The Mt. Tabor Tribune

Weekly Newsletter for the Mt. Tabor Middle School Community

A Message from the Principal

September 25, 2020

Dear Mt. Tabor Middle School Community,

As though 2020 wasn't already weird enough, last night Assistant Principal Jill Liddle and I broke the internet.

Or at least it felt that way.

I didn't know until later--after the 35-minute mad scramble on our end where I doubted everything I knew about technology, Zoom, YouTube, and Google, let alone my ability to follow multi-step directions, type in my password correctly, or breathe--that it wasn't us. Something else, somewhere else, simply decided that it was the night to keep things interesting. And boy, was it interesting in my dining room--just ask my cat!

We continued to scramble and try every possible trick we could come up with. We created new meetings, checked to see if our Tabor Talk link would work (it wouldn't). Jill texted families while I just kept plugging away at it without any real sense if we were going to be able to make it happen. The panic and the work kept us focused, and instead of giving up, we leaned in. Hard.

I remember at one point before things came back online talking through what was happening with Jill. I said out loud, as I typed furiously on the keys, "I just want to cry." Jill told me not to (she's kind of bossy that way, lol), and I didn't. But still, that feeling of letting my community, my staff, and my students down was heartbreaking. Sure, it was just back to school night, but it was something I wanted to be perfect and right in a world where everything else seems to just feel sideways and wrong so much of the time. I had wanted this one thing to be seamless and easy and normal.

And then, just as suddenly as it happened, the internet righted itself, and we awkwardly transitioned into our belated Back to School Night. We were a bit less fresh but a whole lot more awake.

Around 8:00 pm when the last of our guests left the TAG Presentation meeting, Jill and I sunk back into our chairs and talked for a few more relaxed moments. She shared with me the messages of support that had been coming through her Remind account, and I shared the emails that had begun to spring up in my inbox. They were words of understanding and support from this remarkable community.

They let us know that the evening, though delayed, was great. That the videos and work of our teachers were even better than they had expected. That our parents were impressed with our ability to keep things cool, calm, and collected even when the internet was conspiring against us.

I know I talk a lot about my desire to see Mt. Tabor Middle School come together. For us to lean on each other and support each other, for us to collectively show up for each other and our kids. And last night, in the face of the collapse of the Google-universe, you all showed up for us. The internet had been temporarily broken, and it had threatened to break our spirits. But you all wouldn't let it.

I have heard from teachers who have felt the same way. I have heard the emotion in their voices when they are trying to do what's best for students and the technology fails them: the breakout rooms freeze up, their homepage gets deleted from their Canvas course, the attendance program won't save their data. They want, in these trying times, to be there for you and your children because they don't want this time to break your hearts and your spirits.

I have heard similar things from families as well. Stories of internet speeds and Chromebooks that refuse to power on. I talk with parents who feel like they can't be there to monitor their child's every action (or inaction, as is sometimes the case with middle schoolers). I know how desperately you want to be there for your children because you don't want this unprecedented time to break their hearts, spirits, and futures either.

The truth is, we "break the internet" daily in so many aspect of our lives. There are things outside our control that threaten to keep us from seeing the good we are doing. The daily wins. How we continue to show up for each other.

Last night, we might have broken the internet. But let us not forget that our community refused to let the internet break us. When things got tough, they leaned in hard. And that, my friends, is what gives me hope. This distance learning thing is tough, and we continue--ALL OF US--to lean in.

I wish you all an amazing weekend of rest with those who keep your hearts and spirits whole and thriving.

All the best,

Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Back to School Night Resources

For those of you who missed last night's Back to School Night (for technical or other reasons), we wanted to make sure you have all the resources you might need to view it.

To view the opening Livestream, go to

To find teacher videos and Padlets for questions, go to

TAG Parent Night: In Case You Missed It

Given the technical difficulties of our evening last night, we wanted to make sure that all parents had access to the TAG Parent Night Presentation. The video link below will walk you through all the content covered last night.

TAG Parent Night Presentation

If you have questions or need clarification, please check out the district TAG website, view the MTMS TAG website, or reach out to our TAG Coordinator, Marissa Goff, at

My Child Was Marked Absent: What Do I Do?

Attendance of students during Distance Learning is incredibly important to us, and we know that it is to our families as well. We hope that this information about attendance is helpful to you in understanding what it means and how you can tell if the attendance data you are receiving is correct.

Teachers look at three basic factors for determining whether your students is in attendance on any given distance learning day. Those three factors are:

  • Attendance in the Live Class Meeting
  • Submission of assignment for the class in Canvas
  • Direct teacher contact on the day in question (typically via email or discussion board)

Students who engage in one of those ways should be marked as being in attendance.

If you believe there was an error in attendance, please use ParentVUE to look up the course the absence was marked in (you can watch this video tutorial to see how you can find this information in ParentVUE).

We are asking all families to contact the teacher of the course where the absence occurred first as they will have the best knowledge of student attendance measures. From there, they can make the change or contact our front office to change attendance if the mark was made in error.

If you know your student will be gone in advance or was sick, please follow the standard protocol of calling into the office to excuse the absence.

Interest, Alliance, and Affinity Group Questions

We have received many questions from students and families about their student's selection of an interest, alliance or affinity group during Homeroom this week.

Please note that students were anonymously surveyed about their preferences to ensure that we have enough sections of those groups of most interest to students. Students will not be assigned to a specific group based on that survey, and will have time to select with their families what groups they would like to join for the remainder of Quarter 1 before the first sessions are held in mid-October. We want to make sure that families have all the information they need and students can have conversation with them about their choices.

MAP Testing in October

Over the next month your student will be completing a MAP Growth assessment for both math and reading. MAP Growth helps teachers understand what students know today, so goals can be set to improve growth throughout the year.

These assessments are done remotely and will take place during live classroom sessions. They will be proctored by your student’s math and language arts teachers over multiple days.

The district has provided families with more information about the MAP Growth assessment including things that are helpful to do prior to testing and on test days. This information can be found below as well as the dates these tests will be administered.

Dates for Testing at MTMS

Reading: Oct. 5th - Oct. 8th

Math: Oct. 12th - 16th

Make Up Testing: Oct. 19th - 23rd

Parent Guide to MAP Testing

English | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Русский | Soomaali

Parent Video about MAP Testing

English | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Русский | Soomaali

PPS Portal for MAP Growth

If you have questions about MAP testing beyond what is shared above please contact our building test coordinator, Dave Llewellyn, at:

Counseling Programs at MTMS

Our school counselors unveiled their plans for counseling support this week during our Tabor Talk presentations. To learn more about their services and support, take a look at their one-pager document below.

SE Enrollment and Program Balancing Update

The Enrollment and Program Balancing process continues as Kellogg Middle School opens in 2021 while a second comprehensive middle school, Harrison Park, also opens in 2022. The focus of this phase of the process is beginning with the Southeast community around:

  • Reopening Kellogg Middle School

  • Converting Harrison Park from a K-8 to Middle School

  • Identifying their feeder patterns and engaging the school communities that may be potentially reconfigured from K-8’s to K-5's.

Work recently began with a committee called the Southeast Guiding Coalition for Enrollment and Program Balancing to guide the process this fall, with a recommendation to the board of education in early 2021. This committee consists of Southeast community members, school principals, and district administrators. They held their third meeting last night.

At that meeting, the coalition received an introduction to data used to evaluate enrollment and program balancing options and began to review a draft springboard presentation of possibilities. This is a starting point of possible options for the Southeast Guiding Coalition to think about, and they will continue to work together in October to ask questions and develop additional versions of a possible plan.

As a community, you also have opportunities to give feedback and input. Starting October 2, some families will receive a phone call to take a survey to help inform the process. The Coalition is approaching this work through the lens of racial equity and social justice. Therefore, the target segments are grades 5-8, students of color, and students enrolled in dual language immersion.

There will also be an opportunity to take the survey online soon. The SE Guiding Coalition will host Virtual Open Houses on October 22 and December 3, 2020 so you can see and respond to the proposals they have developed. I will share more info next week with details of how to join those meetings and links to the survey.

I will provide regular updates on the SE Guiding Coalition’s progress. You can also stay informed by reviewing materials posted on their website and livestreaming their meetings.

UPDATED: School Supply Lists

This week, the district provided us a comprehensive supply list for students grades 6-8. We have added some specific items to our list at district request. Please take a look for recent amendments to the item list.
Suggested School Supply Lists

To view this year's suggested school supply list for MTMS, click here.

Book Drop Off and Pick Up

Families-we will be collecting overdue textbooks and books outside and safely socially distant on two occasions:

  • Thursday October 1: 1-3 pm in the south side staff parking lot (near the soccer field)
  • Friday October 2: 10 am to 12 noon same place

We will have carts for you to place your books on.

And...we will be distributing bags of library books for students to take home! We will put together a small bag (4-5 titles) for students to keep until the next exchange date. We are unable to create custom bags, but promise we will fill the bags with awesome books! Students are expected to still care for the books as if they would any other library book, and they are to be returned to school in the bag they were borrowed in. We will communicate the next exchange date where the bag can be returned for another different bag of books.

Student Planners

If your student would like to pick up their physical student planner for use during distance learning, they can do so at the designated Book Pick Up and Drop Off dates/times below. Please remember that students receive one of these each year, so it is important to hold on to them for the entire school year.

Pick Up Times:

  • Thursday October 1: 1-3 pm in the south side staff parking lot (near the soccer field)
  • Friday October 2: 10 am to 12 noon same place

Child Care Update

In addition to community child care programs that are available citywide, seven partner organizations will offer licensed child care in 11 PPS schools during Comprehensive Distance Learning. The programs will be phased in starting next week:

Sept. 28: Beach, Creston, King, Rigler
Oct. 5: Hayhurst, James John, MLC, Vestal, Winterhaven
Oct. 12: Irvington, Lent

To register for child care, click on the flyer below. Information below is included on the flyer.
English | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文 | Русский | Soomaal

Child care programs

  • Accept children ages 5 - 12.
  • Enroll no more than 30-40 students per school.
  • Set aside 50% of the slots for families qualifying for state subsidies. Low rates last for one year if subsidy is approved by Oct. 31, 2020. State subsidy application is here.
  • Enroll PPS students and children of PPS employees regardless of which school children are enrolled in.
  • Follow strict licensing guidelines including stable cohorts, face coverings, hand hygiene, routine cleaning and sanitation, parent drop-off/pick-up outside of the school building.

SUN site managers, coordinators and community agents have been trained to support families in accessing child care, whether in a PPS building or in the community. In addition, child care staff have been trained on supporting students during distance learning.

For more information, visit the PPS Child Care website.

Don't Hate the Late & Other Canvas Tidbits

As a teaching staff, we have made several adjustments to how we are using Canvas, and we wanted to alert families so that we can be efficient in supporting out students. Teachers are making changes and adjustments to their courses as we speak.

1. Where to find assignments:

Moving forward, students will use their Modules tab in the course menu to find their weekly assignments. These assignments are broken down by each session they attend (Live Class, On My Own, or Small Group). This should clear up some confusion about where students will be able to find all of their coursework. Items for submission will automatically populate on their Canvas Calendar.

2. Due Dates:

It is important for students to submit work on time on the due date. When students submit work on time, our teachers can mark accurate attendance and analyze these responses and adjust instruction. On-time completion also allows students time in the week to revisit and resubmit before moving on to the next module.

Due date submissions for all assignments will be set at 11:59 pm on the day an assignment is due. This is NOT to encourage students to delay in submitting their work or stay up late, but rather to provide families flexible work times to complete assignments in the evenings.

3. Assignments Marked as Late:

After the due date has passed, the Canvas program automatically marks student submissions as "Late." This includes the revision/resubmission of assignments made after the due date. We as a school and district do not have the ability to change this setting. However, all students will have the ability to submit/revise/resubmit their work after the due date and until Sunday evening at 11:59 pm.

A "late" mark given for work completed before the next module is released on Monday does NOT mean that students will automatically receive a grade reduction, nor does it mean that they are unable to complete or revise the assignment. It is simply an indicator that the submission was made after the assignment was set to close. Please ignore this marker as an indicator of student work being scored down during the week-long window.

Students who are receiving special accommodations and modifications through special education and 504 plans will have their assignment dates adjusted according to their individual plans.

Once the next week's module has started, students may not be able to submit their work or will only be able to do so with a late penalty (depending on the course and teacher). If you want to know more about your teacher's late work policy, please reach out to them directly.

Parents: Connect to Canvas

Parents can get in on the Canvas platform and "observe" their student to allow for both transparency and support. For instructions on how you can get started, click here:

Sign in with the StudentVUE Portal

Navigating the distance learning environment can be complicated, but it does not have to be. For students, start each day with a visit to the Student Portal at From there, they can log into Canvas, where their daily work and meetings can be found, or into Clever (where learning applications like DreamBox, Gmail, and others can be found as well). There are even links to help with resetting passwords.

Learning Technology Training and Support from PPS

If you or your student is still struggling with any of the aspects of learning technology, we hope you will call the PPS Technology Help Desk, which is open from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on school days. We will answer your questions and share information and helpful tips about anything related to distance learning technology. The Technology Help Desk is available in all PPS-supported languages.

Email or call us:

  • English: 503-916-3375
  • Español: 503-916-3582
  • 中文:503-916-3585
  • Tiếng Việt: 503-916-3584
  • Soomaali: 503-916-3586
  • Русский: 503-916-3583

Computer distribution, exchanges, service, and returns

If you need to exchange a Chromebook or Hotspot, the BESC (district office) can help every day!

  • When: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Where: PPS district office (501 N. Dixon St). Please go to the lower level parking lot, which has an entrance on N. Larrabee Ave.
  • Please bring: Your student’s school ID or ID number. If you are exchanging or returning a device, please bring the device and charger with you.
  • Please be aware: We are asking everyone to use recommended social distancing practices, keeping at least 6 feet of space between groups and wearing a facemask or face covering, if possible.

Please note that if you have a technical issue and are not sure if you should exchange a computer, you can also:

Tabor Talk: Upcoming Sessions

Thank you to everyone who showed up to Tabor Talks this week to learn from our amazing counseling team about their plans to support students this coming school year. Attached is a copy of their slide deck which includes a lovely one-pager with information about services and how to get in touch.

Tabor Talk Session #5 (AM and PM Edition)

Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Tabor Talk Sessions.Every Tabor Talk session can be reached at This next session of Tabor Talks will feature our school counselors and their comprehensive counseling plan and support for students, even in distance learning. They are truly excited to share with you.

  • AM Edition: Tuesday, Oct 6 from 8:00-9:00 am
  • PM Edition: Wednesday, Oct 7from 6:30-7:30 pm

Your Weekly PTA Update

Thank you to all who attended the first annual meeting of the MTMS PTA. In it you will find our updated Board for the ’20-’21 year and some easy ways to support your Mt. Tabor Middle School PTA! Check it out:

Join the MTMSPTA

We need you! Our PTA helps to fill needs that our school budget just cannot. We support programming, the purchase of teacher supplies, and a host of other things that truly make a difference for our students. Becoming a member is easy, and your membership dues help support our efforts at MTMS. To join, simply sign up at

Stay Connected & Up to Date with the MTPTA

It's easy to stay up to date with the PTA. We encourage Mt. Tabor families to visit our website at for weekly updates (beginning the next couple of weeks) and following our page on Facebook at

Questions? Ideas? Concerns? Want to volunteer?

Write us at


Tabor Talk #5: AM Edition

Tuesday, Oct. 6th, 8-10am

This is an online event.

Join us at

Tabor Talk #4: PM Edition

Wednesday, Oct. 7th, 6:30-8:30pm

This is an online event.

Join us at

No School: Teacher Inservice Day

Friday, Oct. 9th, 8:30am

This is an online event.

Mt. Tabor Middle School

Home of the Eagles. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at mttabormiddleschool