First week comes to a close…

…and the excitement only continues to build!

I’m slowly getting oriented to Warsaw and have made a few trips on my own to get the lay of the land.  Like most expats, this includes a trip to IKEA.  Check!  With that trip done, I’m now feeling settled into our new home in Konstancin, just a short walking distance from the school.  I have final touches to put on the place this week and hope to have it ready for the arrival of my wife, Emily, and my daughter, Erin.  Erin will be starting Grade 10 this year and is looking forward to joining the High School.  She’s already connecting via Facebook, as they often do.  We’ve already connected with another Moscow family that is also coming to Warsaw, plus we have reconnected with Warsaw students that we hosted in Moscow in our home there.

I’ve been in and around the school for just over a week now and I’m impressed by the diligence in getting things ready for the coming opening of school.  Summer projects are getting final touches and cleaning is progressing smoothly.  I’ve always loved that new coat of wax on the floor that whispers, “I’m ready for students now!”

I’ve been meeting various members of the school staff at all levels as they return to work incrementally.  Have enjoyed getting to know the “summer” office staff as they keep the doors open for school matters during the vacation.  Many new families coming in to get oriented and I’ve greeted many of them as both new Director and new family as well.

As we get ready for the start of the year, let the review of ASW’s core values begin.  It’s always great to bring out the basics in the early days of the year, so I’m sharing with this message our Mission Statement, which was recently revised as part of our preparation for accreditation processes that are beginning in earnest.  Important that we all remind ourselves of this founding set of three paragraphs that frames our hopes and aspirations for the students we serve:

We believe there are many paths to learning. To unlock our students’ potential, we provide a wide range of experiences: we engage them in our rigorous academic curriculum, visual and performing arts programs, athletics, and service learning. We foster a passion for ideas, creativity and curiosity.

We create a culture of learning that supports students with a diverse set of abilities and interests.  We challenge students to find their own voices, encourage them to ask questions, and inspire them to think for themselves.

We offer students and their families a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment, one that is balanced between our host country Poland and the international community. We treat all students with respect, and we instill in them respect for others. Our students form friendships that remain lifelong connections.

For my own study of this mission, and as I get acquainted with this new community, I highlighted three phrases that stood out to me that also match the things that have been shared with me during transition.  As a school, there is strong belief in this community about the importance of diversity.  Unlocking potential is about first understanding that each individual will walk that path of discovery in their own unique way.  There is no one single way for all children to learn.  Instead, we teach in ways that match strategies to the individual needs of learners, flexibly adapting to achieve adopted expectations for accomplishment.

In our efforts, we seek to inspire a “culture of learning” — a belief that learning sits at the center of human existence and we strive to embed this as a lifelong pursuit.  Learning is about challenge and accomplishment, built on rigor and resilience.

And, in the context of lifelong learning, we recognize the importance of diversity, believing in tolerance and collaboration as the tools of inspiring peace.

In just a short time, I have come to believe that the American School of Warsaw aspires to this mission.  As a mission-driven school, the work that we do is a partnership between families and professional educators, seeking to serve the children in our care.

All hands on deck, because the beginning of another school year is not too far away.  More to come in the days ahead!

Mr. Z

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