Family Newsletter February 26 , 2021
Dear StepUP Families,
What a wonderful week we have had! It has been so great to see our students more! We have seen so many happy students and have heard so many comments of excitement to be back at school for more time and more frequently.
We wanted to let you know that we do have a water bottle refill station now, so if you send your student with a water bottle, please make sure it is labeled.
We look forward to seeing everyone next week. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
Next week, March 1-5
- Transition attends Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
- High School attends Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
- Middle School attends Monday and Thursday OR Tuesday and Friday depending on which cohort they are in (it is the same as it was this week)
- Elementary attends all week, Wednesday is early release
COMMUNITY RESOURCES AND HAPPENINGS
NEWS FROM OUR CLASSROOMS
The 4-7 classroom has been so excited to see all of our students back in the building. We have had fun reestablishing relationships with those students we hadn't seen in awhile and getting more time with those that were coming for in-person groups before hybrid.
Just a reminder that next week all middle school students in our classroom will continue attending their home school and StepUp on both Tuesdays and Fridays. Our elementary students will be attending their home school and StepUp every day next week. Wednesday is early release day, so your student will be leaving StepUp at 12:45.
Lastly, ask your 4-7 student about the cooking class with Miss Kari and Miss Ivy or the sewing project that they are working on with Mrs. B. Students are exploring different food, stitches and projects through our daily "specials" time.
This month's Team Spotlight...StepUP's Emily Sample!
How long have you been working for RSD and what did you do before coming here?
I started with RSD four years ago as a Title1 Instructional Assistant, doing reading interventions at Vern Patrick Elementary. I was transferred to StepUP in the spring of 2018, and prior to that I was a librarian at Long Beach Elementary in Washington. I have also been a chef and a pastry chef for more than 20 years, working in Alaska, Florida and Maine. I grew up in Florida, sailing and scuba diving all through school. After meeting my husband while studying fine arts at the University of Florida, we drove long-haul trucks to see the country, then settled in Maine and had two amazing kids. We moved to the West Coast in 2012 for a new adventure, and we love it here. We are avid campers, adventurers, and wild mushroom hunters.
How has your role changed during the pandemic?
My role here at StepUP as a behavior intervention assistant has changed dramatically since the pandemic closed our doors last March. Where before I was in classrooms all over the district supporting students, I am now in a more behind-the-scenes role. I am part of a team that works closely with other schools within the district that helps to get supports in place for our students, as well as supporting those who are here on the StepUP campus during LIPI.
What have you done to help improve the school's garden and why is that important to you?
The gardens here at StepUP have been an amazing project that many of us are involved with. I spend much of my time here in the summer months doing general upkeep. This past summer, I built a free farmstand for our local community. Every Wednesday morning, Karen Mitchell and I would harvest whatever we could and set it out on our stand for our families and the community, bagging and labelling all the produce in portion sizes to keep up with COVID safety measures. Karen promoted this on our Facebook page, and I believe word of mouth helped it be a big success for us.
The garden is important to me for many reasons, but one goal I strive for is to make it look amazing for the students who attend here. I want our school to be a source of pride for students and staff alike, and when they drive by in the summer, I want them to be excited about what they see, from the giant sunflowers to the great variety of pumpkins, and say, “Hey! That’s my school!”
What other projects are you working on and why do you think these things are useful for StepUP students?
Right now I am focusing on our new indoor garden space. With grant money from the Redmond Garden Club and the Environmental Center in Bend, we have built a seed-starting garden in our basement, bringing students down weekly to grow lettuces and spinach. In a few weeks we will begin growing for the outside beds. I am always sad when the students leave for summer break and don’t get to experience the garden and its summer growth, so I started this program as a way for them to gain some knowledge of how a garden gets started, the benefits of growing your own, and the satisfaction of actually eating something they grew themselves.
What do you enjoy most or find most rewarding about your role? What have been some of the challenges you've faced this year?
One of the greatest rewards of being at StepUP is seeing growth in our students. Getting to know these amazing people and being able to be a positive influence in their lives on a day-to-day basis is really important to me. One of the biggest challenges for me has been not being able to connect with students who I know need more positivity in their lives. It was hard for me to not be able to check in with them, or give them a high five and say, “I’m so happy to see you today!” One of the best parts of being at StepUP is the people I work with. We are an amazing team that I am always learning from. We have a hard job, and the support and care we have for one another is inspiring and crucial in the work that we do. StepUP rocks!
In addition to her responsibilities as one of our Behavior Intervention Assistants, Emily is our "Garden Champion." Emily not only keeps our garden in tiptop shape, she also works to get us grants through the Redmond Garden Club and The Environmental Center. She comes in throughout the summer to ensure our garden continues to produce and be ready for students, and has organized work parties with Eagle Crest to keep the weeds under control in the summer. During the spring school closure, she took the garden "home" and started the seeds we had planned to grow with students. She created videos to show the plants’ progress to share with students.This summer, she created a free farmstand where the harvested food from our garden was placed each Wednesday for the community to take for free. This quickly became a hit and the stand, which was overloaded with produce when we left it, would usually be empty in less than two hours. This fall/winter she created an indoor garden for starting seeds before they are ready to go into our greenhouse, and students have enjoyed their time planting seeds and getting to see them start to grow. This year, Emily has also jumped into a new role and has been learning how to take notes for our SSEAT (Student Social Emotional Advocacy Team) meetings that happen monthly on each campus. Emily is a champion not only for StepUP students and staff and for the StepUP garden, but for RSD as a whole. -- Karen Mitchell, StepUP principal
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MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Black Mental Health Matters
As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to acknowledge now, and every day, what mental health means in the Black community, and how the ways they identify inform their approaches to mental health. The legacy of slavery and racism, as well as the current realities of racial oppression and violence, have impacted the ease of access to mental health care for Black individuals. For some, the added weight of stigma against seeking mental health care means many are less likely to reach out for help when they need it. Other factors like lack of health insurance, lack of childcare, difficulty taking time off work, and a general mistrust of medical doctors also impede some from getting the care they need.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported, “Each year, people belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups experience worse behavioral health status and treatment outcomes, along with more difficulty accessing services, than their peers in other groups.” The Black community feels this disparity acutely.
Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Black Americans are also more likely to be exposed to factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition, such as homelessness and exposure to violence.”
Over 25% of Black youth who have been exposed to violence have been shown to be at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It’s imperative that we honor diversity and the identities and lived experiences of Black individuals.Taking some time to address our implicit biases and understand the current state of mental health for Black Americans can help make mental health care more accessible for those in need.