Notes from the Office

  • Notes from the Office February 20, 2018: Music to Our Ears!

    Posted by VP Communications on 2/24/2018 11:00:00 PM

    Hi Toro Families,

    Some good news on the funding front: Montera is in the process of getting G-1 budget approval.

    The G-1 Bond measure, passed in 2016, provides $120 per parcel in Oakland for 12 years to OUSD to:

    “enhance middle school art, music, languages/other programs in addition to core educational programs; improve academic achievement; provide safe, positive schools, and prepare students for college/careers”

    Montera is primarily using this money to support our amazing music program. In our International Baccalaureate program, all students are required to take visual and performing arts of some kind.

    As a result, Montera musicians skyrocketed from 149 last year to 500 students this year!

    Money will provide sheet music and other much needed support to our exemplary music teachers and Arts program.

    Why is studying visual and performing arts important?

    1. Research shows that students who actively engage with the arts in schools—as makers and doers of the arts—are more likely to do better in academic and social spheres than those who passively consume the arts or those who have little or no connection with the arts.

    2. The arts stimulate young imaginations, challenge perceptions and develop creative and analytical skills, helping our students to become informed, curious, creative risk-takers.

    3. The arts have been and continue to be one of the ways that communities and cultures can understand each other and engage in difficult discussions.

    4. Becoming makers and doers of the arts, our students realize they are much more than a test score! The arts challenge and enrich personal identity. The arts show students that they and those around them have the capacity for beauty, for pathos, for pain, and allow them to see human experience through the eyes of other people.

    5. Thus, students gain interpersonal and intrapersonal understanding that will be essential to the navigation of a complex and difficult world.

    OUSD is supportive of our International Baccalaureate program, and our Montera administrators and teachers continue to explore creative avenues for funding.

    But in these tough financial times for the district, we need all the support we can muster. Please consider helping in whatever way you can, whether by volunteering at our next Montera Work Day on Saturday March 3 from 9am to 1pm (bring the kids to show them the value of service!) or researching funding/grant opportunities or making sure you’re signed up for eScrip or by contributing what you can to the PTA fund.

    It takes a village, and we think our Toro Village is a very special one and worth the effort.



    Darren Avent
    Montera Middle School

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  • Notes from the Office January 14, 2018: Grant Writing to Help Our School

    Posted by VP Communications on 1/14/2018 8:00:00 AM

    Hello Montera Families!

    By now, you’ve probably seen the foreboding financial news about the OUSD budget.

    With ever-changing funding in public education, our school budget is always at risk. But with the revised, much lower OUSD budget recently approved, all schools in the district are taking a cut. Including Montera Middle School.

    We don’t want our students or dedicated educators to feel these cuts!

    We are prioritizing spending and actively seeking out new resources. But the truth remains: Our dynamic programs are threatened, including International Baccalaureate.

    It’s time to think outside of the box -- and we need your help.

    If you or anyone you know has experience writing grants, could you please contact me through the main office? (Call 510-531-6070 or email

    Even if you don't have grant writing experience, you can still help: If you write proposals for work or are good at filling out forms or meeting detailed requirements, you can help. If you are good at gathering information or writing in general, these skills can get us there! If you know retired people with any of these skills who can volunteer some time, please contact the school.

    We need to put together a team of grant writers as soon as possible.

    If you have ideas for other financial support, we also want to hear from you!

    They say it takes a village, and it appears now this is truer than ever, so thank you for your consideration and assistance. We think the Montera school community of families is very special, and if we work together, we can get through this and make our school stronger!

    Thank you!


    Darren Avent
    (510) 531-6070

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  • Notes from the Office January 7, 2018: International Baccalaureate Nuts & Bolts

    Posted by VP Communications on 1/7/2018 8:00:00 AM

    International Baccalaureate Nuts & Bolts
    Wednesday January 24th ,  7 to 8:30pm
    A Montera Community Presentation and Q&A

    Happy New Year, Toro Families!

    I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the winter break.

    To start off 2018, please join us in the MUR on the evening of January 24th from 7:00 to 8:30pm to learn all the nuts and bolts of our International Baccalaureate program (IB)!

    A panel of administrators and teachers will be on hand to share and provide Q&A to help you understand:

    • What IB is and how it nurtures our students’ growth and learning
    • How Montera is implementing IB now
    • How Montera will continue to implement IB
    • How Skyline High School is also transitioning to IB (and what an IB diploma is)

    There will also be group workshops to give you a better feel for how IB philosophy is implemented and taught in our classrooms.

    Here are a few highlights of our IB program so far:

    • Our kids now have more electives
      • Encouraging creativity, design, expression, and more
      • Electives are often the classes that keep our kids engaged in school!
    • Every student has three years of foreign language
      • Providing them future opportunities in our global economy
      • Giving them greater command of languages, including their native languages
      • Widening their cultural understanding
    • We see that IB is contributing to a more positive school community and culture.
      • Individuals are honored and group support of one another is required in IB curriculum.
      • Through IB, there are more opportunities for student leadership in classrooms and campus-wide.

    We highly encourage every family to attend or at least send one representative to this meeting!

    As the only International Baccalaureate middle school in Oakland, Montera is proud to be paving the way and offering an education that develops the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.

    Remember: Wednesday January 24th, 7:00 to 8:30pm in the MUR and encourage other Toro families to attend!

    See you there!

    Darren Avent

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  • Notes from the Office December 15, 2017: Montera Has Safe Drinking Water

    Posted by VP Communications on 12/17/2017 10:00:00 AM

    Drinking fountain

    Dear Toro Community:

    Many of you have asked me about the safety of the drinking water at Montera, given OUSD’s recent testing for lead. I’m happy to report that our water on campus is safe to drink.
    As part of a proactive effort to address potential health threats to students and staff, water fixtures at our school site were recently tested for the presence of lead in our drinking water. The District is testing for lead in consumable water at all of our school sites and child development centers and remediating issues as they are identified.

    Elevated levels of lead were identified at the drinking fountain outside the 300 building. To be clear, lead was not found in the water pipes on our campus; it was identified in this particular fixture.

    This water source was immediately taken out of service, and the remediation process was initiated.

    The safety and well-being of students and staff is our top priority. As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns. For more information about water quality in OUSD, please visit
    Darren L Avent
    Montera Middle School

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  • Notes from the Office October 31, 2017: Touring the Toro Way

    Posted by VP Communications on 11/4/2017 10:00:00 PM

    Hi Toro Families!

    It’s that time of year when Prospective Families are looking at middle schools for their kids.

    Would you please help spread the word about Montera and the Great Things Happening here?

    Why Spread the Word?
    The healthier our community, the healthier our school and the more we can provide for our Toro scholars. Your involvement in our community -- in any way you can make it happen with the demands of work and family -- helps your child and all our children to thrive.

    Great Things Are Happening at Montera!
    Tell other parents about some of the wonderful things Montera has to offer our students:

    • We embrace our diversity at our core.
    • We are the only International Baccalaureate Middle School in Oakland with:
      • The goal of creating confident global citizens
      • Multiple electives (with an emphasis on design and expression)
      • Three years of foreign language
      • Integrated programs that emphasize building character
    • We offer our Toros supportive social-emotional programs, something for everyone:
      • 30 lunchtime clubs
      • An active sports program
      • After-school clubs
      • Restorative Justice (accountability, personal and group transformation)
      • Avid (organization, goal setting, critical thinking, determination)
      • NFL Character Playbook (building and maintaining healthy relationships)
      • Onsite tutoring and counseling
      • Daily Advisory

    Consider Leading a Tour
    You can sign up to guide prospective families around campus. Sign up here!
    This is also a great way for you to get a sneak peak of Montera during your child’s school day.

    Thank you Fall Fest Organizers & Volunteers!
    A big shout out to all our parent and student volunteers (including our Cheer & Dance Squad) who made this year’s Fall Fest a success.

    Yours Truly,
    Mr. Avent

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  • Notes from the Office October 23, 2017: The Montera Mission

    Posted by VP Communications on 10/20/2017 10:15:00 PM

    Greetings Toro Families!

    I realized the other day that some of you may not know what our Mission Statement is here at Montera.

    Here it is:

    Mission Statement: Montera Middle School aims to provide all students with a supportive environment and rigorous curriculum through which they develop into inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring lifelong learners utilizing their creative talents to help build a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

    How We Are Accomplishing Our Mission
    Our staff is continually working towards this mission with many practices in place and new ones developing. Here are some of those:

    Recognizing Diversity Is a Strength
    One way that we accomplish our mission is by recognizing that we are a diverse community, and that is one of our strengths. Academically and socially, we celebrate this diversity every day.

    Being an International Baccalaureate School (IB)
    Our IB program helps us prepare students to live in a global society. Through IB, we provide our Toros with opportunities no other school in Oakland has. With our multiple electives, three years of foreign language, growing advisory program and more, our students will be better prepared for high school and beyond.

    Having Supportive Social-Emotional Programs Like Restorative Justice
    Our practice of Restorative Justice is important to us at Montera. Much more than conflict resolution, Restorative Justice emphasizes accountability, making amends, repairing harm, personal and group transformation, cooperation, and the building of better relationships. To learn more about Restorative Justice, go to I recommend the tutorial here:

    Providing Professional Counselors on Campus
    We have a 5-year grant with CCEB (Catholic Charities of the East Bay), providing students (and their families) going through any kind of trauma, big or small, with trained counseling (non-denominational). Counselors are on campus for ongoing individual and group sessions.

    Kicking Off the NFL Character Playbook - Building Healthy Relationships
    This past week, we launched our NFL Character Playbook with a rally led by visiting Oakland Raiders and Raiderettes. Sponsored by the NFL and United Way, the Playbook teaches kids to cultivate character and build and maintain healthy relationships throughout their lives. Eighth graders will start taking online Character Playbook classes in their advisories. Seventh graders will do the same in the second semester. Read more at

    Expanding Our AVID Program
    This year we went from one AVID class to three. We are also working on integrating AVID curriculum and practices into our advisories and all of our classes. AVID teaches organization, goal setting, critical thinking, encourages determination, and develops a true sense of hope in students for personal achievement. Find out more at

    See you all at the Fall Fest on Saturday October 28th! Organizers still need more volunteers to help with this fun community gathering - see the link for details.

    Great things are happening at Montera!

    Darren Avent, Principal

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  • Notes from the Office October 8, 2017: Funding & the Importance of LCFF Forms

    Posted by VP Communications on 10/8/2017 11:30:00 AM

    Dear Montera Families,

    Our projected enrollment for the 2017-18 school year was for 741 general education students. We are under projection by three students, for a total of 738. This may not sound like much of a difference, but the funds we receive from the district are in a large part determined by this number. This means our school could lose $10,000.

    This is why it is so important that parents complete the LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) survey. This state education funding formula determines the remainder of our budget.

    It has been estimated that last year Montera lost $30,000 because parents didn’t complete this form. Under the requirements of LCFF, the formula is locked in for three years, so parents who don’t complete this form will affect Montera’s budget for the next three years.

    Many families did complete this form at registration, and I thank you so much.

    But there are still 200 families that need to complete the LCFF form.

    We will be reaching out to these families directly to either complete the form at school or online. Either way, it takes only a few minutes. Forms are available in the main office.

    Option 1: Visit Montera's main office and ask to speak with Ms. Chantay. She will provide you with a form and walk you through the steps as necessary (a paper option or an online option is available if you come in).

    Option 2: Go online to This will take you directly to the website. Please complete your form and write your confirmation number down that will be displayed once the form is submitted. Please email or call (510) 531-6070 and provide us with your confirmation number.

    Either way, it just takes a few minutes to complete the form, and you'll be helping our school in a big way.

    What is LCFF?
    Under the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a portion of state funding will be determined based on the demographics of student population. On a per student basis for districts like Oakland, there is increased funding for large concentrations of low-income, English Language Learner, and foster student populations. Therefore, we are required to establish and confirm the number of students that represent these categories by having families complete the official LCFF form. Whether or not you fall into one of these categories, it is important that ALL families complete the survey.

    Remember, as a Sanctuary District, OUSD cannot and will not share any of your personal information to agencies that are gathering citizen status information.

    You can learn out more about LCFF at

    Please help us to insure we get all the funding from the district that our students and teachers deserve. If you have questions, please feel free to call the main office.

    Thank you, Toro families!
    Mr. Avent

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  • Notes from the Office September 25, 2017: Welcome Back

    Posted by VP Communications on 9/23/2017 9:30:00 PM

    Welcome back Toro families and a big welcome to our new Toro families!

    We have an exciting year ahead of us! It’s also an important year as we launch our International Baccalaureate program (IB). You have undoubtedly noticed some of the changes already, with eight classes, offering our students design and arts electives and foreign language in our A/B schedule. Both students and teachers are transitioning well, and we will have support in place ongoing to help our community with the changes.

    For staff, we will be providing more IB training throughout the year, with Ms. Black (6th grade Math & Science) acting as our in-house coordinator. Thank you, Ms. Black! We are also actively partnering with Skyline High School to help them roll-out their IB program and make the transition smooth for students as they move on to high school.

    We want to recognize you, our Toro students and families for your diligence and care in coming prepared each A and B day. You’re doing a great job!

    Why IB? The International Baccalaureate program (IB) prepares students to live in a global society. It supports our Toro value of diversity as a natural part of the fabric of our learning community. It builds character. We want our kids to learn to advocate, to express their opinions and listen to others. IB encourages our kids to be active, lifelong learners.

    Join us on Jupiter Grades
    We are also pleased that 87% of our Toro families have registered on Jupiter Grades. Our goal is 96% or more. Jupiter Grades allows our students and parents and teachers to easily communicate with each other. Through Jupiter, we also send important announcements of upcoming events and due dates. If you haven’t yet registered, you can find instructions at Or ask for help in the Main Office. Ms. Tenley or Mr. Snow would be glad to help you!

    Stay Involved!
    Finally, all studies show that students are more successful in school when their families get involved in some way. We know how busy you are, so we have provided many ways for you to be a part of our wonderful Toro Community! Consider attending the next PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) meeting (Oct. 18, 2017), joining our Dad’s Club, or participating in our next TransforMontera workday. And we hope to see you at our Fall Fest on Saturday October 28th, a fun day of bouncy houses and Halloween fun, live music, good food, and more! You can find information about all these in our weekly eBulletin. If you are not receiving it, you can sign up to get it at

    Great Things Are Happening at Montera!

    And…Go Toros!

    Principal Avent

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  • Notes from the Office May 29, 2017: Toros Safe and Sound

    Posted by VP Communications on 5/28/2017 10:50:00 AM

    Thanks to several passionate parents, our school nurse Elizabeth Hurt, and our principals, Montera is a safer place!

    Sarah Jones, 2016-17 Vice President for Facilities for Montera PTO, supported by parent Donna Rothert, took the Toro bull by the horn, developing and executing a comprehensive plan to make sure our campus and school community are ready in the event of a medical emergency, earthquake or other disaster.

    Here are some of the many things accomplished this year to keep our Toros safe and sound:

    • Distributed family earthquake preparedness materials
    • Developed campus maps for general distribution
    • Installed campus evacuation maps in every classroom
    • Purchased 52 Escape / Emergency Toolkits for all classrooms
    • Lobbied to get the legally required EpiPens on campus
    • Provided certified first aid training to faculty and staff
    • Updated Nurse Hurt’s equipment and supplies
    • Readied the school’s emergency containers
    • Installed and tested new doorstops in several classrooms
    • Placed computer security carts in the special ed rooms
    • Held several TransforMontera Saturday workdays to get the work done
    • And more!!

    You Can Help!
    And the year isn’t over! If you want to help TransforMontera, there will be a workday Saturday June 3, 9:00am to 1:00pm, to fill emergency water barrels and perform other tasks to improve campus safety. It takes a village! For information, email:

    The Future
    And next year, the work continues with more TransforMontera workdays and parent Jane Nylund taking the reigns as Facilities and Safety VP. We’ll be working to keep all staff current in Red Cross first aid certification and train them in mental health first aid, replenish emergency food stores, instigate annual evacuation drills and improve and beautify our Toro campus.

    Great things are happening at Montera!

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  • Notes from the Office May 15, 2017: International Baccalaureate & Blueprint Math Support

    Posted by VP Communications on 5/14/2017 10:00:00 AM

    Welcome to our new Notes from the Office feature, with information about learning, administration and more at Montera! Look for it in the weekly eBulletin.

    Exciting News for Next Year: International Baccalaureate & Blueprint Math Support

    Dear Toro Families,

    Next year, as many of you know, we will be incorporating a full International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and schedule at Montera. This is very exciting, because IB aligns with many core values in our community. Diversity is important to everyone on our campus. IB not only celebrates diversity, it makes it a true fabric of the learning community. We also want to build character, and IB provides this opportunity.

    What is IB curriculum?

    IB prepares students to live in a global society. Foreign language is a required class. Design is integrated into our art and business electives. And subjects are presented in global, real life contexts. Throughout life our students naturally are going to bump into people with different opinions. That doesn’t make them wrong. We want our kids to learn to express their opinions and listen to others. IB creates this open forum and encourages our kids to be active, lifelong learners.

    I saw the success of IB firsthand when I was teaching in New Jersey. Initially, I was wary of the transition, mainly because of the cost, but I became convinced when I saw the positive changes right away for students, parents and teachers. It was awesome. I’m very pleased that OUSD is supporting our efforts and that of Skyline High School in our transition to IB.

    What does an IB schedule look like?

    Students next year will have an A/B schedule, eight total classes, four classes one day and four classes the next day, each 75 minutes long. Wednesday classes will be an hour long, alternating between the A and B schedule so there is a constant flow. We will set the calendar at the start of the year to help students, parents and teachers plan.

    Look for parent workshops next year to help everyone better understand IB and support our kids and teachers. In the meantime, click here for more information about International Baccalaureate at the middle school level.

    Blueprint Math

    I am also excited that next year we will have a program called Blueprint on campus to support math learning. It will be targeted towards 7th grade in 2017-18, since we have observed this is where the biggest shift takes place for our students. We will have three teachers, each working with only four students at a time. Blueprint Schools Network (Blueprint)’s goal is to dramatically improve educational and life opportunities for all students.

    For more information about Blue Print, go to:

    Great things are happening at Montera!

    -- Principal Avent

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