoped these staff members would stay with us longer, we are proud to have been a part of their journey, and excited to see what they do next.

Looking forward, if you, or someone you know, is interested in working at Trillium, please refer them to the website, where positions will soon be posted. Our mostly recently posted position, Bookkeeper, has been filled! Ty will start at Trillium on Monday, November 13th, and work 4 days per week. They bring years of experience and are thrilled to work with our community.

Sincerely,
Patrice Mays
Interim Executive Director

Sep 10th, 2017

Letter from the Director

Posted by admin

Welcome to the 2017-18 school year! It is hard to believe that we are already two weeks in, given that I spent most of the summer anxiously awaiting the return of students, with their small dramas, big personalities, and amazing transformations. As a former Trillium teacher and advisor, I know firsthand where they are coming from, where they want to go, and can be flexible when they change their minds. I appreciate that our students are not all the same, and have different needs and expectations.

In July 2017, I was nominated and approved to serve as your Interim Executive Director. Today, I am as thrilled and honored as ever. I love what we do in our classrooms. Across all programs, teachers are tailoring content, instruction, and assessment to their unique group of students; teachers are learning from students just as much as students are learning from them. On the administrative side, my exposure to the youth perspective is less frequent, but I am shadowing and attending student meetings whenever possible.

In addition to reinvigorating our commitment to youth voice and choice, I will prioritize the following goals:

  • Increase fundraising, to build capacity and increase retention of students and staff.
  • Streamline the parent complaint procedure and swiftly respond to past complaints.
  • Host more community events that reflect the diversity which exists within our walls.
  • Host more community conversations that don’t shy away from addressing racial equity, economic equity, and equity for students with disabilities.

 

No director is a one-woman show. I need your buy-in and support for these goals to become realities. First and foremost, this will require a cultural shift. Historically, our culture has been compartmentalized into adult, youth, and work culture. We have spoken past each other instead of collaborating, communicating in slightly different language. For example: “it’s going to be a great time!,” versus “lit,” versus *spirit fingers.* What we all really mean to say is “Trillium just wants to have fun!”

To resolve conflicts that may arise, create a healthy school climate, and process our feelings around change, we must come together in community, and have fun! Here are a few upcoming opportunities:

  • September 13th, 5:30-7:30pm Trillium Board Meeting
  • September 18th, 3:30-5pm Together for Trillium PTSA Meeting
  • September 21st, 6-7:30pm – Back to School Night
  • September 28th, 5-7pm – Life After Trillium
  • September 28th, 6-8pm – Parent Listening Session

 

Our Student Behavior & Discipline Policy, which is grounded in principles of Restorative Justice, will be available on the website by the end of the month. If you attend Back to School Night, you can engage in a Q&A session with those who wrote it, and pick up one of a limited number of print copies. The long and short is that RJ emphasizes correction and counseling over punishment, and seeks to replace strict zero-tolerance discipline policies with collaborative opportunities for restitution. Throughout the fall, we will track how RJ is working, and how it can be improved, and report back to you in the spring.

Sincerely,
Patrice Mays
Interim Executive Director