The Mt. Tabor Tribune

Weekly Newsletter for the Mt. Tabor Middle School Community

A Message from the Principal

August 21, 2020

Dear Mt. Tabor Middle School Community,

I don't know about you, but "back to school" has become a very real topic of conversation in my own household over the last week. My kids and I have shared so many thoughts about how we will arrange their learning spaces for distance learning, how they feel about the virtual start, and what they hope their experience will be. What has impressed me in all of these conversations, has been their eagerness to return, even digitally. It was important for me to hear them share these things, as it reminded me about the importance of routine and predictability, and how even virtual connections with teachers and friends help to fill the gap of what we have been missing over the last several months.

My own children's desire for routine made me think back to the days (not all that long ago) when I was a classroom teacher. It would get to be August and all of a sudden, I was confronted with the idea that in just a few short weeks, I would be back in my classroom with fresh-faced students, ready for a new year. Like clockwork, the sleepless nights would resume as my mind would spin with ideas about how I was going to start things off. I felt rested from my vacation and anxious (in all senses of the word, both positive and negative) to return to my routine. I was ready to see my "kids," all 150+ of them. And all that anxiety and planning, all the nervousness and sleeplessness that came with the approaching school year would build until the first student stepped into my classroom on the first day back to school. Seeing them, hearing them, sharing that space with them--it pulled me back into a comfortable and familiar routine--one that felt like coming home.

I think it is important to acknowledge that this start of the year is truly unique. Unlike in years past, most of our teachers were not really able to recharge or reset--they have been thinking about the upcoming year, trying to figure our what it might look like, wondering how their profession would change over their entire summer (I have the emails and meeting schedules to prove it). They have been taking classes and webinars while working in small groups to create district resources. That break--that much-needed reset--didn't happen, just like I'm sure it did not happen in many of your homes too. And when they return to work next week, it is with the knowledge that on the first day back, it won't feel like it always has. I know they will miss greeting your students in the hallway and being in their physical presence. They will miss that feeling of coming home.

While I know there is little we can do to change the reality of our socially-distanced world (besides staying home, wearing masks, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones), there is still much we can do to "fill the buckets" of those in our community--to help them feel loved and appreciated. And I'm hoping that you all can help.

We will be welcoming teachers and staff back for training on Thursday, August 27. And I would love to be able to recapture some of the excitement of being back in a building with your students. I am hoping that students and families will take a quick moment of their time to contribute to a Flipgrid (one of the many technology platforms that are part of the PPS Digital Toolkit for Learning). To do so is simple:

  • Click on the following link:
  • Read/listen to the instructions.
  • Record a 1 minute or less video message to the teachers and staff at MTMS

I will be sharing these responses with staff on Thursday, so get your recordings uploaded soon so that you can be part of the welcome back.

I look forward to seeing many of you this coming week on Monday and Tuesday evening for our Tabor Talks, this time focused on instructional and home schedules for learning (see below for the link and more details).

All the best,

Tonya Arnold

Principal, Mt. Tabor Middle School

Share Your Flipgrid Video

Click on the link above to record your own personal message for Mt. Tabor Middle School Staff to welcome them back to a new school year. Simply click the red "Record a Response" button, and you are ready to go!

Welcome New Mt. Tabor Staff

We are so excited to welcome the following staff members to the Mt. Tabor Family for the 2020-2021 school year:

  • Carlos Molina: Math
  • Leah Martin-Rosenthal: Math
  • Adam Goldstein: Science
  • Drew Kincl: Language Arts
  • Yuuki Sakai: Japanese
  • Yukiko Meyden: Japanese (she will be serving while Naomi Sumiya is out on maternity leave with her son.)
  • Stephen Morgan: Library Assistant
  • Brian Pemberton: Instructional Technology Assistant
  • Kristin Smith Carlson: Educational Assistant

Please stay tuned in the for more information on each of these amazing individuals.

Back to School: Soft Start Schedules

The district sent out a communication today to families detailing the "soft start" that students will experience from September 2-11.

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.

In addition, all students will be participating in a series of lessons developed by middle school teachers, administrators, parents, students, and district administrators about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and how its implications for identity, community, our city, and our school.

As will be the case with all of our distance learning classes, attendance will be taken for each of the periods and events.

The schedule provided by the district in its communication lists the schedules for all buildings in the district and includes details about what teachers will be doing during the times that students are not in class. I encourage you to look it over to get a sense of how the priorities of community, connection, and training are embedded in these weeks. I have also attached in below a simplified, student-facing overview of the soft start for us at MTMS. This version lists only student-attended items and reflects our zero-period class meeting times as well.

Student Class Schedules

Our counseling and administrative teams are nearly done with students schedules. work ensuring that we have the best schedules possible for all MTMS students. Official schedules, when completed, will be posted in ParentVUE and Student VUE. Officially schedules will be available in both ParentVUE and StudentVUE by Wednesday, August 26.

**Please note that any courses that your student may see in Clever portal applications may NOT be accurate reflections of the all the courses, teachers, or periods that they will be enrolled in for the 2020-21 school year. **

At that time, if your student still has an incomplete schedule, please notify Jill Liddle, Assistant Principal, at

Meet the MTMS Counseling Team

Collaborative, compassionate, kind. These three words describe the incredible team of school counselors on board for the 2020-2021 school year. It is exciting to see this newly formed team begin the important work of developing systems to best support our students, families and staff in our distance learning platform. While they just began work on Thursday, they are already planning out advisory lessons to support topics such as coping with anxiety during social distancing, digital "wellness," and the importance of goal-setting.

With two new members to our counseling team and a new structure where counselors will each serve a different grade level and "roll up" with them throughout their middle school experience, we wanted to give you the opportunity to get to know a little bit about them.

Grade 6: Hilary Smith

My name is Hilary Smith and I am new to both Mt. Tabor and PPS this year. Previously I worked as a middle school counselor in North Clackamas while completing my Master's of Education at Lewis and Clark. When I'm not at school (or virtual school), I enjoy trying to help my garden thrive, hanging out with my dog, and baking cakes for friends. I love being a school counselor because it allows me to support young people in becoming strong self advocates and change makers for a better world, so I am so excited for the opportunity to join your Mt. Tabor community!

Grade 7: Emory Oeding

Greetings! I’m Emory Oeding and I am thrilled to join the school counseling team at Mt. Tabor Middle School this year. For the past three years, I worked as a school counselor at Duniway Elementary in PPS, and I’ve also been a 1st and 2nd grade teacher, childbirth educator, and nonprofit youth services agency coordinator. As a school counselor, I’m excited about Restorative Justice practices, peer mediation, mindfulness in schools, working with anxiety, parent support, and advocating for students to create equitable outcomes for all.

I’m the mother of three awesome adolescent boys and have deep respect for the enormous love and hard work involved in parenting. Sam will be a sophomore in college this fall, Oscar is a rising junior at Franklin High School, and Lucas will be a 7th grader at Sunnyside K8. As a family, we like to play soccer, bike, hike, eat meals together, play board games, and go on adventures. To stay healthy and happy, I love to read, write, practice yoga, take walks, and spend time with friends and family.

I am passionate about the promise and potential of public education, and strive to create school environments where students are seen and supported, and can successfully do the work of learning and growing up. I truly look forward to getting to know your child(ren) and you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Grade 8: Michael Cady Russell, MS, NCC, LPC

I am passionate about finding new ways to help young people and their families find success in educational, social/emotional and personal pursuits.

My experience as an educator, an Associate Accountant, a Professional Firefighter, and as a School Counselor give me a unique perspective. I have dedicated my life to the research and clinical experience needed to be an effective counselor both in and out of the school setting.

I love to work with the entire family system to provide the most comprehensive counseling experience I can. I am a Licensed School Counselor, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Outside of my work at Mt. Tabor Middle School I love spending time outdoors with my partner and our three children ages 6, 4, and 2. I also love seeing my students and their families when we are walking or riding our bikes through our neighborhood. If you see me, say "hello!"

Chromebook Pickup: Additional Window

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?

The staff at Mt. Tabor Middle School has another opportunity for you to get the technology you need on Monday, August 24 from 11:00-1:00 pm.

If your student needs to borrow a computer or you need access to the internet, please complete the Survey for Incoming Mt. Tabor Families at to let us know. We have a limited number of hotspots remaining, but if there is additional demand, we will work with the district to secure more.

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.

We Still Want to Hear From You!

The staff at Mt. Tabor MS wants to make sure that we are prepared to support students and families in the best way possible. To do so, it is important that we gather some important information from our Mt. Tabor families now to ensure we are ready for learning come September 2. If you have not yet completed the survey, you can find it at Feel free to skip any questions, but we hope you will answer all so that we can have as complete a picture as possible. We will share the information with each of your student's teachers and with our team working on technology distribution.

Tabor Talk: Sessions This Week

This week, schedules are on our mind. With the district email today about the "soft start" schedule and the anticipated unveiling of a student instructional schedule, we know more about what distance learning will look like in the coming weeks.

This week's Tabor Talk is really focused on Distance Learning instructional schedules and setting up home schedules to support student learning. Feel free to attend either evening conversation that fits best with your schedule.

Tabor Talk Session #2:

To join either session, use the following link:

Monday, August 24 (6:30-7:30 pm)

Tuesday, August 25 (6:30-7:30 pm)

We will be sending out a Q& A document from our last talk with answers to questions that we didn't have last week. Be on the lookout for this on Monday morning.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Your Weekly PTA Update: First General Meeting Sept 15

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

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