Director's Report

Director's Report: February 2017

Greetings Everyone!

 I recently came across a quote from writer Mary Ann Radmacher that I think captures the love and light that is the AASK program:

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”

This quote captures the essence of Aardvarks Advocate for Skills and Knowledge (AASK). AASK is about giving joyfully of yourself to a community and then realizing that while you were giving you’ve actually receiving a great deal. Some of us receive affirmation that the world is full of amazing possibilities ------ utopian worlds can be created, language can be used to honor identity, and we can hike through deep, dark caves into the sunlight.

It has been a remarkable year for AASK!  Please explore the Community Partnerships website featuring AASK tutoring and summer day camp. We also invite you to join us for the remaining Oregon Humanities Conversations that the school is hosting. We hope you can join us to hear more about the vision for Community Partnerships, including the pivotal role AASK plays in connecting OES and the Beaverton School District (BSD).

Summer Camp 2016

Each summer the AASK program offers a day camp for Whitford Middle School students.  Beaverton School District provides transportation and space for participating students and counselors to receive and support instruction.  During our 2016 Summer Program we shifted from a thematically focused program to a focus on inquiry asking the question: what can we create? Each grade level approached the question differently:

  • The three rising 6th and 7th grade classrooms investigated: how do we create a utopia?
  • The rising 8th grade group explored the power of language by asking: what can our words create?
  • The rising 9th grade group envisioned the pathways they will create towards high school and beyond.

The impact of this shift was profound. Our post camp survey showed that 36% of students would definitely participate in the summer day camp again and 55% are considering returning.  This shows a potential return rate of 91%.   

Here are some of the campers’ reflections about the day camp program:

 AASK camp was fun for me because I got to do lots of activities and hangout with my friends. – Rising 7th Grade Student

 It was a time to make friends with counselors and friends. I would not change anything. – Rising 6th Grade Student

 AASK was really fun I liked it a lot.  My favorite part of the day was going to OES because we had theater, art, maker space, and film and it was fun. – Rising 7th Grade student

 It [camp] made me realize how much I can learn in just a few days. – Rising 9th Grade Student

 [Camp] created fun, happiness, and calmness. – Rising 8th Grade Student

These campers’ responses inform us.  They tell us that social connection, learning, and fun at camp impact their lives.

The counselors’ reflections reveal confidence and self-reflection:

I can easily rally groups together and make decisions on the fly. – Counselor in Training, Year 1

I can lead or ask others to step up. – Senior Counselor

When campers are struggling with something, I can give them good advice. – Counselor in Training, Year 1

I am very good at giving campers support when they are asked to meet a challenge and they think they will fail. – Counselor in Training, Year 1


Maria McIvor, our tutoring coordinator, has supported the development of leadership skills for the Beaverton High School and Oregon Episcopal School students that have been involved in the twice a week tutoring of Whitford Middle School students. Student leaders from the Beaverton Oregon Episcopal Leadership Team (BOLT) have led peer trainings for tutors, created educational games, and tutored Whitford students.  Maria has also worked jointly with Danica Jensen Weiner, the Beaverton School District AVID trainer, to select focus skills for these tutoring sessions.  Maria described the AASK tutoring routine this way:

This routine is a modified version of the AVID tutoring program, which includes: notebook checks, taking Cornell notes based on articles from Action or Scope magazines, and identifying essential questions and summaries of topics covered during the sessions. Homework help is an essential component of our daily routine as well.  Part of our weekly routine this year is to have multiple learning celebrations where students play Kahoot games using their BSD issued Chromebooks. These games reinforce new vocabulary and content from the articles they read. Amanda P. (from BHS), one of our most experienced tutors, spent a lot of time creating these Kahoot games for our Thursday learning celebrations. The students LOVED it…

This is the power of the AASK program.  It offers all participants ----- campers, counselors, and educators time to be in community.   A community that knows, values, and celebrates all its members.  A community that offers the opportunity to have fun and grow emotionally and academically. A community that shines a love light on everyone.


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