When students drive the process…

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve watched the conferencing process unfold. In particular, the Upper School conferences yesterday and today were opportunities for reflective conversations on progress and goals.  I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your involvement and for waiting at times while queuing up for some of your teachers.

I’m thoughtful of the real conversations that will now take place at home and hopeful that you find opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments in greater measure to the consideration of goals or plans.  A term was introduced at training during the weekend that might help guide you in these deliberations – feedforward!  Unlike its cousin, feedback, feedforward is about finding the way to build dialog around empowering your child to drive the process.  The ultimate goal of deep listening is to help your child become self-directed, taking the wheel and driving their learning journey.  Questions to consider that could be starters at home:

  • How do you think it went?
  • How are you feeling about…?
  • What might be the causes of…?
  • What are your hunches about…?
  • What do you want to stay mindful of from now on?
  • So, how might you apply what you’ve learned?

One of our key strategic themes this year is the full deployment of an inquiry based model that develops student agency.  It’s not just about motivation, but more about enabling action and assuring that “Our students define the way we all learn at ASW.”  In this instance, think of yourself as being a parent coach, helping your academic “athlete” to embrace a growth mindset and the idea that reaching further than you thought you could is the best part of learning!

Drills Continued

It’s that time of year and our first Lock Down Drill approaches.  Different from our fire drills, the lockdown drill is meant to be an exercise in Shelter in Place due to a perceived threat to students in the area or at the school.  We’ll have our first and only announced Lock Down Drill on Friday at around 10:00 a.m.  We will also be testing our SMS emergency broadcast system.  Hopefully you have all updated your contact information in PowerSchool so that you will receive our message.  We’ll have a survey afterwards to check if there were any problems.  Updating information in PowerSchool is easy – just login and click on “Demographic Change.”  You’ll see all the fields for your phone numbers.  (Note: Please enter all numbers in country code format, including the “+” at the beginning.)

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International Baccalaureate and a Survey

Important Survey

In the face of growing demand, we are currently planning for growth.  To  gauge our response to the upcoming midterm registration season and the potential for turnover during the winter holidays, we would like you to take our annual survey.  But, we also want to know about younger siblings that will be applying for the next school year. You should know that current families of ASW are now allowed to apply early for admission of younger siblings for the 2019-2020 school year.  If you are planning to apply for next year or are departing after January, please fill out our one-minute survey and we will contact you with more details.

Click here to complete the survey.

International Baccalaureate Global Conference

This week I wanted to share about my experience over the weekend with the International Baccalaureate Global Conference in nearby Vienna.  This year marked the 50th anniversary of this organization and the experience of joining them for this celebration was all the more profound because of the recent verification visits in the prior two weeks.  I wrote about that last week and enjoyed sharing with you the wonderful experiences of having strong practitioners in our midst sharing their reflections on our accomplishments.

All of this importantly points out the tremendous journey and accomplishment of the last two years.  Our two coordinators, Ms. Rose and Ms. Swanson, presented this journey as a workshop at the conference.  They shared the unique opportunity of building collaboration and cohesion around the core philosophy of the IB, and thoughtfully reflected on how staff came together to accomplish the work of changing our framework for learning.  They shared, through stories and anecdotes, their reflections on the challenges and successes that were experienced along the journey.  The many hours spent in highly engaged connected practice has developed a strong program that aligns our practice and our understanding of how children learn best.  The mission of the IB is closely aligned to our own mission and our core values through their aims to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”  For us, this is about all of our core values, but especially the central theme of working together – because without us all, we’re nothing.

I’m thoughtful that the school today looks nothing like the ASW of 10 years ago.  A recent article written by alumni of the school suggested that the school of that time was highly siloed and lacked cohesion around a set of core values that connect the community to common purpose.  I value that their reflection of that time was likely accurate as the school grew into a new facility and started to become the mature institution of today.  Many of the things that they suggested in their open letter to the board and the community now sit at the center of our goals and aspirations, and much of it has already been embedded in our practice going forward.  The strong heritage of the school and its many accomplishments remain, but the opportunities of our collective purpose and commitment to tolerance is found in the aspirations that our core values and IB framework suggest.  When one journey ends, the next begins.  I want to thank all of you, alumni or current community member for continuing the dialog on mapping that journey forward.  We are listening and we hope, like you, that our collective energies will serve the current and future students of ASW in equal and greater measure to the students who have already traveled our hallways.  If you want to join the conversation, we encourage you to join our alumni network and share in the opportunity to help shape future generations of Warriors!

If you are an “alumni” of ASW, click here to continue your connection with this brave and courageous school:


Water Update

We’ve now received independent testing that has confirmed that our water Manganese levels have returned to acceptable levels.  All other levels are safe as previously determined.  We will begin the process of cleaning and clearing drinking fountain equipment in the building and will put these back into service after certification during the coming week.  As a result of this issue, and for the foreseeable future, we will increase the frequency of our testing to ensure the safety of our water.  We want to thank you all for your support during this time period and we appreciate the corrective actions of our neighbors and utility providers in response to our concerns.


We received information that last night, Monday, October 8th, around Zakamarek street, a young woman was assaulted by a man aged about 40.  This message was sent to parents by all public schools in the local area and we ask for increased vigilance.  We do not have any further information at this time.


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Milestone Achieved!!

Today we toasted (with bubbly apple juice) the second meeting in two weeks with visitors from the International Baccalaureate (IB) as part of our final step toward authorization of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Middle Years Programme (MYP).  Like our visit last year from our accrediting bodies (NEASC/CIS), this was a visit that provided wonderful validation of our effort over the last two years of work devoted to implementing the framework associated with the IB.  With these visits complete, we now await the final decision of the main office of the IB and expect to receive our authorization in the coming months.  We’re hopeful that this confirmation will come prior to the Winter Break, but the time associated with the review is hard to predict.

Our thanks go out to the many who were involved in bringing this work to fruition.  We have to start by applauding parents who were involved in our process and, in particular, the parents who took time out of their busy schedules to join us for meetings this week and last.  We need to thank the Board of Trustees regarding their support and commitment to the program through both their initial decision and through constant monitoring of our progress along the way.  We have a hearty thank you for staff who have dedicated themselves to refreshing practice and work on unit planning that was a significant amount of work shared by all.  Of course, thanks to our administrative team for figuring out how to fit all this work in amongst the things we still do to keep school going each day and through processes they managed to provide time and effort for this activity.

But, we need to offer special mention to our two coordinators who were certainly under the spotlight over the last two weeks that was culmination of their efforts over the last two years.  Miranda Rose and Elizabeth Swanson have spearheaded our journey and provided us guidance along the way, ever keeping us on the straight and narrow toward our eventual achievement.  Together with their ally in the already established Diploma Programme, Carl Beach, all three of our coordinators are truly world class and should take a bow on their relentless encouragement and development of a truly cohesive approach to empowering our students in their learning.

Between last week and this week, tears have been shed.  First, there were occasional tears of frustration, then the tears of trepidation, and now tears of joy – all part of the emotional investment we all invest in opening up amazing possibilities for the children we all serve.

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Thinking ahead – United Nations Day!!

I had the pleasure today of signing just over 50 letters addressed to Ambassadors serving in Warsaw and representing their countries similar to our students from similar origins.  I thanked them for their ongoing support over the years and invited them to join us at our upcoming United Nations Day on Wednesday, October 24, 2018.  Last year, we had representatives from the embassies of just under 10 nations, but received kind notes and letters of encouragement from many wishing us well in our celebration of diversity and culture.

Further down in the PTO section of this eNotes is an initial plea for help in preparing for UN Day and a form you can use to register your country table.  Last year, we had more than 35 countries represented with presentations of all types and kinds.  We are looking forward, as always, to similar this year.

United Nations day is a celebration of the importance of diversity and how it adds value to our experience as global citizens.  As I spoke last year at our opening ceremony, I’m encouraged by the way we respect and embrace our differences, and the power of how the fabric of powerful solutions will be woven from tolerance and respect.  One of our core values, “Work together. Because without us all, we’re nothing.” speaks to the belief that the really important stuff will only happen when we do it together.  We see examples of that every day in our classrooms.  But, with UN Day, we get to punctuate our background and how it adds value to our journey together.

The theme this year for United Nations Day around the world is “Greening the Blue,” a focus on protecting the planet on this the 72nd anniversary of the UN Charter’s adoption.  You can find out more about this year’s UN day here:


Please take the time to read below and in future messages about the importance of UN Day at ASW, and volunteer to help with your country table as plans start to emerge.  Our thanks, as always, to PTO and the wonderful parent community for their tremendous support of this and other initiatives to enhance the learning environment of our engaged community.


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