September 27, 2023

Dr. Sara Johnson has been hired as the interim principal at Kathryn Jones Harrison Elementary School for the 2023-24 school year. She will be filling in for principal Beth Martin, who will be taking a leave of absence for a one-year assignment as the principal at Berkeley Academy, an international, multicultural studies school in Santa Ana, Costa Rica starting July 1, 2023. 

Johnson most recently worked as the Crook County School District Superintendent. Before that, she worked for the Klamath County School District as the director of assessment, equity, and school improvement and for the Sumner School District as the superintendent. Among her achievements, she was recently recognized as Oregon’s 2022-23 Superintendent of the Year and has worked in public education for 32 years as an elementary teacher and principal. 

She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Masters of Teacher Education Degree from Eastern Oregon University, an Education Administration Certification from Lewis and Clark College, a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from George Fox University, and an Ed.S in School Psychology from George Fox University.  

“Dr. Johnson’s credentials and leadership experience speak for themselves,” said Superintendent Ryan Noss. “She has a proven record of effective leadership in Oregon’s public education system, and the Kathryn Jones Harrison community is fortunate to have her leadership for the 2023-24 school year.” 

OSU Gets New Youth in Agriculture Funding: They led charge for statewide outdoor schools, now Oregon State University Extension Service will use a five-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve as coordinator of USDA-funded projects that aim to cultivate the next generation of research, education and Extension professionals in food and agricultural sciences. 

Together for Innovating Youth in Agriculture, housed at OSU and designating OSU Extension as a National Center of Excellence for Youth Development, will emphasize support, collaboration and technology to ensure the success of projects that promote positive youth development in agriculture, both regionally and nationally. OSU is the sole institution that will maintain the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America Coordination Network (YEA-CN). 

With the grant, OSU Extension will integrate racial justice, equity and opportunity frameworks in programs, training and evaluation. In addition, OSU Extension will lead the development of youth climate change curriculum with an emphasis in “climate smart” agriculture and forestry.  

“OSU Extension was awarded this grant because our faculty and staff have a proven track record of expertise in all of the areas required for this network to be successful,” said Kristopher Elliott, associate director of OSU Extension, who will serve as the grant’s principal investigator. “For example, we are a national leader in positive youth development. The 4-H Thriving Model for Positive Youth Development, developed by our faculty, is used widely across the country and is a likely component of projects in the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America program.” 

Another example, Elliott said, is Extension’s leadership role in the launch of Oregon’s statewide outdoor school program in 2017. In outdoor school’s inaugural year Extension coordinated the efforts of 197 school districts to engage more than 30,000 students. The launch involved the creation of reporting and evaluation structures and professional development opportunities, the establishment of a curriculum clearinghouse and the support of culturally responsive programming. 

OSU Extension will take a similar approach in building Together for Innovating Youth in Agriculture. Extension’s first-year responsibilities include: 

  • Hiring staff, including a program coordinator and an evaluation coordinator. 
  • Developing a public-facing website in English and Spanish that will serve as the primary information hub for project teams and as a platform to highlight the impact of associated projects. 
  • Convening project leaders to create a clearinghouse of projects and related activities. It will feature a custom data dashboard that captures essential information, milestones, progress and evaluation for each project. 
  • Hosting professional development events and workshops, highlighted by a national conference. 
  • Establishing a national steering committee comprised of youths and adults from each of the regional projects. 
  • Launching the development of comprehensive climate change curriculum emphasizing agriculture and forestry. 

According to USDA, all funded projects in the Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America program will align with agency priorities and include the following components: 

  • Engagement of youths in agricultural careers. 
  • Culturally relevant experiential learning. 
  • Focused collaboration with tribal communities and designated U.S. insular areas – which include American Samoa, Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Access and participation among underrepresented youths and communities. 
  • Hybrid training programs. 

Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture Across America is a program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Education and Workforce Development Program. 


Deeply Humane Bipartisan Help for Oregon Parents of Disabled Children: Calli Ross watched lawmakers last Friday from the Senate gallery as her red-headed 8-year-old son Tensy sat beside her in his wheelchair.  

A breathing tube connected to a machine keeps Tensy alive. A separate tube provides nourishment. He suffers seizures and needs around-the-clock care due to a combination of other health issues.  

Tensy has primordial dwarfism, a growth disorder, and weighed 3 pounds at birth. He also faces end-stage heart and lung disease. A cardiac arrest that blocked the flow of oxygen to his brain for 33 minutes left him unable to walk. 

After senators unanimously passed Senate Bill 91, Calli Ross said her son can spend more time with both his parents. That’s because the bill would pay parents to care for their children with high intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

Ross’ husband, Dane, works about 90 hours a week as a chef at two restaurants so the Sherwood family can make ends meet while she cares for their son. With the measure’s passage, the family expects he can cut back on his hours.  

“Senate Bill 91 is life-changing for us,” Ross told the Capital Chronicle after the vote. “We’ve just been going, going, going, but my husband will be able to take some time off or he’ll be able to do one job. And then I will be able to get some sleep at last.” 

The bill has now also been approved by the House. To reach this point, advocates and lawmakers worked for more than two years. 

The bill extends a program that started during the pandemic and ended in May. During the pandemic, Medicaid paid parents to care for their children with high developmental and intellectual disabilities, but that benefit ended on May 11. About 700 children classified as having the highest of needs were eligible for the program. 

The bill would put about $3 million toward the program, and the state will need approval from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Federal matching funds would add an estimated $7 million. 

The state and federal money would be enough to cover about 200 families, according to a legislative analysis. But that figure could change based on how much each qualifying family uses the program. 

Parents would be paid similar rates to professional caregivers, usually around $20 to $22 an hour. 

Lawmakers and parents described the bill as a starting point – and acknowledged needs are higher than what the money covers.  

“We may need to come back and allocate more money in the future to serve more individuals,” said Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis. “We just need to figure out how this works so we are meeting the need.” 

Gelser Blouin, who crafted the proposal and introduced it on the Senate floor, thanked advocates and families for working with her on the bill.  

Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, praised the bill and said he wishes the state could put more money toward the need. Knopp had brought forward a bill that would have opened up the program to about 10,000 children with disabilities without limiting it to those with the highest needs. That bill died amid concerns about its cost.  

“I can only imagine the stress that would be involved, especially if you don’t have the resources, to wonder where that next meal, that next rent check, that next house payment’s coming from,” Knopp said. 

Ross’ family participated in the pandemic program. They squirreled some money away, but the family’s budget will be tight until the state gets program running again. 

The Oregon Department of Human Services would oversee the program, which still needs specific rules for who qualifies and how to sign up. 

With the pandemic over, it’s challenging if not impossible for families to find caregivers to hire for their children. As a result, the situation is worse now for parents than they were during the pandemic, when they had access to federal benefits, said Shasta Kearns Moore, a member of Advocates for Disability Supports. The organization advocates for parents and disabled children in Oregon. 

“This is the support our children need to survive and thrive in their communities,” Kearns Moore said.  

As for Ross, she wants Oregonians to remember that children with disabilities are a wide community – and not as easy to spot as her son. 

“It’s easy for people to look at Tensy and say, ‘This is a high-needs child. He’s going to need support,’” Ross said. “But there’s many invisible disabilities. It’s so much harder for those families who are equally in need to get the same support.” 

And, a couple of reminders…. 

Safety Town has Openings: Have a kiddo entering Kindergarten – you can take them to the little workshop called Safety Town. Topics include fire safety, dog safety, water safety and more. Under the guidance of a teacher and teen instructors, children learn through hands-on activities, music, and field trips.   

They even have a miniature town complete with pedal cars where children have fun learning pedestrian and car safety. Other topics include: stranger safety, traffic safety, bike safety, playground safety, pedestrian safety, seatbelt safety, animal safety, electrical safety, safety with crossing guards, poison control, dialing 911, and train safety.  

And yep, this one is at the Boys & Girls Club, July 11th – July 21st, choose either 9:30 to 11:30 am, or 1:30 to 3:30 pm. $100. Our staffers have had kids in these classes, and the reviews were high praise all around. Click here for more information and registration.  

Weekend Childbirth Class: This weekend childbirth education class is designed to prepare you to walk into your birth and new parent experience confidently.  This class will help you view birth as a normal, healthy event and to help you build that confidence in your own body and its capability to birth.  All the information is evidence-based and includes recommendations from major health organizations such as CDC, ACOG, and WHO.  

Classes are at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Saturday and Sunday, Noon to 4 pm, July 8 and 9. A virtual option is also available. $110 per pregnant person (partner included). If you have Oregon Health Plan insurance (IHN or Pacific Source), your plan will cover this class at no cost to you. Click here for more information and registration.  

By Advocate Staff, with statehouse reporting on Senate Bill 91 by Ben Botkin of Oregon Capital Chronicle 

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