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Earl Boyles ElementaryFor our 23rd segment, we interviewed Dr. Marina Merrill from Children’s Institute (CI) and Dr. Beth Green from Portland State University (PSU). Dr. Merrill is the senior research and policy advisor for CI and leads the organization’s research on prenatal through third-grade issues, evaluation, data collection, and analysis. Dr. Green is a research professor and the director of early childhood and family support research at the Center for the Improvement of Child and Family Services at PSU. Our discussion focused on the Early Works initiative, a 10-year initiative working in two Oregon communities: Yoncalla Elementary in Yoncalla which is in Douglas County and Earl Boyles Elementary in Portland in Multnomah County. The project was set up to explore and demonstrate a new approach to education and healthy development for young children and began in 2010.

Home visiting programs support young children and familiesIn this segment, I visited Ha Mi Da and her family at her apartment in Southeast Portland. Ha Mi Da came to the United States from a Burmese refugee camp several years ago and I wanted to learn more about her story, her involvement with home visiting services provided by IRCO, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and her hopes and dreams for the future. Many thanks to Mihaela Vladescu, the family’s home visitor with IRCO and Healthy Families Oregon, and Min Sein who provided interpretation services during the visit.

Beaverton Superintendent Don GrottingDon Grotting is the superintendent of the Beaverton School District. For more than 20 years, he has led school districts in rural and urban communities across Oregon. Grotting has received several awards and accolades for his work and leadership, including 2014 Oregon Superintendent of the Year from the American Association of School Administrators. He also sits on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Governor’s Council on Education and Oregon’s State Board of Education.

Grotting hails from the town of Coquille in southwestern Oregon where he a grew up in what he describes as extreme poverty. After three years in the military and more than a decade working in a sawmill in his hometown, Grotting enrolled in college in his mid-30s. Soon after, he took a job teaching elementary school in Powers, Oregon. Two years later he was invited to apply for the superintendent’s job for the small district. Since then, Grotting has served as superintendent in Nyssa and David Douglas school districts, experiences that have helped him focus on the needs of children before they enter the K-12 system.

Grotting was a key figure in the development of the Early Works initiative at Earl Boyles Elementary in Southeast Portland. Started in collaboration with Children’s Institute during Grotting’s first year as David Douglas School District superintendent in 2010, Early Works is a model for early learning and healthy development for children birth to five in an elementary school setting. At Earl Boyles, early learning programs, infant and toddler groups, parent engagement activities, and preschool support young children’s love of learning and prepares them for success when they enter kindergarten. After securing a voter-approved construction bond in 2012, Grotting prioritized construction of the Early Learning Wing and Neighborhood Center at Earl Boyles in 2014.

In this interview, Grotting reflects on his career, the importance of early learning, his goals for the Beaverton School District, and more.

24677 0309455375 450 cropIn our 20th podcast, we sat down with Ruby Takanishi, co-editor of the NASEM report Promising Futures: Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning EnglishMaria Adams, language development specialist for the David Douglas School District; and Perla Rodriguez, principal of Echo Shaw Elementary School to discuss the needs of English learners and dual language learners in our schools, communities, and early learning systems. We learn more about the recommendations to promote the educational success of young English learners included in Promising Futures, and take a look at two Oregon districts leading the way on language development for their students.

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