OT: Moving to Portland (need your help ...)

Hello all. My wife and I have toyed with the idea of moving to PDX for sometime now. Now that I am finally finishing up all my gradschooling, the time seems ripe for a move this summer. Ergo, we are trying to make some connections now in order to pursue job opportunities and living situations. Considering the great diversity on this site, I thought what a great place to put some feelers out. Read on below for a little bit about myself and my wife. If you know of anything we should look at, or anyone we should talk to, please let me know.

(If some people could rec this so it stays up for a bit, I would appreciate it. I will delete the post when it appears (if any) responses have slowed.)

Me: I graduated June 2011 with a master's degree in social work from the University of Denver. At the end of May I will complete a post-graduate training course in marriage and family therapy at the Denver Family Institute. Since last May I have been working full-time at a child placement agency in Colorado Springs doing individual and family therapy with kids/teens in foster care, and in-home family therapy services to prevent out-of-home placement for families at risk. I am interested in the mental health field first and foremost (particularly marriage and family therapy), but I am open to most any kind of social work opportunity as well. I have been researching the field in the area and a few organizations that stand out include Morrison Child and Family Services, LifeWorks NW, and YouthVillages (formerly ChristieCare). If you have worked for or utilized services from these agencies or others like them, I would love to hear about your experience.

My wife: She has worked as a music teacher for 8 years now in Colorado Springs: The first 2 years were in elementary schools, the last 6 have been as a choir conductor at a 5A school in Colorado Springs (the largest classification). She received her musical education and training from St. Olaf College. I am a biased non-expert, but she is very talented and very very good at what she does. She has a particular interest right now in returning to the elementary level since we have 2 young children (2.75 years old, and 3 months). The high school level is very demanding of time outside of normal working hours, and she would like to focus more on family (as would I) at this time, though I think she would be open to most any opportunity that would get us out there. Through a contact in the West Linn-Wilsonville SD, we know about 2 new elementary schools that are opening that she will be pursuing. But any other advice on schools/districts that value the arts and support music and schools would be very helpful. We have been counseled in the past to stay away from Portland Public Schools, but perhaps there are good schools within the district that would be better than others as far as music and the arts? (And if anyone can explain WHY we should stay away from PPS, that might help as well. My cursory understanding is that budget is a constant mess, so programs and particularly arts are always being cut.)

Lastly, as mentioned above we have 2 young children, and hope to have more. We would love some advice on inexpensive family friendly neighborhoods. We will probably want to be convenient to wherever we get jobs, but as new residents of the city we would also like to be able to experience all the fun things that Portland has to offer. We live in the burbs right now, and I think we're interested in something more urban going forward, but would be open either way. I grew up in the SW hills in the Bridlemile school area and have fond memories, but perhaps that would be a little more isolated than we want right now as we get to know the city again.

We will be visiting family in the area March 22-31 for my wife's spring break, and we would love to drop some resumes and make some contacts while we are there. Thanks for bearing with this off-topic post, and I am so looking forward to everyone's responses.

(Also, if anyone has tix to the OKC game on March 27th they don't think they'll use, I might be interested ... ;) )



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