The Mt. Tabor Tribune

A Weekly Newsletter for the Mt. Tabor School Community

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A Message from the Principal


Good evening, MTMS families,

With just one week left until the end of the first quarter, it is hard to believe how quickly the year has already gone. Students seem settled into predictable routines, and even with the COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, we are managing to find ways to build community and have fun. This week's Spirit Week 2.0 was a blast as students dressed up in wacky socks, their favorite colors, and pajamas, all in the name of school spirit, and we all enjoyed being a character today. Assistant Principal Jill Liddle and I definitely enjoyed our roles of Wonder Women and confusing the student body in regards to which one of us was which.

There is delight and joy in these moments, and especially in reaching our goal of collecting 500 pairs of socks for our students and families who need them. Many thanks to our generous community for helping achieve this goal. I know that we will have additional opportunities next month as well for families to contribute gently used winter coats as well.

There has also been a lot of change come our way this week as well, and I'm not just talking about the leaves. The Southeast Guiding Coalition, the committee tasked with tackling district boundaries to ensure that Harrison Park opens next fall as a comprehensive middle school, was presented with two proposals last night and a host of "non negotiables" from the district, all of which present major changes for Mt. Tabor Middle School and our feeder path. There is more information about these first-draft proposals later in this newsletter, and I and our SEGC members representing Mt. Tabor will be walking our community through the details of these drafts at our Tabor Talk coming up on Wednesday night. I know that all of the school communities across SE Portland have a lot to process about how the landscape will be changing for the fall, and I want to try to answer our community's questions about the two drafts as best I can. I hope that families can join us for our Convivencia event on Wednesday morning (in Spanish) or at Tabor Talk on Wednesday evening (in English) to learn more.

The other big change coming our way are the departures of two staff members here at MTMS. Hari Dhimal, a beloved member of our custodial staff, said his goodbyes to us yesterday, and long-time educator Brett Gernhart will be retiring to Arizona with his lovely wife in just under a week. While we are sad to see both of these individuals leave us, we know that the next phase of their lives will be amazing and are so grateful for their years of dedication to our students. Best wishes to you both.

In today's newsletter, you will find details about our delightful new PE teacher, Mr. Mark Mask, School Photo Retakes, OBOB start-up, Parent-Teacher Conferences, and much more.

I wish you all a lovely fall weekend.

All the best,

Ms. Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Welcome Mark Mask, Physical Education

Hello Mount Tabor Middle School! I am very excited to join you as a new P.E. teacher. I look forward to meeting you all and having a great time together at school.

I was a teacher in California many moons ago, then I took a fifteen-year detour through the corporate world before returning to the classroom a few years ago. I've taught every age group from preschool through eighth grade. Don't tell your younger friends this, but middle school students are the most fun.

My wife and I have three great kids of our own, ages 16, 12, and 10. If you're counting at home, that's one former middle schooler, one current middle schooler, and one future middle schooler. Middle school parents, I stand with you! Our household also includes two dogs, two rabbits, and a few feral cats who like to hang out in our backyard. There's rarely a dull moment at home.

I'm a lifelong baseball fan. One of my greatest joys has been coaching youth baseball for the past twelve years. My children and I have made so many wonderful memories - and new friends - during our time spent on the baseball fields. On our team we have a favorite saying about that... "once a teammate, always a teammate." I feel the same way about teaching... once a classmate, always a classmate.

Thank you for welcoming me into the school community. I can't wait to get started!

School Pictures Retakes!

Not happy with that student ID photo your child brought home on Friday? Do not fear. We have picture retakes scheduled for Tuesday, November 2.

Students how had a picture packet from the first session must return their prints for retakes. Those that were not present for the original picture session can pick up a new picture packet in the main office.

Students Organizing for Leadership Meeting on Tuesday

Latino Network's S.O. L. (Students Organizing for Leadership) student group will be meeting for the second time during Homeroom/Lunch times this Tuesday, Nov. 2nd. We had a great turnout for our first meeting! Remind your Latino/a/x student that all are welcome to join on Tuesday!

Convivencia Meeting on Wednesday

Convivencia, our monthly gathering of Latino/a/x parents and guardians, will happen next week! We will be offering important school handouts in Spanish, Spanish-speaking staff will be present, and we will have snacks and coffee. Information about parent-teacher conferences, our after school SUN activity program, and changing school feeder patterns will also be presented.

When: Wednesday, Nov. 3rd, 9:15 - 9:45am

Where: Like last month, we will gather on the blacktop behind the school; if it's raining, we will gather under the covered area on the east side of the school.

We hope to see you there!

Enrollment & Program Balancing: Phase 2 Work to Bring Changes to DLI, Focus Option and Neighborhood Programs

Dear PPS Community,

The second phase of Enrollment and Program Balancing work is entering a key juncture, and we want to share with you the proposals we will look to enact, as well as issues that have surfaced during the process that we will address.

In February, the PPS Board of Education charged staff to work with the Southeast Guiding Coalition (SEGC) and accomplish several goals:

  • Convert Harrison Park from a K-8 to full middle school and create feeder patterns for it
  • Find a site for Harrison Park’s K-5 students
  • Increase enrollment at Lane Middle School

The program balancing phase of SEGC and the proposed moves to balance enrollment exacerbated the current inequities we are experiencing in some of our K-5 dual language immersion (DLI) programs that share a campus at a neighborhood program (known as co-locating). Through feedback from families and staff, we found that co-locating DLI and neighborhood schools divided staffing and resources and impacted the ability to fully support emergent bilingual students. To address these inequities, we are proposing a whole school DLI model. In Southeast Portland, where Enrollment and Program Balancing is currently underway, this change will primarily impact two languages:

  • Chinese, for which a whole-school DLI program could be located at Bridger or Woodstock
  • Spanish, with whole-school programs at Lent or Bridger

The whole-school DLI model will eventually impact the rest of the schools in the district. It will be the model adopted for K-5 schools, as Enrollment and Program Balancing work moves to other areas in coming years. DLI programs that do not have enough students for a whole-school model, such as Russian and Vietnamese, will remain co-located for now.

The DLI model will look different at the 6-8 level. Language learning and acquisition experiences will complement the work being done at the middle school level.

Additionally, Creative Science K-8 School will relocate from the Clark campus and become a focus option/neighborhood school, following a model in use at Sunnyside (environmental) and Buckman (arts). Proposed sites are Woodstock and Arleta. This will allow Clark to become the home for K-5 students from nearby Harrison Park.

To ensure we reach our overarching goal that "every student has a robust academic experience in each school," we have targeted a minimum enrollment of 500 students per middle school, and 270 students at each K-5 school. Those numbers, we believe, will lead to more equitable programming that includes enrichments and core academics. Boundary changes between neighborhood schools will be proposed to help achieve these goals.

There are still plenty of details to work out, starting at today’s SEGC meeting. We also will have robust engagement opportunities beginning November 8. Proposal and community input details are posted on the Enrollment and Program Balancing webpage. The final board decision on boundaries, enrollment and program locations will be made in February.

Tabor Talk Returns Wednesday, November 3

With Parent-Teacher Conferences on the horizon and the draft proposals from the SE Guiding Coalition being presented this week, it seems like an appropriate time to reconvene as a community for a Tabor Talk about these topics. We hope that you will join us on Wednesday, November 3 from 6:30-7:30 pm using the link below (for the Zoom Meeting):

OBOB Informational Meeting

Oregon Battle of the Books at Mt. Tabor Middle School is gearing up for another amazing year. If your student is interested in the program, we encourage you to attend our informational session. Join us (virtually) if you are interested in participating in OBOB this year. You do not need a team, only the love of reading. Coaches and parents are welcome, but students need to be signed in to their account to join the meeting.

When: Monday, November 1, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Google Meet Nickname: obobmttabor

Welcome REAP and Fernando Torres to Mt. Tabor

Mt. Tabor Middle School is so incredibly lucky to be partnering with REAP for the 2021-22 school year.

REAP is a year-round multicultural youth leadership program committed to empowering the next wave of leaders. REAP works with students in grades 3 through 12, who represent our most marginalized student populations.

We empower students to become global leaders through civic engagement, entrepreneurship and cooperative management (conflict resolution) for a better future NOW. In recent years, REAP has served more than +1,000 students each year.

This year, Fernando Torres, our REAP Youth Essential Coordinator, will be on campus with us full time and providing programming and support. To learn more about the Solutions program and about Fernando, see the images below.
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MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Parent- Teacher Conferences Nov 22-23

This year, MTMS will host virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences on Monday and Tuesday, November 22-23. We will be sending out conference schedules and sign up information to families beginning the first part of November.

Like last year, families will have an opportunity to look at their student Quarter 1 grades and prioritize the teachers and subjects that are most important for them to speak to regarding their student's progress. Conference sessions will be 12 minutes in length, and there will be slots in the morning, afternoon, and evening to choose from. Registration will be online through a conference scheduling tool. The roll out of scheduling will prioritize families in need of translation, students receiving special education services, and students who are receiving additional supports/interventions for academics, behavior, and attendance. All families will receive the opportunity to begin registration by no later than November 12.

Help Support the MTMS Band Program

The MTMS Band needs a new set of music chairs!! Our current chairs are old and damaged to the point of being a distraction during daily rehearsals. Students spend valuable rehearsal time cherry-picking chairs and I am constantly observing them wiggle around to avoid the broken parts of the seats (see pictures below!). With your generous donations we would replace our old, worn, and damaged chairs with a brand new set specifically designed for music classrooms. With your donations we will also be able purchase rolling storage carts for these chairs, allowing for super quick set ups and tear downs, whether we play indoors or outdoors.

With a new set of music chairs we will be able to:

  • Increase rehearsal time

  • Ensure comfort, so students can focus more on the music

  • Promote good posture habits so students can give their best sounds

  • Increase efficiency for setting up/tearing down

Our goal is to raise $5,000 by December 31st, 2021. Please consider donating any amount you are able to via the link below. All donations are tax deductible.

Thanks again for your support!

Jacob Soto


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Your Weekly PTA Update

Your Weekly PTA Update

A HUGE thank you for the socks! There will be many warm feet this fall and winter. This community always amazes us with your generosity and we greatly appreciate your participation and support of the community. We will be collecting winter jackets during Spirit Week in November. If you are cleaning out closets or shopping for winter gear in the next few weeks consider donating adult-sized (or big kid) jackets that are gently used or new.

Picture Re-Take Volunteers

Picture re-take day at MTMS is Tuesday, November 2nd and we are looking for two volunteers from 9:15am-noon. We have two picture coupons for the two volunteers. You must have a PPS approved background check on file and proof of COVID-19 vaccination to volunteer in the school. If you are interested in volunteering please email the PTA at

OHSU Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing

Another reminder that details about this program and links to the opt-in forms are available at this link:


MTMS PTA needs your help. The community is stronger when we work together and we would love to have some more volunteer power within the PTA.

Treasurer Elect – Learn how to be treasurer from our current amazing Treasurer. Our current Treasurer is planning to stay in the position next year as well, so this volunteer would have two years to learn the ropes. **We are currently looking for a volunteer to participate in audits with the Treasurer. This is a small time commitment and occurs on a regular basis.**

Volunteer Coordinator – Help coordinate volunteers as needed (some examples: Picture Day, Picture Retake Day, Staff Appreciation Week, decorating for 8th Grade Promotion). Picture day and picture re-take day are already off the list, so 1/2 the work is already done!!

Restaurant Partner Coordinator – Procure restaurant partners for these fundraising events. This is done with some outreach via email and then making sure the Communications Chair has the details to share with the community. We have relationships established and leads on new restaurants that are interested.

Outdoor Coordinator – Lead or assist with beautifying the internal courtyard. We want our students and teachers to have a nice space in the courtyard. The space is used often and passed through multiple times a day.

Bottle Drop Coordinator – Ensure Bottle Drop bags and labels are stocked and distributed to those interested. This is a minimal time commitment.

Staff Appreciation Week – Take the lead or assist in coordinating staff appreciation events in May. The PTA has several leads and relationships established already.

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 updates and following our page on Facebook at

Questions? Ideas? Concerns? Want to volunteer?

Write us at

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In our continued effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, Mt. Tabor Middle School will participate in a weekly COVID-19 Screening Testing Program, a partnership between the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and PPS. Screening testing provides early detection of COVID-19, even when individuals have no apparent COVID-19-like symptoms.

If you are interested in having your student(s) participate in this free weekly COVID-19 screening testing program, please be sure to return a signed copy of the opt-ins provided to your student earlier this week. If your student has lost their packet, all of the documents included are included in the links below.

If I enroll my student in this testing program, what should I expect?

  1. Families who wish to participate in the testing program must fill out the consent forms and health authorization forms we sent with your student on Friday, October 1.

  2. Our school will receive testing kits and labels to send home every Wednesday once the program starts.

  3. Every Thursday morning, your student spit into the test tube. We encourage you to watch this 4 minute video on how easy it is to collect a spit sample.

  4. Then students will return the spit samples (in their labeled bags) that same morning. Dropboxes will be located outside the main office. Samples will be collected by OHSU for transportation to the lab for testing.

  5. OHSU will share the results within 48 hours of the specimen being dropped off at school. You will receive a secure email with your child's results. Please note: PPS will not receive the results of your student’s test.

If it is a positive (or inconclusive) result, we ask that you keep your student home from school. Please call us immediately and we will follow the guidance provided by our partners at the Multnomah Health Department.

We know that this is an important tool in our effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s also important to remember that despite the availability of this program, the best tools to protect individuals against COVID-19 are vaccination for those eligible, physical distancing, masks, proper ventilation and airflow, hand hygiene, and staying home if ill or exposed to someone with COVID-19.

We are excited for the launch of this screening testing program, helping us make more informed decisions about our students safety and health.

At this time, we do not know when our testing will begin, and we will keep families posted when we receive our start date from OHSU.

10.19.2021 MTMS PTA Presentation on COVID-Screening Testing
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My Child Is Out Sick

If your child is feeling under the weather and is missing school, please be sure to call the MTMS Attendance Line. If you leave us a message, please give us a list of your student's symptoms as we are tracking these as part of our health and safety protocol. A member of the office or admin team may call you back regarding the symptoms you report.

It is also essential that you notify the school if your student has a positive COVID test or is a close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. Please call the school office, and they will connect you with our School Health Assistant, Julia Mudgett; our school nurse, Catrina Luna; or Principal Tonya Arnold to follow up with you on these protocols. If you need to reach someone after hours, please email

Mt. Tabor Middle School

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