Site Council Meeting Aug. 10, 2023
Lindsay Ochs, Director of Educational Services Lupita Vargas, Director of School Culture Emmanuel Balan, instructional coaches Erin Monteith and Cheryl Graham
Parents accumulate volunteer hours at Kids Unlimited Academy by attending monthly Site Council meetings.
The 2023-24 school year’s first Site Council meeting Aug. 10 hosted five parents, along with KUA staff. Discussion focused on KUA’s new morning enrichment, new reading and math curriculum and the possibility of forming a parent teacher organization. KUA’s food program prepared a dinner of pasta, garlic-cheese bread and Caesar salad.
KUA’s new parent-student-school agreements are the first in Oregon, said KUA Principal Lindsay Ochs. The contract requires parents to volunteer a minimum of six hours per school year. Attendance at each Site Council fulfills one hour. If parents are unsure how to fulfill their hours, the school will find opportunities for them, said Principal Ochs.
Opportunities for students during the new morning enrichment include yoga, meditation, stretching, tai chi, dance and clubs, such as community engagement club. Unlike afterschool enrichment, there is no cost for the morning session. Pushing the school start time back to 8:30 a.m. is intended to reduce tardies, said Principal Ochs.
“There’s a big intention behind this,” she said, explaining it’s attendance but also classroom preparedness.
One intention behind KUA’s new reading curriculum is transferable lessons from grade level to grade level, instead of a “one-time sit and get,” said instructional coach Erin Monteith. Crossing curricula, including science and ecology, Amplify Reading is grounded in phonics — or letter sounds — and encompasses reading, writing, speaking and listening. Social sciences and English language arts are integrated for middle schoolers this year.
“Everybody gets something they need. It’s not like it’s standard instruction across the board,” said Principal Ochs.
Three different math curricula are used this year at KUA, said instructional coach Cheryl Graham.
Grades K-2 use iReady, which meets students where they’re at with the expectation that they can start achieving at grade level. All students have their own workbooks, instead of copies of worksheets.
Open Up Math for grades 3-5 builds on student communication, explaining the problems and how they got their answers. It comes with student-friendly Google slide presentations. One of students’ favorite features are the “sprints,” or timed quizzes.
Ed Gems, used for grades 6-8, is proven to improve students’ state test scores through specific alignment with Oregon’s math standards. This research-based curriculum is designed to foster a growth mindset.
“We want them — and buckle up for this one — we want them to struggle with math problems,” said Graham.
Parents attending had students in kindergarten, first and sixth grades. They discussed their interest in forming a parent-teacher organization, which also would fulfill volunteer hours. A PTO’s benefits include better communication, fundraising, advocacy, influence and building community, said Principal Ochs.
The parent of a sixth grade student said she was involved in KUA’s previous PTO, which went by the wayside during COVID. In her opinion, it echoed a lot of information at KUA’s monthly Site Council.
Gonzalo Duran, parent of a kindergartner and White City KUA board member, asked if a PTO could create learning opportunities and activities for students on weekends. Staff acknowledged that if the activities were associated with KUA, they would have to be appropriately vetted and approved.
Parents also heard that school assemblies will be more frequent but shorter and broken up by grade. They also received reminders about September’s spirit week and fall break.
“Here we spread breaks out, and we have more instructional days,” said Principal Ochs.