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,

It's hard to believe that we are already in February and have officially passed the halfway mark of this remarkable school year. This week students across all grade levels transitioned to new classes and new experiences as part of their grade-level wheels and elective courses. While trying to find your new path to class can sometimes be difficult, it is also such a lovely opportunity for all of them to engage in different subjects, with different students, and with different teachers.

But with the changing of the semester and this transition to the second half of the school year, our work here in the building is looking ahead to Fall 2022 and another new school year. While I've personally given up guessing what new twists and turns COVID-19 will take and how it will impact what school looks like next year, I take a lot of solace in the fact that we have nearly two of the most unanticipated years in education under our belts--I think we can weather just about anything a virus can throw our direction.

Our focus right now, however, has turned to several big tasks: determining staffing for next year and developing our master schedule. This work begins in earnest next week as our current 6th and 7th graders will learn about the forecasting process. And for those of you not familiar with this term, it simply means the process by which our students share their preferences about what elective courses they would like to take next year at MTMS. As you can imagine, there is a lot of thought that goes into making this process as clear as possible, and each year we work to improve the process.

Parents can expect their students to arrive home next week with two pieces of information: one is a packet outlining the forecasting process, required courses, and details about the elective options available. We are super excited to be able to offer high school credit Spanish 1-2 for both our 7th and 8th grade students next year, and in 2023-23, we will be able to offer Spanish 3-4. These are fantastic opportunities for our students to get a jump start on high school and entry for college as most four-year colleges and universities require students to have completed 2 full years of the same world language for admission. We have a variety of other offerings as well, from visual and performing arts to engineering and social justice studies. We hope that there is something for everyone to try.

The other paper is a pre-forecasting form that we need all parents to fill out with their students. Find time to sit down together to discuss their options, rate their elective preferences, and sign the sheet. Students will be using this document to forecast in their social studies classes the week of Feb 14-18. Counselors will be helping students to register using their StudentVUE accounts, and once forecasting is complete, parents will be able to see the completed information in ParentVUE as well. Counselors will be checked to make sure that the information on the Pre-Forecasting Sheet is the same information that is entered into StudentVUE. We know this process will take you all a little bit of time, but it is incredibly valuable data to have right as we start to build next year's schedule.

At the same time that we are collecting student preferences, we are also navigating the tricky world of school staffing. Principals will receive our staffing allocations late next week, and I have the feeling that we may all be looking hard at how we staff our buildings. It is clear that the pandemic has had a large impact on the enrollment in our schools here in PPS and across the state. The latest numbers I heard reflected that as a district, we had 13% lower enrollment in elementary schools this year than was anticipated, and 6% less across our middle schools.

When I look at the forecast that our staffing was based on last year and our current enrollment here at MTMS, we are 4% lower than anticipated (27 fewer students attending than was forecasted).

And most of us know that funding for our schools is based, in large part, on enrollment stats. Fewer students equals less money; less money means fewer staff members. I will have a much clearer picture of what things will look like next week, and will promise to keep our community updated in regard to what we can expect soon. Assistant Principal Jill Liddle and I will continue to work hard to balance class loads, prioritize scheduling needs that support collaborative teacher planning, and continue to develop a robust middle school program for all of our students.

Even in the midst of all this uncertainty, our staff continues to move forward--together--in our embracing more equitable grading practices. Later in this newsletter, I will share some information with you regarding the first of our many shifts that are being implemented this semester as well as the shifts that we are learning about and preparing to implement in Fall 2022. I am tremendously proud of our Instructional Leadership Team for tackling this work with such passion even in the midst of such a difficult year, and am excited for the work that we continue to do as a staff. We continue to move forward together, and I am hopeful that our community will embrace these shifts as ones that ensure that our grading practices are more accurate, bias resistant, and motivational for our students.

Just like our students navigating the halls to new destinations and places of learning, we too are navigating new spaces and learning of our own.

I hope you all are well, and that you have a lovely winter weekend ahead.

All the best,

Ms. Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Forecasting Documents for Current 6th and 7th Grade Students.

Next week, students will receive information in their social studies classes about course offering for next year. This information provides parents and students information about the required courses they must take (whether they are a "neighborhood" students or a DLI student), and gives families and chance to choose courses together. There are two pre-forecasting sheets for each grade level, so please be sure to use the one specific to your student (neighborhood or DLI).

Below you will find links to these documents for your reference....or in case your student loses them between school and home. Current 5th grade students and families should receive this information from their current 5th grade teacher in the next several weeks as well.

For Current 6th Grade Students/Families

For Current 7th Grade Students/Families

Equitable Grading Practices at MTMS

Last year, the Mt. Tabor Middle School staff identified our school's grading practices as an area where we would like to continue to grow our professional practices and collaborate to develop a shared belief about what grades mean in our building. A dedicated group of teachers volunteered to be part of this grassroots effort and have been learning, guiding, and supporting our staff through the exploration of our grading practices.

Using Joe Feldman's book Grading for Equity and the support of a PPS Middle School Redesign pilot, our staff has identified several shifts that we are committed to making this semester and more to come in Fall 2022. These shifts have asked all of us to examine our deeply held beliefs about what grades include, represent, and communicate.

Beginning this semester, our entire MTMS teaching staff is focused on improving the accuracy of our grades and removing bias. In order to achieve this goal, we are making the following five shifts:

    • Minimum grading - no zeros

    • Individual grades - no group grades

    • Flexible deadlines without penalty to grades

    • Alternative punishment for cheating

    • No extra credit

Some of our staff have been issuing grades like this since the beginning of the year, and some are just now starting out on this journey. We know that some of these changes are a departure from our own experiences of being in school, but we are committed to making our grades representative of what our students know and can do.

We will continue to showcase the reasons behind some of these shifts in the coming newsletters so that our families can learn alongside us about the why behind these changes and what they mean (or don't mean) for your children.

Southeast Guiding Coalition Updates from 2.3.2022

The Southeast Guiding coalition met on Thursday, February 3rd and continued to discuss program placement and boundaries, particularly to balance enrollment across the middle school region.

The coalition heard from principals Richard Smith, from Kellogg MS, and Catherine Murray, from Marysville ES. Both principals presented their unique perspectives and the perspectives of the principals of SEGC. They conveyed the principal perspective that a whole school Spanish DLI model best served the community based on what they’ve gathered from statistics, community input, personal experience and enrollment projections.

The group also heard from Shanice Clarke, an engagement specialist who spoke to approximately 60 parents to incorporate underrepresented voices in the decision making process. Clarke largely spoke to neighborhood families from Harrison Park and Lent. Clarke’s findings will be shared on our website early next week.

The coalition achieved initial agreement on the following program placements, with some conditions

  • K-5 Spanish Immersion will remain at Atkinson and Lent. The Bridger program will move to Lent, which will phase out it’s neighborhood program to become an all-Spanish Immersion school. Future Lent neighborhood students will have the option to enroll in Spanish immersion or attend nearby Marysville.

  • Middle school Spanish Immersion will remain at Kellogg and add in the single strand from Mt. Tabor MS

  • Middle school Chinese Immersion will move from Hosford to Harrison Park, where it will join up with the growing neighborhood Chinese Immersion program now in place there. The coalition had already agreed that K-5 Chinese Immersion should remain at current sites, including at Woodstock Elementary School.

The coalition continued to explore boundary changes to help balance enrollment and provide walkable schools for as many students as possible. Based on feedback from the last meeting, the SEGC and Flo Analytics provided new options for adjusting boundary lines and splitting elementary school students into two different middle schools, instead of all going together to one.:

Full draft proposals will be posted on our website end of day Friday. Translated versions will be posted as soon as available. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes.

The SEGC is still in the process of drafting a recommendation for the School Board. The last SEGC meeting will be held on February 17th. There will be continued targeted engagement through February 16th.

The SEGC continues to be extremely grateful for the effort that parents, staff and community members put into this project. Proposal, schedule updates and community input details are posted on the Enrollment and Program Balancing webpage.

New Water Fountains Being Installed: Please Send Students with Reusable Water Bottles

After a year and a half of delays, we are excited to announce that our new water fountains, complete with improved filtration and water filling stations, are in the process of being installed in the building. While we wait for the plumbing to be completed, the district has provided us with bottled water stations that are placed in the main hall.

Families, please be sure to send your student to school each day with a reusable water bottle. We are going through cups and cones for water at a high rate, and these open containers lead to spills in classrooms....and on Chromebooks. We appreciate any support you can give to us reducing our ecological footprint as well as saving us from the daily spillage.

No School on Monday, February 21

All PPS schools will be closed on Monday, February 21 in observance of Presidents' Day.

What is a Lock Out?

On Thursday morning, Mt Tabor Middle School went into an unscheduled Lock Out: Secure the Perimeter safety measure. We received many phone calls from parents who were concerned about the situation at the school, and students too were confused about the differences between this measure and a Lockdown: Locks, Lights, Out of Sight.

Lock Out: Secure the Perimeter is typically called when we are notified by law enforcement or security services about a possible situation outside the building. This could be police activity in the area. This type of safety measure calls for students to remain inside the school building with the outside doors closed and locked. Once the area is deemed clear, we are notified and can lift the measure. During a Lock Out, however, things inside the building continue as normal. Students can visit their lockers, transition between classes, and proceed with their schoolwork as normal. Classes with scheduled outdoor activities come indoors, and any planned outdoor activities (such as lunch or recess) would be held inside instead.

A Lock Out is very different from a Lock Down. A Lockdown is a measure we take when there is an imminent threat in the school building. In a Lockdown, teachers lock their interior classroom doors, pull all shades, turn off their lights, and move students out of line of sight. Students and staff remain in this space until they are released by law enforcement or building administration.

I am incredibly proud of our students and staff who were able to quickly move indoors we were aware of the outside threat. These types of situations are why we practice these drills often so that when a real situation arises, we can respond quickly and effectively.

We continue to do our best to communicate out to our families as quickly as we can while in the midst of these situations, and we appreciate your patience as we work inside the building to keep everyone safe.

Your Weekly PTA Update


Let’s get these students some movement options in the classroom! As of last week, $300 has been donated to the CLASSROOMS IN MOTION fundraiser. Thank you to those who were already able to donate. Our GOAL is $7,500, so we can supply MTMS classrooms with 100 wobble seats!!!! Donations are being accepted through SchoolPay. The link to donate to this fundraiser is

MTMS Community Night at the Trailblazers

Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets to the game last week. It was fun to see a portion of the community out together at the game. We were hoping for a win, but still had fun despite the loss. It was a close game! Take a look at our families enjoying the game below.

Restaurant Partners

We are super excited about these delicious opportunities. Mark your calendars!

  • February 8th - Fire on the Mountain
  • March 20th - Leikum Brewing
  • April 12th - Tabor Tavern

Tuesday, February 8th, FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN will donate 10% of sales from all three locations to the MTMS PTA. You can dine out or order at the Burnside, Fremont, or Interstate location anytime during their business hours on Tuesday, no special codes or instructions needed.

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Welcome our new SUN Family Resource Navigator, Andie Lilly

Hi I'm Andie Lilly (she/her). I am the SUN Family Resource Navigator here at Mt. Tabor Middle School. I can help students and their families find resources within the community. If you need support finding rental assistance, utility assistance, COVID resources, food boxes, tutoring, advocacy, etc, please feel free to contact me!

My cell phone number is (503) 867-0466

You can call or text

Email address:

Current Quarantine Guidlines

The COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines have changed significantly in the last couple of weeks. Below you will find graphics that explain the timelines for the new guidance.
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Upload your COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Into Parent VUE

Help our school staff keep accurate records of your student's vaccination status by uploading a picture of PDF of their immunization card in ParentVUE. Use the PDF linked below for instructions on how to do it!

Sign Ups Still Available for Asymptomatic Testing Program through OHSU

With the new variant surge, we have been asked by many families about whether they can still sign up for the weekly testing program through OHSU. Families are still able to sign up. Information about the program can be found at the links below:

Welcome Letter (English) (Spanish)

Test Collection (English) (Spanish)

If you have not yet had an opportunity to sign your student up for this free testing service, you can still do so. Simply complete the BOTH of the forms below and have your student bring them to the main office:

OHA Consent Form

OHSU Authorization Form

Our schedule here at Mt. Tabor will be for students to return tests every TUESDAY to the cooler outside the main office when they arrive on campus. Tests are collected in the morning by the OHSU courier.

If you have completed the form for your student and has not received testing kits and labels, it may be that OHSU has not yet processed your application--there seem to be significant delays. Please feel free to check in with Tania Trujillo in the main office to make sure that we have received your paperwork and requested your labels.

We appreciate your patience and participation.

Ongoing Family Immunization Clinics

The Multnomah County Health Department is offering twice-weekly Immunization Clinics for families and children to obtain COVID-19 and school-required vaccines. Clinics will be held on Wednesdays from 11 am - 2 pm & 3 pm - 6 pm at the Gateway WIC Building, 131 NE 102nd Ave., Portland; and on Saturdays from 9 am - 12 pm & 1 pm - at the NE Health Clinic, 5329 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. #322, Portland.

Appointments are required for children aged 5 - 11. No appointment is required for family members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shots.

Call 503-988-8939 to make an appointment. More info is available at:

Impacted by COVID-19?

Has your family been impacted by a positive COVID-19 case, quarantine, or COVID-related issue? Our social worker has compiled a list of resources that may be helpful, from rental and utility assistance to food resources. You can find details below, or reach out to the MTMS Social Worker, Maureen Brennan, for more information.

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