The Spider Clan weaves a web of creativity thanks to PTSA classroom funds

Missa Marmalstein smilingMissa shares how she makes use of PTSA classroom funds –

One of my favorite uses of PTSA funds is being able to buy fresh art supplies every couple of years for our Expedition art projects. During our Storytelling Expedition, the students paint Kamishibai cards to tell their Origin stories; pulling out fresh watercolors is always a thrill, and inspires the kids to do more quality work.

We also do a beautiful art project during our Maps Expedition, and we use special drawing chalk to mimic the book it is based upon.

But the main thing I use PTSA funds for is to keep my library exciting and current. I love that if I hear about an new book, I am lucky to have the resources to introduce it to my students.

— Missa Marmalstein, Spider Clan, Grade 2/3 Teacher

The PTSA provides funds to every classroom and specialty program at Pathfinder. To support the programs that make Pathfinder a great place to learn, follow this link >> Direct Give

Thank you!

Kindergartner whisperer Janet shares how PTSA classroom funds keep her fish swimming in the Salmon Clan

Janet Osborn smilingI have been teaching for many, many years and I have so appreciated your support of my work and our classrooms through your generous classroom fund program.

Over the years I have used PTSA funds in many ways. Most recently I have used the money to pay for mentor texts suggested through the Reading and Writing Workshop Curriculums from Columbia Teacher’s College. Many of the lessons in our reading and writing programs are written with a specific children’s book in mind. It is so helpful to actually have that exact book and not have to find a substitute.

I also buy books for the kids that I hear about in professional development or read about in teacher blogs. There are so many great kid books out there!

In addition, I like to purchase art/project supplies for specific expedition related projects. Hands on expedition projects sometimes require specific supplies and it is nice to have a fund available for that.

Thank you, PTSA, for this fund. It allows us the freedom to buy what we need to make our lessons come alive!

– Janet Osborn, Salmon Clan Kindergarten/First Grade Teacher

The PTSA provides funds to every classroom and specialty program at Pathfinder. To support the programs that make Pathfinder a great place to learn, follow this link >> Direct Give

Thank you!

When we are lucky, we get to choose a family

a boy jumps among the driftwood on a beachPathfinder Mom and PTSA Member, Sarah, shares,

Our family has been at Pathfinder for six years now, and that’s not even the halfway point for us. When our oldest started Pathfinder we knew we would be here for a good long time. When our youngest graduates Pathfinder, we will have been here for 13 years.

So for us our Pathfinder community is a lot like family. And not the Thomas Kincaid warm, cozy cabin in the snow sort. No, our community is real. With real differences, real disagreements, and also real celebrations, and real risk.

Our community asks us to risk by showing up, by giving what we can give, and by staying, even when things get difficult. For this is what shapes us. Not what comes easy.

The PTSA provides funds to every classroom and specialty program at Pathfinder. To support the programs that enhance learning at Pathfinder, make a donation by following this link >> Direct Give.

Thank you.

Photo used with permission from Sarah Steinke.

The story of one child’s social and emotional growth at Pathfinder

Andy Darring and Gwyneth smiling

Gwyneth with Eagle Clan teacher Andy Darring

Gwyneth just graduated from Pathfinder. She attended 3rd-8th grade. I am a wreck! I’m not ready for her to move on to high school, for the “beginning of the end”. I want to just stop time and stay here where they need me just enough but are independent enough. This is the sweet spot.

I was a joyful mother when my kids started preschool and Kindergarten. Not one of those weepy moms who seemed to think that was the beginning of the end. My kids are “challenging” and school offered me a break and support. Gwyneth was diagnosed with Aspergers when she was 6. She attended a social skills group outside of school in addition to attending the one at school offered to kids in the “Autism Inclusion Program”. While some parents were spending their afternoons on a muddy soccer field I sat in a coffee shop with Moms of other kids in the social skills group. There I learned things could always be more challenging with my kid. I was also surrounded by people who laughed at stories about my left of center child rather than looked at me with pity and shook their heads.

Although I was glad to have a break while my girl was in school I was also painfully aware of how hard the social aspect of school was for her. Everything caused her anxiety from walking down the hall to going to the bathroom. Those first 3 years of school were her hardest years. In third grade Pathfinder moved into the Cooper building. I was sad to see all of her classmates get moved to different schools and worried  more about my girl’s ability to make friends when I just watched her take 2 and half years to do so. But third grade proved to be her best year yet. Lisa DeBurle was the very teacher she needed with clear boundaries, clear expectations and she made the kid’s social and emotional development part of the curriculum – as does every teacher at Pathfinder, I learned. Lisa encouraged other kids to reach out to mine and she made some friends! Of course, my girl’s academic skills grew in leaps and bounds as well but my biggest concern were her friendships.

My daughter continued to thrive at Pathfinder. She enjoyed 2 strong years in the Eagle Clan with Andy Darring. Just a few weeks into her 4th grade year she announced to me that she didn’t want to do social skills group with the Autism Inclusion Program anymore because she felt there was nothing more she could learn from it. We had a conference with Andy and her inclusion teacher about it. Andy validated her comment about feeling like she wouldn’t gain anymore from the social skills class stating that for a 6 week trial period she could stay in the general ed classroom full time with the exception of her time with OT and speech. Andy said as long as her participation was appropriate we could meet again about amending her IEP. After 6 weeks she more or less “Graduated” from the inclusion program. Her IEP minutes dropped from somewhere around 800 minutes a week to the 300’s! In IEP speak that is a drastic change.

Personally, I fell in love with Andy’s teaching style. He is so direct with the kids, clear expectations and he really knows the kids on a very individual basis. He also challenges them physically, emotionally and socially. They are not always comfortable in that class. And I mean that in a good way. Andy also does something else very powerful and impactful: He cries in front of the kids. He cries when he has to say good bye at the end of the year, he cries when the kids are being especially malicious to each other and he shares personal stories to stress how short and fragile life is to drive home the point of why he insists on kindness. My daughter felt validated in this class and she thrived because of it.

Middle School. I was so thankful to be at Pathfinder. Same building, similar kids, small student body. But I didn’t know what to expect academic wise. But I knew my daughter was safe, that bullying wouldn’t be ignored. But I worried about bullying that no one saw or that my daughter didn’t share with me. She is after all, a little left of center and kids can be cruel during the middle school years pecking their way to the top.

Academically, my daughter thrived. In 6th grade she was receiving resource help with math. By 7th grade she didn’t need any help. In 8th grade she was invited to take Algebra as well as 8th grade math. She passed it all with straight A’s and can take geometry with the sophomores this coming fall. Socially, she slipped. She started to distance herself from friends saying she didn’t have anything in common with them anymore. This broke my heart. It sucks to be alone when you are in middle school and I worried about how others treated her. Despite my daughter not sharing too much with me about her experiences at school I saw glimpses of what others thought of her. They know she’s a talented artist. A couple of her classmates told me so. When she was out sick for a week I stopped by to pick up her classwork and another student left a message for her saying she was their “savior”. I’m not sure what it was about but it put a smile on my daughter’s face. Another student made a whole slideshow of my daughter during one of their field trips trying to get her to smile.

But the most telling was during the heart circle on the 8th grader’s last night of camping together as a class. The kids were all given the opportunity to share or not share anything they appropriately needed to. One boy opened it up stating he wasn’t ready to leave and then promptly burst into tears. My daughter, the one that NEVER shares just because, the one who took NINE months before she joined the circle at her preschool – her teacher didn’t like to push such things – shared openly and on her own “I like Pathfinder and I will miss you all”. And then she cried along with the rest of her class.

This is the kind of school my kids attend. The kind where 8th grade girls and boys feel safe to not only verbalize their feelings but to openly cry when doing so. People can criticize the academics, our test scores, the fact that kids call teachers by their first names. But this is really what it’s all about. People, relationships, stories of kindness, openness and vulnerability cause you feel safe to be vulnerable. I wouldn’t change a thing. Finn has 3 more years at Pathfinder and I’m going to cherish every second.

– Testimonial written by Molly Gras-Usry, Pathfinder parent, and past PTSA President

The PTSA provides funds to every classroom and specialty program at Pathfinder. To make a donation to support the programs that enhance learning at Pathfinder, follow this link >> Direct Give

Thank you!

Picture used with permission of Molly Gras-Usry

Did you know the PTSA gives funds to each classroom and specialty?

open book with lilac flowersClarissa the 6th grade Raven Clan teacher has used the PTSA funds to buy books!

In Clarissa’s words, “I have been compiling sets of books to use in book clubs for a realistic fiction unit on Empathy, Perspective and Diversity. The books I have been able to order align with our Creative Approach and connect to our focus on SEL.

I also was able to supplement our Eastern Hemisphere textbook with various leveled informational texts about the civilizations we study in that class. These came from our Fund-A-Need two years ago.”

Thank you, parents and community members, for making it happen. Without your donation, we would not be able support our teachers in this way.

To help Clarissa and other Pathfinder teachers with classroom funds, please make a donation to Pathfinder’s Direct Give today: www.bit.ly/directgive.

Photo source: free image from Pixabay

Where do your Direct Give contributions go?

They go to change the lives of children throughout the school. I am so thankful for all of you whose stewardship makes programs like the one in this video possible. My son’s school experience, self-esteem and over all confidence has blossomed because of the opportunities afforded us through Pathfinder PTSA contributions. Please consider giving and NEVER think for one minute that what you have to offer is too small, not enough. I can tell you that this parent is grateful for every single dollar that makes our community outstanding.

 

OWEN ROCKS!

I am so excited and thrilled to share with you Owen’s success! When he first started the inclusion swim program at Pathfinder K-8 PTSA, Owen would not even go to the locker rooms to change until they were totally empty. Because of the dedicated staff who worked with him, in particular the wonderful Edith Follansbee, Owen was able to systematically desensitize himself to the pool environment, then the pool itself and finally the challenges in the water. Do you know what else made it possible? THE TIME AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF PATHFINDER PARENTS. Your PTSA funds the program that allows Owen and other neuro diverse kiddos to go swimming WITH CONSISTENCY. Because the program happens every week, over time, these students can meet otherwise daunting challenges with support, AT THEIR OWN PACE. THANK YOU so much, for giving, for being stewards and creating opportunities for children who otherwise would not have them. If you are looking for a place to put your money, where it will make a VISIBLE difference in the lives of children, please consider a contribution to Pathfinder’s Direct Give campaign which is happening now through the end of October. The contributions of this campaign are roughly one fourth of our total budget for the year. All contributions are welcome! Thank you!

Posted by Odetta Owen, Pathfinder parent and PTSA president on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

 

I am so excited and thrilled to share with you Owen’s success! When he first started the inclusion swim program at Pathfinder K-8 PTSA, Owen would not even go to the locker rooms to change until they were totally empty. Because of the dedicated staff who worked with him, in particular the wonderful Edith Follansbee, Owen was able to systematically desensitize himself to the pool environment, then the pool itself and finally the challenges in the water. Do you know what else made it possible? THE TIME AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF PATHFINDER PARENTS. Your PTSA funds the program that allows Owen and other neuro diverse kiddos to go swimming WITH CONSISTENCY. Because the program happens every week, over time, these students can meet otherwise daunting challenges with support, AT THEIR OWN PACE. THANK YOU so much, for giving, for being stewards and creating opportunities for children who otherwise would not have them.

If you are looking for a place to put your money, where it will make a VISIBLE difference in the lives of children, please consider a contribution to Pathfinder’s Direct Give campaign which is happening now through the end of October. The contributions of this campaign are roughly one fourth of our total budget for the year.

To help Pathfinder teachers with classroom and specialist program funds, please make a donation to Pathfinder’s Direct Give today: www.bit.ly/directgive.

All contributions are welcome! Thank you!

Posted by Odetta Owen, Pathfinder parent and PTSA president on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

 

Thanks to Bird on a Wire

Coffee Mug with Bird on a Wire logoMany thanks to Bird on a Wire for donating coffee for the Back to School Breakfast, which was attended by many new and returning Pathfiinder parents. Whatever each person’s frame of mind (elated, broken-hearted, worried, you get the idea) on the first day of school, that jolt of delicious java was much appreciated by all.

Let’s send some business their way – stop by Bird on a Wire, and thank them for their support. While you’re there, grab yourself a little treat! Located at 3509 SW Henderson, they’re just around the corner from Stuffed Cakes and the SW Branch of the Seattle Public Library.

Their menu includes mouthwatering goodies, such as, Bob’s Steel Cut Oats, Local Pastries, Egg Sandwiches, and House-Made Soups for the cooler weather. See more a their Thirstiest Birds Website.

Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/birdonawireespresso

Let’s show them how much we appreciate their support!

Reflecting on my Daughter’s days at Pathfinder

My daughter just graduated from Pathfinder. She attended 3rd-8th grade. I am a wreck! I’m not ready for her to move on to high school, for the “beginning of the end”. I want to just stop time and stay here where they need me just enough but are indepent enough. This is the sweet spot.

I was a joyful mother when my kids started preschool and Kindergarten. Not one of those weepy moms who seemed to think that was the beginning of the end. My kids are “challenging” and school offered me a break and support. My daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers when she was 6. She attended a social skills group outside of school in addition to attending the one at school offered to kids in the “Autism Inclusion Program”. While some parents were spending thier afternoons on a muddy soccer field I sat in a coffee shop with Moms of other kids in the social skills group. There I learned things could always be more challenging with my kid. I was also surrounded by people who laughed at stories about my left of center child rather than looked at me with pity and shook their heads.

Although I was glad to have a break while my girl was in school I was also painfully aware of how hard the social aspect of school was for her. Everything caused her anxiety from walking down the hall to going to the bathroom. Those first 3 years of school were her hardest years. In third grade Pathfinder moved into the Cooper building. I was sad to see all of her classmates get moved to different schools and worried  more about my girl’s ability to make friends when I just watched her take 2 and half years to do so. But third grade proved to be her best year yet. Lisa Deburle was the very teacher she needed with clear boundaries, clear expectations and she made the kid’s social and emotional development part of the curriculum – as does every teacher at Pathfinder, I learned. Lisa encouraged other kids to reach out to mine and she made some friends! Of course, my girl’s academic skills grew in leaps and bounds as well but my biggest concern was her friendships.

My daughter continued to thrive at Pathfinder. She enjoyed 2 strong years in the Eagle Clan with Andy. Just a few weeks into her 4th grade year she announced to me that she didn’t want to do social skills group with the Autism Inclusion Program anymore because she felt there was nothing more she could learn from it. We had a conference with Andy and her inclusion teacher about it. Andy validated her comment about feeling like she wouldn’t gain anymore from the social skills class stating that for a 6 week trial period she could stay in the general ed classroom full time with the exception of her time with OT and speech. Andy said as long as her participation was appropriate we could meet again about amending her IEP. After 6 weeks she more or less “Graduated” from the inclusion program. Her IEP minutes dropped from somewhere around 800 minutes a week to the 300’s! In IEP speak that is a drastic change.

Personally, I fell in love with Andy’s teaching style. He is so direct with the kids, clear expectations and he really knows the kids on a very individual basis. He also challenges them physically, emotionally and socially. They are not always comfortable in that class. And I mean that in a good way. Andy also does something else very powerful and impactful: He cries in front of the kids. He cries when he has to say good bye at the end of the year, he cries when the kids are being especially malicious to each other and he shares personal stories to stress how short and fragile life is to drive home the point of why he insists on kindness. My daughter felt validated in this class and she thrived because of it.

Middle School. I was so thankful to be at Pathfinder. Same building, similar kids, small student body. But I didn’t know what to expect academic wise. But I knew my daughter was safe, that bullying wouldn’t be ignored. But I worried about bullying that no one saw or that my daughter didn’t share with me. She is after all, a little left of center and kids can be cruel during the middle school years pecking their way to the top.

Academically, my daughter thrived. In 6th grade she was receiving resource help with math. By 7th grade she didn’t need any help. In 8th grade she was invited to take Algebra as well as 8th grade math. She passed it all with straight A’s and can take geometry with the sophomores this coming fall. Socially, she slipped. She started to distance herself from friends saying she didn’t have anything in common with them anymore. This broke my heart. It sucks to be alone when you are in middle school and I worried about how others treated her. Despite my daughter not sharing too much with me about her experiences at school I saw glimpses of what others thought of her. They know she’s a talented artist. A couple of her classmates told me so. When she was out sick for a week I stopped by to pick up her classwork and another student left a message for her saying she was their “savior”. I’m not sure what it was about but it put a smile on my daughter’s face. Another student made a whole slideshow of my daughter during one of their field trips trying to get her to smile. But the most telling was during the heart circle on the 8th grader’s last night of camping together as a class. The kids were all given the opportunity to share or not share anything they appropriately needed to. One boy opened it up stating he wasn’t ready to leave and then promptly burst into tears. My daughter, the one that NEVER shares just because, the one who took NINE months before she joined the circle at her preschool – her teacher didn’t like to push such things – shared openly and on her own “I like Pathfinder and I will miss you all”. And then she cried along with the rest of her class. This is the kind of school my kids attend. The kind where 8th grade girls and boys feel safe to not only verbalize their feelings but to openly cry when doing so. People can criticize the academics, our test scores, the fact that kids call teachers by their first names. But this is really what it’s all about. People, relationships, stories of kindness, openness and vulnerability cause you feel safe to be vulnerable. I wouldn’t change a thing. My second child has 3 more years at Pathfinder and I’m going to cherish every second.

Molly Gras-Usry, Mother of  a Pathfinder Graduate and Pathfinder Middle Schooler

Pathfinder Garden Classroom’s summer plans

Summer’s here, but the garden keeps growing. Bring a friend and come water, harvest, and watch our beautiful space unfold! All ages welcome, and please feel free to come even if the slots have filled up.

Sign up here: www.SignUpGenius.com/go/10C0B4CAFAA2BA1F85-summer . Updates and garden photos will be posted on the Pathfinder Garden Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pathfinder-Garden-Classroom. See you there!

Autism Acceptance and So Much More!

504’s, IEP’s and IDK’s Oh my! Do any of these ring a bell for you when you think about your child? Roughly thirty percent of our student population are currently being served for special needs in the classroom through a 504 or an IEP. That’s right THIRTY percent. Another undocumented percentage of us fall, daily, into the IDK (I Don’t Know) when it comes to our kids with needs that fall out of the range of what would be called typically developing. That’s a large portion of our students and families that are effected by a wide range of challenges when it comes to raising and educating our children.

Because I am one of those parents, it was my pleasure to decorate the display case this month, highlighting Autism Acceptance Month. I had some wonderful conversations with folks as they passed by while I was decorating. My favorite moment though came when Willa, from the Eagle Clan, came by, observed me for a moment, cocked her head to the side and said “There are people who don’t accept autism? I don’t think we have a problem with that here at Pathfinder”.

Willa’s comment was right on the money. Pathfinder has a rich history of inclusivity in general and there is a legacy of inclusion with regard to the autism community. Over the years this tradition has evolved to include “quirky” children and parents of all types. In keeping with that tradition your PTSA is also evolving. We are excited to announce a new parent group the PSNAC, Pathfinder Special Needs Advocacy Community. While we are new in our evolution, our numbers are many and our plans great! Our general mission will be one of advocacy, information and support to parents and staff regarding the wide realm of special needs, including but not limited to autism.

You might be one of the many parents that we plan on serving if you relate to one or more of the following in your child: Sensory Issues, Self-regulation Issues, Executive Functioning Challenges, ADD, ADHD, Tourette’s, OCD, Anxiety, SPD, Hyperlexia, Selective Mutism, Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder, Diabetes, Asthma, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, Seizure disorders, Auditory Processing, Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment, Aspergers/Autism, Learning Disabilities, Developmental Delays, Allergies, and more.

In the months to come, PSNAC will be rolling out some exciting events that are designed to build connection among the parents of students of who have special needs as well as offer resources and opportunities for information to parents, staff and the wider Pathfinder community. For now, look for us at PTSA events or contact Odetta Owen, Autism Liaison to the PTSA board, at miss_oo@hotmail.com for more information. We look forward to building community with you.