Perseverance Leads to Middle School Readiness

Perseverance Leads to Middle School Readiness

Fifth grade graduate Eric, who has dyslexia, used to “hate reading” because the words moved around on the page. But this fall, Eric heads to Jackson Middle School as an avid book lover who is reading at grade level.

During silent reading, while the rest of the class quietly read to themselves, Eric would slip a piece of paper into his book to draw squiggles.

“It’s hard to see the words, and I mixed up my B’s and D’s,” said Eric. “I didn’t like reading, so I decided to do something else in class.”

But after Eric was assigned to the learning center with LaShell Holton in third grade at Portland Public Schools’ Markham Elementary, he learned perseverance as he worked toward small reading goals.

“Eric was so frustrated when I first met him because he was behind his peers,” said LaShell. “The Shadow Project gave Eric the daily opportunity to be acknowledged for his effort, and he really looked forward to the opportunities to shine, which made a difference in his learning and behavior.

“This year, Eric had a major turnaround.”

Eric constantly raises his hand to read aloud, and is devouring books at home. Said Eric, “When my mom says go to bed, I say “okay,” but when she’s gone, five minutes later, I turn my light back on and start reading again!”

Jackson leopards, here comes Eric!


Higher Standards for Students in Special Education

Higher Standards for Students in Special Education

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on students with disabilities raises the bar for Oregon children, according to Shadow Project Founder and Executive Director Christy Scattarella, M.A., in a Portland Tribune op-ed.

The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that educational programs for children with disabilities must be “appropriately ambitious.” This decision wisely overturned a lower-court standard of “merely more than de minimis” (Latin for “too minor to merit consideration”).

What does this mean for Oregon’s almost 7,000 students with disabilities?

“Our system does not prepare diverse learners for success,” said Scattarella. “One-fourth of our capable children with dyslexia, ADHD, or autism are chronically absent which leads to low reading performance, discipline issues, and drop out. Students with disabilities have among the state’s lowest on-time graduation rates.”

Christy said struggling readers need solid tools with effective strategies for using them, and that school climates must be elevated to embrace diverse learners.

“Children should not be embarrassed to squeeze a fidget or don headphones to help them stay calm and focus while reading,” she said. “I’ve seen what ambitious standards can do for determined kids, and raising expectations will show Oregon means business in helping our children soar to new heights.”

Read Christy’s Portland Tribune op-ed at:


No Summer Slide for Shadow Kids

No Summer Slide for Shadow Kids

After struggling students at Woodmere Elementary increased reading proficiency by as much as 1.7 grade levels last school year, The Shadow Project was asked to pilot a Summer Reading Program, using an audio library that makes books come alive for children with learning challenges.

The Shadow Project’s reading program combines an audio library specially designed for children with print and related disabilities, with one-on-one and small group reading support. Children made strong gains in reading proficiency, set and met reading goals, and began reading at home. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Beth Brod, M.S., Woodmere special education teacher.

Shadow’s Summer Reading Challenge, hosted by the SUN Schools program at Woodmere, is intended to offset the “summer slide,” when children can lose as much as 25% of their reading skills. Eric, who will be in fourth grade next year, signed up for the challenge, even though he “doesn’t like reading much” because it is a lot of work. Eric didn’t read at all last summer.

However, he enjoys the audiobooks and support provided by The Shadow Project and, because he likes chocolate, selected Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from amongst the 80,000 titles available.

“I like to listen to the story and, with headphones, no one can distract you,” said Eric.

Goal Setting in the Classroom

Woodmere students who signed up for the challenge set a reading goal—Eric’s is to read 30 minutes a day, six times a week either at school or home—and then download books to read from a laptop, iPad, or phone. Each student’s progress is monitored daily.

“Our students with disabilities are seeing themselves as readers,” said Katherine Polizos, Woodmere principal. “I see them perform at higher rates, and take part in extra reading activities. They’re so excited when they meet their goal. They feel like they belong in the school community.”







Shadow Sparks Reading at Shaver

Shadow Sparks Reading at Shaver

Last fall, the students in Micah Goran’s room weren’t electing to read. But when the Shaver Elementary School special education teacher initiated a reading challenge, with the help of The Shadow Project, every child participated, and read from 30 to 100 books.

“The reading challenge was amazing,” said Mr. Goran. “It was even better than I thought it would be. We were at the point with one student where he wouldn’t even read to himself. He finished Shiloh in three days, and then read more than 70 other books.”

Said Wallace, who read more than 80 books during the three-month challenge: “I liked the contest. It was worth it. I think it made me work harder.”

Each student’s progress was tracked in a reading log developed by Shadow and students received Shadow Bucks, depending upon how many books they read. Five times during the three months, the students were able to use their Bucks to purchase literacy and school supplies, gifts, and sensory items at the Shadow Store.

“The kids really cared about the challenge, which was good,” said Mr. Goran. “The Shadow Project was a great partner in helping to make the challenge so motivating.




CareOregon Gives $15,000 Grant to Shadow

CareOregon Gives $15,000 Grant to Shadow

June 9, 2017 (Portland, Ore.) — CareOregon, which serves the largest number of Medicaid recipients in the state, takes the stand that good health requires much more than clinical care. For that reason, it has awarded a total of $300,000 in development investment grants to seven organizations focused on reducing housing insecurity this spring alone. The grants continue CareOregon’s emphasis on addressing housing problems, a key goal for the CareOregon board of directors, which authorized the funding.

Through its relationships with Coordinated Care Organizations, CareOregon manages care for about 180,000 members of the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). That population is at greater risk for housing insecurity, as well as other social and economic factors that affect health.

CareOregon’s spring community benefit giving additionally awarded nearly $115,000 in nine smaller grants within the organization’s core focus areas: childhood development, member and community empowerment, social determinants of health and Community Health Improvement Plan goals in its service areas.

“We focused on programs that are not only helping people with housing insecurity, but they also tend to involve the whole community in finding solutions,” said Shawn DeCarlo, grant evaluation program manager.

The development investment grants include:

  • Village Coalition (Metro, Multnomah County)—$60,000 for the Village Community Restorative Justice Training Program, working to permanently increase the amount of low-cost transitional housing in the metro area.
  • Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (Metro)—$50,000 for Homeownership Retention Program, which fosters homeownership stability for low‐ and moderate‐income homeowners age 55 and older.
  • Bridge Meadows (Metro)—$45,000 for Building Resilience & Wellness through Intergenerational Place, Permanence and Purpose, a program to help children move from foster care to adoptive families. The grant supports staffing in North Portland and Beaverton.
  • Maybelle Center for the Community (Metro, Multnomah County)—$45,000 for staffing support for program building connections and community in Portland’s Old Town-Downtown neighborhoods.
  • Restoration House (Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, Clatsop County)—$40,000 to help bring Restoration House up to fire code. The Seaside housing facility is for adult men transitioning from incarceration back to their home community.
  • Northwest Pilot Project (Metro)—$35,000 for a full-time housing case manager for extremely low-income seniors of color, in danger of displacement due to gentrification of their neighborhoods.
  • Northwest Housing Alternatives (Metro, Clackamas County)—$25,000 to help renovate and expandAnnie Ross House Emergency Shelter for Homeless Families.

The capacity investment grants are:

  • African Youth and Community Organization—$20,000
  • The Shadow Project—$15,000
  • Tucker Maxon School—$11,000
  • Nursingale (Children’s Nursing Specialties)—$10,633
  • Reading Results—$10,000
  • Store To Door—$10,000
  • AntFarm Youth Services—$10,000
  • Community Partners for Affordable Housing—$7,850

“A common factor of these grants is that they are to programs that are primarily direct services for young children and families at high risk of experiencing poor health outcomes,” DeCarlo said. “We know that if we can have a positive impact on families’ health early on, that impact will not only provide benefis now, but will continue to have benefits for them and their health for many years into the future.”

For information, contact Jeanie Lunsford, 503-416-3626,

About CareOregon
CareOregon is a nonprofit community benefits company that’s been involved in health plan services, reforms and innovations since 1994, serving Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) and Medicare members and their communities. Our mission is cultivating individual well-being and community health through shared learning and innovation. Our vision is healthy communities for all individuals, regardless of income or social circumstances. We focus on the total health of our members, not just traditional health care. By teaming up with members and their families, providers and communities, we help Oregonians live better lives, prevent illness and respond effectively to health issues.

View or download the full release here.