Catlin Gabel's CommuniCare Club strives to enable youth in the Portland area to expand and increase their opportunities in education. This year, they made grants to LifeWorks, Minds Matter, New Avenues for Youth, Shadow Project, and SMART.
The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer Care Foundation established the CommuniCare program in 1998 to help teens learn about philanthropy and the needs of their community through grant making.
ABOUT LAUREN REGGERO-TOLEDANO
Lauren Reggero-Toledano received a bachelor's in education (elementary education and Spanish) from the University of Miami, followed by a master's in Spanish language and cultures from the University of Salamanca, Spain. In August 2009 she was awarded a Teacher Fellowship Grant by the American ImmigrationCouncil for a Spanish V class project, “The Hispanic Presence in Oregon: During the Great Depression and Today.” For the last five years she has made a concerted effort to make service learning in the local Hispanic community an integral part of the Spanish V curriculum. Visit her Spanish V class page for more on the service component in Lauren’s class.
ABOUT NAIS AND THE TEACHERS OF THE FUTURE PROGRAM
The Klingenstein Foundation offered NAIS a generous grant for the Teachers of the Future program through which each teacher will receive a $1,000 stipend for participating in the program.
The National Association of Independent Schools, based in Washington, DC, is a voluntary membership organization for over 1,400 independent schools and associations in the United States and abroad. Independent schools are distinct from other private schools in that they are independently governed by boards of trustees and are funded primarily through tuition, charitable contribution, and endowment income. To be eligible for membership in NAIS, schools must be accredited, nondiscriminatory, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.
Monday, May 23
2:15 – 3 p.m.
Catlin Gabel Track
The entire Catlin Gabel community is invited to join the 5th grade for a walkathon to help the healing efforts in Japan. All proceeds will benefit Mercy Corps' Japan relief efforts.
Seeking pledges is a completely voluntary activity, but we’d love for everyone to walk. If you and your child decide to ask friends and family for pledges (with your guidance and supervision), that’s great. We’re asking folks to donate online.
During the walkathon, parent volunteers will punch lap cards to help students keep track of their laps so donors know how much to give, even if kids aren’t participating in the pledge part. The “punches” are a badge of honor for the kids and have, historically, spurred on even more walking.
The walkathon was inspired by fifth grader Macey Ferron-Jones and has been organized by fifth grade volunteers, who have donated their recess time to the effort.
"When I heard about the earthquake in Japan, I found a YouTube video and I just felt sad for the Japanese people," said Macey Ferron-Jones. "My dad has a friend who has relatives in Japan and I have a friend who has a relative in Japan. I was wondering what they were going through, thinking it must be really tough. When we started talking about it at morning meeting, I was reminded of the Haiti walkathon and how fifth graders in the past have stepped up to help, and I thought if they could do it, why couldn't I?"
Questions? Get in touch with 5th grade teacher Maggie Bendicksen.
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
The Catlin Gabel Service Corps debuted in October with three community-wide days of working together for the greater good. The Service Corps emerged from our community process to figure out “What’s Next” after the Rummage Sale. As we examined what we would miss most about Rummage, we came to consensus around several essential ingredients for developing a new tradition: multigenerations working side by side and having fun together, serving the greater Portland community, student leadership, and demonstrating who we are at Catlin Gabel. The Service Corps was developed with these elements in mind. You can find out more on our website. Since those fall service days, the Service Corps has also gathered 50 boxes of books from our community for children at Bienestar, a migrant worker housing complex in Hillsboro where our students help with their Homework Club. More events and projects are in the works—and we encourage all our community members, past and present, to come and pitch in, work together, and have fun.
The Energy and Fun of Volunteering
By Qiddist Hammerly ’12
As a Catlin Gabel student, I’ve participated in many activities at the Oregon Food Bank. In Lower School, we collected food during the fall harvest festival. In 8th grade, we participated in monthly service at the Food Bank, and in high school we often ask the students for food donations. These ordinary and expected contributions have made the Oregon Food Bank a familiar name to all Catlin Gabel students, yet I have never experienced it in the way I did with the Catlin Gabel Service Corps in November. As part of this year’s initiative to provide cross generational, community-building service opportunities, more than 75 students, parents, alumni, and faculty-staff joined together for a day of packing pasta— and it was anything but ordinary.
If one thing was exceptionally exciting about this service activity, it was the palpable energy of the kids. Eagerly running back and forth and lifting boxes almost bigger than themselves, the kids probably worked the hardest of anyone. For close to three hours, we packed boxes of various kinds of pasta in two-pound bags. At any given table, students, parents, teachers, and siblings worked side by side. Some kids eagerly scurried back and forth, providing each table with more empty boxes, and taking the full boxes to the growing tower of pasta.
The tangibility of our work made it appealing and rewarding for everyone; at the end of the day, we could look over and see just how many pounds we packed, and how many families we were feeding. One Lower School student checked the weight of each bag meticulously to make sure no one family would receive more food than another. Some of the adults, who seemed apprehensive about letting the kids handle tape guns and carry heavy boxes, grew impressed with their unfaltering persistence. Everyone joked and laughed while scooping bag after bag, and we even participated in some friendly competition, betting on whose table team could pack their boxes of pasta the fastest.
After we were done packing, we enjoyed a group lunch at McMenamin’s. It was only then that I realized how rare it is to see so many different Catlin Gabel constituencies in one place. I had the chance to catch up with one of my 1st grade teachers, make a new friend, and chat with parents. Enjoying lunch together wrapped up the day in the perfect way. Too often when we engage in service, we simply break off and return to our daily work without any processing or reflection. Having a relaxed meal together allowed everyone to reflect on the day, catch up, and enjoy each other’s company.
What made this day so successful was the connection we felt as we volunteered. We weren’t simply packing boxes of pasta: we were engaging with each other and observing the product of our work. I think this service experience provides a glimpse into the future possibilities of multigenerational service at Catlin Gabel, both on our own campus and in the greater community. Despite the occasionally excessive use of the word “community” in our, well, community, engaging in service as a community truly is a unique experience that exceeds the benefits of individual volunteerism. Looking back over my 12 years at the school, some of the memories that stand out most to me are the engaging service projects I participated in with my Catlin Gabel family. At the Food Bank that day I could clearly see in our students’ eyes that very same engagement and motivation.
Qiddist Hammerly is a junior at Catlin Gabel and a Malone Scholar. She has been involved for years in community service.
Connecting Through Tree-planting
By Markus Hutchins ’02
Markus Hutchins ’02 is the alumni board president and a member of the school’s board of trustees.
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
It is a pilot program for the Upper School faculty to explore a new model for high school education and attract outstanding new high school students. The gift funds an endowed faculty member to direct the program and teach in the Upper School. In the anticipated inaugural year, 2012–13, we hope to enroll about four Knight Family Scholars as fully integrated members of the Upper School student body who benefit from our exceptional curriculum. The Knight Family Scholars Program is similar in concept to the Rhodes Scholar program in terms of the caliber of students who will qualify.
The current generation of students is far more sophisticated than previous generations. Their educational needs are evolving quickly. Educators must ask, what more can we do to prepare them? How can we ensure that they have a great liberal arts and sciences foundation for success in college, plus the experience and skills to thrive in a workforce and world that will change in ways we cannot imagine? Catlin Gabel teachers have envisioned a high school that is more real world, project based, experiential, and interdisciplinary—but limited resources have stymied our progress toward this goal. Now we can take some big steps in building on our curricular innovations and evolve more quickly. As a new Catlin Gabel faculty member, the Knight Family Scholars Program director will collaborate with our high school teachers and students to develop methods of teaching and learning that respond to the changing educational environment.
The genesis for the program stems from the Imagine 2020 conference held in the spring of 2006. A lasting idea that emerged from the conference was to enrich Catlin Gabel’s educational offerings by taking advantage of what our great city and region have to offer— using Portland as a learning laboratory. Bringing students together with creative, analytical, medical, political, entrepreneurial, and science leaders would further our experiential and progressive education goals. The intent is to get our students “off the hill,” as one alumnus put it in 2006. Our global education and PLACE programs, and the urban studies class in the Upper School, also stem from the Imagine 2020 conference.
As I got to know Phil, our shared interest in improving education emerged as a vitally important theme. Phil and Penny Knight are long-range visionaries and Oregon’s most generous individual education philanthropists, which is humbling and exciting. We talked about Ruth Catlin’s vision of modeling for others and how, because of our relatively small size, our success, and our focus on progressive education, we are the ideal school for innovation. I described some of the seminal ideas that emerged from the Imagine 2020 conference and how hard our teachers work to implement those ideas.
The faculty and the program director will have the opportunity to advance the exchange of ideas in seminars taught by a network of community experts, including some of our talented and notable parents, alumni, and grandparents. The seminars, both on and off campus, will examine topics that emerge from the shared interests of the students and the director as they move through the program together. The seminars will also respond to the availability of influential mentors, speakers, and guest instructors. Upper School students, not just Knight Family Scholars, will be able to attend seminars. It is vitally important that this is open and inclusive, and that we prevent any kind of “us and them” dynamic. We also expect that as the program grows, it will include opportunities for the Knight Scholars to travel nationally and abroad for summer learning.
The research is clear: high caliber students raise the level of learning for everyone. The positive peer effect is evident throughout our school. Students in our supportive, noncompetitive environment engage more deeply when their classmates are excited about the lab, discussion, problem solving, or literary analysis at hand. And, naturally, teachers are at their best when their students are highly engaged.
Prospective Knight Family Scholars Program participants will stand out in four key areas: academics, community service, athletics, and leadership. As Knight Scholars they will receive tuition assistance funded by the program’s endowment. The amount of assistance will depend on their families’ need. The program will attract well-rounded students who will inspire their peers, take advantage of everything Catlin Gabel has to offer, and go on to serve their communities.
Current and former Catlin Gabel students are ineligible to become Knight Scholars because one objective of the program is to attract new students and deepen our pool of admitted students. The Knight Scholars Program will raise the profile of our excellent Upper School and entice students who will be wonderful additions to our community.
The faculty, admission office, and a new program director will decide whom we accept.
Typically, when donors make large gifts to institutions they fund a position to oversee the program. We will launch a national search for a Knight Family Scholars Program director to fully realize the vision of this program. The director will be Catlin Gabel’s first endowed faculty member. This turning point for Catlin Gabel could very well lead to additional endowed faculty positions.
First and foremost, the director will find the right students for the program. A big part of the job is outreach and making a wide range of communities aware of the program and our school. As the program spokesperson, the director will bolster the Knight Family Scholars Program and our overall admission program. The director will also lead the scholars’ seminar and teach other Upper School classes so he or she is fully integrated into our faculty. We will hire a dynamic educator who becomes a vital member of our school community.
When we laid out strategic directions in 2003, one of our top three goals was to strengthen our identity and visibility in the community. We set out to identify and attract qualified, informed, and diverse applicants and to increase our applicant pool, particularly in the Upper School. The Knight Family Scholars Program will move us quickly and decisively towards these goals.
In 1987, the school received a $3.6 million bequest from the estate of Howard Vollum that allowed Catlin Gabel to establish an endowment fund. His foresight and generosity moved the school beyond a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.
The Knight Family Scholars Program raises our visibility as one of the leading independent schools in the country. On a purely financial and pragmatic level, the program releases financial aid dollars for students in all divisions. On a more philosophical and curricular level, the Knight Family Scholars Program will stretch us to take some risks about how we teach. All Catlin Gabel students will benefit from the innovations we pilot through the program. On a grander scale, my dream is to model innovations that can benefit students nationwide. We cannot underestimate the value of raising our profile, too. What’s good for Catlin Gabel’s reputation is good for Catlin Gabel’s students and teachers. As far as fundraising goes, this is the tip of the iceberg for all programs and needs of the school. I know Phil and Penny Knight’s generosity and confidence in Catlin Gabel will inspire others to give. In fact, two other donors are planning to contribute to this program. We anticipate a positive overall effect on admissions and on our ability to attract phenomenal student applicants. Some great young people, who perhaps don’t qualify as Knight Family Scholars, will still apply to our Upper School when they learn about Catlin Gabel’s curriculum, meet our faculty and students, and hear about our generous financial assistance program.
In the past three years, the Knights have quietly and generously funded other immediate needs that I identified. They were instrumental in our ability to provide financial aid for families who have struggled through the recession. I am so honored that they have put their trust in me and in Catlin Gabel.
By Leah Weitz '10
From the Spring 2010 Caller
I’ll admit it—when I found out that my Spanish V Honors class had required community service hours, I was miffed. I had essays to write, classes to teach, tests to take—and geez, now this? But our teacher, Lauren Reggero-Toledano, insisted that to supplement our class focus on the Hispanic presence in Oregon, each student should go out into the larger community and engage in community service with an organization catering to Hispanics.
Leah Weitz ’10 chose to intern at Bienestar for her senior project. She will attend the University of Puget Sound this fall.
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Passion: community service
Interests: basketball, health care
I’d like to be a physician’s assistant. You don’t have to go to medical school, and there are a lot of programs. I want to work in an inner-city hospital and clinic where there’s less access to health care and fewer doctors."
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Passions: community leadership, environment
Interests: Japan, food, running, Tae Kwan Do
I love what I have right now. I love baking, I love Japan, and I love Catlin Gabel. I don’t do what I do just to look good on college applications. People stress too much—I know I will go to college and make it great, wherever I go.”
From the Winter 2010 Caller
Passions: Scouting, campus cross country trail bridge project
Interests: piano, cross country, golf, mock trial
I love so much about Scouting, which I’ve been doing since 1st grade. I mostly like it because of the outings we do, which I learn a lot from. I’ve also made plenty of lasting friendships with other Scouts. As the senior patrol leader, I’m in charge of my troop from this fall until early spring. I’ll stay involved for a couple more years, till I’m 18, which is the age limit for Scouts. Scouting has taught me to do my best in everything I do, and to lead others by example.”
Alumna Sonja Lapinski '99 featured in Oregonian newspaper article, "Pet Talk: Reaching beyond Oregon to help animals"
On September 26, 2009, Dave Corkran accepted a Regional Forester's award from the Mt. Hood National Forest for Catlin Gabel's volunteer partnership with the Barlow Ranger District. The National Forest honored the school for our many years of volunteer work restoring degraded land, through the Elana Gold '93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project and other student volunteer work. Since 1991, Catlin Gabel students have contributed more than 15,000 hours of labor. Read more about the Elana Gold project.
By Mackenzie Treible '09
Pardon the hackneyed analogy, but the essence of CommuniCare’s genesis lies in the question of Juliet Capulet’s famous soliloquy: “What’s in a name?” Well, Juliet, CommuniCare materializes what its name dares to imply: caring for the community.
As a Catlin Gabel student, I at many times seem to get lost in the school’s community. The student group CommuniCare forces me down to earth and helps me remember that a world lies beyond the bounds of Barnes and Leahy Roads. CommuniCare serves as an opportunity for students to fall out of Catlin’s comfortable niche and experience real-life decisions affecting people all over Oregon.
The framework for CommuniCare is simple: raise money and give it away. To extend this statement into a conceit, the students together are the masterpiece enclosed by this frame. Throughout the 2007–08 school year, a small group of students diligently worked to raise the maximum amount of money possible. With endless bake sales full of doughnut holes and cupcakes, and raffles of candy-filled pumpkins, CommuniCare managed to raise a remarkable amount of money.
In CommuniCare, entrepreneurship and originality are key for a successful year. After a student vote that determines the annual mission statement, CommuniCare narrows its focus to one specific philanthropic topic. Students then visit the sites of the organizations whose proposed grants match the program’s mission statement. Physically visiting these organizations helps extend the students’ knowledge of the program. CommuniCare teaches students to think independently while still maintaining a munificent sense of community.
So, Juliet, you ask, “What’s in a name?” Well, I say CommuniCare’s name is what it says. Every student who takes part in CommuniCare heeds the warning signs of a wounded world and hopes to someday take at least one straw off the camel’s back. Some may say it’s a club for romanticists, but I say it’s for those who are hopeful and care for the community.
Mackenzie Treible ’09 is a Catlin Gabel senior.
|Harold and Arlene Schnitzer founded the CommuniCare program to teach young people about community needs and philanthropy|
The CommuniCare program was started in 1999 by Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, parents of Jordan Schnitzer ’69 and Catlin Gabel grandparents, to teach students about community needs and the role of nonprofit organizations in meeting those needs. Students are challenged to raise at least $500 through activities such as bake sales, raffles, and service projects. This money is then matched 15:1 by a grant from the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Care Foundation. Any additional funds raised by the students above $500 are matched 5:1.
This gives the students in the CommuniCare program at least $7,500 to give to organizations of their choice as grant money. To choose organizations they conduct a student survey, research organizations, and visit sites. Organizations that have benefited from CommuniCare at Catlin Gabel include the Oregon Food Bank, Children’s Community Clinic, Self-Enhancement Project (SEI), SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), Centro Cultural, and Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Students in our program have granted a total of $94,524 to 26 local organizations since 1999.
By Lark Palma, Head of School
|Lark Palma, right, with Beginning School head Pam McComas|
Some form or another of Catlin Gabel School has been part of the Portland community for 149 years. The current school, which merged the Catlin-Hillside School and Gabel Country Day School, has been here on this beautiful Honey Hollow campus for 50 years this year. Happy 50th anniversary, Catlin Gabel School!
That sort of longevity has been reflected in the Portland community in an abiding and subtle way, with most of it deriving from the philosophical pillars of the school—and in turn the many alumni of Catlin Gabel and its predecessor schools who have made their lives in the Portland area. Ruth Catlin and Priscilla Gabel believed that the primary purpose of education was training for civic life and civic engagement. We are fortunate to live in Portland, a city that for the most part values citizen involvement, congruent with the way we encourage our students to participate in public life.
The well-being of a democratic society requires citizens capable of making sound judgments about matters that make up our common life—our government, the education of our children, the books we read, and the culture in which we live. These judgments help shape our society and create its ethos. At Catlin Gabel, we know our students will be prepared to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens, both here and beyond the school.
|State representative Ben Cannon ’88 visits with students after speaking at a January assembly|
The last decade has seen extraordinary leadership in this community by some of our alumni, a few notable examples being Gil Kelley ’71, director of urban planning for the city of Portland; David Bragdon ’77, president of Metro; Oregon state representative Ben Cannon ’88; and arts patrons Jordan Schnitzer ’69 and Sarah Miller-Miegs ’79. A number of graduates in the last decade are working in nonprofit organizations in the city and around the world, including Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, the Peace Corps, and Mercy Corps. Some have even started their own organizations and supported them with their salaries from other jobs.
Examples of our school’s engagement outside our campus boundaries go back as far as 1923. The late Deborah Anne Smith Snyder ’27 recalled that during that year Miss Catlin brought in news of a Japanese earthquake and asked her students what they could do to help. Even back then Miss Catlin was urging her students to become responsible citizens of the community and the world. Our students are always ready to pitch in to help others: for example, the 1988 earthquake in Mexico City, brought close to us by our Olinca exchange, spurred a massive relief effort, and in 2004 students worked tirelessly to raise money and give aid to victims of the Asia tsunami.
The Rummage Sale, the school’s most visible outreach to the public, is 63 years old. This inspired idea that began in the 1940s has grown to a four-day event where thousands of people from the Portland area and beyond shop for affordable goods, with proceeds going to financial aid. This effort is made possible every year by thousands of volunteer hours contributed by students, teachers, parents, faculty-staff, and friends, all committed to making sure we have tuition assistance available to students who might benefit. Many students get their first taste of their broader communities when they take part in community service projects. Upper School students work toward required hours of service, and Middle Schoolers work once a month off campus in various agencies and schools. The dogged environmental restoration work of our students over many years on the Elana Gold ’93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project in the Mt. Hood National Forest has brought stunning results, gradually bringing degraded habitats back to vibrant life. Even in Beginning School, students begin to develop a disposition to be of service to others, making snacks and artworks for homeless people and shut-in patients, and getting visits in return. Both the Cascade Aids Project and the Oregon Food Bank have recently honored our students for their contribution of volunteer time, and many other agencies—and the people they serve—directly benefit from their abundant energy and limitless reservoirs of caring and good will. Madison Kaplan ’04 reflects the views of many of her fellow alumni when she said of her experiences reaching out, “When we grow up after high school we are going to be away from sheltered Catlin Gabel. It is important for us to see life outside Catlin Gabel. We can be more prepared and open-minded when we are living in a world of so many possibilities. Service learning is also a good way to give back to the community. Hopefully, giving back will become second nature to everyone.”
Many students and members of the faculty and staff also work to enhance the educational experience for other teachers and students, as one of their forms of public service. Faculty and staff members serve on independent school boards to help keep the “independent” in independent school. Teachers have contributed to national curriculum in mathematics and social studies. The school has been a teacher of teachers by offering science, technology, and mathematics workshops in the summer and maintaining a partnership with Portland State University. Since 1991, the Lower School has partnered with Lewis & Clark College in bringing in students from the masters teaching program for a one-year internship into the classroom for every grade. The Beginning School, Middle School, and Upper School have invited students from Pacific University, Lewis & Clark College, and Portland State, among others, to learn side by side with our master teachers. Several teachers and staffers are adding to the national voice of education through educational journals, blogs, and other forms of publishing and communication. Twelve of our teachers and staff members are currently engaged as teachers of teachers in educational settings around the city. Educators from the Northwest, other parts of the United States, and all over the world come to our campus to see how we teach school here at Catlin Gabel.
Catlin Gabel has always defined itself as an agent of positive change, with a focus on the development of the city of Portland, the preservation of our cherished 54 acres, and the shaping of educational values. It is no accident that improvements in public education cohere around principles that Catlin Gabel School has incorporated since its inception: maintaining a small class size, creating environments where children are known, and meeting the needs of diverse learners. These values have become part of the Chalkboard Project, the Gates Foundation, and other projects that improve the learning environment in all kinds of schools.
This Caller is a celebration of our past 50 years and a harbinger of the next. As you read our histories, take the quiz, read the stories of alumni and the decade-by-decade timeline of what our school has accomplished over many years, I urge you to think about Catlin Gabel’s future, the 21st-century education that we provide, and the continuing civic engagement of anyone who is touched by the values of this institution.
|Lark Palma and parent Katrina Pointer, Rummage cashiers|
community service News
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