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Thomas A. Edison High School Newsletter Fall 2010

  PDF version of Fall 2010 Newsletter

Preparing for the Future: A Message from Patrick J. Maguire, Director

Here at Edison, our mission statement is posted in every classroom and office: “Thomas Edison High School empowers students with learning differences to experience academic success and personal growth, while preparing them for the future.” We witness our students’ academic success and personal growth on a daily basis.  But what are we doing to prepare them for the future?

Our Transitions Program readies students for life after Edison. Transitions provides career/vocational awareness and college guidance for all four years of a student’s Edison career. I am pleased to tell you about a new addition to Transitions.

Starting this fall, every senior is required to take two courses at Portland Community College. One is a study skills course designed to help incoming college students; the second course can be any elective of the student’s choice. We believe that the experience of these college courses will be very helpful in preparing Edison seniors for the next step, whether they choose to pursue higher education or work after graduation.

Many Edison graduates choose to attend a two- or four-year college program. To succeed at college, our students must be able to access learning disability support services. In order to receive these services, students must provide in-depth LD documentation that is less than three years old and meets detailed guidelines.

To provide this documentation, students need to undergo a battery of neuropsychological tests. These tests can be very expensive, costing anywhere from $1,000.00 to $1,500.00, and they are generally not covered by health insurance. Documentation requirements are one of the major obstacles for LD students who wish to pursue post-secondary education, and we here at Edison want to assist our graduating seniors in surpassing that obstacle.

To that end, I am happy to report that we have purchased a complete battery of cognitive and achievement tests. Starting this year, our very own Mr. Dexter will administer these tests to each year’s seniors. The results of the testing will provide crucial documentation—the documentation required by colleges in order for a student with LD to receive support services during their college career. The results will also provide documentation that could be used by a student to request accommodations at their job.

I am incredibly excited that we will be able to offer in-house testing at no charge to our students. According to a 2009 report for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, students with LD go on to post-secondary education at a much lower rate than their peers, and of those who do, few seek support in college and few earn undergraduate or advanced degrees.

Edison graduates challenge the national statistics: 95% of the students who graduated from Thomas Edison High School in 2010 plan to pursue higher education. It is our job as educators to prepare our students for success in life after high school. By requiring them to take two college courses at PCC during their senior year, and by offering in-house testing that will enable them to receive support services at college or at work, we hope that we will give our graduates the best possible starting point. The rest is up to them, and we know that they are more than equal to the challenge.


Thomas Edison Art & Science Expo 2010 by Steve Beard, Science Teacher

The Art & Science Expo was a great success this year. I was very proud of our students for putting in time and energy to complete their long-term science projects. All students developed their own ideas and collected their own data. There were many creative projects on a variety of topics, including the effectiveness of hand sanitizer, worm behavior, explosives, lead in soil, and water quality.

Jesse Merritt ’12 created a stand-out project (see photo at right). He shot bullets into ballistics gel from different distances to see how far the bullet would travel through the gel. During the Art & Science Expo, Jesse stood by his poster and gave many excellent explanations of his work. Since Jesse has an interest in law enforcement, this was a perfect project for him to pursue. Diana Todd ’12 observed worm behavior related to a light source. She observed their sensitivity to light and how far they would move away from the light. Gabe Reyes ’12 applied his excellence in art by comparing the quality of different ink in different green pens. Chromatography, or the separation of mixtures, allowed Gabe to determine which pens were the most true to their color. Kevin Krebs ’10 utilized a little extra time throughout the project to produce a professional senior-level project. He tested the explosiveness of several powders, measuring with great accuracy.

Both of my parents attended the Art & Science Expo. They told me that they were very pleased with the quality of work. My father is a retired professor from the University of Washington, and he was glad to see that our students have an understanding of different variables and the importance of good science.


Back-to-School Homework Strategies (source: Article by Kathleen Doheny of WebMD Health News, 8/16/2010)

The transition from summer to fall can be a tough one for students and parents alike, especially when it comes to homework. A new study has shown that, for kids with ADHD, a simple and structured approach to doing homework may cut homework problems by more than half after two to three weeks. In the study, students did the following:

- Showed their teacher their homework journal (or planner) before going home.
- Were required to start homework within an hour after school dismissal time, working in a quiet setting.
- Were not allowed to watch television or play video games until homework was done.
- Were not allowed to watch TV or use the computer for a day if they didn’t bring home the journal or forgot anything for the day’s homework assignments.

This kind of approach could help ease the back-to-school transition for any student, regardless of his or her learning differences. The first two suggestions on this list are already taken care of through Edison’s use of planners and the 8th period option. Parents, it’s up to you and your students to develop successful at-home strategies. By working together, good homework habits can be created in no time.


Middle School Summer Program

Over the summer vacation, middle school students can lose the skills they were developing just as the school year ended. Our Middle School Summer Program helps maintain academic momentum. Feedback from parents and students shows that our program helps students be happier and more successful entering their next school year.

The program is open to any student in the Portland area with learning differences, who will be entering 6th, 7th or 8th grade in the fall. Students enroll in two 95-minute classes for a five-week session. The program culminates in an all-school field trip.

This summer’s theme was “Serving Our Community.” For the field trip, our students visited Washington Park on July 8, 2010. With the help of Portland Parks and Recreation employees, they learned about park maintenance, then spent the day pulling out invasive plants and spreading mulch. At the end of the day, our students were proud to see what they had accomplished.


Brilliance Benefit 2010 a Resounding Success

More than 320 guests gathered at The Governor Hotel on March 13, 2010, for Thomas A. Edison High School’s Brilliance Benefit. The gala dinner and auction raised more than $188,000 to support financial aid, technology, and professional development at the school. Tom and Kitty Taylor served as honorary chairman and chairwoman. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success. We look forward to seeing you at our new location, the Nines, in 2011.

Thank you, 2010 Brilliance Benefit Sponsors:

Providence Health & Services
Providence St. Vincent
First Independent Bank
Optimize Technologies – Doug and Lisa Ford
The Barker Family
Genée and Chuck Britton
First Aid Only – Mark and Lynn Miller
The Gast Family
John Guinasso
Barbee and John Halbert
Jim and Carol Hibbs
Jim and Rose Kilpatrick
PNW Tax Advisors – Gary and Lana Stachlowski
Bill and Sharon Robbins
Eve Stern
Anne Voegtlin and Jeff Fullman
Wells Fargo Bank


Challenge Foundation Supports Laptop Program

Integrating laptops with the Edison curriculum is crucial for our student population. Since laptops at Edison are loaded with learning assistance software, we consider laptops to be a fundamental tool for students with learning differences. We believe every student should have a laptop, which is how our Laptop One-to-One Program came about.

Since the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, each student in our freshman class has been issued a Fujitsu LifeBook laptop computer. Each family is asked to pay $250 per year for the four years the student is in attendance; upon graduation, the student owns the laptop. The actual cost of each laptop is greater than the amount paid by the family, meaning that the Laptop One-to-One program requires additional funding each year. We are committed to the continuation of this program, and we continually seek funds to support it.

The Challenge Foundation has played an integral role in the Laptop One-to-One Program. By providing funding last year and again this year, the foundation has helped ensure the program’s continuation. Students who have received laptops over the past two years have found these computers to be an invaluable tool in mitigating their learning differences. Everyone here at Edison is deeply grateful for the ongoing support of the Challenge Foundation.


Choose to Make a Lasting Impact

Have you ever pondered your legacy? Most of us, hoping to make a difference in the world, spend time thinking about future generations. A bequest is an easy and tangible way for you to enable the organizations you believe in to continue their work. A bequest to charity may also be an effective way to lessen the burden of taxes on your family and estate. Please consider creating a lasting impact for Thomas Edison High School by naming our school as a beneficiary in your will or estate plan. Contact Jennifer Hogan at 503-297-2336 if you would like more information about structuring a gift bequest.


Grant from NW Natural for Audiobook Library

Audiobooks allow students with certain learning differences to read and understand more challenging material. However, since audiobooks are much more expensive than printed books, the Edison English program has only ever purchased two of them. Seeing that our students needed more audiobooks, English teacher Kate Fellows Russell proposed writing a grant last spring.

Just before the end of the school year, we received wonderful news: NW Natural made a generous contribution to help us create an audiobook library. Ms. Fellows Russell spent the summer researching how to get as many books as possible from the grant money. She plans to start the school year with an initial purchase of at least 24 audiobooks and purchase additional audiobooks each year. The audiobooks will be loaded onto Edison’s iPods, allowing students to access them as needed. Students will also be able to borrow copies of the audiobooks on CD.

Students with learning differences often learn to read later in life; many of our students haven’t had the experience of reading books for both pleasure and education. When students love to read, they read more, and their other academic skills also improve. This gift from NW Natural will have an incredibly positive impact on Edison students for years to come.


Please be our guest at the Partner with Thomas Edison Breakfast
Thursday, November 11, 2010 • 7:30-8:30 am at the Oregon Zoo

Join other supporters of our school as we celebrate the progress we have made and share a hopeful vision for the future. The breakfast is free; the experience is priceless. Please contact Rachel Tobie at 503-297-2336 by October 29 to reserve a seat for yourself and any guests you would like to bring. If you are unable to join us, please consider making a gift. Any and all support is deeply appreciated. Thank you!

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