Multi-City Equity SummitPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 10/25/2019
Last Saturday, LOSD hosted the first Multi-City Equity Summit at Lake Oswego High School. It was heartening to see many community members from across neighboring cities come together to learn and grow in the realm of equity. Civic leaders, law enforcement, fire fighters, elected officials, educators and district leaders spent the day engaged in learning about bias awareness, inclusivity, self-reflection, racism, intersectionality and more.
As I reflect on not only this day, but also on the path ahead, I know that we have exciting work to do as we continue to cultivate environments that are welcoming and honoring of all members of our communities. Afterall, equity, at its core, is rooted in relationships. Inclusion is rooted in a willingness to hear and accept multiple perspectives, and to develop relationships with people who are different than us. All of our lives can be enhanced by engaging in authentic experiences of learning about each others experiences, culture, abilities, race, ethnicity, and identity. When we build communities in which everyone feels they belong, we all win.
Safety and SurveysPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 10/18/2019
The safety of students is our top priority and we are continuing to enhance safety features throughout our schools and community. As an update to the unfortunate accident at the crosswalk on Country Club Road last week, I am providing you with information regarding some steps we have taken in partnership with the City to make this crosswalk safer.
I met this week with a City of Lake Oswego Traffic Engineer, as well as Traffic Lieutenant Clayton Simon, who oversees the Police Department’s Traffic Division. We discussed options to enhance safety. The City has committed to repaint the crosswalk with reflective paint to increase visibility, adjust the timing on the crosswalk and traffic signal to delay crossing after cars have stopped, and enhance signage visibility where needed. Police will continue their presence level to actively monitor the area.
Many factors complicate safety matters. The City will continue to monitor the areas outside of our schools for safety and potential enhancements. We all are reminded to be extra cautious when driving on and crossing our streets, especially near our schools.
Also, I want to acknowledge that we are asking you to participate in several surveys and engagement forums this fall. Many of you recently completed the first Student Success Act survey designed by the state. Thank you! Next up are two very short LOSD surveys: one is seeking input from parents and guardians about elementary school boundaries and one is seeking feedback from parents and guardians, as well as teachers, staff, and middle and high school students, about social and emotional learning needs. Both surveys are coming to you next week. I appreciate your continued engagement as we embark on key initiatives shaping the current and future experiences of our students - we greatly value your input.
Pool Development and Boundary Study UpdatesPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 10/11/2019
This fall season in Lake Oswego School District is filled with many exciting endeavors and opportunities. From academics and innovation to community partnerships and engagement, LOSD is in the midst of promising continuous improvement. As such, I am sharing two updates with you regarding our work in exploring options to best serve our community.
Pool development update: LOSD Executive Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg and Parks and Recreation Director Ivan Anderholm have been working closely with each other and pool design firm Opsis. Additionally, a working group with members from LOSD, City of Lake Oswego, and Parks and Recreation came together this week to discuss early designs and projections. The purpose of this small team is to work through preliminary ideas to support and shape recommendations. Community outreach sessions for public engagement will be scheduled soon to share conceptual plans and gather input. LOSD is hopeful about building a partnership with the City of Lake Oswego and Parks and Recreation to serve our community.
Boundary study: We are embarking on a community engagement process of studying our elementary school boundaries to determine optimal school capacity and use of LOSD facilities. In June 2019, the school board received recommendations from the Elementary Task Force to address capacity issues in the elementary schools. One of the recommendations included realigning school boundaries. We have contracted with FLO Analytics to work with the district in a re-boundary community engagement process. LOSD Policy JC is the LOSD School Attendance Area policy, which provides guiding language: "Attendance area boundaries may be changed as population distribution warrants or as capacities of buildings require adjustment of student numbers." The district last undertook boundary reviews in the school years 2011-2012, 1996-1997, and 1989-1990.
In the spirit of ongoing, transparent communication with our community, we will be sharing information throughout the process. In the coming weeks, please look forward to a survey asking for input that will inform re-boundary decisions, as well as a request for applications to participate in the superintendent's boundary review committee that will begin meeting in January 2020.
Review of Elementary School BoundariesPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 9/27/2019
As we engage in the forward-looking, encouraging work of assessing our educational needs and anticipating the benefits of the Student Success Act, we are also aware that we need to be proactive in determining adequate space in our elementary schools.
As a first step toward that end, we are partnering with FLO Analytics to assist the district with boundary review services for our elementary attendance areas. Our dual objective is to provide adequate space at our K-5 schools, while balancing elementary enrollment districtwide. Our intention at this time is to focus only on elementary boundaries; we do not expect this study to impact secondary school boundaries.
FLO Analytics will be taking the lead in developing a boundary review committee and community engagement process, along with assessing enrollment patterns and forecasts. The community engagement process will result in recommendations that will guide the planning and implementation of potential reconfigured attendance areas. FLO Analytics will be working collaboratively with LOSD staff, the school board, community and facilities committees.
We are committed to keeping our community informed throughout the process, and to ensuring that all voices are heard. We are also committed to working with FLO Analytics to determine recommendations that are thorough and transparent; that balance the overarching goals of the school board and the district; and that are consistent with our underlying values, core principles, and decision-making criteria.
Please watch for more information about a school board presentation and a project kickoff meeting, as well as opportunities to be involved.
The Second Week of SchoolPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 9/6/2019 8:00:00 AM
This second week of school has proven to be one of continued promise in LOSD. I have had opportunities to engage with our school leaders and our community, as we further our work toward the LOSD Strategic Plan priorities.
On the school front, I have enjoyed meeting with our school leaders, who are a passionate group and demonstrate a clear vision of their collective responsibility, which is a shared belief and accountability that ensures high levels of learning and inclusion for each and every child. In LOSD we have many strengths and many students who are thriving in our school district. Over the summer, I have spent time listening to parents whose students are being well served in LOSD, and also with parents of students whose needs have not been met. Our district is working hard on two fronts: to continue providing robust learning and activities for students and to evolve our practices to better meet the needs of students who have had limited success academically or socially in LOSD. As we celebrate what’s working well, and look toward what we can do better, our aim is to build on our successes to meet the needs of every student so that 100% of our students can be supported.
On the community front, I appreciated the opportunity for the LOSD School Board to join the Lake Oswego City Council on Tuesday evening, September 3. This meeting, which also included staff from LOSD and Parks and Recreation, furthered discussions about a potential partnership in the development of a pool and other facilities to serve our students and community. A shared priority within the discussion of the development of a pool, is an understanding that we want to maintain and enhance Lake Oswego youth athletic fields and opportunities. The meeting culminated with a commitment by both entities to create a timeline of commitments moving forward, in terms of what the partnership may entail and what each entity will be able to contribute to the efforts. Overall, it was a very positive meeting and I am grateful to our School Board and the City Council for their time, energy and shared interest in better serving our community.
The priorities of our strategic plan provide us with a template to continue building on our successes. These priorities are:
- Diversity Equity and Inclusion
- College and Career Success
- Facilities and Infrastructure
- Communications and Community Engagement
As with all organizations, we have many opportunities to improve. In the spirit of “good to great,” we are looking closely at our practices to build on the incredible legacy of LOSD. As we refine our work, we have students at the center of our sights. I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction to provide optimal learning experiences and environments so that our students can be the very best version of themselves, for life.
New School Year, New BeginningsPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 8/1/2019 11:58:00 PM
Back to school time is a favorite season for me, and I’m sure for so many of you. It’s a time filled with anticipation, excitement, wonder and possibility. The notion of possibility has been a guidepost in my life and my educational career. One of many reasons why I am excited to join the LOSD team is that possibility abounds in our incredible district and community.
Our possibilities are made even more abundant with the incredible support of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation. Because of Foundation support, every elementary student has music instruction and reading assistance. And, every middle and high school student is offered an unmatched selection of electives in science, technology and the arts. New this year, the Foundation’s endowment fund for teaching and learning excellence, is granting training opportunities to develop greater efficacy and accelerated mastery through a focus on advancements in literacy, science, technology, engineering, arts and math, as well as social-emotional supports. This robust support from The Foundation fortifies our focus on providing equity, innovation and social-emotional support for our students.
The success of each and every student in LOSD equates to the success of our community, state, nation and world. As we venture into the land of possibility ahead, we have endless opportunities to inspire rigorous learning, to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and to champion what makes our community great - our public schools. As we usher our students into our classrooms soon, let’s all take a note from the poet Emily Dickinson and dwell in possibility. From our dedicated educators to our supportive parents and community, in LOSD, the possibilities are endless!
The New Adventure Has BegunPosted by Lora de la Cruz on 7/1/2019 11:12:00 AM
I am delighted to begin sharing my educational leadership lens with you here in my first LOSD blog. It has been wonderful to settle into our home here in Lake Oswego, to become part of this beautiful community. I have continued listening and learning from students, teachers, classified staff, administrators, parents and community members. I am inspired by both the strong foundation here in LOSD, the talented and dedicated staff, and the exciting work ahead. In many ways, education is having a watershed moment right now. More than ever before, we are preparing our students to build a future that we cannot yet imagine. Innovation and a rapidly changing world is impacting teaching and learning. Preparing our students well means developing global competencies, including academics and activities, and the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to thrive in a diverse, interconnected world.
What an exciting time in LOSD, with the bond projects and facilities enhancements, and the incredible supports afforded to us through the Learning Levy. Our students will greatly benefit from the additional mental health and social-emotional supports, the STEM innovations, additional reading and PE specialists, and safety and security supports. We are so fortunate to be able to fortify what we offer to students in these ways.
We have an opportunity to empower students with exciting new learning that is engaging, efficient, and steeped in real life problem solving. This generation will be called upon to lead in their communities and across the nation and globe. So the future of our country, and the global community, is dependent on developing students who have strong leadership, collaborative, and analytical skills, in addition to the capacity to communicate effectively, think critically, and tap into their creativity to solve complex problems.
It is an honor, an opportunity, and an obligation to prepare them well for this. I am inspired to provide leadership in Lake Oswego as we continue to build high-quality, inclusive, and empowering educational opportunities so that each and every student can build their future well!
We Must Create the Community We Envision - 2Posted by Michael Musick on 3/20/2019 9:16:00 AM
Welcoming classrooms and feelings of belonging are important components to academic success. We have found one of the best examples of this work through the California Education Department website and their publication on social-emotional learning (SEL). You can find the information here: https://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/socialemotionallearning.asp
Their work provided me with additional context about what we are trying to accomplish here in LO, especially in relation to how we interact with and treat each other.
“Social and Emotional Learning is about helping students develop a range of skills they need for school and life. Social-Emotional skills include the ability to:
- set and achieve positive goals
- feel and show empathy for others
- establish and maintain positive relationships
- make responsible decisions
- understand and manage emotions
All of these skills are necessary—both for educators and students—to function well in the classroom, in the community, and in college and careers.
While many teachers instinctively know that social and emotional skills are important, historically schools have been primarily focused on teaching academic content such as reading, math, science, and history, and less intentional about supporting the social and emotional skills that are so important to learning and life success.
There is a growing body of research proving that social and emotional learning (SEL) is fundamental to academic success, and must be woven into the work of every teacher in every classroom and every after-school and summer enrichment program, if we truly want to prepare all our students for college and careers.”
When we expect excellence from each other, we usually get it. That is why our teachers and principals have focused this year on aspects of social-emotional learning and specifically discussing behavioral expectations. Civility, decency, and courtesy are things we should expect from all students and are requirements for living and working in a community of learners. They are important to each and every one of us.
I want to be clear about our behavioral expectations and the policies that guide these expectations. We do not tolerate acts of hazing, harassment, bullying, intimidation, menacing, cyberbullying, teen dating violence or domestic violence including acts of harassment based on race, color, ethnicity, or national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, physical and mental ability, and cultural and faith-based practices. You can find our Board policy statement here: https://www.losdschools.org/Page/3085 and here: http://policy.osba.org/loswego/J/JFCF_GBNA%20G2.PDF
Any student or staff member who feels they have been subjected to harassment or a hostile environment based on race, color or national origin is to report the event to their teacher or principal. Once notified, the teacher or principal will conduct a prompt investigation and notify Lou Bailey, our Title IX District administrator, and David Salerno Owens, our equity director, of the incident. Students who display this behavior will be disciplined, which may include if circumstances warrant and are consistent with board policy and state law, suspension or expulsion. The process for making a complaint is outlined clearly in our Board policy which can be found here: https://www.losdschools.org/Page/2841.The District contact person is our Title IX Coordinator Lou Bailey, who is the Executive Director of Secondary Schools, or David Salerno Owens, Director of Equity and Strategic Initiatives. You can reach Lou Bailey at (503) 534-2305. You can reach David Salerno Owens at (503) 534-2135.
As parents, teachers, staff members, and students we must work together to create the learning environment we want. Harassment, bullying, and teasing are not part of that environment. Currently, my principals are working with the Board’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Committee to refine the language around our process of restoring relationships and ensuring appropriate consequences.
Again, if we want to create a community that we envision, we must support our students with their social-emotional development. Therefore, I encourage you to have conversations with your students about behavioral expectations. As my most beloved author, Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better.”
Connecting the DotsPosted by Michael Musick on 11/15/2018 9:34:00 AM
Last month, the School Board received the Lake Oswego School District Special Education Audit that was conducted in the Spring. Dr. Laura Katzman, Program Director for the Urban Special education Leadership Collaborative Education Development Center, presented the 70-page report. District leadership commissioned the report so we could have an objective assessment of what is working well and what needs improvement.
According to Dr. Katzman, “The District could be a leader in this work.” Because of our emphasis on equity in our strategic plan and the implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) and professional learning communities (PLC) over the past four years, the District is positioned to support each and every student in their academic journey.
We can do more.
Last year, Dr. Anthony Muhammad came to LO to talk to our staff about equity and inclusion. He is a nationally known educator and author who speaks about a culture of collaboration and building teacher efficacy to reach all learners. His message included ways to enhance our efforts to focus our equity lens to provide culturally engaging lessons and supports, and he said, “Unless all the adults in your school believe that every student can learn at high levels, then we do a disservice to all of our students.” This goes for students of color, students who experience poverty, and students who have special needs. All of these students have been underserved by our schools and community. That, in turn, produces low student performance. We started addressing this issue by providing professional development for all staff focused on identifying implicit bias and by implementing RTI and Collaborative teacher time (PLCs) on Thursdays.
The recommendations that Dr. Katzman suggest are designed to bring special education services into alignment with general education. Patrick Tomblin, our executive director of special services, is excited to execute a world-class roadmap so every student experiences a welcoming and supportive environment and academic success. Please read the entire report here. I have pulled out each of the recommendations that we will be working on in collaboration with our teachers, staff, and parents:
- Create a special education strategic plan focused on educational outcomes that align with the District’s overarching focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Examine alignment between RTI and special education service and staff; collaboratively develop protocols and disseminate best practices, both for academics and social-emotional learning
- Examine current evaluation and classification policies and practices; track data disaggregated by socioeconomic status, disability classification, race/ethnicity, and gender
- Address the achievement gap by focusing on the RTI model, providing professional development for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model, and continue monitoring attendance, behavior, and course performance while focusing special education supports and services on student outcomes
- Include students with disabilities in “All Means All” and provide messaging that illustrates that special education students should succeed as do their peers without disabilities
- Examine how learning specialists and educational assistants are deployed
- Provide collaborative opportunities for general and special educators
- Shift special education supports and services provided in general education in the student’s home school
- Develop a continuum of supports and services focused on access to and success in the core curriculum
- Provide professional development for special education and general education staff to ensure students receive accommodations and modifications to access the general education curriculum
- Include social-emotional learning in current RTI model and identify key stakeholders to support this work at the building level
We are grateful for Dr. Katzman’s findings and we are excited to work together with our staff, SSPAC, parents, teachers, and administrators to ensure each and every child receives what they need to achieve academic success. You can find the detailed report here.
We Must Create the Community We EnvisionPosted by Michael Musick on 10/30/2018 4:35:00 PM
Our community has been affected by national events including the horrific event in Pittsburgh. Three hate crimes have splashed across the national news in the last week alone. We can feel bombarded by these profoundly disturbing events, which affect all of us, no matter our age.
As a school community, we are an extension of what happens in the wider world. We hear the sadness in conversations around us and we see the hurtful actions of our students who are acting out for whatever reason. When our students choose violence to address their issues instead of seeking help from adults, we must all take responsibility for guiding our students to make safer choices.
Every single adult who works for LOSD can provide support for our students. We are not only committed to creating safe, inclusive schools but school communities that value each and every student. LOSD has the resources to help every student develop into the fullest expression of a contributing citizen.
Bullying, discrimination, and harassment are all a result of students feeling less than. We hurt others when we don’t feel good about ourselves. It is learned from the media and from other people who do not value themselves. To counter this, we as a school community must lift up and support each other in order to give each of us a chance to grow into positive community members. Whether the intentional acts of violence or unintentional discriminatory behaviors that have been seen recently in two of our schools, each action has damaged relationships and hurt us all.
In the most profound sense, we must come back to a common understanding of what it means to be in community. We are responsible to and for each other. We are interconnected. When students are in pain, all of us feel it. It can come out in hurtful ways, but we have the resources, knowledge, and ability to wrap around students who need help.
I ask that you help us do this work. Schools cannot do this alone. We need parents and community members to help students see there are other ways to resolve disputes and that there is no need to bully each other. As a District, we are in the process of training all of our staff in ways to interrupt discriminatory behavior such as using Speak Up from Teaching Tolerance and the elementary PBIS Toolkit. Parents and students can anonymously report incidents through SafeOregon or to their building leaders.
Each school has a diversity, equity, and inclusion team that can help guide us in building healthy relationships while offering compassion to people with opposing viewpoints. Every adult should be a resource for students. As adults, we need to help students move from being bystanders to upstanders. We are not there yet, but if we have the courage to have difficult conversations about the complexities of race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability, and cultural and faith-based practices we will be stronger for each other in building the community we all want. We can hold each other accountable for creating the safe and nurturing place we all envision.