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Thomas Edison High School Newsletter Winter 2013

2013 Winter Newsletter

We're Ahead of the Curve: A Message from Patrick J. Maguire, Director

The phrase "ahead of the curve" refers to your position on the statistical bell curve, where the top of the curve represents the median, average result. Typical Edison students have average or above average intelligence, with varied performance along a standardized curve. Our goal is to "level the playing field," helping our students perform at their highest potential, both academically and socially.

Edison's technology program plays a critical part in the work we do. The National Center for Learning Disabilities 2011 report concludes that "major improvement is needed in the area of technology and transitions." This report found that "too few students with learning differences have access to the assistive technology they need. Few would argue the tremendous value of technology," says the NCLD report, "yet far too few students are provided with the necessary assistive technology devices and services."

Our one-to-one computer program, in existence since 2007, puts us at the top of the pack of schools that are embedding technology into the curriculum. Edison's one-to-one program was the idea of Devan Dunn, Technology Coordinator and Economics teacher. Devan came to me with the idea of leveraging technology to assist our students. Teachers expanded their use of technology in the classroom as personal laptops were rolled out to students. At a cost of $1,000 per student (funded by parents, grants, and donations) this was a costly investment! While helpful to students, it was determined that the laptop was used primarily for writing papers and doing research, meaning there was an untapped opportunity to use technology in a greater capacity. Three years ago, Devan returned to me with a revised game plan – iPads.

For the school, iPads are less expensive, and have fewer security risks than laptops. For the students, iPads are more portable, have a ten hour battery life, and can be turned on instantly. In addition, each iPad can be inexpensively customized with Apps specialized for a student's learning needs. Apps range from fifty cents to twenty dollars; most fall in the $1.00 range. Read 2Go is an App that turns any book into an audio book that highlights text as it reads, an effective tool for many of our students. Devan customizes each iPad and co-teaches a sixth period elective with Ms. Manning for new students to learn the technology, as well as the corresponding rules and regulations that come with the tool. Counselors participate in the elective with dialogue on topics such as preventing cyber-bullying and reminding students that our digital footprint follows us for the rest of our lives. Can we monitor what students do with their iPads? A mobile filter installed on each iPad keeps security features in place when students are away from the school. Additionally, as part of our transitions plan, seniors may earn the ability to loosen iPad restrictions as a reward for good school performance and behavior. As with all technology, the proper use of iPads isn't foolproof. With the help of parents, we guide our students to be good "digital citizens." The goal is for Edison students to utilize technology comprehensively and respectfully. The 21st century workplace will require this of our students.

I want to congratulate Devan for the important work that he has done. Devan was our 2012 Educator of the Year and is a great asset to our school. Edison has the benefit of being small enough to implement a program systematically and quickly, meeting the needs of our students. As more schools look to offer integrated technology, we are already off and running. Some are even contacting Devan for tips on how to get their program started. I guess you could say we're ahead of the curve, which serves our students well!

Additions to the Board

Verna Bailey

Verna has been a school administrator for the past 40 plus years. Verna holds a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from University of Mississippi, an M.A. in Education from Lewis and Clark College, and is completing a doctoral dissertation at Portland State University. Verna is a firm believer that all children deserve quality teachers/people who believe in them, who have the skills to help them perform at their highest levels, and who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they teach.

Brittney Clark

Brittney attended the University of Puget Sound and earned her M.A. in Teaching at the University of Portland in 2000. With her teaching degree, she worked as a substitute teacher for Edison and as a middle school language arts, reading, and drama. Brittney loves music, dance, and theatre, and has worked for the Young People's Theatre Project for almost 20 years as a drama teacher and choreographer. Brittney is a board member at the Young People's Theatre Project and the Clark Foundation.

Jim Kilpatrick

Jim is co-chair of the Endowment Commit¬tee. Having earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Davis, Jim has worked in the construction industry for more than 30 years. He is President of Fortis Construction, Inc. Jim and his wife, Rose have four children. Their son Michael graduated from Edison in 2013. Jim recently completed an eight-year term on the Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School Advisory Council.

Michael Williams

Originally from Montana, Mike has called Portland his home since 1996. Mike is a career commercial banker and currently oversees Portland Metro Commercial Banking for Columbia Bank. Mike believes it is important to serve his community whenever he can add value. He has a strong connection to his church and to organizations that serve the disabled and disadvantaged. Mike volunteered as an Edison Board member from 2001–2007, and he's excited to return to the Edison Board in 2013.

Meet our new staff

Jason Wold

Jason is Edison's new Assistant Director. Jason holds a Bachelor's degree from Oregon State, a Master's Degree in Special Education and an Administrative Licensure from Lewis and Clark. Jason is an avid golfer with a handicap of 4.9. This year marks the 15th straight Civil War football game that Jason has attended. He cheers for the Beavers! Jason loves to cook, especially BBQ. Perhaps he will offer his culinary talents to benefit Edison...

Michelle Zumpano

Michelle joins Edison as a math teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Science in both Mathematics and Sociology at University of Oregon and her Master's of Art in Teaching at George Fox University. She specializes in Advanced Mathematics for middle level and secondary education. One of Michelle's joys in life is wearing fun socks – she will mismatch them on purpose sometimes. Oregon has been Michelle's home her entire life except during one summer when she studied abroad in Italy and visited Ireland. On Monday nights you can often catch Michelle at the bowling alley where she participates in a fun league with friends. Check out her trophy in her classroom.

Tammy Sasaki

Tammy is Edison's new Development Associate. Prior to Edison, Tammy spent eight years as an Executive Assistant at a non-profit pediatric clinic, specializing in children with developmental delays. Having a child with ASD also gives Tammy a personal understanding of children with learning differences. Originally an East Coast native, Tammy moved here 20 years ago and loves it. Tammy and her husband enjoy trying new restaurants in Portland, running, spending time with the family, and playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Molly Williams

Molly likes to keep things interesting, and appreciates the assortment of responsibilities she encounters daily as our Administrative Assistant. Exemplary of her affinity for variety, she has worked in a range of fields, including blood-plasma collection, municipal court, and English Language Development. Molly has a B.A. in English and Political Science as well as a Master's degree in Teaching & Learning, both from the University of Oregon. She continues to take college courses, most recently studying biology and computer engineering. In her free time Molly enjoys science fiction, running, and eating delicious food prepared by her husband.

Farewell to Beloved Former Director Jocelyn Tuthill

On October 26, 2013, a major architect of Thomas Edison passed from this life: Jocelyn Tuthill, who came to the Tree of Learning in 1976, succumbed to ALS at the age of 75. Jocelyn was one of the finest teachers in the school's history, and, from 1981 until her retirement in 1997, served as the Executive Director of first the Tree, and then Thomas Edison High School. Jocelyn was an educator, fundraiser, and human being of the first order. Jocelyn was the visionary behind the current Edison facility, which she helped to build through her tireless fundraising and belief in the Edison mission.

On November 23, hundreds of Jocelyn's friends, colleagues, and former students gathered for a memorial service held at Jesuit High School. All in attendance recalled Jocelyn's ever-present smile, her joie de vivre, and her love for Edison students. Her family has established the Jocelyn Tuthill Memorial Fund. All gifts to the "Jocelyn Fund" will go directly to benefit students who could not otherwise afford to attend Edison. Thus, this remarkable woman's legacy will live through in generations of Edison students.

Thanks to Jocelyn, her daughters Sherri and Joanne, and to all those who have given so generously to support financial aid to make the dream of attending Edison a reality for students who need and deserve our special brand of education.


On May 1, 2014 from 4-6 pm, a ceremony of remembrance will be held for Edison students who have passed on. Please join us for this special event at Edison commemorating and honoring the lives of former students who have touched so many. Kindly email Tammy Sasaki at if you will be joining us.

Summer School Program Highlights

Did you know that Edison offers a summer school program for middle school students?

The middle school years are critical in determining high school success. Our reading, writing and math courses reinforce basic skills while encouraging the higher-order thinking demanded in high school. Edison Summer School helps students with learning differences maintain academic momentum and learn how to successfully meet new challenges.

All courses focus on a common theme, allowing students to make connections between classes, and to reinforce their learning. The session culminates in an all-school field trip—a further opportunity to make real-life connections.

The 2013 summer field trip was to the Oregon Food Bank. Students put on caps, gloves, and aprons to pack frozen vegetables for distribution to families in need. After a morning of hard work, we tallied our results and had packed over 4800 pounds of peas and carrots, equalling 4000 servings! Fellow adult volunteers from US Bank and Wells Fargo expressed how much they enjoyed working with our students and were quite impressed with their hard work.

Our 2013 Grandparents' Day was such a success, we've made it a new tradition

Mark your calendar for Friday, April 18, 2014.

Our Jesuit neighbors will not be in session that day so there is plenty of room for parking. Invite your grandparents or a special friend for an opportunity to show off your school!

"Partner with Thomas Edison" Breakfast Reminds Us of Why We Do What We Do.

Rain, darkness, and morning traffic did not stop over 350 guests from gathering at the Oregon Zoo November 7 for the annual "Partner with Thomas Edison" breakfast. Guests were greeted at the zoo entrance by enthusiastic students with umbrellas. Table captains graciously met their guests and shared the Edison story. Personal testimonies from students Chris Gettel-Gilmartin and Zariah Lowe made parents and teachers proud. Former student Sarah Hall ‘98 and parent speaker Kevin Troupe reinforced how critical Edison is to the success of so many, and why the need for financial aid dollars is so critical. Thanks to the hard work of all involved, and the generosity of guests, the breakfast generated over $115,000 in revenue to support financial aid, technology, and professional development at the school. Thank you for partnering with Edison!

Marie Gettel-Gilmartin offers the following reflection about the miracle of Chris's life and the magic of Edison:

As we sat vigil at our tiny son's isolette in the NICU 17 years ago, I tried to visualize Christopher as a healthy, happy three-year-old running down the beach. Born at 24 weeks gestation and weighing 1 lb., 6 oz., he spent 117 days in the NICU and battled for his life every day. It was hard enough to imagine him as a toddler, much less as a young adult. And now he's a junior at Edison, excelling in his classes, working in his first real job, and actively participating in Jesuit's drama and music programs. Those of you who know Chris are aware of his music obsession, which we attribute to the fact that we sang to him every day in the NICU. In fact, we were known as the "singing Gettels."
Because of his difficult start in the world, we have been exceptionally grateful for the amazing village that has supported us in our parenting journey. On the morning Chris spoke at the Edison breakfast, his fans included the former chaplain at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and her husband; dear family friends who took Mike out to breakfast when I went into premature labor and was having a C-section and who have been surrogate grandparents to Chris ever since; my amazing parents; and other supportive friends. It was especially meaningful to us to have people there who were with us in the difficult beginning of Chris' life and are just as proud as we are of his growth and progress. Edison and Jesuit have not only provided great leadership opportunities for Chris, but have also made high school a fun and rewarding experience for him…especially because of the small class sizes and outstanding teachers (without exception!). Thank you, Edison staff, students, parents, and supporters! By Marie Gettel-Gilmartin, Chris's mom and writer/editor at CH2M HILL
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