Planned Lockdown Drill to Proceed as Scheduled

We are preparing for a previously scheduled drill next week on March 20 that has been on our calendar since earlier this year. It should be noted that we considered postponing this drill out of consideration of current events taking place in the United States.  Some of you may be aware that some activities in the High School included the signing of a flag of condolence for the loss of life in Florida just one month ago.  While only a percentage of our student body is connected by citizenship to the issues surrounding the current debate, we are sensitive to the media coverage and the sense that all students may be both aware and have feelings associated with these events in their home country.  Despite this, we feel it is important to keep with our established schedule, mindful that there is never a perfect time for emergency drills or practice associated with safety.

To be clear, we practice, similar to our fire evacuation, a protocol that is called a “LockDown” drill.  In response to an intruder in the vicinity of the school or in the case of an intruder entering the building, we have procedures for urgently locking all classrooms to restrict access to students and staff in that area and move into what is referred to as “Shelter in Place.”  Teachers quickly check hallways and bring any moving students in their vicinity into their classrooms, lock their doors, block windows, and begin attendance with the students and adults present.  Students are kept in this setting until an “All Clear” signal is announced.

As with all of our drills, the intent is not to inspire fear, but to practice our preparedness for any potential situation.  Students and staff need to be generally familiar with all of these types of drills to assure student safety and readiness.  We learn from each drill with an after action report process and our School Health & Safety Committee regularly meets to discuss and recommends improvements.

If you are a parent and are in the school during this drill, you need to be prepared to follow directions of security guards and/or staff members as they direct you to safe haven.  You’ll be required to participate in the drill until the “All Clear” is announced.  Also be reminded that there will be no vehicle access to the campus during the drill and the main entrance will be closed and locked.  We expect the duration of the drill to be about 20-30 minutes.  We will not be sending an emergency text message during this drill, but will test the system again at a future date.  Happy to answer questions as needed!

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Parking, Safety, and a Special Project

In this edition of Zimplicity:

  • An important project to support some talented students who recently won the right and special opportunity to compete at the world level in our Robotics Program.
  • I want to share some thoughts below about our parking lot and logical next steps, for which I need your feedback.
  • A little bit about the re-enrollment process now underway in Admissions.


Further down in our eNotes and HERE is an article regarding our award winning Robotics team.  They have earned the right to attend an international competition and are raising funds on a short timeline.  They are energetic and excited by this possibility and have setup a fund raising page with a daunting goal.  Please push their message out to corporate donors and others who would be interested in supporting this noble venture.  We are excited for their experience, but also because of the pride and inspiration for all of us that is associated with their opportunity.  Take a look and give what you can to their effort!!

Parking, Safety, and the Environment

In the midst of our challenges associated with rerouted traffic, I’ve been observing more frequently of late, interacting with motorists and getting a sense of logical next steps in safety enhancements.  We plan to resolve the road issue in the most expedient time frame possible, but our challenges revolve around more than just the closure of our back gate.  There are some problems that we have not addressed significantly previously and they require some thinking about how we can change our practice in the future to assure that all of us follow rules that are meant to keep us all safe, and especially the children we all serve.  I’ll summarize some of the key points of consideration below:

  • Parking – While we all know that parking can be in limited supply and we will look for ways to make some additional spaces available through moderate redesign, the solution is not going to be provided by allowing parking on curb areas nearest the buildings that are intended only as temporary stop and go loading zones.  This includes the Kiss and Go areas in the front area of the school near elementary, the main entrance area that is lined by chain, the curb along the building near the High School entrance, and the curbed area in back of the school along the track area.  Cars parked in these areas create a risk for children and this is becoming an increasing problem.  These areas are so designated in order to make sure there is proper line of site for cars to see pedestrians before they step off of a curb.  With small children in our facility, this is high risk for potential injury and is the main reason we do not allow parent parking closest to the school in the elementary area and reserve parent parking further away from the building instead.
  • Use of Identification not your own.  We have had more than a few cases where drivers approach the front gate and attempt to use ID cards that are not their own.  During high traffic times, this can slow the entry and exit to the school and is one of the reasons for backup in the morning.  We have made it clear that the driver of the vehicle must have proper identification as a parent or helper and that this identification be used for access.  Guards are randomly and regularly checking for this.  Related to this is the requirement for passes from school offices before taking children from school at any other time during the school day.  More than once, parents have been turned back to school offices for this pass before they are allowed to leave campus with any student.  These are both critical safety measures that must be followed by all community members without argument.
  • Relationship between guards and parents.  It is important that parents always treat guards with respect.  In our minds, they are equivalent to law enforcement and should always be obeyed in all interactions.  Arguing with a guards is never helpful and only serves to distract that guard’s attention from the students they are primarily engaged to protect.  Our security supervisor and staff at the front desk in the main entrance are available to address any concerns you may have by coming into the school and logging your concern.  We’ll follow up quickly with you to assure that the matter is resolved.  But, it should never be allowed, nor demonstrated to students, that guards can be treated in anything other than a respectful manner.  This is true for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians at all times on the campus grounds.
  • Bicycles.  Given the moderating weather, more bicycles are beginning to return to campus and it’s important to remind everyone that bicycles must be walked at all times on campus.  Given our current load of vehicles, it is not possible to provide for a safe environment when mixing bicycles and traffic in our parking lot.  Most are doing a great job with this, but there were still a few reports of bicycle riders not following guard directions when asked to walk their bike.  We would also ask the parents model for children that we need to use crosswalks to cross the road at the designated locations.  This is part of the overall safety measures and important for us all to follow.
  • Other.  I’ve also noted some excessive speed in the area, both in our parking lot and also on the road leading into the school.  While we do not control the street area leading to the school entrance, I would encourage all parents to watch speed in this area in order to provide for a safe walking area.  Similarly, I’ve also noted some higher speeds on the campus grounds.  While our speed bumps tend to control this, there are stretches of parking area where parents will accelerate excessively and this is a tremendous risk to student safety where kids may emerge from between cars without warning.  We should all be committed to traveling at a reduced speed at ALL times on the campus grounds.
  • Air quality.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that cars are still running for long periods of waiting time, something that we asked you to rectify in earlier messages.  If you are stopped at a curb and waiting,

We are also considering remedies to the above issues and have developed a list of potential options.  The only one that seems immediately viable, given our level of legal authority, is to deny entrance to vehicles when rules have not been followed and when it is clear that the vehicle poses a risk to patrons on our campus grounds.  We have done this in the past, but possibly not at a frequency required to assure compliance in all instances.  We would suggest that after a few reminders, there is little else we can do except to assure that the vehicle is not allowed on campus for a period of time.  We do not have the ability to levy fines for parking lot transgressions, so the seems our only real option.  I’d love your feedback on this method and encourage you to reach out to me with any other suggestions you might have.  I still believe that our common focus is safety and children, as always, come first.  In that regard, I put my faith in the power of community where all of us help police everyone’s choices in our shared public areas by encouraging good manners and collaboration on all fronts.

Admissions Re-Enrollment

The process of re-enrollment is proceeding according to plan with invoices for seat deposits about to be sent.  We appreciate your engagement in the recent survey and, based on your instructions, we will be moving to the next level of commitment.  Please take note of the deadlines as we have high demand and low turnover on the horizon again, which will make every seat for next year important to the families that would like to join us. Thanks in advance for your help and attention.

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March Madness

This will be a longer entry for eNotes this time, so clicking through to my blog post will be important.  Therefore, here are the items I’m covering in this article:

  • Accreditation Update
  • New and Aspiring Board Member Training – NEW DATE!! – April 5th
  • Admissions Policy Explanation

Continue reading…

Accreditation Update

Our visitors from NEASC and CIS left on the Friday before break after completing an exhaustive review of our self-study report and observation of our work throughout the school.  They connected with every faculty member and administrator during their time here along with students, parents, support staff, administrators, board members and others in the ASW community.  We were tremendously proud of everyone who interacted with the visiting team and how they shared our story, rooted in core values and based on our common commitment to the children we serve.  Ji Han, the chairperson for the team, noted their particular reflections on the qualities of our students who demonstrated the best of ASW traditions!!

The accreditation team provided me with an opportunity to review their draft report for accuracy, but was admonished to not release the report until each accrediting body had fulfilled their responsibility to approve it within their respective structures. This process usually takes about 4-6 weeks, or possibly longer.  What I can generally report is that the findings will not likely include any surprises, but have appropriately put focus on our action plans in the places we had expected.  While we might adjust these plans to provide for these points of emphasis, we will be thrilled with their feedback and advice in the final document.  The committee and/or the accrediting bodies will still have to make a determination between the following four final options:

  • Award of Accreditation or Re-Accreditation
  • Award of Accreditation or Re-Accreditation with specific qualifications
  • Postponement of Accreditation or Re-Accreditation for specific reason(s)
  • Denial of Accreditation

As we did with the self-study, we will publish the final approved report and their final finding when it becomes available.

New and Aspiring Board Member Training – NEW DATE!!

Likely because of the timing, we had limited sign-up for the New and Aspiring Board member Training scheduled for tomorrow, March 1.  Therefore, we’ve canceled this session.  But, fear not, there is yet another opportunity to participate in this training on the horizon and still in plenty of time to get ready for ASW Board elections!!!  Please consider joining us on April 5, 2018 for the next session of this important training.  Whether you have aspirations to serve on the ASW board, or would like to consider service on other non-profit boards, this training will prepare you for the basic foundations of good governance.  While our focus of context will be the educational setting, the principles of governance apply equally to a variety of similar settings.  You are welcome to attend even if you just want to find out more about how ASW governance works and how the Board of Trustees do their work in support of the school’s core values, mission, and strategic goals.  Please try to join us.  Light snacks and certificate of completion provided.

Thursday, April 5, 2017, 6:00 p.m. in the MPR

Click here to RSVP:

Admissions Policy Explanation

In December, the Board of Trustees adopted revisions to the admission policy of the school.  These were primarily meant to address the tightening of our overall structure and better articulate the parameters used in making decisions about a growing stream of applications that are now being processed by the Admissions Department.  Part of aligning our practices was to introduce an online system of application that is now fully operational and receiving positive reviews.

It should first be clear that changes to the admissions policy of the school only affects new applicants to the school going forward.  No current students will be impacted by these changes and nothing in the policy reflects any change that, by itself, would affect the enrollment of any current student beyond what was already in place.

The adjustments to the policy this year (linked here: Policy 8.01 – Admissions) were primarily aimed at reinforcing the goals of the school to maintain its diversity and provide guidance to the admissions process in how, at the admission stage, to determine nationality.  In addition, and as part of our acceptance of diversity, the policy reinforces the non-selective nature of our enrollment process and only identifies the potential limits that might be placed on grade levels for providing learning support, beginner English language support, and nationality as a proportion of the grade. Order of priority rules have also been expanded and clarified to ensure equity and transparency in the admissions process. As an American embassy sponsored and supported school, the policy reaffirms the bylaw established priority for American nationality admissions that have been part of the school’s structure since its formal beginning in 1953 when it was founded due to the efforts of Colonel Frank Gilchrist from the US Embassy military detachment.

If you ever have any questions about the admission policy, please feel free to contact the Admission department.  Our website has been updated to reflect the new policy and we will continue to consider additional changes that are consistent with our growth and development over time.

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Accreditation Acclamation

Accreditation Meeting on Friday

We are having a wonderful week with our accrediting body and enjoying sharing our wonderful school with them.  They are halfway through their week with us and have had robust opportunities for conversation and deeper research.  They are sharing lots of ideas with us and, in return, we are impressing them with ideas they will take home with them as well.  We will have an opportunity to hear their reflections as a whole staff on Friday as they bring closure to their work.  While seating will be limited, additional parents are welcome to join us as follows:

What: The Team Chair and Co-Chair of the NEASC/CIS Accreditation Team will give a 10-15 minute talk about the team’s experience during the visit. In broad strokes, they will report out on areas of strength and areas in need of strengthening.  All faculty, staff, parents, and students are invited to attend, but seating may be limited.

When: Friday, February 16th from 3:45 pm – 4:00 pm

Where: Theater

Board Training in March!!

Mark your calendars for the next session this year of the New and Aspiring Board Member training.  Like last year, I’m leading sessions on School and non-profit board membership. If you have an interest in a position on the ASW board, as a leader in PTO, or if you are looking to serve on other boards in the future, this training will help provide some of the key understandings associated with good governance in a non-profit setting.  The content of this training has been further expanded to also include insights into ASW specifically.  With Board of Trustee elections on the horizon, this is the perfect opportunity to get ready for your candidacy.  We’ll explore selected ASW Board documents and will give some insight into ASW structures and policy as well.

Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in the MPR

If you would like to participate, you can sign up by clicking here:

There is no cost to attend.

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