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Teachers speak about our distinctive programs
From the Winter 2010 Caller
The programs here embody Catlin Gabel’s uniqueness. These important offerings advance the mission of the school by continually reinforcing and refining the notion of progressive education. The teachers quoted here highlight what makes these programs exceptional and what they contribute to a Catlin Gabel education.
 

Robotics
By Dale Yocum, Middle & Upper School robotics program director

Catlin Gabel’s robotics program gives students experience with hands-on engineering. More important than that, it is an opportunity to work together as a team accomplishing an impossible goal in a time too short and with a budget too small, just like the real world. Our robotics team is the most decorated in Oregon, advancing to the world championships the last three years in a row. Our membership continues to grow, with 10% of the upper school now taking part. The next phase of work for robotics is to apply our skills earned in competitions towards other problems in the community. Our work to improve the quality of life for the elephants in the zoo is the first example of how we will reach out.

Outdoor Education
By Peter Green, outdoor education director & Upper School dean of students

The outdoor education program is the place where students grow in ways that will help them face the challenges of the outside world. It is one of the ways we help prepare them for the unexpected. The program provides leadership opportunities where students are genuinely challenged to lead their peers, make decisions, and confront daunting obstacles. This past year we passed a major milestone with 60% of the current Upper School students having been on an outdoor program trip. January marks the fifth anniversary of the program, and we have offered over 120 trips. Our plan is to involve as many students as possible. We will be offering more trips that are truly adventures, like our trip to Paulina Butte in central Oregon, where the group will hike up in winter conditions and try to construct a pond or tub to warm themselves before camping out.

Global Education
By Spencer White, global education coordinator & Middle School Spanish teacher

Global education at Catlin Gabel takes full advantage of the international diversity of parents, faculty, and staff to design activities and travel experiences that do not rely on outside contractors or travel agents. Connections to places and cultures far from Catlin Gabel exist in our students’ daily classes and lives rather than as an isolated, future destination. Our students need to be able to communicate and act internationally at every level of their education. Fostering abilities in cross-cultural communication and critical thinking about global issues is at the forefront of our global initiative. Our global programs are developing exponentially. We have launched the Viewfinder Global Film Series, which showed 23 films this year. We invite families from all divisions to gather monthly to view and discuss films selected by the faculty, connected to curriculum. This series honors the diversity of our families and allows us to expand our perspectives on the world and its cultures. In addition, global trip opportunities for Middle and Upper School students this year include Costa Rica, Martinique, Nepal, Cuba, and Japan.

The Learning Center
By Kathy Qualman, Middle & Upper School learning specialist

The Learning Center is truly the place where each child is the unit of consideration. We help students from all four divisions understand their unique cognitive abilities and work with them to identify and practice strategies that get them to their academic goals. We facilitate communications between families, students, teachers, and outside resources so that we are coordinated in supporting student learning. For students there is no stigma attached to using the Learning Center. It’s seen as a resource for all, just like the libraries. Our achievements are highly personal to each student and family. We believe they are life changing and life enhancing. It makes us proud to see the transformation in students, culminating with graduation, when we see our students walk across the stage every June. In recent years between 75% and 95% of each graduating class has used our services during their time at Catlin Gabel. We are working on improving our ESL support, strengthening our efforts to help students transition between divisions, integrating new technologies, strengthening support for new students, becoming a more active professional resource for teachers, investigating partnerships with other institutions, and becoming a resource to our greater Portland community.

PLACE--Planning and Leadership Across City Environments (formerly the Urban Leadership Program)
By George Zaninovich, PLACE director

This unique program allows students to gain exposure to local government and learn how engaged citizens can influence the future of their communities. Every PLACE class culminates in a service learning project where students form an urban planning consulting firm and complete a plan for a client. This directly benefits the community as Catlin Gabel students, working with students from other public and private high schools, tackle a need in our city and find appropriate solutions. Recently, thanks to the work of PLACE’s advisory committee made up of city leaders and Catlin Gabel students and teachers, PLACE was awarded a prestigious grant from the Edward E. Ford Family Foundation. We have added partners in Portland’s Bureau of Planning of Sustainability, Portland State University, and Portland’s public schools. PLACE has come a long way in the last year by adding semester classes at Catlin Gabel, and offering the course at Lincoln and Marshall high schools. We are looking to build a more robust urban studies curriculum at Catlin Gabel, as well as expanding the summer program to include a middle school Urban Exploration camp and more opportunities for high school students from across the region.

The Arts
By Nance Leonhardt, Middle & Upper School art teacher

 
Active participation in the arts is essential to each student’s understanding and appreciation of humanity. We honor the integrity of each student’s work and aim to create an environment that facilitates creative risk taking, where the process is as important as the product. One example of many vibrant programs in the arts is the Poetry in Motion project, which frees students from traditional media conventions and pushes them to explore cinematography and editing from an experimental and expressionistic angle. It generates cross-divisional connections between filmmakers and poets, and joins the community in a creative process. Each year students in the project produce 45 original films, inspired by works of poetry written by community members ranging in age from 4 to 65 and beyond.
To support these, and all of the amazing programs at Catlin Gabel, please visit the giving website or call or email the development office, 503-297-1894 ext. 302.