The Mt. Tabor Tribune

Weekly Newsletter for the Mt. Tabor Middle School Community

Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year

August 6, 2020


Dear Mt. Tabor Middle School Community,


It is just the first week of August, and we already know that the start of the 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any that we have encountered. Like many of you, staff members had been anxiously awaiting news about what to expect come fall, and with the governor's guidance on school reopening and the district's announcement last week about our distance learning status through the end of quarter 1, we finally have guidance that will allow us to dedicate considerable time, energy, and planning into making the fall as successful as possible for all students.


While most of us long to return to the normalcy of pre-pandemic life, this reality is asking us to learn flexibility, patience, and grace. Like you, as a parent of three (one of which is an incoming 6th grade student), there is still a lot of anxiety about distance learning and how we will adapt to these new realities. My children miss their friends and worry about what "school" will look like for them. But I have found a great deal of promise in sharing the changes and the rationale behind them with my children, and then I solicit their thoughts and ask questions. I encourage you, as we approach the start of this highly unusual school year, to proactively engage your students in conversation about what they are looking forward to and what they are worried about. Be open with them about your feelings in return. These conversations may not always soothe all the worries, but they can open up the conversation, build empathy, and allow your family to come up with strategies you can collectively use to support each other in the coming days.


On the school front, we have learned a great deal from our "crisis" distance learning experience of the spring, and I know that district and building administrators at every level are working hard to ensure that the experience of our students this fall is more robust, rigorous, and supportive of their social emotional needs. While online learning will not be able to replace every aspect of on-campus instruction, middle schools are working together to create consistent experiences and schedules for students that prioritize teacher-facilitated learning, technologies that support additional student collaboration, and training--for staff, students, and families--on how to use the technological tools and supports effectively and efficiently.


If you have not had a chance to read the district message or the incredibly helpful Frequently Asked Questions, I highly encourage you to do so. You can find both of these resources at https://www.pps.net/fall2020. This page will continue to be updated as more information is released from district planning, and we will continue to share pertinent information with families in the weeks to come in this newsletter.


There is a lot of information to share with you now and in the coming weeks, and I hope that these newsletters (which you can anticipate receiving every Friday moving forward) will be helpful in keeping you connected to important information and to each other. I encourage you to read them and follow up with us if you have additional questions. I would also like to encourage you to join us for Tabor Talk sessions (see details on this opportunity later in this newsletter).


In this newsletter, you will find information about the following topics:


  • Survey for All Mt. Tabor Families
  • Technology for Distance Learning
  • Meet Your Mt. Tabor Administrative Team
  • Upcoming Tabor Talk Sessions for Parents
  • Child Care Survey
  • Online Registration/Enrollment
  • Student Schedules and Course Placements
  • Weekly PTA Update


We wish you all the best in this last month of summer, and we look forward to working with you closely for the success of our students this school year.


All the best,


Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Survey for All Incoming Mt. Tabor Families: Due August 13

The staff at Mt. Tabor MS wants to make sure that we are prepared to support students and families in the best way possible. To do so, it is important that we gather some important information from our Mt. Tabor families now to ensure we are ready for learning come September 2.


We are asking that ALL families complete this survey for each of their Mt. Tabor students by Thursday, August 13. Families can access this Survey for Incoming Mt. Tabor Families at https://bit.ly/MTMSincomingsurvey. There are three sections to this survey:


  • The first section asks about your child.
  • The second section asks about how connected you feel to our school and staff
  • The third section asks about readiness for Distance Learning (including requests for Chromebooks and WiFi/Internet.


Feel free to skip any questions, but we hope you will answer all so that we can have as complete a picture as possible. We will share the information with each of your student's teachers and with our team working on technology distribution.


If you have more than one student with us, we would really appreciate your time to complete a survey for each.


Thanks for helping us get to know your child, and we can't wait to see them virtually!

Technology for Distance Learning

Does your family need a Chromebook or internet service for your student(s) to support comprehensive distance learning this fall? The staff at Mt. Tabor Middle School is already hard at work to ensure that students have what they need to be successful.


If your student needs to borrow a computer or you need access to the internet, please complete the Survey for Incoming Mt. Tabor Families at https://bit.ly/MTMSincomingsurvey to let us know. Once we know the needs of our community, we will communicate about about device distribution times. Unlike last spring, Mt. Tabor families will be able to pick up devices on site at Mt. Tabor MS. We are hoping to be ready to distribute devices the week of August 17-21. Stay tuned for additional information in next week's newsletter.


If you already checked out a Chromebook last year, the district will not be able to check out another one to you. If your device is broken the district will be sending information to families about what can be done to swap out these devices in the coming days.

Meet Your Mt. Tabor Administration

Tonya Arnold, MTMS Principal

I'm Tonya Arnold, Principal at Mt. Tabor MS. I just joined the Mt. Tabor family on July 1, 2020 and I feel so incredibly fortunate to be part of this thriving community. This fall marks my 19th in education, and I guarantee it will be one I will never forget.


I come to Mt. Tabor MS after serving as two years as Assistant Principal at Beaumont Middle School here in PPS. I feel so fortunate for my experiences there with dual language immersion, restorative justice, and racial equity work as they have truly shaped the educator and administrator that I am today. Before coming to Portland, I spent 16 years in the classroom serving in a host of roles: as a middle and high school language arts teacher, a literacy coach, an AVID Site District Director, and an Activities Director (just to name a few).


When I am not in school, I am spending time with my three beautiful children. Jada and Boen are upcoming 2nd and 4th grade students at Glencoe Elementary, and my oldest, Lilly, will be starting as a 6th grader at Mt. Tabor in the fall. We love spending time outdoors during the summer months, and when we aren't camping, we are swimming, biking, reading, and playing games. I love to cook, am an amateur golfer, and enjoy working in my yard and garden during the summer months.


It is so clear to me that MTMS has remarkable programs, dedicated staff, and supportive parents, and it my sincere hope that in the days, months, and years to come, we all can continue to partner to ensure ALL students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. I believe that when communities come together, amazing things are possible, and I look forward to working alongside you for the benefit of our kids.

Jill Liddle, MTMS Assistant Principal

I’m Jill Liddle, Assistant Principal at Mt. Tabor MS. I joined the fabulous team at Mt. Tabor in December of 2019. This is my 17th year in education, and I’ve worked equal parts as a school counselor and teacher in Pennsylvania and Maryland.


Our family moved to Portland in January of 2019, and I served as a substitute counselor for Ms. Galen while she was on maternity leave last spring. When I'm not at school, you can find me with the crew pictured above, Matt, my husband, Christopher, our rising 9th grader, and Robert, our rising 6th grader. Oh, and I can’t forget our fluffy family member, Poppy.


Some of my favorite things to do are ride my bike, snowboard, cross country ski and practice yoga. This summer, I proudly bikepacked 175 miles on a route called the Cascade Skyline. The route winds through Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson areas, passing by Ollalie Lake and the Opal Creek Wilderness area. Here is a picture from the ride.


School should be a place that all students love and thrive within. I want your child(ren) to feel a sense of safety, belonging and success at Mt. Tabor. If there is ever anything that I can do to serve you or your family better, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Tabor Talk: Upcoming Sessions

Under normal circumstances, a new administrative team would have the opportunity to sit down with families for a cup of coffee, some pastries, and some good conversation prior to the start of the school year. And while you may have to pour your own cup of coffee and provide your own snacks, the Mt. Tabor Admin Team is still anxious to introduce itself to families and start building relationships. It is so important, even in this time, that we find ways to connect with each other in meaningful ways.


Tonya Arnold and Jill Liddle will be hosting the first of their bi-monthly Tabor Talk parent meetings starting next week. These meetings are completely optional, but the goal in having them is to allow parents and guardians an opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the school and create an open dialogue, each week with a slightly different focus. We will be using Google Meet, one of our online learning tools, to facilitate the session.


This first session will focus on sharing with you a little more about who we are as building leaders, how we hope to build a shared vision and mission for our Mt Tabor school community, and a brief overview of what we know about the upcoming school year. We will be asking for parents to provide us with questions they have about distance learning so that we can continue to answer them in coming meetings and in our correspondence with you.


While we have broken up these sessions by grade level to ensure that sessions are smaller and more manageable, please feel free to choose a different session if it works better for your family's schedule.


Tabor Talk Session #1: Meet Your Admin Team

To join the session, use the following link: https://bit.ly/tabortalk

Grade 6: Tuesday, August 11 (6:30-7:30 pm)

Grade 7: Wednesday, August 12 (6:30-7:30 pm)

Grade 8: Thursday, August 13 (6:30-7:30 pm)


We look forward to seeing you there.

Child Care Survey - PPS Wants to Hear from You!

Does your household have students aged 12 and under? PPS is interested in learning about your family’s child care needs starting this Fall. We are exploring ways to provide learning support and child care when children are being taught online. Please take a moment to complete this brief online survey by Sunday, August 9th at 9 pm.

New To Mt. Tabor? Register Online!

Do you know a family new to our area that needs to register their student for Fall 2020? Families can register new students by clicking the ENROLL button at www.pps.net.


Families can also submit paper forms and submit supporting documents through the Enrollment and Transfer Center, accessible via email at enrollment-office@pps.net or via phone at 503-916-3205. Paper forms are available at seven food pantry sites throughout the summer: (list of sites available on the ETC Forms Page).

Student Schedules and Course Placements

Student Schedules

The administrative team and building counselors are hard at work finalizing course sections and ensuring that students are placed accurately in classes for the fall. This is a delicate process, and great pains are taken to ensure that we attempt to balance class sizes and ensure that all students have access to high quality teaching and learning in all of their classes.


While we are starting the year in distance learning, we hope to be able to return to brick and mortar classes as the year progresses, and it is a priority for us to ensure that our teacher teams by grade level are planning and assessing student skills using similar methods and timelines. We are working hard to ensure that our professional learning teams (PLTs) have time to collaborate on lessons, materials, student data, and appropriate interventions. We believe this intentional level of collaboration and planning will support all students, regardless of classroom teacher and will facilitate any changes that may occur when we (fingers crossed) transition back to learning on campus.


While we recognize that students and families may have personal preferences regarding which teachers they would like to have, please note that schedule changes will only be made for students for inaccurate placement of courses or to best meet documented individual learning needs (as articulated by specialized plans and programs)


Please stay posted for updates toward the end of August regarding when student schedules will be accessible via StudentVUE and ParentVUE.


7th Grade Math Placement

Letters were sent out last week regarding 7th grade student placement in math classes for the fall and the process used by middle schools across the district in determining these placements for Common Core 7 and Compacted Math, Year 1. If you did not receive a letter for your student, please contact Tania Trujillo Morales, main office secretary. If you are concerned about your student's placement, please reach out to Tonya Arnold, Principal.

Your Weekly PTA Update: A Call to Service

Is it You We're Looking For?

The Mt. Tabor PTA is looking forward to another great year supporting all students at MTMS. The parent members on the board are a dedicated group of individuals who volunteer their time to ensure that teachers have the supplies that they need, field trips get funded, essential school programs have volunteers...and so much more.


The PTA works hard for our school, and it needs a few more dedicated people who believe in the positive difference committed parents can make for our community. Currently, we are looking for individuals to serve in the following board positions:


  • Vice President
  • Treasurer-Elect
  • Equity Chair
  • Spanish Immersion Program Representative
  • Hard of Hearing Program Representative


Are you that person who is willing to give some of your time to make Mt. Tabor great? If you are interested in learning more about any of the open board positions or throwing your hat into the ring, we want to hear from you. Email us at mtmspta@gmail.com for more information.


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 mtmspta.com for weekly updates (beginning the next couple of weeks) and following our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MTMSPTA/.


Questions? Ideas? Concerns? Want to volunteer?

Write us at mtmspta@gmail.com

Mt. Tabor Middle School

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