Welcome back, PTS!
September 21, 2022
I want to first start off by sharing that your support and effort to help our school year start off on such a positive note does not go unnoticed. As I have shared many times over the last couple of weeks, this year marks the best start to a school year in my 26 years in this profession. I know for this to happen it takes amazing parents, students, staff, and the community to come together. Thank you for all you do!
With that said, we never like to think about how an emergency situation may play out at one of our schools, but in light of recent events, I wanted to let you know that our response to such situations has been carefully planned out with the help of local law enforcement and community partners.
The safety of our students and staff is our top priority and, while we hope none of the scenarios for which we prepare ever become a reality, rest assured we have planned for the worst and will be ready should those situations arise.
However, you have an important role to play as well, which is why I’d like to share a recent update. Should an emergency occur which requires our students to evacuate their school and relocate to an off-site location, we will implement our new parent-student reunification plan. In short, after students are relocated, the school impacted will release through various communication channels the location at which parents and students can reunite.
It’s very important that during an emergency, first responders have clear access to the emergency location, so in those situations, we ask that parents/guardians resist the urge to drive to the school to pick up their child(ren). We will be working behind the scenes to gather all the critical information and release it to families as quickly as possible. For those who would like to contact their student(s), text messaging is the preferred method of communication because a high number of cell phone calls could overload the system and possibly interrupt emergency operations. For more details, please read the plan.
Now for some positive news from our schools, including a few highlights shared by our principals during last week’s school board meeting.
At Orchard Hill, after the staff noticed a drop in the number of reports of bullying, a short assembly was held, during which principal Brandon Hammond shared an anecdote about two brothers who were out rock-climbing. The story – spoiler alert: the younger brother saved the older brother – illustrated that we could all use a little help sometimes.
“I shared that with the students just to relate that as a staff we are there to help them,” said Principal Hammond. “We are there to help them be safe, feel comfortable, but they just have to let us know what’s going on. And it really was good because now we’re starting to see a little more self-advocacy. We have a regulation room and students are saying, ‘Hey, I need to go in there for a few minutes,’ and it really is a beautiful thing.”
Talent Elementary principal Heather Lowe Rogers told the board that the school was recently awarded a grant from The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon (formerly KidTime) that will fund a preschool program, and she added that “We are super excited and we are going to do whatever it takes to get that opened up soon.”
Some more highlights:
Phoenix-Talent Rising Academy principal Aaron Santi reported that the online school saw a 98% attendance rate through the first seven days of school.
Talent Middle School principal Katherine Holden praised school resource officer Ken Lehman for providing the school with a great presence on campus and some smart tweaks to school traffic control. Principal Holden also reminded the board about the TMS back-to-school night, which is set for Monday starting at 6 pm.
Speaking of back-to-school night, all of our elementary schools are gearing up for their own version of back-to-school night, which has been dubbed Fall Family Night this year. They’ll be held Tuesday, Sept. 27 (OHES), Wednesday, Sept. 28 (TES), and Thursday, Sept. 29 (PES). “We’re really excited,” said principal Rogers, “and teachers are really thinking about how to empower families to work alongside us in our schools.”
Phoenix High held its 2022-23 Open House on Monday and the event, which included some very informative breakout sessions for families, was very well attended (see pictures).
Phoenix Elementary shared some great photos from a third-grade two-way immersion class field trip to Hanley Farm. We could all use a field trip to a farm once in a while and it looks like Brenda Bazan-Madera’s class had a blast at this one!
Lastly, I would like to ask for your support for two important initiatives within the PTS Rising community. First, we will be forming a PTS Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee and are seeking volunteers who are willing to serve on this committee beginning in October. We are seeking a broad representation – staff, students, parents, and community members are welcome. The committee will serve in an advisory role to make recommendations related to an Equity Strategic Plan and Board Policy (ACB) and the District Equity Policy (JBB) and corresponding practices.
Finally, we are trying to help the community of Weed Union Elementary in its continued recovery from the recent Mill Fire, which left some of its families homeless. Please consider purchasing a gift card at Dollar General, Grocery Outlet, Chevron, or Walmart, and dropping it off at your school. We started this gift card drive last week and have received some generous donations, but we’d like to gather even more before sending them to Weed for distribution. If any school community knows how valuable a helping hand can be following a wildfire disaster it’s PTS Rising, and our neighbors to the south could surely use some help as they pick up the pieces.
Thank you for reading, PTS Rising, and for an outstanding start to the 2022-23 school year! Enjoy those beautiful fall colors and I will send out another update in a few weeks.
Brent Barry, Superintendent
Brent Barry, Superintendent
Brent Barry has been Phoenix-Talent’s superintendent since 2017, when he was promoted from the role of assistant superintendent for academics and student programs. He worked his way up through the ranks, teaching health and math in Prineville, Oregon City and Medford before taking over as vice principal and athletic director of Phoenix High School. Later, he served as principal at Orchard Hill Elementary, one of three elementary schools in the Phoenix-Talent School District, before becoming one of the district’s two assistant superintendents.
Prior to the 2021-22 school year the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE) and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) named Barry the 2022 Oregon Superintendent of the Year.
Barry was born and raised in the Rogue Valley, attending McLaughlin Middle School and later South Medford High School before heading to San Diego State University on a baseball scholarship. Barry later attended Southern Oregon University and Linfield College (now Linfield University), where he met his future wife Sara. The Barrys, who were married in 1996, have two daughters: Alex, 21, and Lauren, 19.
Phoenix-Talent School District Superintendent
Executive assistant to the superintendent and school board secretary