Questions and Answers about the


ACCESS Alternative Program         


at Sabin Elementary 4013 NE 18th Ave Portland, OR 97212   




Rich Schafer Sabin Principal    (503) 916 6181                         

Amy Welch   District Administrator for Talented & Gifted   (503) 916 3358 





What grade students will you accept for school year 2004-05?


Grades 1 through 7.  Grade 8 will be added the following year.

Grades 9-12 will be a “high school within a high school” or a “small learning community within a high school.”  Grant HS is the neighborhood high school.


Why don’t you accept Kindergarten students?  Why no Early Entry into First Grade?


It is our belief that families need to give their neighborhood school a chance.  Also, testing very young children is difficult.  In regards to Early Entry, ACCESS students already have a wide range of abilities, adding students who are significantly younger also compounds the social and emotional differences.


Is ACCESS recommended for all highly gifted students?


Absolutely not.  If your neighborhood school (or special focus school) works – great!


How many students are currently enrolled in ACCESS?


There are 89 students presently enrolled.  We still have openings this year for a few more students in grades 1-2-3 (Yellow Group) and grades 4-5-6 (Blue Group).  No space in gr 3-4-5 (Red Group) and gr 5-6 (Green Group).


What is the final deadline to apply for ACCESS?


The priority deadline is March 19, 2004.  Families will be notified  of acceptance by the Student Transfer office no later than April 30.  The number of admitted students will be determined by the Sabin/ACCESS staff.  The decision will be based on the number of qualified applicants and the number of returning students and the remaining space available.  After May 1, we cannot guarantee admission, as acceptance will be on a space available basis only. For those families who are interested, we will accept a wait list after May 1.  The main reason for the March 19 deadline is to determine staffing for 2004-05. 


"Nonresident" transfer students (e.g. David Douglas, Gresham, Beaverton) should contact the "Student Transfer" office for help with the Transfer process.  (503) 916-3242    You can also go online at for more information.


What does the acronym ACCESS mean?


Accelerated curriculum

Cultivation and development of skills, abilities, and creativity

Character and social development

Exploration and personal discovery

Self-directed, self-paced challenges toward excellence

Service to the community and society with tolerance and wisdom


Why is ACCESS an "alternative program" and not a special focus school?


Alternative programs have the ability to target their audience. Special Focus schools in years past also had that ability, but they are now lottery only.  Charter Schools are also lottery only.  Once a student is accepted into an alternative program, they do not need to reapply.


Alternative programs also have a greater flexibility in choosing their teachers.  ACCESS has hired certified teachers who have experience in working with gifted students.


Alternative schools are directed primarily to students who have had a difficult time adjusting to their neighborhood school.  The "typical" student is one who has high academic need for challenge, but is not working up to their ability in their present school.   


Where is ACCESS housed?


ACCESS is at Sabin Elementary - NE 18th Ave and Fremont St.  Sabin principal Rich Schafer is the principal for both ACCESS and Sabin.  Amy Welch, the district TAG administrator, helps coordinate ACCESS.  Amy is frequently at Sabin, and is available by phone or email any day or time.


Who are the ACCESS students?


The students are from all over the city of Portland, Beaverton and Gresham.  Students from outside the district may request a transfer to Portland; or if denied a transfer, pay tuition.


How can I get “in the know” about what’s happening at ACCESS?


Keep in touch with our web page at    PRIVATE HREF="" MACROBUTTON HtmlResAnchor

Screen Name:  sabinaccess

Password:        sabin


Who teaches at ACCESS?


Presently we have the following teaching staff:

1 language arts teacher – Ms. Dorie Filipski

1 math teacher – Ms. Nancy Drentlaw

1 science teacher – Mr. Alfonso Garcia

2 half-time social studies teachers – Mr. David Baroff and Ms. Beth Bolger

Sabin has a great many support staff and specials teachers:  full-time Counselor, Art, PE and Librarian.  Support staff include ESL-ELL, Special Education, Speech Pathologist, School Psychologist, Resource Room teacher.


We anticipate making some changes to the ACCESS staffing next year.  For instance, we have found that the primary-age students should have less movement from teacher to teacher.  The current thought is that the younger students will have one, or at the most, two, teachers (plus specials: Library, PE, Art).


When will ACCESS teachers be hired?


Additional teachers will be hired no later than spring – this is a great advantage to last year when we were not able to hire teachers until late summer.  The intent is that the all ACCESS teachers will be available to plan for one week following the end of the school year and another week (or partial week) before school begins in September.


What is the ACCESS curriculum?


ACCESS teachers use a mix of materials ranging from the Portland Schools curriculum, the College of William and Mary Center for Gifted Development materials, and other non-traditional curriculum such as Singapore Math.  Presently discussion is taking place to decide curriculum options for next year.  Both parents and teachers have discussed one possibility of offering a menu of classes next year that are more focused in terms of depth of instruction.  Students can then rotate each quarter to different offerings.  Most students are working two years above grade level; some students are operating three years above grade level.  e.g. Some sixth grade students are working on high school Algebra.


How can a wide variety of students' ages and aptitude be met?


All the students have scored 99% in either reading, math or general intellectual ability on a nationally-normed test.  Many of the present students have great strengths and great weaknesses – generally high in science and math, and lower in language arts and social studies.


Students are assessed with the IOWA at the beginning of the year, and then grouped by needed skill level (not age).  Students are grouped and regrouped during the year according to need.

Our present groupings are:

Yellow Group – grades 1-2-3                              Blue Group – grades 4-5-6

Red Group – grades 3-4-5                                   Green Group – grades 5-6


How do the ACCESS students mix with the Sabin students?


Presently the students meet on a limited basis; mainly at lunch and recess.  Beginning in February through the end of the school year, the students will mix more after school through a Portland Schools Foundation grant, the Sabin After-School Academy.  Classes include      e.g. French, Choir, Spanish, Creative Writing, Spelling Bee, Data Bases & Spreadsheets, National Geographic Bee, Opera, Percussion instruments and ceramic tile-making.


Will there be PE, Art or Foreign Language classes for ACCESS students?   Counselor?


Presently, Sabin has a Librarian, PE and Art teacher. We don’t have a Foreign Language or Music teacher. It is our hope that someday we will be able to hire more specials teachers.  The Sabin staff presently teaches Moshi Moshi (Japanese) via cable television.  The ACCESS teachers are interested in teaching Spanish next school year.  We are lucky to have a native Spanish speaker in Mr. Alfonso Garcia.


Are Parents encouraged to Volunteer?


Most certainly YES - we can't have an effective program without parents!  Parents to teach enrichment classes, work with small groups of students in the classroom, participate on the Sabin Site Council, Sabin PTA, and the Sabin Playground Committee.


Will there be transportation?


Only 6th & 7th grade students who would have attended Whitaker MS are offered transportation (made possible by "No Child Left Behind").   The ACCESS staff will help get families together in carpools. 


Is there before and after Daycare available at Sabin?


Yes, the "Vermont Hills Family Life Center" contracts with Portland Schools to provide daycare before and after school.  Sabin starts its school day at 8:50 AM and ends its day at 3 PM.  Sabin also has a free breakfast program for all students, the first 15 minutes of school.