The Lower School Modern Language Program

Our Lower School modern language program is a great example of experiential learning in action: students are active and engaged, think creatively, and build cultural competency.

Students attend either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish language class three times a week for 40-minute lessons. For the first six weeks of the school year, 1st grade students are introduced to both languages offered by the Lower School. After this six-week period, students and their parents decide which language class they want to join for the rest of the year. Students may switch languages in 2nd or 3rd grade if the class has openings. By 3rd grade, we ask that students remain in either Mandarin or Spanish for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades to develop a strong second language underpinning.

Our goal in Mandarin and Spanish is language proficiency. In the early years, students learn vocabulary for concepts such as food, body parts, seasons, colors, and numbers.

As children move through the Lower School their language skills extend from short dialogues to authentic conversations. Writing, literature, and grammar are introduced and practiced along the way. Mandarin Chinese- or Spanish-speaking cultures are explored through singing and acting, holiday celebrations, and storytelling.

Expert teachers are the key! Watch how Guimin and Pilar work with students – and how the students respond. Lower School Modern Language Program video

Head of School

Tim Bazemore presents ideas, reflections, and observations with the school community and beyond.

Read Tim's Blog

Follow him on Twitter @TimBazemore
This year's theme: Stand up for Nature

Catlin Gabel in the News

Catlin Gabel chess organizers meet their counterparts in Africa

Catlin Gabel students at the U.S. Embassy in Equatorial Guinea: From left: Ambassador Julie Furuta-Toy; Avi Gupta '19; Seth Talyansky '19; Sean Uan-Zo-li '21; Duncan Soiffer '20; and Technical Director of the National Chess Association Federico Elé Rano. Photo credit: Public Affairs Officer Brian Schiller of the US Embassy. Read the press release.

From Your Admission Team

Questions for Parents demystified

Whether the goal is to meet the reduced fee application deadline of December 14th or the final deadline after the new year, now is the time to begin thinking about the Questions for Parents component of the admission application.

Your best opportunity to help us get to know your child and your family is through your responses to these questions, so it's worth it to spend time on them. At first glance they may seem straightforward - what parents don't like to gush about their child? But finding the words to respond to your child's area for growth, why our school is a good educational setting for your child, and the ambiguous "anything else you'd like to share about your child" questions can require a little more thought. Following are some tips for making the most of these questions:

Consider the match. Make sure you've thought about why Catlin Gabel is a good match for your child. How is this academic environment conducive to your child's learning style? Would he or she do well in a day with different transitions? The match is an important aspect, and parents' understanding about the ideal academic environment for their child helps us assess the potential for success at Catlin Gabel.

Family Fit. When we talk about "family fit," we don't mean there is a single type of family that belongs here. Quite the opposite, in fact: Catlin Gabel draws families of all stripes from all sectors of Portland. We look for families who will embrace progressive education: inquiry-based, experiential, whole child, and educating for democracy.

Complete the Picture. To provide a complete and balanced story of your child's candidacy, please make sure your responses fill in the gaps. For example, if your child had a particularly rocky year in school, you may write about what happened as well as how you navigated that experience. Or if your child has a reserved nature, this is a good place to discuss the positive side of her personality type and how you see it playing out in our classrooms.

Final Advice. There is no need to use up the entire word allotment for each answer. Sometimes less is more. You don't need to respond to the question, "Is there anything else about your child you would like to share with the admission committee?" if you feel you've covered everything with your previous responses. Read the questions early in the process and give yourself some time to reflect on your answers before submitting them. They may change!

Meet the team. Ask us questions.

Deadline Reminder

Reduced-fee Deadline ($50) Dec 20

Complete the following steps:

Preschool-Grade 5: Preliminary Information Form, Questions for Parents, and schedule a tour

Grades 6-12: Preliminary Information Form, Questions for Parents, Questions for students, and schedule a visit

All other application items are due by regular deadlines.

Upcoming Events

Financial Assistance Information Coffee
Dec 5. 8:30am to 10am
James F. Miller Library

Palma Scholars Breakfast
Dec 6, 8am to 10am
Multnomah Athletic Club
1849 SW Salmon St
Register in Ravenna

Middle School Admission Info Session
Dec 11, 8:30am to 10am
Creative Arts Center
Register in Ravenna

Prechool-5th Grade Admission Coffee
Dec 12, 8:30am to 10am
Creative Arts Center
Register in Ravenna

Catlin Gabel Winter Break
Dec 24 thru Jan 4

Upper School Admission Coffee
Jan 10, 8am to 9:30am
James F. Miller Library
Register in Ravenna

Campus Tours & Student Visits

Lower School
Dec 13, Jan 11, Jan 15
Register in Ravenna

All other Campus Tours
Most school days through early Feb
Register in Ravenna

Middle School Student Visits
Dec 4, 11, and 18
Register in Ravenna

9th Grade Student Visits
Dec 7, 14, and 18
Register in Ravenna

10th-12th Grade Student Visits
Dec 3, 13, and 17
Register in Ravenna

Financial Assistance

TIME TO GET STARTED - A plan of action:

Visit us online at Affording Catlin Gabel

Read the financial assistance FAQs

Attend one of our Financial Assistance Coffees: December 5, 8:30 am or January 23, 6:30 pm

Create a School & Student Services (SSS) profile to review the Parent Financial Statement (PFS).

Download the PFS Workbook or Spanish language Workbook for question-by-question help.

Access and view the parent webinars for information on important topics.

Complete and submit the Parent Financial Statement by February 8 with estimated 2018 income (wait for year-end documents in January before submitting).

Upload required tax documents for 2017 by February 8

Upload 2018 W2s and/or 1099s by February 8

Complete and upload 2018 tax documents by February 28 under Manage Documents.

Palma Scholars Program applicants only: Students applying for need-based financial assistance in addition to the Palma Scholarship must submit their PFS, 2017 tax documents, and 2018 W2s/1099s by January 31.

Access help if needed

Contact Mary Yacob with questions.

Visit Affording Catlin Gabel and read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information

Contact SSS at 800-344-8328 or

SSS webinars and SSS online resources

December on Campus

Winter sports teams enter playoffs: View the Athletics Schedule

Lower School students sing and dance to music from all around the world on the Cabell Center Theater main stage

Kindergarten and preschool families enjoy potluck gatherings where families share holiday food traditions

8th graders perform the annual St. George and the Dragon production

The 7th grade World Cultures class takes a hands-on approach to explore Feudal Asia Medieval Europe with the F.A.M.E. project

Students, teachers, and staff come together for an all-school assembly before the holiday break

Our winter break is December 24 through January 4. No Classes are in session and administrative offices have limited hours.

An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

Explore why Catlin Gabel is a national leader in progressive education.

We welcome more than 100 new families annually to our inclusive community from the Portland area and beyond.


A demanding and engaging program in which each student is the unit of consideration

Playing sports involves life lessons in determination, grace, and resilience. We invite everyone to be part of a team.

Extensive support ensures our students are successful.

Learn about Catlin Gabel news and events on campus and beyond.

We foster a community that appreciates our differences and recognizes our essential unity

Every gift benefits our students. Every volunteer hour builds our community.

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