Tuesday, March 15, 2016

RCO Meeting Minutes March 2016

RCO Meeting

3/1/16 meeting called to order at 6:05


Christine Evert,  CE gave us a warm welcome

Attendance count:  18 (more came late)

Introductions (see attendance list)

Ground Rules and introduction of Minute Taker (told everyone to stay on task).  Read minutes summary from 2/2/16.  Minutes will be approved at the end of RCO Business. 

Parent Education (Screen Time – Jennifer McConnell)

JM is site director at Children’s Choice Montessori in Eugene. Has been doing research for a number of years.  JM has worked with Jen Wylde (former MS) and Diana Fitzer (Kinder).  American pediatrics say no screen time before the age of two. 

A maximum of two hours per day for any child (see slide).  Those with more than two hours of exposure are more likely to: have increased psychological difficulties, hyperactivity, emotional and behavioral problems, irregular sleep patterns, childhood obesity.   Example: if you plan to do a movie night, that should be all for the entire day.

Kids in US watch an average of 4 hours per day.

Dretzin & Rushkoff (Kaiser Foundation) study from 2010 showed that kids have less ability to demonstrate empathy or recognize social cues, focus for extended periods of time, follow linear thought.

Every successful relationship must have the three Cs: Communication, Compromise, Commitment.  Screen time erodes these character traits.

You don’t have to answer the phone when it rings.  Urgency to respond is teaching immediacy; need for instant gratification.  Screens are habit forming.  The more time children engage with screen, the harder time they have turning them off.   (www.commercialfreechildhood.com)

11-13 second part of brain is developing constructing meaningful cognitive functions (frontal lobe). Based on usage, up to 60% is pruned away if not sued (when you are using screen, you are not using these meaningful cognitive functions.  Parents need to also be mindful about their own screen time.  Do not check phones and emails during dinner, for example. 

 TimezUpKidz (windows) you can set it to make breaks happen and you can set it for time limits.  Also try using a timer.

Screen-free meal times.  This is a very counteractive method to ensure communication in the family.  Used to be: Read to your children every day and show your kids that you read for pleasure.  These two things recommended for Diana Fitzer because it build relationships.  Now the number one thing is to have a family dinner without a screen. 

The Surprising Power of Family Meals by Miriam Weinstein.  “…learn conversation skills, exercise good manners, serve others, listen, solve conflicts, and compromise.” Social etiquette is learned. Meals are also a great opportunity to talk about food groups and nutrition.

Technology free day (try it out).  Or TV Turn Off Day.  One day per week, parents can decide amongst themselves first.  Everyone has to participate.  You cannot have one parent opt out. 

Have fun activities, share interests, be a role model. 

Board Report (Amy Sage)

Amy Sage:  We meet the third Thursday of each month.  The meetings are open and please feel free to attend.  The BOD is responsible for the legal and fiscal responsibilities of the school, and also engage in long-range planning.

At our last meeting, Sharon Dursi gave us a report from the American Montessori Society (consultant) and they did some work with the upper el teachers.  The need for upper el to have more of a unified experience while also maintaining the uniqueness of each room.  Idea of having portfolio from different classrooms, and also having teachers moving around.

We are paying for our own building.  We receive instructional funding for managing our education and facilities, but we are not a recipient of the property tax that supports school building.  The CC pays for the building.  I fell in love with Montessori as a grad student and wished that I had it when I was in grade school.  This made me want to teach along these lines.  Once I had my own kids, I wanted to seek this type of edu for my kids, so that they can learn the way that they like to learn.  Because this is a school we all opted in to, we all have a story about why we picked RM.  We have to raise $300K.  We need to do this within the next year.  4/10/17 $259K total due (this is the 5 year note at the end of the loan from ECS).  $184K by next April. Then she had us write down names of people we know.  Then she said put a check next to any of those people who support us, our children and/or our cause.  Put another check by those people who also give to causes.  You will hear two things over the next month: 1) 20 new sustaining donors, and 2) the 1,000 name challenge.  Taking that list you just wrote and getting them to the school.  We will have a way you can submit it. And we will outreach to them. Online crowdfunding.  In the fall, there will be a fall festival.  Then the holiday giving push at the end of 2016. 

We are looking for 20 donors to commit money each month (any amount).  If you are interested, please see Amy or the BOD.

$230,843 for the year, but we have a long way to go.  We owe $248K.  This will not pay for the school.  This will pay off the ECS note that they are carrying for us. 

There was talk about the 1,000 names campaign.  This includes gathering names and contact info from people who might possibly contribute to the school on their behalf.  This leads to letters, email, phone calls, even tours.

Admin Report (Chrystell Reed)

                Chrystell Reed thanked the co-conveners for the pasta dinner and she thanks Cynthia for all of the volunteers.  16th is the lottery date.  We had a large attendance at the lottery session.  170 application for about 10 clear openings in the entire school.  This can shift based on siblings and or people leaving to go to other schools.  We often invite people at the top fo the wait list to visit.  Lots of excitement at the Capital Campaign.    Crowd Funding is coming in June.  CR introduce Pete who is working with Sally and Eduardo to make  a video for the Crowd Funding campaign.  The video is the big pull.  They are trying to get a lot of footage of people and students involved with the school.   Last thing: I am asking for parents to take charge of being a crossing guard at Crossfire Church.  Having an adult presence at the intersection will make the crossing safer. 

Site Council (Sally Steinman)

                Sally introduced herself.  She is a parent rep for Site Council.  She is one of three parents on the committee.  They talk about project for the school, and the survey is their big project.  Parent survey is a tool that we use to get feedback from everyone who is part of the school about FR and programs, facilities, and anything.  The survey will come out in a few months.  This really helps us plan for the future and for the next year. 

It is a three year cycle and we are looking for a new parent rep for next year.  Write a little blurb if you are interested and send us your picture and we would love to consider you for the SC. 

Site Council Vote: three parent reps on the SC and each year one rotates off.  Valerie Jamison is going to read her blurb and we would vote on her becoming the next parent rep for the site council.  We voted and she was elected.


Christine motioned to accept the minutes and Michelle Lodwig seconded.  Minutes are accepted.

DDD Update Our goal is $40,000

Total collected is $33,846

DDD $30,459  (SOME of this is in pledges)   %64 percent

$7,328 in general fund (escript, rest night, amazon, etc)

Left to raise $2,159

We still want to have ppl participate in DDD even though it is over.

Events coming up are restaurant night. Read-a-thon. 

Next two RCO meetings we will look at how we want to spend any extra money.  T-shirt colors will be picked by the kids via survey.  Last year’s extra money was presented to the board because the money is general and we gave each classroom as certain amount and we got t-shirts for each child. 

We will be accepting nominations for a new co-convener now and elect in May.

ML talked about needing a person to take over the events (and event coordinator).  Buddy bench was mentioned.  ML talked about working on buddy benches, one for each playground.

Rhonda talked about Read-A-Thon

Christine talked about Track Town Pizza is Monday night.  Flyer is needed. 

RCO at ridgeline (dot) org for questions. 

Last Minute Thoughts or Questions

Q. Is it okay to have events where alcohol is served?

A. Yes, by BOD approval.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

RCO Meeting Minutes January 2016

RCO Minutes  1-12-16

Recorder:  Darlene Colborn

20 people present


Approval of the minutes will take place at the end of the meeting after they are passed around for people to look at.


Market Place at Pasta Dinner:  5 students have applied.  Gabriella and Veronica demoed homemade hand warmers that they will sell.  We have space for 8 so there are still spaces.  Get info to the RCO asap.


Parent Education   Doctor Jen Wyld

Jen had children in Montessori pre-school and had little knowledge of what it was all about.  This changed when her kids got older.  She taught ­­­­­­ a 6–12 yr olds class for a time.  She came to Ridgeline in its third year and has grown with the school.  After experiencing Montessori, she decided to get a PhD:  learning in an informal environment at OSU.


Maker Movement uses a lot of Montessori principles in a learn-by-doing environment.  She has moved to Vancouver, WA, but loves Eugene and is happy to come speak to us about it.


The history of Montessori is that it was a pre-school for a lot of years.  At this point, elementary has built up a sustainable curriculum with middle-school following.  Montessori IS good for every child.  Children will learn due to their environment where others are learning regardless of their involvement.


Some people in the room in a mixed class will be working at a more advanced level.  They will learn by seeing and being immersed in the culture.  There isn’t as much stigma around the norms with a mixed classroom as there is flexibility in the work. 


Maria’s background is in medicine.  She was not trained in education.  She began institutional studies and started with observation and began introducing various themes.  After a time, children who were institutionalized began performing at a standard level.  Then she began introducing her methods with a lot of observing and not many pre-conceptions.  She saw that the students could handle the work.


Because of the observations, she developed the planes of development:  primary plane -  0-6 yr old, 2nd plane - elementary 6-12, 12-18 middle, and 16-24.  Usually a 3 yr middle followed by a 3 yr high school.


Children have an inner drive.  Ages 6-12 is a fairly stable time and the best opportunity for success with education.  First lesson:  Great Stories – the creator with no hands (from the big bang until now).  Developed imagination relies on real experiences.  Cosmic Education.


Gregario:  Group instinct – side by side play and exploration.  Social structure of the class creates the creative environment.  How do we fit into the universe?  Middle-schoolers interact with the world in a greater, more creative way.  Doing different work in the class creates an environment of seeing what others are doing.


Children this age are figuring out this world::  black and white, what’s acceptable, what’s not, who’s who, what’s what.  It involves Hero worship:  looking out into the world and finding who to look up to.  What are the  Common themes?  Example:  Where does bread come from?  Appreciation for roles of people and those who have gone before us.  Chart of interdependencies. Theme that we all have something to contribute-develop an appreciation – you have something to contribute, too.  Some heroes are small and interact while others are role models.


The No 1 important thing:  developing abilities to abstract.  Manipulative materials are used to internalize the processes.  Abstraction happens later.  Formulas are a point of arrival.  Invert and multiply is an example:  why do you do that?  Concern is for them to get to the point of abstraction, but have a visceral understanding of what is happening.  Ideally, they come out with a deep understanding of how the world works. 


There’s not a Montessori High School, so how do our kids transition from Montessori to Public School?  Should you pull them out after 6 years (to go to a regular middle school), or wait.  For adolescents, with everything going, spending time in a nurturing environment will serve them in the long run.  Most will find their niche.  South and Churchill are more neighborly driven.  International program seems suited to our students.  Find extra-curricular activities, where kids develop friends and focus. 

Board Report:  Dave Vasquez

Dave is here to put a face on the Board.  Third Thurs BoD meetings are open.


Administration Report:  Chrystell Reed

It is lottery season and we need posters to go out.  Info session:  please share your experienced 2/4, 2/27 Applications are due 3/9, Lottery is­­­­­ 3/16.

Robin Briman, a Montessori consult will be here to work with the team.

Parent Ed piece will be part.


Site Council Report:  Theresa Meyers

The Site Council will meet on 1/25.  The Parent-Survey is being worked on.    Important for people to participate as it gives much needed feedback, can be filled out separately by each parent.  In response to Parent input an Organizational Chart is being developed.  The focus group is taking a look at attendance and tardiness within Ridgeline.  Lateness has a huge impact in the classroom.  They are looking at ways to support families in getting their kids here on time.


RCO Business

Talent Show: Darcy Ghul

It is coming a week from Friday.  1/22.


Tree Sales:  $770


Read-a-Thon  coming in April:  Jen

Earns money for the general fund.  Kids get pledges for texts.


DDD has a goal of 30 K.  The intent was to reach that goal by Winter Break.  $28,329 is what we’ve raised so far.  56% of families have contributed. 

An additional goal of $10 K to come in the form of fundraiser activities.

Edwardo will come up with an addition to the thermometer.  Pasta Dinner will encourage those who have not contributed to do so.  Why?  Participation rate shows commitment to the school.  Some years  we have had 80% participation.  One way we evaluate is by how many of our families qualify for subsidized lunches?  (This is only a means of tracking because we don’t serve lunches.)  Only 30% of our families have turned in the forms.  Families need to find ways to contribute to the DDD.  After pasta dinner, we’ll have a better handle on participation.  Work is being done on an education piece on why the participation rate is important.  Parent survey gives information on how/when we’ll do the fund raisers.  Each person gets 1 hr of volunteer time for filling out the survey. Participation is more important than $$$$$.  It’s each families’ responsibility to participate. 


As far as presentation goes, reading is now old school.  What about using U-tube, Facebook, texting, etc.  Would it be helpful to have parents present at Lottery night?  How else can we educate our families on the school’s needs and their responsibilities?


Pasta Dinner Market Place:

Any kids/group that wants to sell their wares, can contact the RCO by  2/19.  A portion of the funds raised is going to RCO fundraiser.


Pasta bowls pottery shop provider went out of biz so we’re looking for another supplier.


Nominations for the new co-convener.  Michelle would like a partner.  If someone would like to do it, get involved now to test the water.


Buddy Bench:  two parents, Stephanie Rowing and Kate Kelly, are taking the lead and will rally the volunteers who are interested.


The minutes from December are approved.










Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stone Soup


Annual Stone Soup Celebration
Wednesday, November 25th

Students will cut vegetables in the classrooms
on Tuesday, November 24th, to be used in a communal stone soup
inspired by the Stone Soup fable.

Ridgeline volunteers will cook the stone soup outside the front of the school on Wednesday, and the soup will be served for an early afternoon snack following an all-school assembly. Your student should bring a sack lunch from home that day to eat in the late morning!

This year students will eat in their classrooms, and parents are welcome to join us for both the assembly and the soup.

·        Bring VEGETABLES on Tuesday, November 24th
·        Bring $2 per person on Wednesday, November 25th for the Louisiana Fiddle Music Performance Assembly
·        Bring a BOWL and SPOON on Wednesday, November 25th
·        Volunteers needed to slice vegetables with students on Tuesday, November 24th (contact Cynthia to help)
·        Volunteers needed to help serve soup at 1pm on Wednesday, November 25th (contact Cynthia to help)

If you are leaving early with your student(s), be sure to sign them out in the office. School dismisses at the regular time, 3:15pm.

Allergic to Soup?

All of our soups are vegetarian.  If your child has special dietary requirements please consider sending in some “safe soup” from home.

For those families unfamiliar with the story of Stone Soup, feel free to check it out here and here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

RCO Meeting Minutes 11/4/2015

RCO Meeting

11/3/2015 meeting called to order at 6:05

Christine Evert CE gave us a warm welcome
Attendance count:  13 (more came late)

Introductions (see attendance list)
Ground Rules and introduction of Minute Taker (told everyone to stay on task).  Read minutes summary from 10/6/15.  Minutes approved in RCO Business. 

Parent Education (Diana Fitzer)

                Diana Fitzer, kinder teacher, spoke on the curriculum in kinder. She mentioned she would be going through some of the math and sewing in her presentation. She started with sewing.  Diana pulled out a big, green ring and she showed needles (size 16 embroidery needle if you want to try this at home with your student) and she said that she insists that the students thread their own needle.  She gives tips to student, and said teachers help to knot the thread for the student.  But by 1st grade, they should be knotting their own thread.  She then demonstrated the running stitch.  Pumpkin pillow is very motivating.  They all want their pumpkin pillow.  Diana said when you are doing sewing projects at home, you can give some guidance.  On the pumpkin pillow, the dots only go part way around so that they know where to start and stop leaving an opening for stuffing.  She also talked about students learning the length of the thread needed. Lots of sewing projects you can do at home.

                In Kindergarten, students talk about 4 kinds of life (not 5 or 6): Animals, Plants, Fungi and other (all other things).  Then they hear about them in stories.  Diana told a story about coming to work from her house and seeing toadstools in a neighbor’s yard.  She used this to introduce primary concepts within the scientific method of observation and identification.  And then she showed her toadstools she brought in.  This can be a springboard to include more talks of life, vertebrate and invertebrate.  She showed a cat skeleton.  Diana said she asks the students if they might be offended if the cat bones were set out for observation and a few said they were so she opted not to put them out.  Then she said there is a song for everything, including vertebrates and invertebrates. 

                “My spine is made of many boney vertebrae; they protect my spinal cord…” She added, “Then we go through the skeleton.”  This is a current subject she wanted to mention before we got into the math.

                Diana said we hope that the children are familiar with patterns before they get to Kinder but this year is a younger class so they started with working on patterns.  Then she showed caps from jars and laid out a pattern and would ask the students what would come next.  She also talked about common core and how we try to narrate our math problems more now.  She showed cards representing a river and river rocks.  The river rocks would be used with fact sheets.  For instance, five rocks minus two rocks leaves three rocks. And then she can tell a story with math in it using the visual aids.  The students always do the math facts, but in this way, they are conceptualizing rather than just using rote fact.  Then the students use a space within their workbook for a picture, choosing one of the math facts to be support by the picture. They create the picture and narrate what they drew: “First I took five rocks…” this helps to prepare them for the lower el when they are narrating more math and abstract concepts.  Caps are used with dice and the students roll them to get their math fact.  They repeat the same process.  We use the word “groups” now because that is more along the lines of the common core (instead of ten bars, for instance).

                Q. A parent asked about common core “what I have heard from research is that Montessori math is amazing and I wondered about the difference between common core and Montessori math.

                A. When I first started teaching Montessori math, there were a lot of gaps in the common core but they have started to fill those in.  There is a lot of freedom to teach common core with Montessori materials.

                C. Sometimes a student wants to show a lot of different methods to get to solutions, and I think maybe students struggle more if limited to one option.

                A. I like that students have more freedom within the new common core.  Montessori wants the child to know it well enough to teach it.  That thinking is right along common core that if you can write it out, you know enough to teach it.

                Q. How many works do they get and what is the time frame for them to finish?

                A. I assign one work and they know that they can tap me or the assistant anytime to get checked off.  The last few years we have covered enough just assigning their first work, then of course during the work period, I cover lessons.  They have work files they can access easily.  They know where materials are and can pull them out.  Just assigning the first one helps them to learn to take direction from a teacher but I also make sure they are covering the curriculum. 

Diana then talked about bead work within Montessori Math.  The colors that are assigned to different groups represent the bead stair.  The children will color these to learn the colors for each number:

Red 1

Green 2

Pink 3

Yellow 4

Aqua 5

Lilac 6

While 7 (the children will inevitably learn that they don’t have to color this one)

Brown 8

Dark Blue 9

Gold 10

We have started a number of the week chart.  This helps to give an interest in math at group.  This is just a quick way to cover a lot of things that are on that standards list (benchmarks).  Before this, it is a much harder concept.  Which number comes first.  Sometimes they can rote count.  We do greater than and less than and they love that.  They like to imagine very large numbers compared to much smaller ones.  Ex. hundreds and thousands are greater than 3. And we add a little every day to keep it on their minds.

For the golden beads, the ones we have for demonstration are actually glass and that gives it some weight.  This weight is important to conceptualize.  Diana showed the block on 1,000 golden beads and pointed out that it is heavy and this represents a much larger number than the ten beads or an individual bead. 

Then Diana laid out the equation card on a white rug.  White rugs show golden beads better.  Then she showed the process of booklets that would eventually lead to them working out the equation with the beads.  We check their work right away rather than putting it in a folder to be checked later. 

                Q. How do you encourage a child who is convinced that they cannot do math?

                A. By reminding them of instances when they can do difficult things.  We talk about different ways we can handle frustration and disappointment.  This is one of the first things we do. We show our disappointed faces and share our strategies for dealing with those feelings.  They have great stories on disappointment.  They are very resilient.

Thank you Diana for coming and sharing Kindergarten with us.
RCO BUSINESS (early, jump)

Jumped to RCO Business and Darcy came in to talk about Holiday Tree Sales.  She talked about the tree farm in Pleasant Hill. The owner (former Ridgeline parent) wants to partner with Ridgeline again for tree sales this year, a you-cut lot where we get 50% and the tree farm gets 50%.  We will have a work party on Nov 22 at 11:00 to 3:00.  Tree sales are the 5th and 6th and the 12th and 13th of December.
Board Report (David Vazquez and Amy Sage)

                DV said “The board talks about policy.  We meet the third Thursday of each month.  The meetings are open and please feel free to attend.” He introduced Amy Sage.   A parent asked about where the meetings are held and DV said that they are held here at the school. The parent said it would be better if they met somewhere else because it is too difficult to get back across town to school again.  DV said they have always met at the school.
Admin Report (Chrystell Reed)

                Chrystell Reed talked about a student opening that we are going to have in upper el. 

She said we had the ALICE training, which is the active shooter training.  She said it was very difficult emotionally but that we all left here feeling more empowered and prepared.  We talked about different types of safety drills.  We got great feedback in regards to what we can do to improve our facility.  For instance we are getting whistles for everyone in case we do need to attention.  A parent asked about the emotional component.  CR talked about the specifics of the lock down training and how things went. It is different doing this type of a drill while building trust within the staff and teachers.  A lot of this information comes back to the safety committee and we make changes based on this.

Grandparents’ day is November 13.  We will send info on Friday regarding parking, driving, permission to take grandchildren home afterwards, volunteers (volunteers please park at crossfire), remind them to bring their own lunch.  We will have refreshments at the beginning but not lunch.

Barnes and Noble book fair, also November 13, additional information is coming this week.
Site Council  (Sally Steinman)

                We have had two meetings.  We are looking at tardies and absences and we have formed a subcommittee to hopefully reduce tardies and absences.  Since we have so many new teachers we are looking at ways to support them and teach them about our particulars about Ridgeline.  The last thing we talked about is an organization chart.  We only briefly talked about this but it would be something that you can look at and see who does what at our school and where you can go to get your questions answered.

Christine motioned to accept the minutes and Michelle Lodwig seconded.  Minutes are accepted

T-shirts and spirit Day.  We received some thank you cards and will start our spirit day on Fridays when you can wear your colors and Ridgeline t-shirts.  CE thanked Michele for championing the t-shirt project.  They reminded us that the color is blue so that you can just wear blue for spirit day too. A parent asked about the opportunity to order t-shirt again and they said they would.  Colors change each year based on the kids’ deciding.  Also, all donated t-shirts ended up being paid for by generous donations from our families.

Skate world recap photos are available.  We had a really great time. 

The DDD total update:  It is difficult to show a total because we have some families contributing in increments.  What our thermometer shows is the money we actually have.  The DDD $9,632.  There is a little more in the bill pay monthly (committed but not yet received).  We are at a little over $10K counting promised contributions. 

And thank you for all who helped. Eduardo Tapia has done so much, the signs and the tree.

Pasta Dinner and community marketplace

Pasta Dinner on Feb 19th.  We are planning to ask for a donation and are hoping to not have to have a big push.  But last year we did make a lot at the pasta dinner.  What we want to do is allow the children and the community to form a market place.  They can sell their own wares.  Crafts, facepainting, fingerknitting.  We would still have the bowls that we did a silent auction on.  We would have people (students and families if they want) to sell their wares (maybe on the stage).  This is a way of including kids in the whole process.  Space is an issue.

ML sent around a sign up for DDD momentum and Event Coordinator. 

Read-A-Thon.  Information sheets went around.  The first sheet shows the reading challenge and the second sheet showed a copy of the flyer.  Jen Hackstadt talked about the read-a-thon and how it had gone in the past years. 

Barefoot Books, presented by Tanya Petal.  She invited everyone over to see the books and talked about multicultural literacy.  She wanted to suggest a fundraiser for the school.  She had puppets along with the books and she talked about selling items.  20% of gross sales would come back to the school.  Games, puzzles, paper crafts and puppets.  A lot of these books can be used in the classroom. She highlighted a few in particular.  She said she would like to partner with Ridgeline and would always have inventory on hand. There would be no parent volunteer hours needed and no shipping costs.   There might also be a way that she can set it up so that any parent who buys online on behalf of our school will contribute 20% to the school.

Christine asked about selling at Marketplace.  Tanya said that she thought she would like to try to fit something like this in before the end of the year.  She also though the read-a-thon would be a good time to sell her books.  CE responded and said that it might interfere with the end of the year asks already weighing on our families.  CE said we get a lot of feedback about this sort of thing.  Then a parent asked about the process for coming forward with a fundraising idea.  ML said anyone who has an idea will send it to the RCO and then it will end up here to see if this is something that we want to do, as a community. We typically decide on next year’s fund raising the year before at the last RCO meeting of the year. That is when we set up all of the main fund raising events at the end of the school year.  It is good to start talking about it now but the end of the year is when we make these decisions. 

 We did run over so CE said, “last minute questions can be emailed to rco@ridgeline.org”