Academics

Welcome to Cathedral School

Mrs Amy Biggs Principal of private elementary schoolThis fall, we are proud to continue our designation as an Apple Distinguished School through 2019. Cathedral School is one of less than 140 schools that Apple is recognizing nationwide as exemplary learning environments and centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. The Apple Distinguished School designation is reserved for schools that have demonstrated Apple’s highest vision of a successful 21st century learning environment. The selection of Cathedral School as an Apple Distinguished School highlights our successes in enhancing and extending teaching and learning with thoughtful and innovative implementations of technology.

Schools nominated by Apple for designation as an Apple Distinguished School must demonstrate Apple’s highest vision of a successful 21st century learning environment, a strong relationship with Apple, and a willingness to do outreach activities. The specific manifestations of these qualities include:

  • Visionary Leadership
  • One-to-one access to Apple portable computers and/or mobile devices for all students, teachers and administrators
  • Ongoing professional development
  • Systems to routinely collect quantitative evidence highlighting the success and sustainability of their academic programs.

We have a busy year ahead and I feel so fortunate to have a collaborative team on board to help provide the very best Catholic education for your children. We value your participation as parents, parishioners, alumni, and donors, and are grateful for your support.
Thank you to the staff, parents, and students of Cathedral School. It is because of the tremendous talent we have on staff, the quality and character of our students and parents that Cathedral School was able to receive this distinction.

Mrs. Amy Biggs, Principal

Pre-kindergarten

A ten-year journey of faith, knowledge, and service begins in Cathedral’s Pre-Kindergarten. Pre-K establishes a solid foundation that will lead to a positive educational experience for years to come. The goal is to create a
respectful, responsible, and safe classroom and school
environment where all students can learn and play together as followers of Jesus.

In the Pre-K class, God blesses the children with the gift of time: time to learn, time to play, and time to grow. The day is tailored to excite the seeds of knowledge in the children and carefully crafted to nurture the gifts and talents that each child possesses. Beginning literary and mathematics skills are cultivated through engaging projects done both individually and in groups and children are introduced to science, art, music, and Spanish programs through fun interactive experiences. Finally, these individual children are brought together to form a community. Through prayer and play, laughter and sharing, they (along with their parents) create friendships to carry them through their years at Cathedral.

For our youngest students, service begins with an understanding of fellow students as children of God, who deserve respect and compassion. Students are acknowledged and rewarded for everyday acts of service to fellow classmates and teachers. Within the greater school community, the Pre-K students are introduced to and come to understand the variety of service projects organized by higher grades through their active participation in the collection and donation of food and other needed items for charitable organizations throughout the community.

Cathedral School Private Elementary School Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Ms. Joanne Cavill
Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Ms. Joanne Cavill is a graduate of Portland State University, where she received her B.S in Sociology. She also attended Southern Oregon University and received her Elementary Education Credential. Ms. Cavill, who joined the Cathedral School staff in the fall of 2017 has been an Early Childhood Educator for 22 years and is very excited to teach at Cathedral. She enjoys spending time with her four daughters and large extended family, especially if it is playing outdoors.

Mrs. Sara Cardoza, Pre-Kindergarten Instructional Assistant

Mrs. Sarah Cardoza graduated from the University of San Diego with a BS in Business Administration and Marketing. She spent several years working in medical sales. Prior to joining Cathedral School in the fall of 2017 she spent many hours as a volunteer in her children’s school, as a reading assistant and in the library. A mother of three children, she is happiest spending time with her husband and children at the beach, cycling, or in other active pursuits

Kindergarten

God’s creation and the appreciation of each child as a unique and special part of His Creation form the basis for every aspect of a Kindergartener’s day. Children learn to pray and participate in prayer in many forms: as a class, with their 8th Grade buddies, and as individuals. Kindergarteners begin to learn to look beyond themselves (and toward others in God’s creation) by serving children both in daily interactions within their classroom as well as community projects focusing on homeless children.

As the kindergarteners leap into an all-day learning environment, the foundation for future academic success begins with a focus on the routine and expectations of a typical school day and by instilling a sense of personal responsibility to carry students through their academic career. The fundamentals of literacy and mathematical skills are developed through varied methods including whole group, small group, and one-on-one; allowing individual students to learn and grow at their own pace. All the while, Cathedral’s kindergarten is a fun-filled learning space where smiles and giggles abound as children develop new friendships through play and cooperative learning.

As service is an attribute often best cultivated by example, kindergarteners work side-by-side with their 8th Grade Buddies on the annual Cathedral school-wide sock project that benefits Potluck in the Park. The kindergarten class then, on its own, decorates and fills sacks with toys, candy, hats, and gloves for the children served by the Potluck in the Park program.

Kate Gobel, Cathedral School Private Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Kate Gobel, Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Gobel has been teaching Kindergarten at Cathedral School since 2004. Before coming to Cathedral, she taught Kindergarten at Mitch Charter School in Tigard, Oregon. Mrs. Gobel received her Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education from Stonehill College and her Masters of Education, from the University of Portland. Outside of Cathedral, Mrs. Gobel enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two children.

Cathedral School Private Elementary School Kindergarten Instructional Assistant

Ms. Stacy Murphy, Instructional Assistant

Ms. Murphy joined the Cathedral School staff in early December of 2013. She came to us from the North Thurston School District in Lacey, WA, where she worked for 13 years as a Behavior Assistant and Para-Educator. Ms. Murphy works full time in the Kindergarten classroom, in addition to her duties in the Extended Care program as both an After Care provider and the Extended Care Director.

First Grade

In First Grade, children learn that they are all part of one family, God’s family. The Golden Rule is paramount in behavioral management and peer relations. The basics of Catholicism are taught and throughout the year, a commitment to service: to parish, school and community, is cultivated.

First Grade builds a firm and broad foundation of literacy proficiency in Cathedral Students. Students’ reading and writing skills are individually developed and fostered within a backdrop of different thematic curricula that engage the children throughout the year. First Grade recognizes and appreciates the uniqueness of each six and seven-year-old in the class as they make the transition to a more structured academic environment and seeks to instill a sense of personal responsibility while nurturing each child’s love of learning.

In First Grade, service takes form in an age-appropriate manner to instill a sense of commitment in everyday actions by helping others. First Graders serve the parish through monthly church clean up activities. While tidying the pews and picking up trash, the children are also instructed on the architecture, history, and religious art within the sanctuary. Children in First Grade serve the community along with their Fourth Grade Reading Buddies by gathering and assembling Easter Baskets of stuffed animals and candy for Cares NW, a local agency that strives to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Cathedral School Private Elementary School First Grade Teacher

Mrs. Gabi Kilkenny
First Grade Teacher

Mrs. Kilkenny joined the 1st Grade team in the fall of 2015. Prior to her move to 1st grade, she spent two years teaching 5th grade and one year teaching Middle School writing, both at Cathedral. Mrs. Kilkenny received her Bachelors of Arts at Western Oregon University and her Masters in Teaching from Lewis & Clark College. Mrs. Kilkenny loves her husband, son, and the Oregon Ducks.

 

Miss Sierra Rinier
First Grade Instructional Assistant

Coming soon…..

Second Grade

Preparation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist are the centerpiece of Second Grade at Cathedral School. Together with St. Mary’s Cathedral’s pastor and Cathedral’s principal, the second grade teacher guides the students and their families on a year–long journey of faith as the children become more fully initiated Catholics.

Second Grade challenges its students to think on a deeper level as readers transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. Writing skills are strengthened as these young authors begin to understand the process of crafting a piece of writing and the different forms it may take. This enhanced level of reflection spills over into mathematics where increasingly complex strategies are coupled with tasks that require students to write to explain the steps employed in problem solving. Throughout the year, new friendships are formed and existing ones strengthened in an atmosphere of respect, compassion, and fun both in the classroom and on the playground.

Together with their Sixth Grade buddies, the Second Grade organizes and runs “Mac Attack,” a macaroni and cheese drive for the Sunshine Division of the Portland Police Bureau. Collecting boxes of macaroni and cheese, Mac Attack helps children in need of food throughout Portland. The Second and Sixth Graders decorate boxes, make signs, and publicize the event to the school. The drive is in May, right after First Communion, and provides a fun and spirited way for Second Graders to put faith into service in a tangible and productive way.

Just like in First Grade, the Second Graders continue to serve the parish through monthly church clean up sessions. As they prepare for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, time in the sanctuary is an opportunity to begin to understand the purpose and symbolism of the many holy objects within the church that relate to the sacraments.

Miss Megan McCool, Second Grade Teacher

Miss McCool joined the Cathedral School staff in the fall of 2018. She is herself the product of Catholic education, having attended St. Pius X and Jesuit High School.  She received her Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University and her Masters of Art in Teaching from the University of Portland.
Cathedral School Private Elementary School Second Grade Instructional Assistant

Miss Natalie Mecham
Second Grade Instructional Assistant

Ms. Mecham is a graduate of University of Portland, where she double majored in Communications and Theater. While attending school she also taught pre-school. Most recently she worked as an Instructional Assistant at St. Ignatius, where she split her time between the 1st and 2nd grade classrooms.

Third Grade

Learning to pray in many ways–in the classroom, at mass, and on one’s own–and understanding the purpose, meaning, and symbolism of the many forms of Catholic prayer is the focus of Third Grade. The Third Grade lives out its faith through its commitment to serving the remarkable children at Providence’s Center for Medically Fragile Children.

Third grade is a transitional year in student learning. As reading skills are mastered, children move from basic competence to a greater level of reading comprehension, fostering the creation of independent readers and thinkers. In mathematics, students become proficient in multiplication and division skills setting a strong foundation in basic math facts to allow for future growth. The joy of learning is evident in the Third Grade classroom where enthusiasm for academic success
and a healthy amount of fun come together for a full and active school day.

For many years, Cathedral’s third graders have served Providence’s Center for Medically Fragile Children, a pediatric skilled nursing facility. For many children and volunteer parents, this experience is transformative. Cathedral students visit and play with children at the center with a backdrop of faith—beginning and ending each volunteer session in prayer. Students take away from their sessions an understanding of all children as creations of God, an appreciation of the value of every person, thanksgiving for one’s personal health, and a greater self-awareness of their ability to be comfortable with children different from themselves. These lessons extend beyond the Providence volunteer times and make Third Grade time a time of great personal growth and maturity.

Back in the parish, Third Graders continue to serve St. Mary’s Cathedral through church clean up which couples service with religious education through a behind the scenes understanding of the sanctuary as a place of worship.

Cathedral School Third Grade Teacher

Mrs. Ingrid Trachtenbarg, Third Grade Teacher

Mrs. Trachtenbarg has been teaching at Cathedral School since 2005. Prior to moving to the Third Grade position in 2012, She was the Kindergarten through Eight Grade Spanish Specialist. Before joining the Cathedral Staff, Mrs. Trachtenbarg taught at Heritage Academy in Hilton head, South Carolina. Mrs. Trachtenbarg received her Bachelors of Arts in Modern Languages and Literature from Sweet Briar College and her Masters of Education, from the University of Portland. Outside of Cathedral, Mrs. Trachtenbarg loves exploring the outdoors and spending time with her husband and twin boys.

Cathedral School Private Elementary School Third Grade Instructional Assistant

Mrs. Lacey Odenthal
Third Grade Instructional Assistant

Mrs. Lacey Odenthal moved to the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2017. Most recently from the Bountiful, UT area, Mrs. Odenthal came to Cathedral School with extensive experience working with young children as a classroom aide, camp counselor, extended care program aide, and lifeguard. She is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside, and in addition has received her Certificate in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Odenthal is excited to be at Cathedral School and to explore her new home of Portland, OR.

Fourth Grade

Fourth Graders take a step up literally and academically at Cathedral. As these students move to the upper floor of our school building, the Fourth Grade curriculum becomes more complex and organization and personal responsibility for completion of schoolwork is instilled in the students. As citizens of Oregon, Fourth Graders focus on Oregon’s geography, history, and political structure. Carefully planned field trips throughout the state to significant sites are capped off with an overnight camp-out at the Oregon Trail where students learn first–hand how the state’s pioneers first lived.

An understanding of living as a person of Christ is made
manifest through an in–depth study of the lives of saints where the Fourth Graders educate the whole school on a personally selected saint. The Fourth Grade core curriculum builds on knowledge gained in earlier grades and moves students into an increasingly comprehensive and rigorous academic study, all the while assessing each child’s abilities and crafting individual goals for mathematics, reading, and writing personally designed for every child to thrive.

In Fourth Grade, student at the Oregon Food Bank. Students and volunteer parents work together in groups to gather, assemble, and package food for needy families throughout the State. At the end of each volunteer session, the impact of the task is made clear through calculations that tell children how many meals will be prepared and families that will be fed by their efforts.

Within the school building, Fourth Graders have-for the first time as Cathedral students-a buddy who is younger: every Fourth Grader is matched with a Pre-Kindergarten student. Together these pairs attend mass, complete special seasonal projects, and participate together in all school events where the youngest Cathedral students need a helping hand. Through this interaction, compassion, understanding, and empathy are fostered while the fourth graders relish the companionship of an eager, admiring four-year-old student.

Mrs. Mindy Pesicek, Fourth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Pesicek joined the Cathedral School staff in October, 2015. She attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, where she received degrees in Biology and Philosophy. She completed her Masters in Special Education at Metro State University in Denver, Colorado. Before her move to Portland this fall, Mrs. Pesicek worked as a special education director and teacher for two years in the Denver Public School District. She has also taught English as a Second Language in Japan and Korea. Ms. Pesicek is thrilled to be in Portland and working at Cathedral School, and is enjoying exploring her new state.

Ms. Tracy Niedermeyer, Fourth Grade Instructional Assistant

Fifth Grade

Building on their firm understanding of the basic tenets of Catholicism, Fifth Graders begin to appreciate their faith on a personal level. Through a study of the Old and New Testaments, along with the lives of the saints, Fifth Graders start to know what it means to be an active member of the Catholic Church and how, as Catholics, they are called to a vocation of service.

Fifth Grade marks the final year in Cathedral’s elementary grades before the transition to its middle school. Fifth Grade students are tasked with an enhanced personal responsibility for their schoolwork and homework, and classroom expectations reflect an appreciation of the increasing potential of maturing students. As confident and thoughtful readers, Fifth Graders read and analyze texts from varied genres to promote both critical thinking skills and independent thought. In mathematics, students solidify their calculation and computation skills and broaden problem–solving skills to include the study of beginning geometry and algebra. A broad range of topics in science and social science engage the inquisitive minds and tap into a student’s natural curiosity of the world around them.

To carry out their call to service, Fifth Graders organize and administer the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive that benefits Lift Urban Portland, an interfaith network of volunteers that work to meet the needs of residents of Northwest and downtown Portland. With Cathedral School’s location in Northwest Portland, students are keenly aware of those in need, as they are our school’s neighbors. The Fifth Grade’s efforts rally support for donations throughout the school that go to supply Lift Urban’s food pantry and fill backpacks of nutritious food for children who attend the neighborhood public school.

Miss Alex Hart
Fifth Grade Teacher

Coming soon . . .

Middle School

The Cathedral School Middle School serves students in grades six through eight. We welcome our students with respect for who they are and with delight in what they will bring to the world and to our school community. From our dedicated faculty, to our innovative academic, spiritual and leadership initiatives, our comprehensive middle school program is designed to inspire, nurture and support middle school students. We are focused not on exposure to content and activities for their own sake but on outputs–what students can show they have learned.

Cathedral Middle School Social Science Teacher

Mrs. Megan Aguon, 6th Grade, Middle School Social Science

Mrs. Aguon has been teaching Middle School Social Science and Sixth Grade at Cathedral School since 2012. Before joining the Cathedral Staff, she taught a variety grades in the Archdiocese of Portland as a substitute teacher and was the “favorite substitute” of Cathedral School. Mrs. Aguon received her Bachelors of Arts in Education and Social Science from Warner Pacific University. Outside of Cathedral, Mrs. Aguon loves reading, basketball, volleyball and spending time with her husband. Mrs. Aguon teaches the following Middle School Classes: 6th Grade Homeroom and Religion, 6th Grade Math, 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Social Science.

Mrs. Katy Muth, 6th Grade, Middle School Math

Mrs. Katy Muth joined the Cathedral School staff in the fall of 2018. Mrs. Muth came from Saint Mary’s Academy, where she taught Honors Algebra 2 and Geometry for the past year. Prior to arriving at SMA, she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and M.S in Education and spent five years at St. Joseph Preparatory School in Boston, MA. At SJP she taught AP Calculus, AP Statistics, and Honors Precalculus, chaired the mathematics department, and coached volleyball. Outside the classroom, Mrs. Muth loves learning new teaching tips/tricks/strategies, baking, religiously working-out, snuggling with her pit bull Loomis, and generally causing trouble with her husband.

Cathedral School Middle School Language Arts

Mr. Mitch Overley, 7th Grade, Middle School Language Arts

Mr. Overley attended Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory High School, Ball State University, and Wabash College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in English. At Wabash, he played collegiate baseball, and received the 2015 Outstanding Future Teacher Award by IACTE and the Caleb Mills scholarship/Outstanding Teacher Candidate by the university.

His desire is “to inspire students to express themselves creatively, think critically, and perform to their highest ability. Encourage them to take these abilities into their future academic and professional endeavors. Challenge students to push themselves intellectually, mentally, and socially so that they may better understand themselves and how they interact and impact the world around them.”

Mrs. Holly Ficklin, 8th Grade, Middle School Math

Mrs. Holly Ficklin joined the Cathedral staff in the fall of 2017. She received her Bachelors of Science in elementary education as well as her Masters of Science in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Oregon. Before coming to Cathedral Mrs. Ficklin spent over 35 years as a teacher and instructional coach at Sherwood Middle School, focusing on math and science. Outside of teaching Mrs. Ficklin loves reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Middle School Science Teacher

Mr Brock Burns
8th Grade, Middle School Science

Mr. Brock Burns joined the Cathedral School staff in the fall of 2017. An Oregon native, he is a graduate of Oregon State University, where he received his BS in Biology. He earned his Masters in Education at Portland State University, and completed his student teaching at Wilson High School. Mr. Burns is happy to join the Cathedral School community.

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