August 7, 2012
Dear King Families, Students, Staff and Community Members:
Thank you again to all of the families that supported their students through an Extended School Year in July. At the end of July, Tommy Allen 1st/2nd grade teacher, Lisa Collins, our School Improvement Specialist, and I had the opportunity to attend a week of training with the seven other Turnaround Arts Initiative Schools at The Aspen Institute in Maryland.
At the training we were saturated with compelling research and data that confirm that students who receive arts instruction are more successful academically at every grade level as well as more likely to graduate from high school and college. The President’s Council report on Reinvesting in Arts Education from May 2011 specifically calls out the cuts in arts education for students in poverty and students of color that have exacerbated student failure across our nation and in Portland.
The teachers and principals from the seven Turnaround Arts Schools in Louisiana, Iowa, Montana, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Connecticut, and Colorado have all had similar experiences to ours at King; all eight of our schools were chosen for the Turnaround Arts Initiative because we know that students must have more than the mechanical skills of reading and numeracy to become high achieving students who can synthesize complex information and complete difficult academic challenges that take higher order thinking skills. We all had placed the arts as a key improvement strategy in our School Improvement Grants to transform our schools. In our week together we practiced using arts enhancement and integration strategies ourselves and clearly saw the difference it made in our own growth and understanding as teachers and leaders. We were graced with an incredible poetry performance by the amazing actress Alfre Woodard; Ms. Woodard exemplifies the intellect and achievement that come with arts exposure.
There is an increasing disparity in educational excellence across our country that equates to lowered achievement and results for students of color and students that come from lower income homes; our schools are more segregated now than they were when most of us parents were children and many of the enrichments that engage students in school have been cut. At King School, our investment in a well-rounded education for our students, with IB, the Arts, Extended Summer Learning and a community of parents who support their school is fast producing results. In our first year of implementing our School Improvement Grant at King School we produced dramatic student growth – including 80 percent of 3rd graders meeting reading benchmarks – which elevated us to a Level 4 rating. This is phenomenal growth and achievement for the students at our school. You can read the full report at: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/news/7807.htm.
We are on the right track! We are a diverse learning community with committed families striving together to give our students the world class education they deserve and need to reach their full human potential. Turnaround Arts will provide us with Crayola supplies for our teachers and new Fine Arts teacher to use, along with instruments and more teacher training to make sure we continue to grow and lead the effort to bring a well-rounded education that includes the arts to all students in Portland. I will update you as we progress and ask you to stay involved in supporting our school. We are expecting a visit from actress Sarah Jessica Parker this fall and are hopeful that it will coincide with a Theater Showcase performance. King students will have in-class instruction from actors and directors at the Portland Playhouse and access to after school Theater as well. Reading, Writing, Mathematics, IB Planners that focus on Social Studies and Science, and a rich exposure to Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, and SUN activities are all part of our plan to continue to improve our school! You can read a profile of our school and the other seven schools that attended the training with us at: http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov/.
There is so much to look forward to when your students return to King School in September!
Principal Kim Patterson