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Board approves grant application, received update on social emotional learning curriculum

The Lake Oswego School Board voted Monday to approve a comprehensive grant application that, if approved, would allow the school district to access about $5.2 million per year from the state to invest in educational improvements.

The Student Success Act — signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown last spring — is a reinvestment in public schools. It will provide $1 billion of additional funding for early learning and K-12 education every year.

Approximately half of Student Success Act funds go directly to districts through Student Investment Accounts (SIA). In order to receive SIA funds, the state requires each district to write a non-competitive grant application detailing how the funds will be used.

The grant would allow the district to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes, among other things.COURTESY PHOTO - WAGNER

Lake Oswego School Board Chair Rob Wagner praised Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele and her team for the work that went into the application, which included a community survey that went out earlier in the school year.

"The engagement that you did with the community is also reflective of what the intention was with the Legislature when the Student Success Act was passed," he said.

Members of the board asked how implementation and the onboarding of new staff would work — all items that would have to be fine-tuned down the road, assuming the application is approved.

Wagner called those nice problems to have and ones the district hasn't seen in a long time.

New social emotional learning curriculum

Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele and a team of staff, students and parent stakeholders brought forward information to the board about a social emotional learning pilot curriculum. Social emotional learning is about understanding and managing emotions, setting and achieving goals, and showing empathy for others.

The curriculum chosen by the committee is called "Character Strong and PurposeFull People."

The primary goal of the curriculum is to develop character in a way that is inclusive of all members of the district.

The committee decided on this curriculum based on what would be age appropriate to all groups and what would be the most holistic. This curriculum is also revised often and available in Spanish, which was another selling point for the group.

At the elementary level, it's called PurposeFull People. It focuses on 10 different character traits. With each trait there is content for use in class, at home and at recess.

The secondary program is called Character Strong. It focuses on five traits — self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making and relationship skills.

These lessons would be used not only in the classroom but during extracurricular athletics as well.

Implementation will require professional development training for teachers and learning specialists.

Schiele said the process of rolling it out will take a year.

"Teachers don't just come to work prepared to teach this lesson. We have to train them," she said.

Leadership teams will exist in each school to provide professional development throughout the year. Schiele said next fall would mark the start of the pilot year and the curriculum would be fully implemented the following year.

The district's Social Emotional Learning Team team will hold an open house to provide a forum for parents and community members to learn more. The event — originally set for March 16 — has been postponed until further notice due to the novel coronavirus.

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