Watch our newest Palma Scholars Program video above to learn about the Palma Seminar and how students are encouraged to be fearless and take risks. If you're exploring 9th grade, consider registering for the Palma Scholars Program Breakfast
Forging Ahead, Fearlessly
by Tim Bazemore, Head of School
On a recent sunny morning in Schauff Circle, students and teachers kicked off the school year with song, laughter, and not one, but two Eagle mascots. Inspired by my predecessor Lark Palma’s annual reminder to “take risks,” I challenged students and adults to be fearless. We all fear failure and the judgment of others, and it’s tempting to avoid change. Overcoming those fears is what learning is all about. Learning happens when we reconcile the new and unknown with what we previously experienced or believed. Being fearless is as important for the school as it is for every student on our campus.
This fall, teachers in all four divisions are learning more about how to embed challenging academic skills and noncognitive skills such as leadership and resilience into experiential learning. In the Middle School, teachers are practicing new ways to collaborate and design curriculum as they rethink “Breakaway” week. They aim to bring a new sense of purpose, clear learning objectives, and cross-discipline connections to these traditional weeklong adventures, while sustaining the joy and choice which students have appreciated.
The teachers are being guided in this effort by Middle School head Barbara Ostos, and educator Grant Lichtman, who describes how to transform education for the 21st century in his new book, Moving the Rock. In Lichtman’s education future, we change the operating system of schooling, including where and when learning happens, how students and teachers work together, how we measure and report on achievement, how we think of a “campus,” and how we interact with our communities. As I peruse Grant’s observations and prescriptions, I find ample reason to be proud of who we are and where we are going at Catlin Gabel School. The direction he advocates aligns closely with what we concluded in our 2016 strategic planning process.Innovation is not new to Catlin Gabel.
Grant Lichtman describes how to transform education for the 21st century in his new book, Moving the Rock. Watch his video.
Over two decades, Lark and her colleagues, with the support of the community, demonstrated a fearless approach to school improvement. Signature innovations include Global Online Academy, the PLACE program in North Portland, an expansive Global Trips Program, and the Palma Scholars Program. In addition to new learning experiences, they unified and expanded the upper school campus, designed and built a remarkable Creative Arts Center, and embraced environmental stewardship.
Today, we have a new strategic road map, and it’s time to forge ahead, fearlessly. Students will more effectively develop academic and character skills as teachers apply new expertise in experiential learning. Our school schedule and calendar will support how students learn best in the 21stcentury, not the 20th. Students will find relevance and value in applying what they learn in the Portland community. Students will understand and embrace new environmental responsibilities. Teachers will collaborate to deepen their learning and to benefit students across all grades. Research and evidence will inform best practices in our “classrooms” and the impact of changes we make. We will work with universities and schools to overcome the limits on innovation imposed by the college admission process. We will continue to define and enroll the ideal Catlin Gabel student body. New and improved facilities will address current needs and enhance our “one school” community.
The challenge that lies ahead is to sustain what makes Catlin Gabel special and successful, while we tackle systemic change. We will do that by staying focused on our strategic goals and seeking ongoing feedback from all stakeholders in our community. Teachers and staff already are hard at work on designing what education can be, keeping students at the center. Lark, Grant–and you–will be proud of who we become.
Follow him on Twitter @TimBazemore.
Inclusion & Outreach
It is hard to believe it is November – with trees changing color and the wind nipping at our noses. Heritage Day is behind us and it was wonderful. In our third annual gathering of community we learned more about each other’s cultural backgrounds. It was so much fun. Our community members are very talented; whether it was traditional Indian dance, Brazilian capoeira or Taiko drumming, we learned more about each other as well as played.
At Catlin Gabel it is important to us that every student is known and loved. This is why we focus on inclusion over diversity. Diversity is about looking at differences and inclusion is the active engagement of a community to create an atmosphere where everyone feels they belong.
This month we will celebrate Veterans Day and honor the service of veterans in our community and within our families. We will set up “White Table” displays in each division which will honor their loved ones who have served or currently serve in our military. It is a simple but powerful recognition of their service.
Later this month we will take a large group of teachers and students to the People of Color Conference in Anaheim, CA. This conference is sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools and exists so that students and teachers who might be in the minority in their independent school community can have a majority experience at this conference. Everyone gets to choose an affinity group, witness amazing speakers, and experience wonderful workshops. This year we will take 22 people to the conference. Catlin Gabel is always well represented there.
These are just a few of the activities happening in the world of inclusion at Catlin Gabel School. It is a joy for me to work in a community where student voice is primary and inclusion is a core value. Please stay tuned for happenings sponsored by the Office of Inclusion. Many of them will be open to the public. November 2, we are hosting an IONS (In Our Neighbors Shoes) event at 7 p.m. in our Creative Arts Center to discuss Power, Privilege, and Racial Diversity in Oregon. This event is free and open to the public. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me –Jasmine Love, Director of Inclusion and Outreach, firstname.lastname@example.org
From Your Admission Team
Why choose an independent school?
You may have wondered what makes independent schools worth considering. Independent schools are independent in many ways. Because their funding comes from tuition, fundraisers, and endowments as opposed to taxpayers or religious organizations, they are free to be vibrant, stable, and responsive. Each creates its own mission that defines why it exists and whom it serves. They are free to design their own curriculum that best serves students. Independent school teachers have the freedom to create educational experiences that meet each child’s needs, without state mandates on curriculum, textbooks, and testing.
Studies by the National Center for Education Statistics support the notion that independent schools offer high quality education. When compared to well-supported public schools, students from independent schools are at least twice as likely to:
- Learn from teachers who graduated from selective colleges.
- Complete pre-calculus or higher level of mathematics.
- Play a junior varsity or varsity sport.
- Participate in extracurricular arts, academics, and/or community service.
Catlin Gabel is committed to preparing students for both college and life. Our faculty expects students to work hard academically while participating in a wide variety of co-curricular programs. The result is a rich student experience, but more compelling are the life skills gained from winning and losing gracefully, contributing to a team, and participating in endeavors larger than oneself. These skills are developed and nurtured in all Catlin Gabel students, not just a select few who show high ability or keen interest. As a result, our students develop confidence in areas they may never have pursued at other schools.