Portland Public Schools
Portland, Oregon

da Vinci Logo imageda Vinci Arts Middle School

Creative minds for
challenging times.

2508 NE Everett Street | Portland, OR 97232
Phone: (503) 916-5356 | Fax: (503) 916-2721

Fred Locke, principal

I am very pleased to be the principal at da Vinci Arts Middle School. Below is an personal introduction to who I am and my thoughts on a few important issues. You can click on these links to access my Educational Philosophy and the importance of Equity Work in our Schools.

If you ever feel the need to contact me you can reach me via email < fwlocke@pps.net > or though the school's main phone line (503)916-5356. But don't be surprised if when you call I am out and about visitng classrooms. It's one of my favorite duties.

If I haven't already done so, I hope to meet you soon!
Fred Locke

I am also the teacher of record of our APEX program. APEX, or Alternative Physical Educational Experience is so 6th & 7th grade da Vinci students that want to take 2-year-long arts classes and neither is dance can meet their PPS PE requirement. Click on the link above to download the packet with assignments, deadlines and other expectations.

Back to School Night!                                  September 2014


Dear da Vinci Students and Parents,


Greetings! Back to School Night is Tuesday beginning at 6:00 in the auditorium, and da Vinci staff are excited to meet with you about our upcoming school year!


Following an opening week of community building, expectations and routines, last week was rich with more learning. In Core classes, the DIG Project Ten Universals were being introduced and explored. Student questions and responses about the Rosetta stone, creating their own language, artifacts, and government were raising expectations and excitement about their secret society. In math, problem solving, comparing answers, and explaining their process and thinking were the soup de jour. Pinch pots, fence art, ensemble, drawing, art historical perspectives on World War II, slap taps, auditions, call backs, and grand-plies topped the charts. Collage profiles with accompanying poetic text, neighborhood maps, artistic five fingered learning goals, water quality experiments and Biological vocabulary were prevalent learning targets.   


To balance this intensity, at lunch/recess students are enjoying the summer like temps. Conversations were rich, the swings were busy, jumping rope, basketball, Frisbee, soccer, four square, and play structure climbing were all fashionable. Competition and sportsmanship released energy and built skills. Outside clean up was strong with most students making a concerted effort to take responsibility for their trash and belongings. In classrooms and outside, a great start to year 19!  


At our PTSA Executive meeting on Tuesday night, after reviewing our proposed budget, we discussed how we could best serve da Vinci families. Actively encouraging PTSA participation, and effective communication strongly resonated. With 100% involvement in the da Vinci PTSA and Foundation, we will ensure that each da Vinci student has access to our rich and engaging arts-infused curriculum. At Back to School Night, our new PTSA President Don Gavitte will outline the easy steps to help get everyone involved!


Before offering you three topics to consider, I want to give a collective SHOUT OUT to our new staff. Da Vinci’s unique, busy and vibrant learning environment asks much of us all. As a team, we offer your students our best. Cognizant of their learning curves, new staff, with great support, have hit the ground and given their all to your students. As a team and as a community, we are looking forward to a challenging and awesome year!


What follows are three topics from this week’s news that I wanted to share. The Regional Arts & Culture Council just issued a report that demonstrates a positive correlation between arts education and student achievement in Portland. This builds on past research, and is welcome as we strive to challenge and prepare your children for high school, college, and our complex information rich world. Click on the following link: http://cnrg-portland.org/content/racc-press-release-arts-education-linked-student-achievement-portland-area 


The SACET Report, in support of strong neighborhood schools, is making a number of recommendations to Superintendent Smith and the PPS Board in October. Their third recommendation speaks to the need for greater accountability for Focus Option Schools. “SACET continues to look more deeply into the role that focus option schools serve in the district. At a minimum, SACET recommends that such schools be held accountable to criteria relevant to the purpose they are purported to serve, and that they be assessed by the value they provide to the system as a whole. PPS must ensure that all students have equitable access to approved focus option schools (SACET Report, p.4).” Here are the report and two related articles:


News: http://www.opb.org/news/article/portland-board-tries-to-balance-neighborhood-schools-with-special-programs/



Finally, here is a link to OPB’s Think Out loud program on Understanding the Common Core. I appreciate OPB’s focus on this important assessment shift.



At our State of the School Address on Tuesday, October 21st, I will review our continued alignment to Common Core in our Arts Infused setting, and how we are preparing our students for this more rigorous assessment. That we consistently challenge our students to grow and demonstrate proficiency across academic and artistic disciplines is exciting and uniquely our passion. Partnering, to best support our students’ deep inquiry and understanding involves us all. As a community, we want to prepare your students to be strong and discerning consumers of culturally responsive content in our arts focused learning environment. Helping your children discover, understand, and make connections using multiple perspectives is critical as they make sense of our global society. Helping them develop the perseverance and grit required of excellence will take patience, persistence, and the belief that together we can make a difference in the lives of your awesome children. Voracious, life-long learners that value and express themselves through challenging, rich content and superb art—stay tune the da story continues.


See you at Back to School Night on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium. Thank you for your children; they inspire us everyday!


At your Service.


Fred Locke


More than Half Full    Who I am, a little background

I am an early riser, and excited to experience each new day. An optimist, I have learned finding Win-Win is worth the effort. I enjoy making a difference, am results oriented, and do my best to remain flexible and centered. Like bodying surfing, once I’ve caught a great wave into the beach, I head back out to catch the next. Collaborating with others is exciting because hopes and dreams far bigger than my own become possible. I believe in art, as it allows us to express our inner being in different forms. Whether joyful, melancholy, in tribute, or as a statement, art is a necessary and sometimes a cathartic lens to understanding our world. I love life and feel that every day, even when faced with the hardest questions, our work should be cherished and celebrated. This is my opportunity to grow and give back.

My family has always been hugely important to me and, I was afforded great educational opportunities. My grandfather, Henry H. Welles, was headmaster of New Canaan Country School for 26 years before retiring. He was a tall, elegant man whose quiet wisdom was studied and generous. My parents met as graduate students at the Shady Hill School in Boston, and each became well respected progressive educators. After being a headmaster and a 5th grade teacher, my father finished his career as a member of the Philadelphia Teacher Center for the Philadelphia Public school system. My mother, after teaching kindergarten and 2nd grade, became the Executive Secretary for the Friends Council on Education in Philadelphia. Dad had a knack for surrounding himself with very creative and talented teachers, and my mother traveled the country consulting and trouble-shooting with Quaker schools.

Growing up our home life was busy and rich. Teachers were regularly convening at our house for dinner meetings, and my sisters and I were “allowed” to say a quick hello. I was never sure what they discussed, but it seemed important. As I grew older and started asking questions, the “conversations” were about how to make schools better. I was intrigued with the questions and dilemmas both personal and professional. Like my parents, my family is woven into the nightly scene of challenging late night conversations and 24/7 school agendas. My gratitude of their support is unwavering. I do my best to fine a healthy balance by cherishing the time I get at home.

My passion for education has always run deep. My wife Holly has been working for Friends of the Children (FOC) for a little over a year and she loves the reality of supporting students and mentors through data. FOC is an organization committed to helping children realize their dream of graduating high school and possibly college, and of becoming productive citizens in a professional setting. For my sisters and me, this was a given and we all finished with advanced degrees. For Holly, graduating college was achieved while raising our two daughters one of whom is a cancer survivor. Holly’s part-time job, coordinating the Walk of the Heroines Project for the Women’s Studies Department at Portland State University (PSU), helped make ends meet during this challenging time. With the help of Governor Roberts, and many other generous and visionary supporters, PSU’s beautiful “Walk of the Heroines” walkway was designed and built honoring the lives and societal contributions of women.

Through middle and high school I was involved in many aspects of school life. Choir, plays, musicals, sports, and committees consumed my time. I had to work hard to get good grades, manage practice, homework, rehearsals, and meetings. The required summer readings were not my favorite, but now I welcome a great book. Dancing was a phase my parents thought would pass in six months. Instead, it afforded me the chance to study, work abroad, and learn about dance and life from teachers and mentors who recognized my passion and will to succeed.

As a dancer, I learned to revere and honor the learning process and the theatre. The challenge and joy of performing opened up a special world of talent and dedication. Practicing towards perfection in arduous rehearsals has helped me to this day. I danced within myself and now apply that same work ethic school-wide. I am thankful for reciprocity as my colleagues and students constantly teach me how to best learn and share my spirit. 

Despite some talent, dance was full of challenges that demanded perseverance. By giving my best each day, I won another. Different dance injuries led to learning and teaching the now popular Pilates Technique while I was a student at the College of the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) in London. I danced professionally in Germany and Eugene, Oregon, and gave some of my best performances as a guest artist in character roles with Oregon Ballet Theatre. 

Great teachers and colleagues at Jefferson High School, OBT, Lewis & Clark and Portland Public have shaped me as an educator. Like a good sponge, I soaked up all the knowledge my patient teachers could bestow and worked diligently to make a difference. Alan Hooper, James Canfield, Haydee Gutierrez, Elena Carter, Josie Mosley, Linda Christensen, Tom Ruhl, Karl Logan and others wowed me with their creativity and constant pursuit of academic excellence and aesthetic perfection. Students have always contributed to my growth as a teacher, and as James Canfield, former Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, reminded us in Nutcracker rehearsals, “there are no small parts.” In dance, education, and in life, I still find this to be true.

Graduate school helped me transition from teaching dance to administration. I truly miss teaching, but have never looked back. School administration is a wonderful challenge and the chance to positively impact more students. Working at da Vinci is like coming home. A vibrant and talented arts community—what could be better? I believe in da Vinci’s mission because every student should have the chance to learn and grow through the richness of art.

I love being principal of da Vinci because I am surrounded by talented staff and caring parents who consistently give students their best. Being part of the da Vinci community is an honor and a privilege. Working together, we afford students excellent opportunities to learn and grow. The respect is real and vibrant. There is much to do, but that is part of the excitement. Da Vinci must evolve to meet the demands of our changing world. Our students must be creative, collaborative, discerning purveyors of information, and love the challenge of exploring their world and expressing themselves through art. I hope their da Vinci experience positions them to make a difference in their community and our world. As a father I want the best for my two children and da Vinci afforded them both the chance to fly. If I can help all our students find their wings, I will continue to smile and greet each new day with gladness.