Coming Soon: Phoenix Values

At Northwest Chinese Academy, we are always striving to improve our students’ school experience, whether through big school-wide improvements such as our move to the new campus, or on a smaller level such as when our teachers adjust their teaching style and materials for the benefit of the school.

An important improvement being adopted next school year are the Phoenix Values, a set of school-wide behavioral expectations that will replace our current school rules. There are four Phoenix Values and each has a corresponding Chinese Character:

  1.   Be Kind 仁
  2.   Be Responsible义
  3.   Be Courteous礼
  4.   Be Safe 安

NWCA’s “Phoenix Values” is what we call our version of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), and these rules are the end product of a yearlong process involving NWCA teachers, NWCA administrators and an outside PBIS expert from Portland State University. In advance of our Phoenix Values Coffee Hour tomorrow afternoon, here is a primer on PBIS and what it means for your child’s education.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is described as a school-wide, proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports needed for all students to achieve social, emotional and academic success.

(adapted from understood.org)

“At its heart, PBIS calls on schools to teach kids about behavior, just as they would teach about any other subject—like reading or math. PBIS recognizes that kids can only meet behavior expectations if they know what the expectations are. A hallmark of a school using PBIS is that everyone knows what’s appropriate behavior. Throughout the school day—in class, at lunch and on the playground — kids understand what’s expected of them.”

(read more here:https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/educational-strategies/pbis-how-schools-support-positive-behavior)

Instead of using school rules that educate students on the incorrect behavior in a given situation, PBIS looks to teach social and behavioral norms, so that students are learning what they should be doing instead of what they shouldn’t. School rules that are framed by “don’t” do not educate students on the correct behavior in a given situation; they only educate the student on one specific behavior that is inappropriate.

While many of our students already meet and exceed the expectations that Phoenix Values sets out, by teaching all students what are the proper social and behavioral expectations in different school settings, we are providing the support needed to be productive, engaged, safe, students, which improves educational outcomes as well as the general school environment.

As put by our Upper English specialist, Ms. W, co-team leader of the Phoenix Values Team:

Phoenix Values (NWCA PBIS) allows us to build a community culture with the core principle that every child can thrive when they’re fully supported. Phoenix Values is an equitable behavioral system that relies on prevention through learning rather than reactionary discipline. Preventing behavior problems helps us maintain a safe and engaging learning environment where everyone feels valued. It takes some of the stress out of classroom management and frees teachers up to do what we’d rather be doing: teach.”

Our staff is excited about Phoenix Values and we want our parents to be, too! Bring all of your questions to our coffee hour on Thursday, May 2 at 3:00 p.m.!

2019 Read-a-thon Wrap Up!


Last Thursday, April 25, Northwest Chinese Academy students celebrated the end of our annual Read-a-thon fundraiser. Coming off the heels of a successful National Reading Month in March (where some students logged over 10,000 pages of reading), Read-a-thon pushed students to read, read, and read some more, all while competing for prizes and raising money for NWCA.

Read-a-thon officially kicked off on April 9th with a full school assembly, where our Head of School, Martha Ortiz, outlined all of the fun Read-a-thon events planned as well as how Read-a-thon works. One of these activities, NWCA Reading Buddies, had already begun! Reading Buddies had older and younger classes spend time together in the library, in which the older students read to the younger students. The Reading Buddies time was embraced by all of the students, and it was heartwarming to see all of the students enjoying each others’ company.

Read-a-thon also featured D.E.A.R. Fridays, where from 3-3:30 on Friday Afternoons, students dropped everything and read. Never has campus ever been so quiet! Students were cozied up in every possible nook reading in both Chinese and English, while preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten students had extra storytime.

Then on April 25, in order to reward our students’ vigilant reading and fundraising, NWCA celebrated! Students were encouraged to come to school in pajamas, and students dressed to the nines in onesies of every shape and color. In the afternoon, students gathered in the Community Room, blankets and stuffed animals in hand, to see who had taken top prize! Before the ceremony, there was an all-school “Read-in” where each student read with their Reading Buddy, then in their pairs took turns contributing to our “How Many Kinds Words?” poster, and after the ceremony, students were able to relax and unwind by watching a movie together. Altogether, NWCA students raised over $1000 dollars for the school during Read-a-thon!

There were two different Read-a-thon categories where students could win prizes; highest number of minutes spent reading, and highest number of money earned through pledges. Here are the winners:

Highest Individual Total Minutes Read

Grades PS-K

Kathryn J. (PreK, 395 minutes)
Mireya X. (Preschool, 360 minutes)
Felicity R. (Preschool, 180 minutes)

Grades 1-5
Brayden S. (Grade 1, 2172 minutes)
Scarlett S. (Grade 5, 1030 minutes)
Lana W. (Grade 2, 620 minutes)

Highest Individual Total Pledges

Grades PS-K
Edith C. (PreK, $115)
Mireya X. (Preschool, $84)
Kathryn J. (PreK, $60)

Grades 1-5
Lana W. (Grade 2, $186)
Scarlett S. (Grade 5, $100)
Alana I. (Grade 4, $90)

Thank you to Aurora Ma for taking photos during the ceremony!

NWCA Competes and Sweeps PSU Confucius Institute Speech/Talent Contest

This past Saturday, students from a number of Portland-area schools gathered at Portland State University’s Karl Miller Center for Business to compete in the Confucius Institute’s annual Speech and Talent Contest. Northwest Chinese Academy students in first through fifth grade, alumni, and even our Head of School, swept the competition and took top honors in three categories: a Mandarin Bee, a Mandarin Speech Contest, as well as a Chinese talent show.

First up was the Speech contest: fifth graders Ciena Harmon, Nicholas, Scarlett Stebbins and Ana Sofia Contreras represented current NWCA Students. Elliot Ma ‘17, a current student at the International School of Beaverton, participated as an alumnus, and our very own Head of School Martha Ortiz also participated in the Adult category.

Ciena Harmon opened the competition with a speech about her best friends, a topic Ana Sofia Contreras also spoke about. Ciena, speaking mile-a-minute Mandarin, set the tone for an impressive NWCA showing in the speech competition. Nicholas gave a passionate speech about Southern Song Dynasty poet Yang Wanli’s poem “舟过安仁”, describing two fishermen with child-like easy going personalities. To the surprise of much of the audience, our own Head of School competed in the speech competition, discussing her favorite chengyu, a Chinese four character idiom. Scarlett Stebbins talked about her hobbies.

Upstairs in the Mandarin Bee, 17 students showcased their Mandarin vocabulary, starting with simple words like numbers and colors before progressing to phrases and sentences. NWCA students represented more than half of those participating in the Mandarin Bee, and the final five students competing were all NWCA students. These five students’ level of Mandarin was so high that they exhausted all of the Mandarin words and phrases that the organizers had prepared for the bee. These students were then quizzed from high-level Mandarin textbooks, being asked to translate sentences that became longer and more descriptive as the competition progressed. In the end, there were two students, Summer Wu, and Alana Iglesias, who were both declared winners of the Mandarin Bee due to the fact that the organizers could not stump these girls with Mandarin sentences they did not know! Genevieve Kwong, who came in right behind them in third place in the Bee, also did particularly well.

The talent show featured a diverse lineup of acts, including singing, shadow puppetry, Chinese folk dancing, and one participant who sang, played piano, played trumpet, and did a gymnastics routine all in one act! Ciena Harmon sang a Chinese song, while Audrey Perkins and Ethaniel Travis performed Chinese ethnic minority folk dances that our Confucius Institute teacher intern, Xiaogui laoshi, had taught them.

At the awards ceremony, NWCA students took first place in all three categories of competition. As previously mentioned, Alana Iglesias and Summer Wu shared top prize in the Mandarin Bee. Audrey Perkins and Ethaniel Travis took first place in the talent show category, and Ciena Harmon was deemed the winner of the speech contest.

Placing second in their respective categories were Head of School Martha Ortiz, Nicholas, and Scarlett Stebbins in the speech competition and Ciena Harmon in the talent competition. Ana Sofia Contreras and Elliot Ma placed third in the speech competition, while Genevieve Kwong came in third in the Mandarin Bee.

Congratulations to all who participated and let’s repeat the sweep next year!

Thank you to Jingzi Zhao for your photography!

NWCA Performs at Lan Su Chinese Garden’s Chinese New Year Celebration

猪年大吉!zhū nián dàjí! 

Happy Year of the Pig!

Tuesday was 元宵节 (yuánxiāo jié), known in English as the Lunar Festival, signaling the end of Chinese New Year.  However, Before the New Year festivities wrapped up, our NWCA students had the chance to perform as part of the Lan Su Chinese Garden’s Chinese New Year celebration!

Our preschool, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten classes performed together, singing the songs “New Year Gives Me Another Year”( 新年送给我们一岁),  the popular Chinese song “Meow Meow Meow like a cat” (你不说爱我我就喵喵喵) and a Mandarin rendition of “When We are Together”

In addition to the songs sung by our young students, our fourth and fifth grade students graced attendees with a dance medley consisting of the traditional dances for several of China’s Ethnic minorities (少数民族), of which China has more than 50! Thank you to NWCA parent Jingzi Zhao for these amazing photos of the performances!