Supporting the modernization bond
By Tamala Newsome and LaShawn Lee
As school principals in north and northeast Portland, we see every day the positive effects that our schools have on students and families — and on our immediate community, which utilizes our buildings as neighborhood centers. But it takes a much greater effort to be effective and to serve our community well at one of our schools. Why? Its physical condition.
Only 4 miles separate our two schools, but it may as well be an ocean.
Built in 2006, Rosa Parks Elementary School represents a new way: of designing learning spaces, of defining “children first” by addressing the needs of the “whole child”; of building partnerships, of linking a public school to its community and a community to a school. Rather than focusing on space, the district focused on learning and asked the building to respond.
The Rosa Parks building features flexible learning space to support a variety of student groupings and individualized instruction. There is access to technology throughout the school, as well as a dedicated technology lab to support the requirements of 21st century learning. Extensive natural light brightens the rooms, reduces lighting-related electricity consumption and improves learning.
At Faubion PK-8 School, built in 1950, teachers do a wonderful job utilizing the resources available to meet the academic needs of students, but every school day, staff members and students struggle with noise, poor lighting, mildew, lack of fresh air, hot or cold temperature, overcrowded classrooms, limited technology and inadequate security. For many years, we have used everything from superglue to duct tape just to keep our school up and running, but the building continues to deteriorate.
The adverse conditions at Faubion negatively affect the academic achievement of our students. Our students are cold in the winter, hot in the summer and wet during the rainy season. What’s more, the building simply is too small for our growing population. Next year we will use part of the library, cafeteria stage, and principal’s office as mini classrooms for next school year.
Our schools are places where children can grow to their full potential, now and for generations to come. All of our students deserve the opportunity to learn, develop and grow in a safe and inspiring environment such as Rosa Parks. The school modernization bond that the Portland School Board is considering for placement on the May ballot is a step toward this achieving that goal.
We would like to leave you with these final thoughts: If not now, when? If not here, where? And if not our children, whose?
Tamala Newsome is the principal Rosa Parks School, and LaShawn Lee is principal of Faubion School.