The Whole Child Approach at Catlin Gabel

Three essays by each of our Catlin Gabel division heads

Capitalizing on strengths, identifying areas for growth by Head of Beginning and Lower School Dawn Isaacs

As I sat in on Parent/Teacher conferences recently, I was struck by how well our teachers know, with careful detail, their students’ academic strengths and needs. However, their knowledge does not begin nor end with each child's cognitive skills. Rather, our teachers work to develop strong relationships with each child and an understanding of the whole child—their physical, social-emotional, and intellectual selves. This full understanding helps teachers guide students in capitalizing more.

Ensuring all students get what they need to experience success by Interim Head of Middle School Steve Pape

This time of year is particularly meaningful because it showcases our deep commitment to teaching the whole child. By teaching the whole child we mean that we are curious about and committed to knowing child's whole story. There is no better representation of this commitment than Catlin Gabel Middle School conferences. Over four days, every family hears from all of the adults who work closely with their child highlighting their school work, social life, and emotional wellbeing. For us, this is a priceless opportunity to see each kid through the eyes of advisors, teachers, coaches, and parents who inevitably have unique perspectives on their strengths. With fresh eyes we can refine and tailor our approach for each child based on the actions steps and strategies that emerge. This is what most allows us to provide the more.

Viewing each child as a whole by Head of Upper School Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93

In a recent parent-teacher conference, I heard my colleagues speak of a student’s performance during the Anon(ymous) fall play. Other teachers in the room had seen her acting and threaded it to her writing in English class. We admired the flexibility of her creative processes and her sensitivity in the arts; we asked her about the balance of her academic learning, her service work at church, her long days at school as a result of rehearsals, and her responsibilities at home. She gave us a good sense of when sleep was cut slightly short and we brainstormed some ideas that might expedite her reading, organize her time and facilitate her laboratory work. Parents and faculty members left the room with a richer sense more.

Head of School

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

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This year's theme: Stand up for Nature

Catlin Gabel in the News

Catlin Gabel students win National Congressional App Challenge

Layton Rosenfeld '19, Natalie Dodson '19, and Audrey Daniels '20 won the Congressional App Challenge for Oregon’s First Congressional District.

From Your Admission Team

How are admission decisions made?

When we speak with prospective families about the timeline for the admission process, which culminates with admission decisions delivered via email on Friday, March 9, we are often asked how admission decisions are made.

Admission committees, consisting of faculty and staff, engage in a very thorough process that reviews and considers each applicant in a holistic way. There isn't a single portion of the application that determines whether or not a student is offered admission, but rather, each piece is considered as part of a larger picture.

After committee members individually review the applications, they then meet as a group to discuss each candidate and determine which applicants show the strongest potential for success at Catlin Gabel. As the list of those who meet the standards for admission is created, the committee also thinks about the degree to which each student will contribute to the current community of learners. We add this layer to our decision-making process because we believe that each student’s school experience is enriched by engaging with students who represent many different perspectives. This diversity comes in many forms, including racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, gender identity, sexual orientation, family structure, temperament, geographic, and learning style. It is our imperative to help prepare students to be culturally competent world citizens by providing opportunities to engage with many different types of people.

Prospective parents also ask if Catlin Gabel gives priority in the admission process to applicants who are children of alums, children of faculty and staff, or children of Catlin Gabel community families. While we very much value the special relationships we have with all three of these groups and we do note it in the applicant file, it does not guarantee admission for any student nor does it carry more weight in the admission decision than such factors as academic preparation and leadership potential. We work hard to strike a balance between honoring those relationships with families who are already affiliated with the school and ensuring that new families have access to this community.

And finally, parents who are considering applying for financial aid often wonder if their financial aid status affects their child’s admissibility. At Catlin Gabel the vast majority of admission offers are made without considering an applicant's need for financial assistance. However, with a comprehensive yet finite financial aid budget, financial need is considered as final admission decisions are made simply to ensure that we have enough available funds. Our advice to families in need of financial assistance is to apply to Catlin Gabel with confidence that their admission decision will be based on merit and if admitted, the school is committed to providing an appropriate level of funding to enable their child to attend.

With limited space in each grade and many wonderful applicants, difficult admission decisions are made each year by committees who take their roles very seriously. We are confident that our process is thorough and fair and acknowledges the many ways a child can contribute to our learning community.

Meet the team. Ask us questions.

Deadline Reminder

Palma Scholars Program
Jan 8 - grade 9

Lower School Applications
Jan 15 - grades 1-5

Kindergarten Applications
Jan 22

Middle School Applications
Feb 4 - grades 6-8

Upper School Applications
Feb 4 - grade 9

Preschool Applications
Feb 5

Upper School Applications
Rolling - grades 10-12

Upcoming Events

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

Preschool-5th Grade Admission Coffee
Jan 10 6:30pm to 8pm
Creative Arts Center
Register in Ravenna

Middle School Admission Info Session
Jan 16 6:30pm to 8pm
Creative Arts Center
Register in Ravenna

Financial Assistance Information Coffee
Jan 23 6:30pm to 8pm
James F Miller Library

Campus Tours & Student Visits

Lower School
Jan 11, Jan 15 (final dates)
Register in Ravenna

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

Middle School Student Visits
Jan 8, 17, 22, and 31
Register in Ravenna

9th Grade Student Visits
Jan 10, 14, and Feb 5
Register in Ravenna

10th-12th Grade Student Visits
Email Chris Dorough

Financial Assistance

Resources for completing the Parent Financial Statement (PFS):

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

Contact the SSS helpline at (800)-344-8328 or email (Outside of the US or Canada dial 952-967-9922)

Deadlines for applying for Financial Assistance:
January 31 - Palma Scholars Program applicants applying for additional need-based assistance:

Submit Parent Financial Statement using estimated 2018 income

Upload 2017 taxes and W2s/1099s via Manage Documents

[ASAP or by Feb 8] Upload 2018 W2s/1099s via Manage Documents

February 8 - for NON-Palma Scholars applicants

Submit the Parent Financial Statement using 2018 income

Upload 2017 taxes and W2s/1099s via Manage Documents

Upload 2018 W2s/1099s via Manage Documents

February 28 - for all applicants

Complete and upload 2018 taxes via Manage Documents

Contact Mary Yacob with questions.

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

January on Campus

Winter sports continue! View the Athletics Schedule.

Kindergarten students welcome winter with a parade through campus led by Sister Winter

Lower School students dedicate a community meeting to discuss social justice in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Cabel Center Theater Foyer student art show from grades 1 to 5 in printmaking, ceramics, glazed tiles, and paintings

Middle School students get out of the classroom for community engagement activities around the Portland area

The whole community is invited to engage with 2018 graduates at the Alumni Back From College student panel (see below for details)

Upper School students from the American Studies class display projects in the Creative Arts Center Gallery

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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