PTS Rising Report

News and happenings from across Phoenix-Talent SD

Thank you, PTS School Board

Superintendent's Message

Dear families,

As you will see in this edition of the PTS Rising Report there is a lot of great news to share from across the district, but I'd like to bring your attention to something else that we only recently found out about which I believe will have a major impact in PTS Rising.

Thanks to the efforts of Kelly Soter, our director of equity and community care, and local partner La Clinica we have been awarded a $2.6 million federal grant that will be used to expand our school-based mental health offerings over the next five years. That means more school counselors, psychologists, therapists, and other qualified mental health providers in our buildings, helping our students reach their potential.

In the very near future, we will be remodeling our school-based mental health center at Phoenix High, hiring another school therapist at PHS and hiring a fourth Community Care specialist, expanding a program that has already benefited so many PTS families. Other upgrades will soon follow.

This is fantastic news and very timely. Considering what our students have gone through over the past three years, these forthcoming mental-health supports will be received with open arms and I want to thank everybody who helped make it possible.

I hope everybody had a wonderful and relaxing winter break. It's always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle, but I also agree with Talent Middle School principal Katherine Holden.

"For me, that inservice day (Tuesday) was great," she said during last night's board meeting, "but it's so fun to have the kids back."

I couldn't agree more. Be sure to check out the rest of the PTS Rising Report for information about our family engagement assessment, as well as some other highlights and accolades from around PTS.


Brent Barry, Superintendent

What's Happening

Family Focus

Meet the Potts family: a set of twins at Phoenix High, another set at Talent Middle School, a kindergartner, and a preschooler.

As if that’s not enough, mom Britney and dad Matthew are two of Phoenix-Talent SD’s most active parents, generous with their time and always willing to lend a hand. As an anonymous admirer explained to us in their nomination form, “They are the best room parents, team parents, and will help any kid in need. They are raising stellar kids who are kind and achieve at the highest level.”

Those kids are also very active. Twin PHS sophomores Ariah and Makaio are both three-sport athletes and members of the Pirates’ uber-successful Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) team.

The Potts’ eighth-graders, Nakoa and Breea, are also athletes. Besides managing the supply chain for a family business, Matthew, a PHS alum (Class of ’97), is the jumps coach for the Phoenix High track and field team and an occasional driver for the DECA team.

Why so many commitments?

“It’s such a great opportunity to continue spending so much time with them by just being involved in all of those activities, so I really like that,” Matthew said. “And it’s just fun to see how your children interact within their little community, with their friends.

“People say to me often, ‘Wow, you’re going to another thing, you’re driving to Portland, you’re going to Newport?’ And my response is, ‘Yes, of course I’m going. What else would you be doing?’”

Britney is a stay-at-home mom, which would be a full-time-plus enterprise all by itself considering the jam-packed itinerary of practices, games and events that she’s committed to, but that’s not all she has on her plate. No, Britney and Matthew are also foster parents, which means a whole new level of responsibilities, from family decision meetings, counselor appointments and visits, to the occasional court hearing.

Their extraordinarily busy life may sound overwhelming to most parents, but the Potts say they couldn’t imagine doing life any other way.

“This is all the time we have, this is all we get,” Britney said, “and like Matthew said, when (children) become more independent they need you less. They’re gone at some point. And also, as a foster parent, they’re gone sometimes when you’re not expecting it. So it’s kind of just like taking advantage of what you can. …This time is fleeting.

“It’s there for you to take but not all of us can or want to take advantage of that and it’s like, anytime we can be involved in our kids’ lives and have their friends like us and want to come to our house, or want to say hi and give me a high five, or tell me how they did on a test, or throw some sarcastic jokes at me, any of that I value. Because …to get to access this time with them is huge and important to us. We know this is not permanent, we know it goes away. So we want all of that experience with them in what we can get and give.”

Stellar Student: Morgan James

Phoenix High senior Morgan James has made the most of her time at PHS.

Besides being a three-sport athlete, Morgan is a member of the school's leadership team and Link Crew and currently serves as the Associated Student Body secretary. Additionally, she has volunteered for local Red Cross blood drives and the Sparrow Club and works as a nursing assistant student and a teacher's aide at a local daycare.

You may wonder how she does all this and still has time for school. Fear not. Morgan's daily schedule includes several rigorous AP courses, and she carries an unblemished 4.0 GPA.

PHS girls basketball coach Chelsea Winner said Morgan, who leads the Pirates in rebounds, steals, blocks and assists, is "one of the hardest working student-athletes that I have worked with in my 15 years of coaching basketball. She never takes a day off, she leads by example, and she is relentless as a player and wants to be on the court at all times. I have designated Morgan as team captain the last two seasons and she has stepped into that role with humility and determination."

PHS social studies and leadership teacher Lisa Robin was just as effusive in her praise of Morgan, who is planning on going to college in Montana to pursue a career in nursing.

"Of the thousands of students I have had the pleasure of working with over the past eighteen years, Morgan ranks in the top 1%," Robin wrote in a letter of recommendation. "I am always assured that when Morgan volunteers to take on a challenging task that she will complete it with flying colors. She exhibits a very strong work ethic in these extracurricular activities, just as she does in her classes, and is integral in assisting these groups in reaching their goals."

Morgan participated in basketball practice Thursday and, though she almost certainly had homework to get to afterward, she agreed to answer a few questions for this week's PTS Rising Report. Enjoy.


What is your favorite movie or book? Why?

My favorite movie is "Knives Out," so if I were to ever write a book it would probably be a mystery novel with a big plot twist at the end.


What are your family's favorite pastimes?

My family and I like to spend our free time with our family and friends at bonfires and barbecues. We also enjoy going to the lake in the summertime and watching our favorite TV shows.

I play three sports, soccer, basketball, and softball. So, my favorite part of the day is getting to go play whatever sport is in season after school.


What rule do you think everyone in the world should have to obey?

If there was one rule that I think everybody should obey, it's to treat others how you want to be treated.

Pride of PTS: Jane Podolski

A special education instructional assistant at Phoenix High School, Jane Podolski has been an educator for more than 31 years, including 26-plus in the Phoenix-Talent School District. She has worked at every grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade and has earned a reputation from her peers as a master of her craft.

One fellow PHS teacher said of Podolski, "I love the way she works with students to encourage them and not give up on them. She talks so kindly to them and is a non-stop worker."

Another peer said Podolski "goes above and beyond for her students and the teachers she works for. She not only works here but has two other jobs but that does not stop her from giving 1000% while she is here. She is constantly running around getting stuff done or glued to a student's desk helping them with math. She is dedicated, hilarious, rarely absent, and always striving to help kids be the best they can be!"

Here's a Q&A with the latest Pride of PTS recipient, Jane Podolski:


What would students be surprised to find out about you?

Like many students, I was bullied during many of my years of schooling. With loving guidance from my parents, I learned how to survive in a positive way.


What accomplishment fills you with pride so far this year?

Making connections with students I don't normally work with has added an additional dimension of fulfillment.


What inspires you?

While having the rational knowledge of realizing I might not see positive outcomes of every student I work with, to see that light go on in the ones who eventually "get it", gives me day-to-day inspiration.


Are there any embarrassing teaching moments you're willing to share? What are they?

There are too many embarrassing moments to mention. Like all the times I mimic students' behavior by oversleeping and barely making it to school on time!


If you were to be given a superlative when you were in school, what would it have been?

Two words come to mind describing me throughout most of my scholastic years. While being a "jock", I was also an "individualist," not feeling the pressure to be a part of any particular group.

Important Dates

  • Jan. 1-31: Oregon School Board Recognition Month.
  • Jan. 9: Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (thank one of our School Resource Officers).
  • Jan. 12: Latino Parent Night (6-8 pm at PHS commons).
  • Jan. 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (no school).
  • Jan. 19-21: PHS presents "12 Angry Jurors" (7 pm each night at Rose Street Theater).
  • Jan. 30: Teacher inservice (no school).
  • Feb. 2: PTS School Board meeting (6-8 pm at Orchard Hill Elementary).

Flyers and other dowloadables

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Phoenix-Talent School District

Together, we shall meet the challenges of preparing responsible, creative, lifelong learners