Why Adam Reads to His Dog

Shadow Talks Equity at Bridger School

Shadow Talks Equity at Bridger School

The Shadow Project recently teamed with Portland Public Schools’ Bridger Elementary to coordinate a bilingual Family Equity Summit for 75 families on growth mindset, offering tips for how to motivate children in the classroom.

Growth mindset is a way for teachers to encourage struggling learners to keep trying even when the work is challenging. Praising hard work and effort instead of intelligence cultivates productivity and ultimately success in the classroom.

The Shadow Project’s unique goal setting sheets are designed to instill a growth mindset in children with learning challenges such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. Setting small goals, and then celebrating the achievement of those milestones motivates kids to learn. Sensory tools are integral to helping children with learning challenges.

“This year at Bridger, we are all learning about mindfulness and how to achieve a growth mindset,” said Principal Lydia Poole. “The Shadow Project has provided us with a sensory space that has mindfulness tools to help us meet the needs of our students. The tools help our students be more productive in class and have less anxiety.”

Bridger’s sensory space has tools such as handheld fidgets for calm and focus, kinetic sand, nubby cushions, and building blocks. It also has popular print books, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and a massive audiobook library for kids who read with their ears.

Shadow Project Program Coordinator Alejandra Gurrola gave a bilingual presentation at the Family Equity Summit to help kids and parents access the audio library throughout the school day.

Sixth grader, Frank, says he prefers science to reading, but he’s giving the audiobooks a try. “Reading is a struggle,” he said. “I don’t really like it because it’s hard.”

To help kids like Frank catch up with their peers, Bridget Speech Language Pathologist Betsy Shaughnessy has provided access to audiobooks for 50 kids at Bridger this winter. “I love the audiobooks,” said Betsy, whose professional goal through the district is to ensure all of her students on IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) have an audiobook account and read at least one audiobook.

“They are another tool for students to get excited about learning,” she said. “For students who are strong auditorially, all they have to do is listen to the books to gain the knowledge and vocabulary skills that can advance their reading level.

“We love them.”


Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank you to our donors whose generous support over the holiday season raised nearly $35,000 to equip our children with tools for success in the classroom, and a big thank you to the Willamette Week Give!Guide for a fifth year of successful fundraising!

“Our donors’ generosity will put essential literacy tools into the hands of our struggling students,” said Shadow Founder/Executive Director Christy Scattarella. M.A. “With gifts from the Give!Guide, our end-of-year campaign, corporate matches, and a match from the deLaski Family Foundation, we can provide children in special education innovative ways to succeed in the classroom.”

Thank you also to The Shadow Project’s recent foundation donors and corporate sponsors:

*Nike Community Impact Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation
*Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust
*OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation
*Spirit Mountain Community Fund

A volunteer initiative piloted by Shadow in the fall of 2016 with the University of Portland, garnered more than 130 classroom hours that benefited Shadow students. Special thanks to Dr. Eric Anctil’s sophomore education majors: Nick, Kiana, Jordyn, and Kimberley, for their help in reading with kids on audiobooks, outfitting sensory spaces, and preparing goal setting materials for teachers.


Said Nick: “I found out recently that I have ADD and I can relate to kids with sensory issues because school never really suited me. I wanted to see what it’s like for other kids who are struggling in school, and how sensory tools help with reading and focus.”


Sensory Tools Go Mainstream at Rosa

Sensory Tools Go Mainstream at Rosa

Students with learning challenges at Rosa Parks Elementary are reading and succeeding in their general education classrooms after The Shadow Project provided sensory tools to all teachers, along with five hours of professional development, to increase equity.

Fifth-grader Magali has learning challenges, but spends most of her day now in a general education classroom. When testing, she wants a fidget to squeeze to stay focused, and now they are readily available to her so she doesn’t have to spend valuable class time looking for what she needs to be productive.

“She feels more confident and asks for what she needs,” said Special Education Teacher Kim Giarelli, M.S. “Her spelling has already risen two levels this school year, and she is now handling two lessons a week.”

tay-and-audio-bookThird grader Tay was several grade levels behind in reading and used to say, “I’m not smart,” until he began using sensory tools from The Shadow Project.

“Tay has been hyperactive since birth,” said his grandmother, Janet Waddy. “He just can’t be still, he always has to be moving or doing something.”

Now, six months later, Tay wears headphones when doing schoolwork to “block people out,” and he has stretch bands to kick on the bottom of his chair, releasing excess energy in a positive way while staying on task.

“Whoever came up with fidgets, that’s the best idea ever,” said Janet, who has bought sensory tools for home, including chewable erasers, squishy handheld balls … and several pairs of headphones.

“He’s got more confidence and motivation,” said Janet. “Tay actually likes to read now, and he reads every night to his four-year-old brother.

“I’m all for anything that’s going to help him succeed and grow,” she said. “I’m a happy grandma. It makes my heart proud to see this change in him.”


Clarendon Pilots Head Start Sensory Space

Clarendon Pilots Head Start Sensory Space

Portland Public Schools’ regional Head Start has new tools to help preschoolers with disabilities focus and engage in the classroom, with a SuperSensory Literacy Space created by The Shadow Project.

The Shadow Project-designed sensory space at Clarendon Regional Early Learning Academy is the first of its kind in a Head Start. The space is now in use for a handful of students, and is designed to meet childrens’ three biggest sensory needs: big movement, heavy work, and deep pressure.

“Our teachers came up with the idea of a sensory space as a need,” said Susan Fodell, M.S., disabilities manager for Portland Public Schools Head Start. “Because of their interest, we reached out to The Shadow Project.

The Shadow Project worked hand-in-hand with Clarendon’s occupational therapist Jessica Wade to tailor five zones that meet the school’s three biggest sensory needs.

“Some kids need large movement and heavy work activities in order to be able to learn,” said Wade, early childhood specialist with the David Douglas School District. “Having access now to these tools and space will make a difference in their ability to focus and engage in the classroom.

I am excited for kids to have a safe space to go and explore sensory with the goal of them being supported to learn.”

The Shadow Project trained Clarendon educators on how to use the space in late fall, and developed a step-by-step manual for how to use the zones (check-in/check-out, manipulatives and fidgets, work table, sensory library, and obstacle courses) and accompanying tools.

“As times have changed, kids are expected to sit more and they aren’t getting the sensory experiences they used to get,” said Wade. “For some kids, it’s hard to adapt, and they can’t tell you what they need. Providing a sensory experience helps kids calm their body, and get ready to learn.”

Clarendon is The Shadow Project’s first foray into early childhood education.

“Clarendon is the pipeline to many of our north Portland elementary schools,” said Quynh Nguyen, M.S., Shadow program manager. “We hope to create systemic change in early childhood education, so when students transition to kindergarten, they have the tools they need to succeed, and their parents know how to advocate for them.”