First week of School and Smiles All Around!!

While we are only finishing day 2 of our school year, there are many positive reflections on reconnecting and beginning a new school year.  It’s always wonderful filling a building again and enjoying the presence of all the hearts and minds that are truly the most important part of a school community.  By the end of the week, all of our students, even the youngest, will all be on full and regular schedules.  Let the learning begin in earnest!!

In the early days of school, we settle into our routines by focusing on relationships and expectations for how we create community.  Students will be sharing lots of information with you in the early days and we encourage lots of home conversations.  If you have any questions, please reach out to the teacher or principals to get important questions answered as early as possible.  Look for upcoming opportunities for meetings to also answer many of those questions as well.

Let us know if there is anything further we can do to help in your return to school or in your transition to a new home and country.  We are all ready to assist!

Don’t forget that we have our first PTO Meeting on Friday at 8:45a in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR).  If you are new and not sure where to go, meet us in the cafeteria and we’ll take you on the short walk across to the Annex building.  Looking forward to seeing you all on Friday!!

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Narrowing the focus…

Welcome back to a new school year!  We are now counting the minutes until our wonderful students, new and returning, cross the threshold into their school and re-ignite their learning journey.  What a wonderful time we will all enjoy in the coming week!

This summer, I had the opportunity to digest some wonderful literature, but one book stands out in my learning and growing.  Rev. Gregory Boyle has inspired me this summer through wisdom and thoughtful reflection on the things that really matter.  He brings a message that amplifies the importance of human kinship, the community becoming one in purpose and providence.  While I have reflected on it often, it is important to remind us all again of one of our core values, “Work together. Because without us all we’re nothing.”

It was profound for me to immerse myself in stories of the importance of the community.  Nothing spectacularly new here for you to learn.  We have been taught to cooperate since the day we started Kindergarten.  It is built into the human reality that we recognize the power of the group over the individual.  We accept that together is more important than alone in almost every aspect of our lives leaving only the smallest sliver to isolation.  This is even more important in schools where these truths are first tested and ultimately become part of character and accomplishment.

As we come back together this year, let’s find our unifying purpose and the collective opportunity to nurture the future in the minds and hearts of our children.  It is important, as inspired by Rev. Boyle’s words, that we fight the distraction of focusing on the narrow and instead seek the collective purpose of narrowing our focus on the things that really matter, celebrating the kinship and community that makes us one.

May the start next week offer insight and confidence in the diligent care of all our children!  Here’s the reminders of the dates and times in case you missed it last week:

  • New Family & Student Orientation, Monday, August 19, 9:00a, Cafeteria & Theater
  • First Day of School, Tuesday, August 20
  • Director’s Welcome Back Coffee, Tuesday, August 20, 8:45a, Cafeteria
  • PTO Kickoff General Meeting, Friday, August 23, 8:45a, Multi-Purpose Room

School start and end times remain the same as last year.  Wednesday morning late start begins with the first week of school:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday

  • Student arrival – no earlier than 8:00 am
  • School starts for Grades 11-12 at 8:20 am
  • School starts for PK-10 at 8:30 am
  • School ends for Grades 11-12 at 3:20 pm
  • School ends for PK-10 at 3:30 pm

Wednesday (Late Start for students!)

  • Student arrival – no earlier than 8:45 am (cafeteria open)
  • School starts for all at 9:30 am
  • School ends for all at 3:30 pm
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Welcome back 2019-2020!

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year, everyone!!  Looks like we will be ushering in the new decade together this year!  I hope this message finds you well and either settling back into your Warsaw environment or concluding your journeys and finding your way on the final steps toward home!

It’s yet another exciting year for the American School of Warsaw, building on the success of last year as we achieved our goal of becoming a “continuum school” with all three IB programmes (PYP, MYP, DP) now in full operation.  We continue with our Core Values that will continue to guide our work as the aspirational qualities of ASW and what we hope to become as the future unfolds.  We add to this our revised mission, vision, and key objective that forms the foundation for our strategic design work.  More about all of this after we get the school opened and students welcomed to their new classes and teachers. For now, know that our theme this year is:

Taking our next steps toward the future!

We look forward to engaging conversations on this theme as we work together to refine and design the next most important steps for you, your children, and for ASW!

We continue this year with our combined eNotes newsletter, which will come each week to your mailbox. Please click on the buttons to find your way to important sections, but be sure to scroll through the message each week to scan for all of the important information from each of our divisions and departments.

We have a wonderful team of educators and leaders ready to greet your children on the first day, ensuring a unique experience in the early days of the school year.  We open with an enrolment of about 950 students. We are in the midst of our welcome of 16 new faculty and 1 new administrator, who will all join returning faculty next week for our annual schedule of preparation meetings.

As usual, all of our summer teams have worked hard to assure that the facility has been prepared for your arrival and you will see a number of changes in rooms and common spaces as you explore the building.  Please be aware of a revised “Kiss and Go” area on the High School side of the building that should help traffic flow in that area.  Other upgrades and renovations have been completed throughout the facility which you will likely note at you browse around the building.

An important annual note:  Please be sure to become an active PTO member and look for welcome meetings to attend and committees where you can make a contribution of your time and talent toward enhancing our sense of community.  PTO is, by board policy, empowered to assure that we have a wonderful set of events and activities throughout the year to reinforce and enhance our strong sense of community.  This is an important time of year to build new relationships, renew collaborations, and enhance what we do to make ASW such a special place for all of us.

Here’s a summary of the key events in the first week:

  • New Family & Student Orientation, Monday, August 19, 9:00a, Cafeteria & Theater
  • First Day of School, Tuesday, August 20
  • Director’s Welcome Back Coffee, Tuesday, August 20, 8:45a, Cafeteria
  • PTO Kickoff General Meeting, Friday, August 23, 8:45a, Multi-Purpose Room

School start and end times remain the same as last year.  Wednesday morning late start begins with the first week of school:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday

  • Student arrival – no earlier than 8:00 am
  • School starts for Grades 11-12 at 8:20 am
  • School starts for PK-10 at 8:30 am
  • School ends for Grades 11-12 at 3:20 pm
  • School ends for PK-10 at 3:30 pm

Wednesday (Late Start for students!)

  • Student arrival – no earlier than 8:45 am (cafeteria open)
  • School starts for all at 9:30 am
  • School ends for all at 3:30 pm

I encourage all of you to subscribe to and participate in the Director’s blog – Zimplicity! Please join the conversation!  All of the history since my arrival is there as well.

Welcome back one and all as we take the next important steps for you and for ASW together!

Mr. Z

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Heat and Summer Ahead

As you can imagine, we have received multiple messages regarding our unseasonable heat in recent days and it seems that the 2018-2019 school year will be going out hot, albeit with a bit of easing if we believe the forecasts for the weekend and Monday.  Please know that we are fully aware of the challenges associated with these temperatures and are taking steps to address the 20-25% of our classrooms with the most significant southern exposure that has led to classroom temperatures that relatively match the outside temperatures or a bit warmer.  Too hot, we all agree.

To be clear on the data:

  • Issues of increased temperature affect about 10-15 days each school year out of our total of 180 school days.  While there is a slight upward trend, this number has been pretty consistent since my arrival in 2016.  We started more detailed tracking of this since 2017 and monitor individual classroom temperatures as well as overall systems that are monitoring our air quality.
  • The main building was constructed in 2001 and, at that time, did not have specifications or zoning that required air conditioning.  Air conditioning has been installed in selected areas over the years, primarily in closed offices and technology equipment spaces where cooling is critical to the equipment, which generates its own heat.
  • We do have systems for air handling that move air into and out of the building according to normal expectations, including the expected level of filtering that would be associated with a school facility.
  • We have extensive systems for blinds and windows that allow air movement when conditions are extreme, but this does not handle the temperatures in all areas.
  • We have installed new air handlers in recent years and the equipment chosen has the ability to be upgraded to including a cooling component.
  • We do not have sufficient infrastructure for electricity or additional ductwork for air handling to install air conditioning at this time but we do have plans to address this incrementally in the coming years if it proves feasible.
  • The Annex building included cooling only on the north half and that cooling includes some effect on the main gym area.  When it was constructed, this cooling was meant to protect instruments in the band and strings area.  This may have been short-sighted at the time and did not protect the art and storage areas of the south end of the building.

Steps we have taken in the interim:

  • We have tested new portable cooling equipment that can be deployed to classrooms.  But we have had minimal success.  Most available cooling units either overtax the electrical system or provide insufficient cooling for the size and types of spaces.
  • We deployed dozens of fans throughout the building on demand to are trying to address the key areas most impacted.  We have allowed for multiple fans in the most affected rooms and we are still adding more as requested.
  • We have adopted flexibility in classroom assignments and location of lessons and are using large spaces like the courtyards, library, MPR, and cafeteria for classroom groups.  The core areas of the school have remained cooler and comfortable.  We are also using smaller available spaces including the board room, project nest, and offices.

We appreciate all the messages and suggestions during this difficult juncture.  We are also aware that many think this may mean similar circumstances when we return in August.  It is hard to predict this and the timing of these heat waves has not been consistent.  For example, in a prior year, we experienced high temperatures in April rather than May or June.  Similarly, we have in the more distant past experienced some adverse temperatures in September after a cool and rainy August.

But, please know we are planning prudently and not unaware that temperatures may continue to increase on average and the number of days per year may also grow.  We are planning for this and do intend to implement additional changes, both for air quality and for air cooling in the near future.

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