UPS Swan Island employees received a resounding THANK YOU from Open Meadow students this morning for the record-setting $132,000 they contributed to this year’s United Way campaign. United Way supported Open Meadow’s equity initiative which has made extraordinary progress towards eliminating the racial academic achievement gap at Open Meadow. UPS has supported United Way projects with a whopping $1 billion plus in contributions over the last 20 years.
Open Meadow is very pleased that the City, TriMet, and PPS came together to support Youth Pass. Serving 85% low income youth this makes a big deal in bridging barriers for our students in getting to school. For full details, check out The Oregonian article earlier this week.
Open Meadow has been part of the greater Portland community for more than 40 years, but today the work we do feels more important than ever!
Last year, Oregon’s population of students experiencing homelessness reached its peak and, according to the Oregon Department of Education, more than 3,500 students in Portland area school districts alone are counted as “homeless.” As stated in The Oregonian, this staggering number of youth in unstable housing includes those living in cars, in shelters, on their own, or with relatives, while also pursuing an education. Under these stressful circumstances, students must overcome barriers in a pursuit for academic and personal success. In the public education system especially, homeless youth can struggle to find support, make connections, and engage in school.
Open Meadow has sought to serve and support all students, including those experiencing homelessness, since it was founded as a drop-in center for high-risk youth in 1971. Originally established in a downtown storefront, Open Meadow Learning Center fostered a community for Portland’s street youth. While the student population and Open Meadow’s programs have since evolved, today our mission and motives remain the same.
In fact, Open Meadow still serves an impressive number of youth living in homelessness. In the 2011-2012 school year, 19% of our middle school students and 16% of our high school students qualified as “homeless,” in contrast to the 3% of students in Portland Public Schools.
At Open Meadow, our community provides the stability and support necessary for students to find post-secondary success. The experience of homelessness is just one of many stories our students have to share, and unstable housing does not define the youth of Open Meadow. Despite these barriers, Open Meadow students are consistently improving their math and literacy skills, earning credits toward graduation, and accessing post-secondary education and employment opportunities!
I truly believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been rolling over in his grave this past weekend with a huge smile on his face as he watched our Open Meadow community come together across race and difference to realize his dream. This weekend 30 students and staff—a talented, beautiful mix of brown, black, and white—from across Open Meadow programs joined together at Camp Collins to honor Dr. King’s legacy. We continued his work by facing the racial divide in this country and in our classrooms head on and worked to create a better vision for how we can connect with one another, make space for multiple perspectives, and interrupt the racism we witness in our everyday lives. It truly took my breath away to see how our staff and students take care of one another, truly listen and hear one another, and help feed a sense of worth in one another. As we closed our retreat, one Southeast Asian student who has struggled to feel anything but shame in who he is turned to an Asian staff member he spent time with all weekend and said, “for the first time in my life I think I feel just a little bit of pride in being who I am.” Thank you Open Meadow for reminding me of why I love working here and how proud I am in what we do everyday with our students.
Open Meadow appreciates the generous support from Bank of America over the last decade. This year they sponsored and provided an amazing group of volunteers for Open Meadow Middle School’s annual Thanksgiving meal, and presented us with an additional $15,000 check to support our Transition program. With partners like Bank of America, Open Meadow students feel honored and celebrated. What a special day! Thank you, Bank of America, for all that you do for our community.
WRAPPING ARMS AROUND STUDENTS WHO HAVE LEFT SCHOOL
Friday August 24, 2012
The PPS Reconnect to Your Future campaign this fall expands on the effort that the Education Options team launched last year to reach out to students who have left school, invite them to return and help them connect with the right school setting.
This year we are inviting you and your staff or community partners to consider joining us Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9:30 am to 1 pm as we knock on the doors of students who have left school and invite them back. This is not a punitive visit. This is us owning all of our kids.
Again, the event is Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Volunteers will meet up and form teams at one of several high schools identified in the Event Bright (link above). Please share this opportunity with your staff, parent leaders and community partners.
Thank you for all of your many efforts to keep all of our students on track to graduate and welcome to the new school year.
Carla Gay and Jocelyn Bigay
PPS Reconnections Center
Did you know there’s an easy way to raise money for Open Meadow? Just start using Yahoo! powered GoodSearch.com as your search engine and they’ll donate about a penny to us every time you do a search!
Like to shop? Do all of your shopping through their online shopping mall, GoodShop.com, where you can shop at more than 2,600 top online retailers. You pay the same price as you normally would, but a donation goes to Open Meadow.
You can also enroll in the GoodDining program. Eat at over 10,000 participating restaurants nationwide and you can earn up to 6% of every dollar spent on the meal as a donation to us.
Here’s the web site — http://www.goodsearch.com/. You can also read about GoodSearch in the NY Times, Oprah Magazine, CNN, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal.
Open Meadow recently received this heartfelt message from one of our students. Read on to hear in Michelle's own words the impact that Open Meadow and Career Services staff, in particular, have had on shaping this young woman's life.
As a late blooming Open Meadow Career Services student, I wanted to take a moment to share my personal feelings about your career services staff. I have been a goat in the OM family for just over 2 years. During that time I have had several pivotal moments in almost every aspect of my life, with focuses on my personal and academic life. I learned many lessons during that time I can’t even begin to cite them all. What I can tell you is that while I was learning those sometimes difficult life lessons, I did so with the certainty that I had the tools, the confidence, and the support I needed to get me through the rough patches.
Two years into this relationship and I can tell you I never thought I would be where I am now. I have (with much caring guidance and advising) made the decision to join Job Corps as a way to help me continue propelling forward. I am proud and excited for this new step in my life. However, I think it must be noted that I would not be here without the never ending support of the entire Career Services staff. Not only do my advisors “show up” for me on a constant basis, but they do so in ways that I learn something after every meeting, they ask about important people in my life, they challenge me to think different and explore all options, not just the ones I feel comfortable with.
What I think is special about the Career Services staff, is that they all *really* care. Not just the ones assigned to you, but all of them. I have to say that I think the hiring committee has been absolutely brilliant with it’s hires. There is not one person who works at 7633 N Wabash that I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to about my life. I have so much trust and love for the Open Meadow community that I scarcely stop talking about the how much the programs and people I’ve been evolved in have meant to me.
So Andrew, I guess the purpose of this is to thank you for taking the time to cultivate this program and for having an amazing staff that has not only made a difference in my life, but the difference in countless other students and community members lives. I think sometimes all we need is someone else to believe in us and tell us, without a doubt that we can accomplish our goals. I now carry confidence they had in me this all this time. Thank you.
Through the generosity of the Northwest Health Foundation, Audrianna and several other OMHS students had the opportunity to grant $5,000 to local nonprofits that are working to serve women and children affected by domestic violence. Throughout the class, she sought out ways to take on leadership roles and presented a two hour workshop to her peers on the subject. In choosing the issue to fund, Audrianna and the rest of her class did hands on research by volunteering in multiple local organizations to understand directly how their contributions would impact those served.
Audrianna is looking forward to finding more ways to give back to her community. We are so proud of her and know that our community will benefit from her leadership. Way to go Audrianna!
Summer is right around the corner! How will your child spend their time out of school? Aspiring 9th graders looking for positive summer learning experiences and leadership opportunities during this hiatus have lots of options to stay connected. Check out the newly-released Summer 2012 Guide to Ninth Grade Counts, put together by All Hands Raised. Open Meadow’s Step Up program is a partner in this initiative and will be working with hundreds of youth in the greater Portland-area preparing them for the transition to high school. Guides are available in English and Spanish versions. Please share this resource with others and help keep our kids safe and involved this summer!
Like many other schools, Open Meadow recently celebrated our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. A common expression you’ll hear from students is that Open Meadow is like a family, and with advocates/teachers like ours, there’s no doubt why! Darryl, an Open Meadow senior jumped at the chance to show our staff some love by asking the questions, ‘Who is your favorite teacher?’ and ‘Who do you appreciate & why?’ He put together this heart-warming video, with the help of his peers, to honor their efforts. By the way, the answer is obvious… all of our teachers are their favorites! Enjoy!
Open Meadow had the distinct pleasure of hosting Governor Kitzhaber, first lady Cylvia Hayes, and Education Advisor Ben Cannon Tuesday at our high school.
The Governor’s education agenda includes a “40-40-20 plan” that would have 40 percent of the state’s adults with four-year college degrees, 40 percent with two-year degrees or the equivalent, and the remaining 20 percent with high school degrees. The ambitious nature of this 100% high school graduation agenda means that, in the words of the Governor’s Office, “He’s in serious learning mode” about how to succeed with off-track youth. At a time when over 40% of Portland high school students are not meeting the goals of our public education system, the Governor’s focus is a smart one if we are to get that 40% to earn, at minimum, a high school credential. We’re flattered that he chose Open Meadow as a place to learn more, and deeply appreciative of his willingness to seek solutions to this critical issue.
The Governor met with students and staff. He is eager to scale-up programs like Open Meadow that, through our high school and Step Up, provide “on-ramps” for off-track youth to get back on-track to post-secondary success in accordance with the ambitions of the 40-40-20 plan.
We spoke about the importance of individualized supports that serve academic progress, high expectations, and the belief that every student is capable.
We spoke about the fact that Oregon and Portland can get back on track. We can get the other 40% to meet the ambitious goals that we have set out for them. The Governor’s 10-year budgeting plan captures the return on investment that is realized through programs like Open Meadow that can interrupt the non-virtuous cycles of poverty and violence far better than a two-year budget.
The economic vitality of our state our community and state depend on this longer-term thinking that invests in prevention and multiple on-ramps that meet youth in real-time where they fall out.
Together we can do this. We are grateful for the Governor’s focus on the issue of off-track youth.
The Portland Timbers recently selected Open Meadow to be one of nine of the Portland Timbers Community Fund 2012 grantees! The grant was awarded during half-time at Jeld-Wen Field at the 3/31 match against Real Salt Lake! Check out this video that the Timbers recently made, and now lives on their website. Thank you PTCF! GO Timbers!
Open Meadow volunteer champion Don Barney, Past President of Portland Pearl Rotary Club, organized a short display of Pearl Rotary’s commitment to Open Meadow’s Step Up program at Madison High School. On February 28, Don presented a check to Sierra Hill, Madison Step Up Program Manager & Nia Lewis, Madison Step Up Program Coordinator. Two freshmen from the program, Sam Guy and Royce Hayson, shared testimonials with club members. Thank you, Pearl Rotary for your unwavering support!
Building Inclusive Classrooms by Engaging Community
Monday February 06, 2012
Last week Open Meadow staff were invited to participate on a teacher panel for PPS’ Focus on Diversity series. The presentation topic and conversation focused on classroom practice and community engagement. Open Meadow’s Sierra Hill, Michael Navarro and Dawnnesha Wilcher brought passion, commitment and leadership to the discussion while sharing their beliefs and strategies about the work toward equity for all students.
Got a new Xbox 360 for the holidays? Looking to clean out your closets and get rid of that oh so old Wii from 2010? Are your hardly ever worn basketball shoes, rain boots or hiking boots covered in dust and feeling lonely? Too much tea cluttering your cupboard that you can’t find the sugar for your coffee in the morning? Got tickets to an upcoming local performance that you can’t make after all?
Last week, two Open Meadow High School students received $1,000 scholarships from The Skanner Foundation to pursue their higher education. The awards were presented to our students at The Skanner’s 26th Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast. Congratulations to Kelsey and Jeremiah for the great work toward their post-secondary success!
Open Meadow is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year.
It’s been 40 years of memorable moments for students, parents, staff, volunteers, sponsors and the whole community.
We’d like everyone to help us celebrate these Open Meadow “moments”.
Open Meadow has been special to us for so many reasons. It has been full of moments we treasure and moments that remain a huge part of us. We want to celebrate these moments and gather them. Josh Monda, an Open Meadow Board member and alumni from the Class of 1999, has started a facebook page where you can like the page and share your Open Meadow stories, photos (old and current), video, audio, written notes and quotes from the last 40 years. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Open-Meadow-Moments/285946158115335
The Betties 360 group at Open Meadow High School have been busy this semester with activities that are empowering them with skills including increased focus, self confidence, stress management and coping strategies, preparedness and more… From exploring their cooking abilities to learning yoga, archery and self defense, these young women are on the move. They’ve been offered programs such as Wilderness First Aid and Banking for Life, and have gone out into the field to an urban farm.
Most recently they visited with Daimler Trucks North America on Swan Island. There the girls enjoyed a tour of how semi-trucks are designed and built. Seven female engineers led them through the test center including the shaker room (where a truck is put on a big shaker to simulate rough roads to test all components of the cab structure), the wind tunnel and the design studio where prototypes are built out of clay. The purpose of this trip was to expose the girls to the idea of design and engineering. Many of the OM girls love to create, draw and design things, and this trip showed them how they can use those interests for a career. Also, the girls greatly benefited by seeing and interacting with a diverse group of smart and capable women who all love what they do for work. Thanks to Daimler for being such wonderful hosts to our young women!