The Mt. Tabor Tribune

Weekly Newsletter for the Mt. Tabor Middle School Community

A Message from the Principal

September 4, 2020

Dear Mt. Tabor Middle School Community,

What a week, what a week, what a week!!!!!

After months of worry and planning, we have managed to launch the start of the 2020-21 school year. I think we should all pat ourselves on the back here. Seriously. Teachers learned about and worked to implement new instructional platforms in record time. Parents battled with work-life balance, internet connections, and email passwords that just refused to work. And our students had to adjust to this new distance learning life.

I won't say it was a week without hiccups. Because there were hiccups. I, for one, learned that updates to Google Meet make it so that I no longer need (or want) to keep my mic on when playing a video presentation--because echoes are real! But these hiccups reminded us to be flexible, adaptable, and gracious. They forced us to reach out, ask for help, and admit that sometimes we just don't know. We goofed up, sought answers, tried again, found solace in knowing we are not alone in these unprecedented times or in these small setbacks.

Some might choose to look at the hiccups and missteps, the things that didn't work just quite right, and call this distance learning thing a failure. But sitting in my home office tonight, that's not how it feels. Not even close. It feels much more like success than I could have imagined.

I have watched my own three children this week reengage with school. And when I asked them how their week had gone so far last night over dinner, I was shocked and elated to hear that their first days back were positive. They were happy to see their teachers and their friends. There was joy in their voices and smiles on their faces. And even when the technology was unfamiliar, they persevered. They asked for help, they didn't give up. And it made me exceptionally thankful.

It reminded me of the TED Talk I watched years ago about the quality of "grit." If you haven't seen this talk by Angela Duckworth, I recommend it. She talks about studies that predict success across many fields, and about how grit is the one factor above all others that can predict success. It is "passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future."

And while Angela Duckworth is clear that we don't know how we teach grit, I can't help but think that these times we are living in--times that ask us to be flexible, that ask us to stick with it even when it's tough--have the potential to develop that grit in all of us. We made it through emergency closure last spring and adjusted. It wasn't perfect, but we learned so much. And here we are months later, with a better sense of how we do it and how we make it better. We are determined and going after success yet again. We are still here--teachers, families, students. We are all sticking with it: for our futures and our children's futures.

And while I am not a psychologist (just an armchair optimist that has watched our school re-open its digital doors), I can see all of us working together for the success of our entire community. We are stronger--and grittier--together. Do you feel it? Because I certainly do.

I want to thank all of you who have supported these efforts this week and in making them such a huge success--it has truly taken all of us to make this happen. In particular, I want to offer my sincere thanks to the Virtual WEB Coordinators who trained our 8th grade leaders and organized a positive and engaging first day experience for our 6th grade students. It was no small task. So Mr. Roger Groom, Ms. Gina Gray, Mr. Dave Llewellyn, Mr. Michael Cady Russell, Ms. Emory Oeding, Ms. Hilary Smith, and Mr. Ackerman-Harvie: THANK YOU! Check out the amazing welcome video for students they created below.

I wish you all an amazing weekend, and hope that you enjoy the sunshine!

All the best,

Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Did You Miss the Livestreams?

If you missed this week's Livestream Assemblies, you can view them below using the attached Google Slide presentations. When you open them, simply hit the "Present" button in the upper right corner of your screen. The videos in the presentation are set to start when you advance to the next slide while you are in "Present" mode: simply click the right arrow on your keyboard.

Day 1 Livestream: Welcome Back

Day 2 Livestream: Counseling Services

Soft Start Schedule for Week 2: September 8-11

Students will continue with their soft start during the four day week of September 8-11.

During this week, students will engage with required Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons with their period 1 teacher every day between 9:30-10:30 pm before meeting with their teachers for two periods each day. Teachers will be continuing with their relationship and tech skill building lessons during this time.

A copy of the schedule for the week of September 8-11 can be found below.

Big picture

Instructional Schedules for September 14 and Beyond

The school board just approved the instructional schedules for students for September 14 and beyond last week, and we have translated those schedules into MTMS friendly schedules for students.

We have color coded the week to help students and families navigate the different sessions they see on the schedule. Blue are live, required whole class sessions where attendance is required. Yellow are live small group sessions (all students will check in at the beginning of each of these sessions), but students may be engaged in "on my own" applied learning work after they get instructions and are not needed in the small group session. In total, students should expect to log in to class meetings three days a week and spend two 45-minute sessions engaged in live instruction with their teacher. The links of all live and small group sessions will be posted in the Calendar in Canvas beginning September 14.

Those items in white are those where students are working asynchronously or "own my own" to complete posted coursework.These times are more flexible for the student, and courses can be done outside the times posted for "on my own" work to accommodate the needs of individual families. These breakdowns follow best-practice recommendations in regard to the balance between live and applied learning and address the mandates of ODE guidance in comprehensive distance learning and should give students and families guidance on what assignments they should be working on a given day.

You can access a copy of the instructional schedule below. If you have access to a printer, we highly encourage families to make copies of this schedule to hang on your fridge, post in your student work area, etc.


The Mt Tabor Middle School Climate Team and Site Council have combined forces this school year, and we are in need of a handful of parents to join us in these frank and real conversations focused on making MTMS a better place for all students. Ideally, we are looking for four parents to join us.

What Does The Team Do?

The Climate Team/Site Council reviews building-wide discipline data to implement and refine strategies for student expectations/behavior. The team is focused on restorative preventative strategies to support all students. The team also assists in developing, implementing, and monitoring the School Continuous Improvement Plan (SCIP), solicits input from the community regarding school programs, reviews and rates school performance, and adjusts approach to meet/support School Improvement Goals.

When Does the Team Meet?

The 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month: 4:15-5:15 pm (via Google Meet)

If you are interested and willing to serve, please email Tonya Arnold to let her know you are interested.

Parents: Connect to Canvas

All of our students had the chance to sign on and begin to interact with Canvas this week. Each student had a homework assignment on Thursday of completing modules about how to use their new learning management system.

But students aren't the only ones who can benefit from Canvas. Parents can get in on the Canvas platform and "observe" their student to allow for both transparency and support. This process will be demonstrated during this week's Tabor Talks, and instructions for how you can get started are also linked here:

Curious About Curriculum? Check out Atlas for Families and the Community

PPS has created a website through which families, students, caregivers, and the community can access the Portland Public Schools (PPS) curriculum. Aligned to adopted Oregon State Standards and developed by teams of teachers and staff within the district, the Portland Public Schools curriculum provides a map of what skills and content students are working on at each grade level.

To browse curriculum:

  1. Visit
  2. Click on the “Browse” tab at the top of this page.
  3. Use the drop-down menus in the Filter box to select the school, grade and or subject you want to view. Note: Currently only District Reviewed courses are available to view.
  4. After you have selected a filter or filters, click on the “Browse” button at the bottom right of the Filter box.
  5. To see a unit calendar, click on the link under the column labeled “Course”.
  6. To see an individual unit, click on the unit names listed to the left of the calendar view.

Developing a district curriculum is an ongoing process. Information available on this site will continue to grow as we develop and refine our courses and units across grade levels and all content areas.

Want to see how it works? Click on the link below to view a Screencast that walks you through the process.

PPS Curriculum Resources: Using Atlas

Learning Technology Training and Support from PPS

We invite all families to visit to access a full set of orientation videos and other resources, translated into our district-supported languages, to help you better understand the learning platforms students and teachers will use this fall. You will also find information on how to log on to the platforms, how to connect to the internet and other helpful tips.

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

Attendance and Grades

When school closures hit in March, districts across the state and nation faced major questions about how to adequately grade and take attendance for students given the large digital divide and access to online resources.

This fall, with the distribution of wifi hotspots and Chromebooks to families across the district, access to technology should no longer be a barrier to learning. As such, PPS will be taking attendance and marking grades for assignments and the grading period as per Oregon Department of Education Guidelines.

While we understand that students may miss the occasional live session for things like medical appointments, it is essential that parents and students understand and reinforce the importance of showing up to meetings on time and engaging in those sessions, not only for their own attendance purposes, but to receive quality letter grades at adequately reflect student achievement.

Some Things To Note About Attendance:

  • Teachers will be taking attendance 1) in live meeting sessions, and 2) with completion of daily assignments
  • Students who have not engaged the day prior will be marked absent from their class.
  • Parents will be receiving automatic "Robo-Calls" when their student is absent.
  • Teachers will be making contact with families once students hit three class absences before making a referral to our Student Attendance and Engagement Team.

Some Things To Note About Grades:

  • Students will no longer be graded on participation, but on their level of completion and mastery of the assignments and learning objectives for units of study.
  • Students and parents should check course grades in Canvas rather than ParentVUE or StudentVUE.

We shared these expectations with students during our introductory assemblies this week and will be reteaching them explicitly during Homeroom the week of September 14-18, but we would appreciate our parent partners having the conversation at home as well.

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:

Suggested School Supply Lists

The district has been developing school supply lists for families, but given that they have not been released and we are just a week away from easing into content learning, we have decided to publish our own list for families. We have tried to streamline the list as suggested supplies for all grades, optional supplies (which have free online equivalents), and art supplies specific for those taking our quarter 1 Art classes.

We have also included notes about the traditional "community supplies" that students bring to school and our annual ask for funds to support student activities.

Suggested School Supply Lists

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

Nutrition Services for 2020-21

Starting September 2nd, the Nutrition Services department plans to have 36 schools operating with grab and go meal services, and an additional 2 sites, Ockley Green and Lane Middle Schools starting September 14. Each site will serve 3-5pm outside for walk up or drive thru on Mondays and Wednesdays. We hope that minimizing the meal pick up days will be less of a burden for families as opposed to asking them to come every day.

On Monday, we will provide two breakfasts and two lunches for each PPS student. On Wednesday, we will provide three breakfasts and 3 lunches to each student. Each of the 38 sites are eligible for free meals to all students who are enrolled or visit the school. Due to USDA regulations, we are unable to continue meal services for non-PPS enrolled children such as non-school aged siblings.

For families who are not enrolled in one of the 38 schools, or unable to get to the school to pick up food, we will offer meal deliveries to family homes. Deliveries are made possible by the transportation department. Meal delivery schedules are still being determined and will depend on the demand for the service. School meals will be free to those enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school, or for students who are eligible for free or reduced priced meals. If a family is not eligible for free meals, each breakfast will cost $1.50 and each lunch will cost $2.90. There is no delivery fee. Payments can be made online - or checks can be mailed to PPS Nutrition Services at 501 N Dixon Street, Portland, Oregon 97227.

To sign up for home meal delivery, please click on the link here:

Families must reapply for meal benefits (free and reduced eligibility) every year. Meal applications are not needed if students attend a CEP school. New this year! Eligibility for free meals has been expanded through the state of Oregon - please check to see if you may be eligible!

Eligibility for free/reduced price school meals may also help families with other fee reductions or waivers such as -

  • Science lab fees
  • College application fees
  • Summer school fees
  • Comcast or other cable/internet services
  • Field trips
  • Supplemental food and nutrition benefits (when available)

Connecting to Library Resources

The Mt. Tabor Middle School Library website is a great resource for students in the 2020-21 school year. There they can use amazing research tools and check out e-books from multiple providers. The library website is easy to use and can be found at

We would also like to encourage families to get a Multnomah County Library cards for their students. it is easy to Apply online and get instant access to e-books, audiobooks, streaming media and more. After you have applied, call 503.988.5123 to make an appointment to pick up your library card at any library location.

Tabor Talk: Talks Coming Up This Week & New Times for the Year

Tabor Talk Session #3: Instructional Schedules and Navigating Canvas

With the unveiling of the official student instructional schedule, we know more about what distance learning will look like in the coming weeks and are ready to share this information with you. Additionally, we want to help parents know how to navigate the new Canvas platform (so that you know how to best support your students with upcoming distance learning).

To join either session, use the following link:

Tuesday, September 8 (6:30-7:30 pm)

Wednesday, September 9 (6:30-7:30 pm)

Tabor Talk Special Session: DLI Instruction in Distance Learning

One of the things that came up in our first round of Tabor Talks was surrounding dual language immersion and how our teaching staff was planning to support language learning in the target languages. Our DLI teams in both the Japanese and Spanish Immersion programs are working collaboratively to create a consistent routine to support language acquisition, and we are excited to be able to share that vision with our DLI families in a special Tabor Talk session (see below for dates.

To join the session, use the following link:

Thursday, September 10 (6:30-7:30 pm)

Times for Tabor Talk Sessions:

Thank you to the families that have provided input as to the timing of our Tabor Talk sessions. After this round of sessions, we will host two sessions: an AM edition (every other Tuesday at 8:00 am) and a PM talk (every other Wednesday at 6:30 pm). We intend to keep these days and times consistent as we move into the school year.

Your Weekly PTA Update: First General Meeting Sept 15

Mark your calendars for our first PTA general meeting of the year on September 15 at 6:30 pm via Zoom. We will be reviewing the 2020-21 budget and electing officers for vacant positions.

Open Board Positions

We have Board positions that we are seeking to fill. If you are looking for a way to volunteer and show your support of our Mt. Tabor students, we have a place for you. We are hoping to help facilitate the formation of grade specific, Parent Resource groups to help us “get together” and collaborate when we cannot physically “be together” and that we need help!

Join the PTA!

We need you! Our PTA helps to fill needs that our school budget just cannot. We support programming, the purchse 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 #3

Tuesday, Sep. 8th, 6:30pm

This is an online event.

Join us at

Tabor Talk #3

Wednesday, Sep. 9th, 6:30pm

This is an online event.

Join us at

Tabor Talk: Immersion Programs in Distance Learning

Thursday, Sep. 10th, 6:30pm

This is an online event.

Join us at

PTA General Meeting

Tuesday, Sep. 15th, 6pm

This is an online event.

Check the MTMSPTA website at for the Zoom Link.

Back To School Night

Thursday, Sep. 24th, 6pm

This is an online event.

Stay tuned for digital meeting invites for the evening's events.

Mt. Tabor Middle School

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