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Superintendent Jeff Rose shares district's vision for Beaverton schools and public engagement

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Beaverton School District Superintendent Jeff Rose welcomes half of the teachers in the school district during a presentation Tuesday morning in the Beaverton High Schoo gymnasium. We are all in this together. Students. Parents. Teachers. Staff. Businesses. Government. Nonprofits. Even residents without children.

There is a role for everyone to play in Beaverton’s public schools to ensure students’ future success.

That is just one of the messages Beaverton School District Superintendent Jeff Rose shared with all of the district’s teachers on Tuesday at Beaverton High School and Wednesday at Westview High School.

The gatherings marked the first time in at least two decades that Beaverton’s top school leader has brought all the teachers together and addressed them as a group to share the vision and goals for the district moving forward.

Prior to his presentations with teachers, who reported to duty this week, Rose sat down with the Beaverton Valley Times to talk about what is ahead for local schools.

“We need to galvanize our community,” Rose said. “We need to expand our shoulders so that we all own students’ success.

“We need to have a community movement where we share a vision for education — a culture of thinking that promotes high expectations for all students to thrive, contribute and excel. It can’t all be just on teachers and students in the schools.”

To that end, district leaders in the past year launched community conversations with stakeholders who compiled lists of commitments for community members — from students to residents.

“From that input, we created a focus for the district,” Rose said. “One that maintains a sense of school autonomy and yet ties us all together as a school district rather than a district of schools.

“To start out the year with that focus is just a great place to be. I can’t wait for this year to begin. I am really excited.”

As part of that focus, the district roled out a “WE” campaign, including a brochure that unveils goals for every student to graduate and be prepared to think creatively and critically, know and master academic content, be able to act independently and collaboratively and navigate the world around them.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - 'For Beaverton students to lead full and successful lives, we need to expand and strengthen the definition of 'WE.' ... There is a role for everyone to play in Beaverton public schools. Together WE are stronger.'

“While we expect academic excellence and learning the standards is critical, we are also developing people who need to be able to think creatively and critically and who can adapt and adjust,” Rose said. “This is our goal for our kids.”

He pointed out that this emphasis on “WE” is not a new initiative.

“We are refining the language and spelling out how we are going to focus our work so that there are threads of consistency throughout our schools without eliminating the ongoing creativity of our teachers and their ability to take risks.”

As part of the district’s commitment to the community, it is unveiling a new website on Tuesday that will be much easier to navigate and highlight work going on within schools.

The district also hopes to improve communication by offering a new parent and student app for smartphones to allow access to schools and the district as well as connect to Synergy, allowing them to check students’ progress in their classes.

“We are trying to give them more of the information they told us they want,” Rose said.

Building forward

With most students returning to class next week (kindergarten classes are delayed until Sept. 9 to allow for state-mandated student assessments), Rose said voters’ support of a five-year, $15 million local-option levy in May changed the feel and tone of the start of the 2013-14 school year.

For the first time in years, the district was able to fill 150 additional teacher positions and bring class sizes down.

“The levy is not the complete fix, but it provides rays of hope,” Rose said.

As he prepared to talk to teachers, he said it was important to recognize the incredible work they have done under difficult circumstances.

“We need to recognize the challenges we have had in the past and thank teachers for doing everything they could to get through the year and not give up on our kids,” Rose said.

He also wanted to talk to teachers about where the district is heading.

“We need to build forward, not build back to where we were,” Rose explained. “In order to be a world-class education system, we need to think bigger than Beaverton and beyond Oregon even. We need to look to the future. I find that to be a very motivating conversation.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Whitford Middle School's school psychologist, Dustin Hass, and Kristine Napper, who is an ESL teacher at the school, participate in an activity during Superintendent Jeff Rose's state of the district address at Beaverton High School.

Part of his reasoning to bring teachers together was to provide them with the chance to reconnect with their colleagues across the district and meet other fellow educators.

“Many of them never see each other,” he said. “Relationships are important in this work — we need to honor them.”

As the year unfolds, the district will be reaching out to community partners and inviting them into schools to share their knowledge and expertise and volunteer.

“We have incredible resources in Beaverton that are untapped,” Rose said. “We have a community that wants to take part in the work. Together we can be stronger.”

To find out how you can get involved in schools, visit beaverton.k12.or.us/volunteer or visit your neighborhood school.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tuesday and Wednesday marked the first time in 20 years that Beaverton School District's superintendent gathered all teachers together to talk about the year ahead. Half of the teachers met Tuesday at Beaverton High School, and the remaining gathered Wednesday at Westview.

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