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Cliff's Corner - 4/26/2018

posted Apr 26, 2018, 5:36 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner - Hey everyone,

Here’s what is on for the next week in counseling. In K-5 we will be doing more on self-esteem and friendship skills.  Several parents and students identified this as a need surfacing now.  We read one of my favorite books last week, “Cosmo Zooms” and I’m hoping to do some reading of other related (TBA) stories to them this week. If you could check in on what your student thinks they are good at and reinforce those things, as well as offer other possibilities, that would be helpful.  One of the harder things to watch is a kid who sits there when asked “what are you good at?” and can’t think of anything. There’s always a few of them in the higher elementary classes as the hormones and social awareness take their toll on their self-esteem. The kids are looking to be especially conscious of giving each other compliments for things they see each other do well these next couple weeks. We will then be starting our health curriculum the first week of May. The curriculum is here:

6th grade will be continuing our Health curriculum also.  We will be doing this until the end of the year.  We are finishing up lesson 2 and starting on lesson 3 next week.

Speaking of health, you may have heard that the middle school is going to get more health next year.  There is going to be some shuffling to make that happen, so expect some changes in the schedule for next year.  

State Testing is kicking off this week. Some kids may be more stressed out than others about this. Please reassure them that they have the skills they need to excel and remind them to do the breathing exercises we worked on earlier in the year. I’ll be in classrooms as they begin testing as much as my schedule allows. If you have any questions about State Testing, I’m the point person on that as well.  

This article jumped at me this week. Is Winterhaven’s gender imbalance (especially in the middle school) a comparable situation?  I appreciate how the article focuses on the unexpected ripples to some decisions. This is something that is often lost on most kids (and us adults more than we like to admit) and something we should be continually bringing up with our kids to help them see the bigger picture.  I was also struck by how often the men in this article left home at 14 to look for work. This is the age of our 8th graders here (including one of whom is mine) and I’m sure is related to some of the pushing back behaviors that we see with them. Of course they are not ready for adulthood, but of course, they want more of it than we want to give them in US culture. It’s had me thinking about how to address that.

At our Wednesday morning training last week, James Avison’s awesome intern Marla Thayer said something that inspired this week’s question.  I have a distant feeling I’ve asked something similar to this already, but it’s important enough to revisit either way. We all make mistakes around race.  How do we clean them up when we do?

Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 4/19/2018

posted Apr 26, 2018, 5:35 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hey everyone,

Here’s what is happening in counseling this week and maybe next too!  When talking to kids and adults, we need to spend a little more time on friendships and relationships, so we will revisit that for the next couple weeks in the K-5 classrooms. This is the normal rhythm of the year; social things tend to flare up a bit after spring break.  Hormones? Seeing the sun for the first time in a while? End of the year approaching? With 3rd grade, we will also be doing some work with feelings and emotions around their first foray into state testing. After this, we will start digging into Health using this curriculum:  

6th grade is away at Outdoor School this week.  We will keep on going with our other Health curriculum, My Future, My Choice when we get back, continuing through the rest of the school year.  We will be finishing up lesson 2 and hopefully starting lesson 3, but we may need to spend some time processing Outdoor School instead.

A good article on the complexities and history of this thing we call race came out in National Geographic this week:   It’s their Race Issue, so you may want to check it out, if you can.  

We are often faced with an inaccurate portrayal of how different folks’ relationships look.  What are some of the stereotypes you may have heard of other races and the way they act in a relationship?  Can you think of any counter examples to these stereotypes? One of the best things we can do to get rid of our own biases is to see and actively notice counter examples, so let’s practice that for this exercise.

Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 4/5/2018

posted Apr 5, 2018, 6:40 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner - 

Welcome back!

Before I start in on what I’ll be teaching / have taught, I wanted to give you all a heads up about something rising up here: If you could please let me know if your student is on crutches/walking boot or has a head injury (or other major injury) so I can make sure we have some structures in place to keep them safe, that would be appreciated. These structures can range from a very informal heads up to a 504 plan for something that will last more than six weeks. I mention this because we seem to be having a rough year for both concussions and leg injuries. We currently have at least six kids wearing the dreaded boot and five of them are in seventh grade! A big shout out to Cindy and Nelly for jumping in to spot some of them up and down the stairs every period, every day.


Parents of K-5: Heads up about something new coming on line this year. The state of Oregon passed Erin’s Law in 2015. Winterhaven needs to get into compliance. “Erin’s Law” requires that all public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program that teaches students in grades pre-K—12th grade age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult. There are also staff and parent education components to this law.

For basics on the law see I’ll be giving between 3-5 lessons on this to each grade level, starting in May-ish. The curriculum the district has encouraged us to use is called Rights, Respect, and Responsibility. You can download the curriculum here: or just see quick summaries of the topics there, further down the page. (NOTE: You might need to use Chrome to download this correctly).

If you have questions about opting your child out, my understanding is that you can opt out of the sex part, (not present in the K-5 lessons at any rate) but not the anatomy/social-sexuality/safety part. Some lessons focus on bullying and diversity, some on safety with your body. One of the benefits of Winterhaven is that we are a container that seems to preserve our student's innocence a little longer than most schools. We really want to nurture that, but of course want to also ensure that we provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills to keep themselves safe. I know this is a heavy topic. Perhaps we should host a parent night where we can provide the parent education part of it as well as brainstorm ways to make it work for us here? Please let me know if this is something you are interested in doing.


Whew.  Before we get there in the K-5 classrooms (we are already doing this in 6th with My Future, My Choice - ) we will be re-centering ourselves with another round of mindful coloring before finishing up with “I messages” in all grades next week.  6th will be deep in health curriculum.


For our equity question of the week, I have been sitting with both the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination and the death of Winnie Mandela and pondering how differently we view the two of them and why.  I think the willful taming/forgetting/rebranding of Dr. King’s later philosophy from anti-capitalism and anti-Vietnam war to his earlier easier to digest, less threatening “non-violence” views has helped him gain broader acceptance.  Winnie Mandela however never tamed her message and to her death remained “controversial”. I’m guessing a large part of this is because she is a woman, but also because she refused to compromise her ideals for the sake of easy accessibility or harmony, famously critiquing her former husband during the Truth and Reconciliation days of South Africa. King also compromised very little, but we somehow seem to have forgotten that.  Good articles abound on either of these people this week if you need more background. Our question: How does race and the stereotypes of race affect our perceptions of what leadership looks like? Beyond race, think of what we would term as “white culture” and how that has been equated with “normal” vs. “other”. Using this as a springboard to talk about different cultures’ thinking and approaches might be a way to go for younger kids.  

Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 3/22/2018

posted Mar 27, 2018, 3:18 PM by Admin at Winterhaven   [ updated Mar 27, 2018, 3:19 PM ]

Hey everyone, A quick shakedown of the week before vacation:

I’m out of the building a bunch this week for both training and family stuff so there isn’t too much to report as I’ll be missing most of the classroom visits. If I do make it to the K-5 classrooms, we will talk about assertive communication some more, zooming in on “I messages”. I messages are structured ways for people to communicate disagreements. They look like this: 

  • “I feel _______________ (emotion) when you _____________ (action).  
  • Could you please ________________ (request for action, change, etc.).” 

They help people own their feelings and others to feel less attacked and therefore less defensive so they can hear what you are trying to communicate.  We will do these at all grade levels K-5. Mostly after Spring Break, it appears.

In 6th grade we are starting Sex Ed / Health. Students should have a talking sheet to go over with you every week for homework. These are graded assignments, please sign them on the bottom. This is your chance to state your family’s values around this topic and share out what the students are thinking. They can be difficult conversations, but necessary ones. Trust me, they are far more nervous about talking to you about this than you are to them. This week’s lesson is on basic vocabulary and the worksheet is on puberty for next class. As an aside, I read a terrifying statistic: The average age of kids being exposed to porn is now 8 or 9. They need to have some education around healthy relationships instead of just relying on that. Yes, they are tremendously uncomfortable and goofy as all get out in these lessons. The feigned disgust trying to cover obvious interest is pretty fun to see.

And to our weekly question: How do different culture’s “normal” means of communicating cause friction when communicating with other cultures? I’m thinking of a friend of mine who spent a few years living in Ghana. She shared with me that Gha is a very direct language, a lot of the niceties and manners are done non-verbally as the structures aren’t present in the language. Contrast that with some First Nations’ cultural avoidance of directness, choosing to often speak in metaphor rather than confront. Even our stereotypical East Coast vs. West Coast communication shows this friction. We communicate in a way that is socially normed for us which does not necessarily fit well with other cultures. Can you think of a time that something like this happened in your life and share it with your kids?

Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 3/8/2018

posted Mar 15, 2018, 6:14 PM by Admin at Winterhaven   [ updated Mar 28, 2018, 4:51 PM by Unknown user ]

Counselor’s Corner Hey all,

These next few weeks’ blurbs may be on the briefer side from me, I’m out for trainings every Monday until Spring Break and cramming my usual work week into the other 4 days.  

In the K-5 classrooms, we are looking at effective communication styles and techniques. Mostly this will be book based, but there will likely be some videos as well.  This week, our book is The Secret Olivia Told Me by N. Joy. In 6th grade we will be working through some Suicide Prevention lessons for the next couple weeks. This week 6th will watch and discuss a short film from Washington State’s program called Look, Listen, Link  After the suicide prevention lessons, we will start in on Sexual Health.  This will be our curriculum through the rest of the year. Each session has a sheet that should come home to be discussed with you and then returned to their teacher for a grade.


State of Oregon: My Future-My Choice - My Future-My Choice

My Future My Choice, MFMC, sexuality education curriculum, tools to resist social and peer pressure, middle school health education, HB 2509, teen pregnancy ...


"Look, Listen, Link" - Youth Suicide Prevention Program ...

This video was developed by Youth Suicide Prevention Program of Washington State; to be used in conjunction with middle school health curriculum. For more ...


Historically, Winterhaven has stayed above a 94% or higher attendance rate.  This year, we have dropped well below that. Please try to schedule your vacations and other events outside of the school year and have your students here every day, on time.  Not only does missing class make learning more difficult on your students, but it does have an impact on our school as a whole. We depend on your students to be here for our cooperative learning lessons, and while they are out, they lose the social learning they would otherwise be engaged in. Ideally, we want them missing a maximum of 10 days per year.  Below that really hits our school report card score hard. Just as your students strive for top grades, we as a school do also. If you are curious about your student’s attendance so far, that information is available on Synergy.

And to our question: I was walking up the stairs here at Winterhaven wondering what I was going to write for this week’s question.  Somewhere deep down, I found myself wishing I could just not talk about race and racism for once this year. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy looking at diversity and trying to make the world a better place for all people, but the single focus was wearing on me at that moment.  And then I remembered. This is, of course, my privilege as a white male in this culture. I can ignore race and other issues of diversity when it suits me and other folks can’t. So our weekly question is around that topic: How does our ability (or lack thereof) to be able to ignore race affect our lives, culture and outlook?  How does living in “The Whitest Big City in America” affect those things?


Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 3/15/2018

posted Mar 15, 2018, 6:13 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner - Hi everybody,

With Spring Break just around the corner, here is where we are going in counseling this week and next.  I’m a bit bad at predicting the future, so think of this as more setting the course of a sailboat in a storm than a roadmap.  I have to adapt to the winds of the school and they sometimes take me in new places that I wasn’t expecting.

One such place was brought up in last week’s lesson about secrets.  A very wise second grader brought up that there are secrets that need to be told, especially if it involves someone touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable.  We ended up talking about this briefly in all of the K-4 classes with some having more awareness of this than others. Please take the time to have that conversation with your kids.  None of us want to have that be anything to worry about, but it is something we, as parents, need to be proactive about. To their credit, all of them handled it with maturity and seriousness. I used the phrases “where your swimsuit covers” and “private parts” to illustrate what I was talking about and was pretty brief.  This took a bit more time and in most classes, we didn’t get to communication styles so that is the plan for the next couple weeks. Fourth and fifth grade rocked it. It’s good to see them remember something from last year so clearly. If you wanted to support this at home, we broke it down to Aggressive, Passive, Passive-Aggressive (aka Portland Normal) and Assertive. Perhaps observing when people around us are communicating in those styles, and letting kids see how they work and how others feel when those happen could be a good exercise? We will watch the video by Lexie Wilson about it as well as a couple other options of learning with it, including some role-playing.  

In 6th grade we are continuing our Suicide Prevention stuff, looking at Depression this week and making a sheet of warning signs so that the kids can have it to help them recognize depression in themselves and their peers.  Next week we start our Sex Ed unit from the state curriculum My Future, My Choice  There’s ten lessons. I’ll be giving them in order, for the most part.  We will be doing this until the end of the year. Expect worksheets to come home and discuss with you every week.  The goal is one lesson per week, but reality is some lessons will take longer than that. Scary to think that the end of the year is planned out and approaching that fast!

8th graders should be done forecasting their classes for next year!  Woo hoo! Cleveland’s counselor should have met with everyone today and confirmed their schedule hopes.  Also, if you could let me know if your student is accepted into private school or another PPS school such as Benson, that would help us know where to send the paperwork at the end of the year and how I can support them until then.

Marisha Childs and another community member visited us at our staff meeting last week to educate us on the Persian/Zoroastrian New Year’s celebration called Norooz.  You hopefully saw Nancy’s invitation for Oaks Park around that as well.   I’ve been spending some time thinking about all the different ways people of the world celebrate the new year and how wrapped up in tradition each celebration is, including our own.  I think we tend to think about January 1st as “The New Year” and the others as “Chinese New Year” or “Russian New Year” and think that our Gregorian Calendar is the only one with merit and the others are quaint traditions, unrooted in modern times. Especially so when they are so far chronologically removed from the time we celebrate the same thing in the US.  Here’s link to the Wikipedia rabbit hole of worldwide New Year celebrations:  There are plenty of world traditions for us to be aware of and, if appropriate, celebrate.  As the Wade Davis quote goes: “The world you were born into is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you.  They are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”

Which brings us to our question:  With our ideas of “normal” for celebrations, how can we make sure that we kindly accept people from all over the world and value their traditions also?  What work do we have to do within ourselves to allow that?


Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 3/1/2018

posted Mar 2, 2018, 4:02 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hi everyone, Here’s a small piece of what’s going on in Winterhaven counseling this week.  

The middle school students watched the documentary “Screenagers” on Wednesday. Having a discussion with them about screens at home would be timely and likely better received than other times.  

It’s Dr. Seuss’ Birthday this week so in the K-5 classes, we are gearing towards that.   I’ll be reading “Yertle the Turtle” and “The Big Brag” to them sometime during the week.  (There’s a lot going on here so my usual schedule is a little off.)  We will be linking these stories into ways of communicating with each other and problem solving, which will be our focus for the next three weeks until Spring Break.  

6th grade will be finishing up our look at race and racism and begin our suicide awareness unit.  We will transition to Sex Ed and healthy relationships the week before Spring Break.

Cleveland’s visit to our 8th graders got snowed out last week.  We are on for the 8th.  I hope.  Fingers crossed.  This is the same day that they are visiting Sellwood, so our students are not behind in any way.  

Our question:  How does race (or our perception of it) influence our communication with each other?  Do we expect more or less from different races in our discussions with them?  Why?  Does this fit with our sense of equity and justice?

Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 2/21/2018

posted Mar 2, 2018, 4:01 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hello,

I’m writing this watching the snow fall here on Tuesday (and Thursday).  The school is high energy today, for sure.  Hopefully all of us make it home safely and in a timely manner today and other snow days.  

If I make it to other classes this week, the plan continues to be looking at race and the role it plays in our lives and culture.  5th and 6th and maybe 4th will watch/finish Verna Myers’ TED Talk.  All classes will also watch another person from Momondo’s DNA Project.  For most classes this will be Jay and Karen or Carlos.  We will continue to have discussions around the role our assumed race plays in our lives and what effect the stories about culture have upon us.  Lower grades will read a book called “Respecting Diversity”

Cleveland HS is scheduled to be here next Thursday for our 8th graders, weather permitting again.  They will have paperwork for you to look over and sign.  Again, there is always a family or two surprised at what high school they are assigned to.  Please double check this on the district website.  Also, if you are planning on using the other parent’s address in a split household, please let Nancy know as soon as you can so that the high school can get you your information about things like welcoming picnics and sports.  

Since weather is on our minds today, let’s use it for our question:  “How do our racial stereotypes play into how we expect different folks to deal with or participate in the weather?”  I’m reminded of the TED Talk/Song “Black Men Ski”; but other stereotypes may be amongst us.  One that surfaced in my neighborhood this week was around Latinos in the cold.  



"Black Men Ski"

What happens when a black man visits Aspen? Singer/songwriter Stew and his band are about to let you know.

Cliff Shaw

School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 2/15/2018

posted Mar 2, 2018, 4:00 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hello again,

Here’s what’s going on in the counseling realm at Winterhaven.  In the K-6 classrooms, we continue our focus on race and diversity.  All grades watched Momondo’s DNA project film.  We then are breaking into learning about individual people in the project and using their experiences and ways of looking at their own culture as a lens to examine our own values around race and our ancestry.  So far, the kids have been very engaged and interested.  In the K-3 classrooms we will be supplementing our conversations around those films with some readings. In 4th, 5th and 6th grade we will also be watching and discussing Verna Myers’ TED Talk about race in addition to the DNA Project.  It’s a powerful talk.  

Cleveland has rescheduled with our 8th graders for next Thursday, February 22nd at 8:45. They are the last school that will visit us.  Students headed to other PPS schools should have met with the counselor from that school here at Winterhaven (Franklin, Grant), visited the school to do this (Benson, and maybe Jefferson) or  filled out forecasting forms with me (Lincoln, Roosevelt).  Again, I encourage you to double check your address with PPS’ take on where you are headed.  If you have a split home, please let Nancy know so she can correct your address so you get all the information from the high school you plan on going to. 

One of the things that is coming up in our discussions and videos on race and DNA is the fact that there are no racial DNA markers.  To quote an article on OPB’s website: (; “Two random Koreans are likely to be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.”  Humans tend to identify themselves and others as belonging to one or more races.  So our weekly question becomes: “What purpose does the idea of race have in our world?  Do we know the history of it?”  The OPB site above is a good, quick site to get a little background on these ideas.  


RACE - The Power of an Illusion | PBS

Support for provided by: What's this?


Teenagers and Screen Time

Does your child spend a lot of time looking at a screen?  Do you wonder what the impacts of that are?  Join us for the viewing of SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary about the biggest parenting issue of our time will be shown at the Cleveland High School Auditorium on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 7 pm. The Winterhaven middle school will have viewed the film in an assembly earlier on the same day.

Event is FREE - Space is limited - Registration is encouraged to reserve your seat.  


Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

Cliff's Corner - 2/8/2018

posted Mar 2, 2018, 3:59 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor’s Corner Hey all,

Here’s what’s going on in the world of Winterhaven Counseling.  For the K-6 classrooms we will be focusing on diversity.  I had the pleasant experience of learning that the lessons I shared earlier (from Teaching Tolerance) that I was planning on teaching had already been taught in various classrooms around the school.  That’s one of the best parts of having such an incredible staff here at Winterhaven.  Instead of those lessons (which I will still pick and choose from), I’ll be doing other things.  Currently, we are looking at the work that Momondo did on testing DNA from people and learning that these ideas we have about where we are from often aren’t true and most of us are far more diverse than we think.  That then allows us to have a conversation about why we may treat people who look differently certain ways.

Last Thursday, we had an anti-bullying assembly for the middle schoolers by Kaiser Permanente and the Children’s Theater. It was their last show of the season and for the most part, the kids appreciated it.  

Franklin High School was here Friday to work with our dozen students headed their way.  If you could please make sure the paperwork gets back to me this Friday, signed by you, that would be great.  The proof of address that both Lincoln and Franklin are asking for can also be turned in to me.  

Cleveland High School will also be here on February 16th for the 35 kids headed to them.  Look for paperwork to follow.

We’ve been looking at the bigger questions of race over the last many weekly questions.  In light of the lessons I’ve been giving to your students, a step back to look inward might be in order. It is their homework from me to ask you:  “What is your family story?  Where are your ancestors from?”  I realized a couple years ago that my family story was the story of the men in my family, but the women, even those only one generation back were overlooked and unknown as far as the genetics they brought into the mix that is us.  Even those women that did their own genealogy work end up discounted and forgotten. I suspect my house isn’t the only one that did this. So a bonus question could be: “Are there people in your family whom you don’t know much about?”

Teenagers and Screen Time

Does your child spend a lot of time looking at a screen?  Do you wonder what the impacts of that are?  Join us for the viewing of SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary about the biggest parenting issue of our time will be shown at the Cleveland High School Auditorium on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 7 pm. The Winterhaven middle school will have viewed the film in an assembly earlier on the same day.

Event is FREE - Space is limited - Registration is encouraged to reserve your seat.  

Read more about this...


Cliff Shaw
School Counselor
Winterhaven School

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