Executive Director's Corner

Direct from Dr. J's Desk
Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year!
I am so excited to be welcoming you all to the start of this new year. We are collectively living through a time that will be remembered throughout history. While there have been challenges, hardships, and losses - as a community we have also grown in skills and flexibility and risen in support of one another. I am so proud of the work and growth of our staff and students.
We are deeply thankful for our PVS families, students and community. Cultivating the capacity to develop relationships, purpose, imagination, a sense of truth and feeling of responsibility are central in Waldorf education. The relationships we've formed as a PVS community support, extend, encourage, question, nudge and will ultimately help us rise to this moment. While we face pandemic, fires, economic uncertainty and the reckoning of our systematic history of racist oppression, the power of these relationships and our responsibility toward one another is the basis for our future success.
We are using this soft start time to rekindle relationships, get to know google classroom, have time to learn chrome book access and troubleshooting. We anticipated there would be challenges - this is precisely the reason for our soft start - it allows us to work through these problems risk free before we get to our focus on academic learning. If you are encountering challenges, please stay in communication and be patient. We thank you for your understanding and grace as we all navigate through this new frontier together.
Our teachers have developed learning plans that center relationships, embrace the heart of Waldorf education, and balance instruction to support high levels of academic achievement. As a school and staff we are committed to continuing the ongoing work of decolonizing our curriculum and nurturing social justice within and without the classroom. We invite you to be active participants in this work with us.
I also want to take a moment as your Executive Director to thank you for the honor of continuing to serve the PVS community. I am humbled, inspired by and dedicated to the students, families and staff of the Portland Village School, and to help us grow in our North Portland neighborhood so we reflect and bring value to our neighborhood community. Thank you for allowing me to serve you all.
Hoping you and yours are well and safe.
All my best,
~ Dr. J

Dr J



Welcome to PVS: Dr Jennifer Stackhouse

(This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of PVS's Woven newsletter)

by Medessa Cheney


If one is inclined to believe in destiny, one could certainly find signs of it at work in Dr. Jenni Stackhouse’s fortuitous arrival at Portland Village School last spring. The school was in need of leadership following the mid-year departure of its previous principal, and Dr. J, as she is commonly known, was in need of an administrative role that utilized her richly varied personal and professional background. What resulted is a mutually beneficial situation, one that allows Dr. J to apply her considerable skills and array of experiences to a school as multi-faceted and dynamic as she is. Dr. J herself describes it as a perfect fit and says, “This is where I am supposed to be.”


Among the life experiences that Dr. J brings to PVS are years spent in a log cabin in Alaska without running water, and a childhood in Wisconsin in which nature was embraced and handmade gifts were the norm. “We had a very big loom for making cloaks,” she said, summing up her family’s passion for creating things. Dr. J has also long been involved in the performing arts, including dance, singing, and theater, and spent time as a studio manager at The Portland Ballet. This love of the arts and nature made it easy for her to adapt to the culture at PVS, although her previous teaching and administrative roles were in more traditional public school settings. Reflecting on her teaching methods and philosophy during those years, she notes a number of ways they aligned with PVS approaches. “I was my own flower fairy,” she said, explaining that she always brought fresh flowers to her classrooms for the impact they had on the space and the students. She incorporated storytelling, theater strategies, and circle times because she found those techniques effective and believed in creating a “space for experience” in her classes. Meanwhile, Dr. J’s academic credentials, including a doctorate in education, along with her experience in traditional public schools proves helpful in her interactions with the Portland School District, which oversees PVS.


Another valuable attribute that Dr. J brings to PVS is her understanding of neurodiversity. On her website, she states that “the neurodiversity paradigm compels us to view autism and other neurological differences as an element of the infinite variation of human wiring, rather than a disease needing a ‘cure.’” She speaks candidly about her own experience with Dyslexia and about her sister who is a professional writer and on the Autism Spectrum, hoping that they can serve as success stories for children in similar situations. She believes that a major goal of education is to help children learn how they learn. According to Dr. J, the daily rhythm at PVS, combined with the close bonds that form between students and teachers, offers an excellent environment for teachers to help students identify their strengths and individual learning needs, as well as to provide the essential patience and hope that all learners need to thrive.


Dr. J has become so invested in PVS that she moved both her daughters from their neighborhood school to join the fifth and third grades. Describing an experience that many PVS parents can relate to, she commented on the calming environment created in each classroom. “My first time here, I walked in and my shoulders relaxed… Each classroom is unique and beautiful.” Asked what else she values about a PVS education, she emphasized reverence, which she sees nourished here, and the way that childhood is cherished and protected. “The eighth graders here still act like the kids they are, and that is special and beautiful.” Although still relatively new to PVS, Dr. J clearly has a deep understanding and appreciation for the school’s mission. Summing up her thoughts about the school she leads, she stated, “This is a school where we are making the world a better place.”

Message from Dr J - Spring 2019

I am so thrilled to be a part of our PVS community. In my time here I have been so impressed by the caring, collaborative staff, amazing students and supportive families.

To introduce myself, I am Jennifer Stackhouse, students call me Dr. J. I was born in Canada, lived in a cabin my dad built in Alaska, grew up mostly in Madison, WI, and have lived in Portland for the last 23 years. A lifetime ago I was a professional ballet dancer and dance teacher, and was the studio manager of The Portland Ballet. I have a degree in fine art, with an emphasis on Sculpture. My husband Ty is a stay at home dad and artist, and we have two daughters Ava and Eleanor who are in the 5th and 3rd grades at PVS.

Before entering administration, I was a teacher in Beaverton for 10 years at West Tualatin View Elementary and Vose Spanish Immersion Elementary. I was the District Intervention Coordinator K-8 in Gresham-Barlow for 4 years, as well as a principal in Scappoose. I have a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Foundations with a focus on teacher collaboration, administrative support for collaboration and teacher job satisfaction as a result of collaborative work. 
If you would like to learn more about me, please check out my website drstackhouse.com - there you can learn more about my leadership style, my experience with neuro-diversity, the books I am reading etc.  I look forward to meeting you at the First Friday Community Coffee. 

Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us! 

All my best, 

~ Jenni