Time is slipping away…and other matters

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend and enjoyed all that was possible with family at a time that we gather for important renewal.  I had a chance to visit Gdansk over the weekend and happened into St. Mary’s Basilica as I explored the town.  Inside, we found this marvelous astronomical clock that was showing the time and date, phases of the moon, the position of the moon and sun in relation to the zodiac signs, and the calendar of saints.  The lower panel rotates so slowly, that there is no way to actually perceive its movement with the human eye.  A true marvel dating back to 1470.

Unlike the nature of this clock, our year at ASW seems to be streaming by at an uncontrollable pace.  Hard to imagine that, in just a few short days, Seniors will complete their formal studies and move into final preparation in advance of imminent exams. Before you know it, they will be crossing the stage, accepting their diploma, and off to their next adventure while we rush to take a breath and voice our farewells.  For all of our students, the end of the year approaches with culminating projects and special events, all meant to capture community, spirit, and demonstrations of accomplishment at all levels and ages.  Here’s to the strong finish for all that lies ahead!!

Strategic Planning

The ASW Design Team met for the first time with our consultant Ewan McIntosh from NoTosh, Inc. to begin our board empowered strategic planning process. As mentioned in previous articles, this is a process, with the remainder of the current school year, that is focused on understanding and defining ASW Core Values.  To that end, the process begins now to get all of you involved. With that thought in mind, we are pleased to announce the opening of the ASW Project Nest. The following is a message from the team:

Open the door on the ASW Values Project Nest…

This room’s door is open so that you can come in. We want every student, parent, teacher, leader and staff member of the school to come in here, have a read of what values people think we live by already, and which values we might live by in the future.

Join us now. Pick up a post-it and a pen. Make your mark.

We’ve been working to define who we are at ASW. We want to establish a common language and understanding of what guides us as a school – what’s our behavioural compass?

We hope that later in 2017, as we set about writing our strategy, this compass will help us define the best things we want to achieve as a school, and give us some hints as to how we do that.

Collectively we have been challenging our assumptions surrounding our school values and mission to begin to establish a common thread across the whole school community about who we are.

Points to keep in mind:

  • There is no right or wrong answer
  • A core value might be obvious, or it might not exist as yet.
  • This is YOUR opportunity to share your voice. Use it.

Board Elections – Meet the Candidates

We are pleased to remind you that three ASW community members presented themselves as candidates for the 2017-2018 Board of Trustees election. The first Meet the Candidates session took place last week. You are warmly invited to attend the second meeting TODAY,  Thursday, April 20, at 5:30pm in the Multipurpose Room (Arts and Athletics Building) right before the ES Family Reading Night.  At this meeting, you will be given the opportunity not only to listen to the three BoT candidates’ perspectives on the current school climate, but also to ask them questions about their vision for ASW in the future. The electronic voting for ASW’s Board of Trustees will open on Friday April 21.  Candidate information is available as follows:

HS Parent Meeting – Information for All, But Prudence Required

Last Friday the Upper School team (HS and MS) held a parent forum in response to concerns raised about a recent disciplinary investigation.  This emerged from the HS notification of decisions reached in this investigation, sent in order to inform a community that was already receiving mixed messages through rumor and misinformation.  Mr. Sheehan’s original message is included here as reference to the public communication sent earlier in April to HS parents.

HS Parent Letter

While this was considered primarily a High School issue at the time, inquiries from parents started to cross into Middle School as student awareness of the issues crossed divisional boundaries.  In response, the parent meeting and messages in both HS and MS E-Notes clarified and helped respond to remaining questions.  It’s important to thank the Middle School and High School administration for their diligence in addressing these concerns in a timely fashion!

In all of our communication, we have been careful to describe a process  that follows very clear policy and handbook guidelines relative to the school’s practices associated with discipline.  We uncovered through a due diligent investigation the involvement of a few students in the use of and sharing of illegal drugs with others, as stipulated by Polish law and school rules.  We made disciplinary decisions based on the results of our investigation.

During the entire investigation, we involved local law enforcement where and when appropriate.  We also consulted with our sources of advice at the US Embassy to assure that we were compliant with both host country and international requirements.

We also sought to protect identities while proceeding with the investigation, owing to our policy requirements for confidentiality in matters of this nature.  No disciplinary action should be shared broadly, nor should it be a topic of public scrutiny.  Relative to due process, all individuals have the right to appeal and this process is well articulated and effective in assuring fair and balanced decision making with appropriate checks and balances.  While I understand the desire that some may have for more details in the matter, the school must temper those desires with the appropriate rights of the individuals involved in the inquiry.

If, however, there had been a perceived ongoing safety issue relative to the matters being addressed, we would have communicate this threat broadly and helped parents address this in a more comprehensive way.  While this was not the case, we have already shared some details of our plans to address the broader ramifications of these issues at the MS and HS level. Some activities are already happening including increased awareness, staff dialog, and informational presentations to students.

Schools should always be responsive to these kinds of issues, looking primarily for proactive steps to address them and also looking for ways to keep the school safe and supportive of the learning environment we all cherish.  Your trust and partnership in this regard is both expected and appreciated.

Maker Faire

Maker Faire is coming on April 27, 9:00a to 3:00p.  Based on a previous plea, we have had about 30 parent volunteers so far. We are asking for just a few more motivated individuals to express your interest on our  Volunteer Sign-Up. If we can pull 6-7 more we will have at least one parent in the morning and one in the afternoon to assist each maker at the more complicated stations. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please do consider helping out on this one-of-a-kind event.

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