The Mt. Tabor Tribune

Weekly Newsletter for the Mt. Tabor Middle School Community

A Message from the Principal

August 28, 2020

Dear Mt. Tabor Middle School Community,

This week was inservice week for the staff at Mt. Tabor. For the first time in ages, we saw a handful of our dedicated staff members walk through the doors, masked and ready to begin the work of greeting students virtually next week. As a new principal. it was humbling to see the few of them who chose to work from their classrooms, and likewise empowering to see all of them virtually on our Google Meet sessions. It takes grit and determination to sit through hours of training on new technological tools, scheduling conversations, and explanations of policies that are new and unfamiliar in our COVD reality. And through it all, they stuck with it, asked important questions, and worked hard--they knew what was at stake for your families, your students, and our entire district.

I spoke with a teacher this afternoon as she was in the process of making phone calls to families about the coming school year. She sounded so excited and positive about the calls she had made so far, and the fear and anxiety that I had heard in so many voices earlier this week as we navigated the new Canvas learning management system had seemed to melt away. She was doing what she loved--connecting with families and getting ready to meet a whole new crop of students. If you have not had the opportunity to speak with your child's 1st period teacher yet, be patient as they work through their rosters. It takes quite a bit of time to work through important calls to 30+ students. I know they are excited to connect with you.

There is a lot of information in the newsletter this week that I know you have all been waiting for. And I know that it will not fully answer all of your questions. But I hope that the schedules and protocols for next week will be helpful in setting your minds at ease. Please know that we are mindfully planning for the opening of school (on Wednesday for 6th graders and Thursday for 7th and 8th graders).

I hope that, while the year will undoubtedly hold its share of challenges, you and your students never doubt the love our staff has for your students, nor the joy that your children bring to our lives.

All the best,

Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Student Schedules for September 2-4

From September 2-4, MTMS students will be returning to "virtual campus" on the first week of their "soft start" schedule. The purpose of the "soft start" is provide teachers, parents, families and students with an opportunity to develop relationships, learn more about distance learning platforms/tools, and build a virtual classroom culture that supports quality distance learning. During this time at the middle school level, 6th grade students will get an introduction to MTMS, and all students will be welcomed back with some important, whole-campus experiences. In addition, students will attend live virtual classroom meetings and engage in community building activities.

6th graders will return to campus on Wednesday, September 2 for a full morning of "orientation" with our amazing 8th Grade WEB Leaders and coordinators. They will start the day with a whole school "assembly" and then work in smaller breakout groups with their leaders.

All students will resume school on Thursday, September 3. On both Thursday and Friday, students will start with a whole group "assembly" before transitioning to shortened versions of their classes by period. these shortened classes, just like those int he following week, prioritize relationship and community building as well as building technology skills in learning platforms like Canvas, Flipgrid, Padlet, and Jamboard. It is important that students attend these sessions as they lay the foundation for classroom community and tech skills that will be needed across many of their classes. All the of sessions (both the "assemblies" and class meetings) are required, live broadcasts for students.

An email will be sent to student's Gmail accounts no later than end of day Monday, August 31 with links to the "assemblies." A copy of this email will also be sent to families using school Messenger and the Remind application to assist in ensuring students can log in and access the courses.

Copies of the first week of school schedules are available in the images below.

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Student Schedules for 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 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 building lessons during this time.

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

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Instructional Schedules for September 14 and Beyond

The school board just approved the instructional schedules for students for September 14 and beyond earlier this week, and we have been busy translating 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, but students may be engaged in "on my own" applied learning work if they are not needed in the small group session. The links of all live and small group sessions will be embedded in the Modules in Canvas and should populate their calendar in the Canvas tool.

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.

Student Gmail Accounts

On Monday, students will be receiving an email with details and links to help them navigate to their assemblies and first classes of the day. It is essential that students, prior to the start of instruction, take time to ensure that they can log in to their Gmail account with their email and password.

To access their email. simply go to and click on the Gmail logo in the upper right corner of the browser window to sign in with their account.

Should you encounter trouble logging in, first consult the Online Help and Support Support page at It has information about sign-in and the ability to reset passwords (if security questions are established). If you are unable to gain access, please contact Brian Pemberton on staff at for support.

Introducing Canvas

Gone are the days of the Google Classroom at MTMS. This year, across the district, secondary schools will be migrating to the Canvas platform. The learning management system has many more options available to staff than the Google Classroom which will increase their opportunity to provide feedback, engage students in asynchronous "dialogue," and assess student work. Our students will have their first opportunity to sign in to their Canvas platforms on Thursday, September 3.

Attached is the Quick Guide that will help students get signed in to Canvas for their first day of instruction. The MTMS administration will be providing students a quick overview of Canvas during the whole-school assembly, and there will be a PPS Students: Getting Started with Canvas module available for students to learn more about the platform during their soft start week.

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. Teachers will be taking role in live meeting sessions and will be looking at daily assignment completion to determine student attendance. Additionally, 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.

We will be talking with students about this during out introductory assemblies in the first week of school, but we would appreciate our parent partners having the conversation at home as well.

Student Class Schedules

Our counseling and administrative teams are done with students schedules. Official schedules have been posted in ParentVUE and Student VUE and can be seen by navigating to the "gradebook" portion of the application.

We have been asked many questions about scheduling, and we are working hard to ensure that student schedules meet needs. If you believe that there has been an error in scheduling (i.e. my student has PE twice in the same quarter), please contact Jill Liddle.

Do You Still Need Technology?

Does your family still need a Chromebook or internet service for your student(s) to support comprehensive distance learning this fall? Did you miss your scheduled pick-up window? Did you think you had your family's tech needs covered only to second guess yourself?

Please contact Ann Pinzelik or Tania Trujillo-Morales to schedule a time for pickup early next week.

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, please reach out to us and let us know--we can replace your machine during the window as well.

Meet The Newest Members of the Teaching Staff at MTMS

Adam Goldstein: Science

On my path to Mt. Tabor MS, I have been so fortunate to have had so many wonderful opportunities to learn and teach science. I began my career as a researcher in history and philosophy of science, teaching college philosophy, taking a turn as an online archivist working with 19th-century scientific manuscripts. I shifted to K-12 education because of my love for the classroom, and my belief in the opportunities education can create for students of all backgrounds wherever they live. Since moving to Portland in 2018 with my wife Marisa and our son Simon, who is starting kindergarten at PPS's Sunnyside Environmental School, I have worked at OMSI, Saturday Academy, and PPS. We love to cook, read, travel, and explore the countryside and coastline of the Pacific Northwest, stopping at farm stands and berry patches along the way. I look forward to working with the great team at Mt. Tabor to face whatever challenges this year might bring to make it a success for you and your Mt. Tabor student.


There are many new additions to the MTMS teaching staff for the 2020-21 school year, and we feel it is essential that our students and community get to know a little bit about them in these early days of distance learning. We sincerely hope that you all will embrace them and welcome them to our Mt. Tabor Family.

Leah Martin-Rosenthal: Math

Leah Martin-Rosenthal (she/her/hers) is fired up about facilitating meaningful and deep math conversations with middle schoolers. She knows the best math learning happens in a community where we feel safe to take risks and try on challenges. After attending Oberlin College in Ohio, she moved to Portland and spent two years teaching at The Arbor School while completing her MAT at Pacific University. Her quarantine projects have included reupholstering a couch, reviving wilted chard, and watercolor painting!


Carlos Molina: Math

I hope that you and your children are healthy and safe. I am Carlos Molina, the new mathematics teacher at Mt Tabor Middle School. I am happy to work for my second year. in Portland Public Schools community. I am a former architect from Ecuador, South America. I really enjoy being an educator and I am glad to be your children’s teacher. Even though we are starting the new school year with an on-line distance learning system, together let’s make this a successful school year where our students achieve all their learning goals.


Yukiko Meyden: Japanese

はじめまして。My name is Yukiko Ishida. I will be substitute teaching 6th grade Japanese and Social studies classes while Sumiya-sensei is on maternity leave. I was born in Wakayama and grew up in Osaka, Japan. I obtained my MSW degree at University of Southern California and have worked with children and youth as a child therapist and social worker. For teaching experience, I taught English to Japanese students in Japan and have been educating my two children in Japanese.

Over the last couple of years, I had the opportunity to work at the Japanese immersion program in Anchorage, Alaska, and at Richmond elementary school as a student teacher, substitute teacher, and summer program teacher. I just completed the first year of the Masters of Art in Teaching program at Oregon State University and am working towards my teaching licensure.

I love traveling, hiking, and camping with my family. One interesting fact is that since I have lived in the US I have resided in 5 other states before moving to Oregon in 2018. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with 6th-grade students and their families; I am looking forward to meeting with all of you soon.


Yuuki Sakai: Japanese

Hello and Konnichiwa, Mt. Tabor Community!

My name is Yuuki Sakai, and I will be teaching 7th grade social studies this year. Last year, 2019-2020 was my first year teaching, and I was highly fortunate to be placed in 8th grade Japanese and social studies at Mt. Tabor. I discovered how exciting it is to work with middle schoolers. I also discovered a passion for the field of social sciences, particularly in a dual-language setting. I strive to build trusting, productive relationships with students wherein we get excited to perform at our best and take a positive attitude towards pushing our limits. Prior to teaching at Tabor, I was a substitute at Richmond in both English and Japanese. My hobbies include archery, hiking, backpacking, and Aikido, which is a Japanese martial art centered around unity with others and the Universe.


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: Recording and Upcoming Talks

Thank you to the nearly 250 families who turned out for our second session of Tabor Talk. I have not been able to complete a video cast of this session this week, but I am including below a copy of the slide deck. Much of the conversation centered on the soft start instructional schedule which I have tried to include above.

link here.

Tabor Talk Session #3: Instructional Schedules and Navigating Canvas

We already have our next sessions scheduled as you can see below. 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:

We have heard from some parents that the 6:30-7:30 times are difficult. If you have a suggestion of an alternative time that might be best, please reach out and let us know how we can best support. We will continue to record sessions and/or attach corresponding slide decks to the newsletter in the days that follow each session.

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

Mt. Tabor Middle School

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