If I have a concern about my child, whom do I contact first?
Concerns about a specific class and a student's progress, an assignment, or a teacher should be addressed directly with the teacher. If the issue is not resolved, parents can contact Barbara.
General questions–information and concerns about your child–should be directed to his or her advisor. The C&C advisor is the first line of communication between home and general school issues. Advisors will consult with Barbara (MS Head), Len (assistant MS head), Kristin (counselor), and Paul (learning specialist) as needed on issues to make sure students and families are fully supported.
How and when are students assessed and evaluated?
While we have official parent-teacher communication points through conferences and written reports, both parents and teachers should communicate with each other as needed any time during the year. Parents should contact teachers directly with any concerns or questions. As a school without letter grades, clear and candid communication with families and students about student progress is essential. By early October, C&C advisors will meet with all new families, including all 6th grade families, as an opportunity to get to know each other and answer initial questions about Middle School.
Parent-teacher conferences are on November 15, 16, 19, and 20. At these meetings, teachers will share student progress, and parents will have time to ask questions of all teachers. Please do not plan travel for these any of conference dates, as we will not be able to accommodate special requests for personal travel. Students will have assignments to complete at home over these days.
Written reports on student progress will follow in February, April, and at the end of the year in June. Arts reports are sent home four times during the year to provide immediate and meaningful feedback.
Wondering about ERB tests (standardized testing)?
Eighth graders sit for these standardized tests, and the results are mailed to you. These tests, which are administered in many independent schools nationally, give parents and teachers an additional tool to evaluate student progress.
ERB test dates are January 22 and 23, 2013.
At the end of the year, 6th ad 7th grade teams will ask students to compile portfolios that are often presented.
We want students to develop their ability to self-assess and to articulate their learning styles in school. Research tells us that the closer the assessment is to the student, including the criteria and standards for assessing “quality,” the more value it has for him or her. Looking at samples of work, and listening to what the work represents, is a valuable self-assessment exercise.
Can students bring guests to school?
There are occasions when students want to bring visitors to Catlin Gabel for the day, but it can be difficult. Visitors present issues that we hope you will speak with your children about.
That said, we have a visitor request form available in the office and online. Here are the guidelines for the form:
We love to have visitors, and we appreciate the pride students take in the Middle School. At the same time, it is important that teaching and learning continue and that guests are safe.
- Visitors can be distracting to other students and their hosts. At the same time, class continues and students must meet standards of behavior and academic obligations. Hosts must always stay with their guests, include their guests, and introduce their guests to teachers and classmates.
- Guests are expected to participate during the school day in an appropriate manner.
- There are occasions when the class schedule is not conducive to having visitors. For example, there may be a test, dramatic presentation, or lab. Teachers can always say no to visitors as they deem appropriate. In addition, guests are not encouraged if the sole reason for being in the MS is a social one.
- During the admissions season, guests are more problematic. Students interested in applying to Catlin Gabel should arrange a visit through the admissions office.
- Visitors create a different classroom dynamic because teachers do not know guests as well as the students they teach.
- All teachers must sign the form three days before the visitor is due to attend school.
- There must be two parent signatures, one for the host family and one for the guest family.
- There must be contact information from the family of the visiting student that includes emergency contact numbers and medical and insurance information.
How can I notify the school about a planned absence?
Please advise teachers via e-mail when absences will occur and have your son or daughter use the Planned Absence Form to notify individual teachers and gather homework that will be due. All teachers should sign the form at least three days before your departure and then it needs to be returned to Chris Bell before the absence. Teachers might ask to meet with a student the day before departing so that we might better tailor assignments. Please understand that missing class cannot be made up and that much is missed during absences. Please try to keep these absences to a minimum.
You can pick up a Planned Absence Form in the office, or you may download it here. Planned Absence Forms are necessary for two reasons:
- We can account for all of the students in the Middle School.
- Students can keep as up to date is possible when they miss school days. At the very least, they will need to know what must be promptly made up when they return. Where appropriate, teachers will sometimes adapt assignments to include specifics about your travel destinations.
What's for lunch?
Let's get to the heart of the matter for Middle Schoolers—food. Students are welcome to bring lunch from home or to sample the healthy daily specials in the Barn. In addition to daily specials, there are soups, sandwiches, a salad bar, and a vegetarian alternative offered each day. Each student has an account number and charges lunch. A statement is sent home monthly. The Barn also offers snacks before school, at break, and after school.
Monthly menus are posted on the website at the beginning of each month. There are times when the Barn will be closed to Middle Schoolers.
Why do we emphasize experiential education?
Experiential education is about bringing people together.
New students, old students, and teachers are together during experiential education trips. Social and generational boundaries are blurred, and the very notion of going away together brings us together and makes us responsible for each other.
Experiential education is about making classroom learning personal.
When you see your teachers slipping down a muddy trail, covered in grease, driving your bus, or presenting their art like everyone else, you see their humanity. Students say that after these experiential activities they feel closer and more connected to their teachers.
Experiential education is about cooperation.
These trips are about cooperation and learning. They are about the responsibility Catlin Gabel community members have to each other. Students explore how to work together toward a goal and, if they fail, figure out together where things went wrong. We often start with putting up tents!
Experiential education is about learning.
Often there is a curricular or service learning component to experiential education trips. Sometimes it’s about Lewis and Clark, volcanoes at Mt. St. Helen’s, or performing Gilbert and Sullivan in the San Juan Islands. Other times we are pulling scotch broom at Silver Falls State Park or cleaning the beaches along the Willamette River. Always, the learning takes place outside the classroom.
Experiential education is about moving beyond Catlin Gabel.
Yes—experiential education occurs outside the classroom. We go places, sometimes remote. We meet new people and groups that exist beyond the Catlin Gabel community.
Experiential education is about risk taking.
Middle school is a time when kids can safely take risks. We work together to educate kids about the difference between positive and negative risk taking. Ropes courses, adventure initiatives, and group sharing provide opportunities to try new things, accept challenges, and learn about each other.
While we value families spending vacations together, we ask that trips not be taken during Service Learning, Discovery Days, Breakaway, or class trips. Thank you for your cooperation.
What do I need to know about school trips for 2012-13?
Other things you should know about trips . . .
What if my child has not spent time away from home?
A great question . . . the earlier we know this the more we can do to smooth the way. Knowing in September that there are difficulties will help us consider alternative arrangements. Sometimes parents are nearby, for example.
Parent volunteers are needed to prepare for trips and, in the case of the sixth and seventh grade trips, parents accompany the class.
Medicines and emergency procedures
We travel with emergency forms that we ask you to update on the back of all trip permission slips. The emergency forms include summaries of allergies and contact information. In addition, we ask that you pass on medicines to the appropriate faculty member who will dispense as instructed.
In accordance with Oregon state law, medication must be dispensed from the container it was packaged in from your doctor or pharmacy. In this manner we know what is being taken, the appropriate dosage, and what steps to take in an emergency.
Each trip will have first aid kits as well as over-the-counter medications. Over-the-counter medicines are not administered until emergency forms are checked to see about potential allergies or the possibility of other reactions. We always have enough medicine (or we buy more) so there is no need to have children pack their own. If a student has a sore throat or a cough, we want him or her to come to adults, not their classmates.
- Discovery Days and Campus Day—September 12-14 During this period each grade level participates in a variety of activities. A ton of learning takes place, and instead of being in a traditional setting , groups may be off campus, and some grade levels spend the night out of town. Grade level teams will contact you directly with schedules and itineraries, permission slips, and packing slips. On Friday, September 14, C&Cs and the maintenance staff will work to make the campus a better place.
- Breakaway—March 18-21
- Spring Class Trips
- Sixth Grade—Cape Arago—TBA (4 nights)
- Seventh Grade—Mt St Helens—TBA (3 nights)
- Eighth Grade—San Juan Islands—TBA (4 nights)
How do Middle School dances work?
Middle School dances will be held on three Fridays this year.
* Sponsoring a dance means that students and parents are enlisted for set-up, decorating, clean-up, or shopping for supplies. Grade-level team leaders will let you know how you can help.
Dance evenings are accompanied by a range of emotions from enthusiasm to disappointment—-sometimes during the same one-hour period. You might find that your son or daughter talked about the dance for weeks in advance but has trouble getting out of the car—-it’s OK. Dances are a big deal to the students. We all know this. We make a special effort to watch out for students who are upset or emotional as a result of things that might occur throughout the evening.
You probably still have questions:
Do the new kids know what’s going on?
The kids have been told about the rules, and the sixth grade has spent class meeting time discussing what happens during the event. Students are not allowed to leave the Barn or the porch, and they must check in with an adult at the front door when they arrive.
You can also talk to them about what to expect—not much has changed since your own middle school days. Young people still dance in front of the mirror before they leave the house, some dance, some hang out, and the festivities still end with the longest, most timeless song ever—"Stairway to Heaven." Remember that?
Are guests allowed?
Yes—but. . .
In the end, we want students to invite guests, but we also want to be sure that dances are safe and enjoyable. Too many guests make things difficult to manage. Having Catlin Gabel students responsible for signing up friends in advance and apprising them of school norms is a lesson in responsibility. Including names and numbers means that we are able to keep everyone safe in an emergency. If you have additional thoughts or questions, please let me know.
Are parents allowed?
You’re welcome to check out how the Barn is transformed for the night, see the food spread (just snacks and breath mints), sample the music (provided by a DJ), or share information with a teacher (tell him or her about a student’s need for an early departure, for example) but middle school dances are for the students. It’s their chance to be independent. The only adults that stay for the entire three hours are the teacher-chaperones.
Sometimes during dances PFA reps and Barbara Ostos host parent evenings on various topics. Stay tuned to the Peek at the Week for this year’s topics.
What else should I know?
Making phone calls means walking back to the Middle School with an adult (one less chaperone at the Barn) so we try to discourage this.
There is typically a small admission fee or donation to the dance. On occasion, there are themes. We’ll let you know!
If you have questions about the dance, please askyour child’s C&C advisor. He or she can address any questions or concerns you might have. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Students are not permitted to remain at Catlin Gabel between the end of school and the beginning of the dance at 7 p.m.
- December 7 - 7—10 p.m.
- February 22 - 7—10 p.m.
- April 12 7—10 p.m.
- Catlin Gabel students may bring a guest, but just one. Guests must be middle schoolers. We will turn away high school students.
- Students sign up their guest in advance of the dance. Typically, the cut-off is 3:00 the Thursday before the Friday event. This announcement is made in the daily bulletin in the week leading up to the dance. Len Carr keeps the guest list. There have been instances when we have turned away guests at the door or we have not allowed students to sign up a guest because we thought there would be too many people.
- Signing up a guest means that Catlin Gabel students give a first and last name and a parent phone number in case of an emergency. Catlin Gabel hosts are responsible for explaining school rules and introducing their guests. In addition, hosts should share other information about the dance, including the cost and theme. These responsibilities are covered at the first dance assembly of the year.
- We limit the number of guests for issues of supervisionand safety.