Welcome to the next iteration of the new ASW newsletter. As announced last week, we are in pilot mode, so please keep your comments coming back to the Communications Department as we continue to improve our publication.
There are many things that I’m sharing with you in Zimplicity this week that is linked from this newsletter as well as through my many subscribers, so please follow the link below to get an update on many fronts including Strategic Planning, the Project Nest, changes coming next year, and our new End-of-Year Closing Assembly.
But, the key message is our thanks to PTO and all of the people involved in a wonderfully successful Summer Send Off!! Since PTO activities are coming to a close for this year with the Boot Sale on the weekend, let’s take this time to applaud their work throughout the year in building community and involvement through the many wonderful events and activities. For those returning, as you consider next year, please consider how you might contribute in your own way when we all return in August. PTO is built on a culture of contribution and participation. Think about your talents and, if you haven’t been able to contribute this year, think about how you might get involved next year. For those who have participated throughout this year in our many opportunities, our gratitude for your partnership!! Thank you, PTO, for all that you do!!
This year we are adding a new tradition and plan to end the school year with some wonderful acclimations that celebrates our diversity and community. We’ll gather in the Annex Gymnasium as a whole school for our final minutes together before summer break. Please plan to join us if you can, but know that there will be limited seating and possibly standing room only. Doors open for parents at 10:20 a.m. and we begin at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21st. Students will be dismissed from their classrooms at 11:30 a.m.
Strategic Work – The Project Nest
After two full days of working with the material in the Project Nest, we have brought the first round of drafting to a close with the contributions of the Design Team over the last two days. You will notice now that the Project Nest has been emptied and a holding note has been placed there to explain our process and next steps. Never fear, all the material that was shared in the Nest has been captured and is part of our ongoing work to compile and clarify direction for the school.
The Project Nest lives on. The next round of storytelling will begin soon in earnest and will carry us into next year as our work on the final core values develops in the coming days. The Design Team capably handed the draft work to the leadership team o Tuesday through retelling stories from our work over the last several weeks. The work continues with the draft statements in collaboration with our consultant and we will work diligently until our presentation to the board on June 19th. We will then launch these core values with staff on the day after school finishes and a broader launch in the first days of the new school year. My thinks to the members of the Design Team for their diligence and stay tuned for the final product in due course.
Schedule and Tweaks for Next Year – Planning Ahead
After significant work on the part of the leadership team, we are moving forward to now implement and inform the community of our work on scheduling for next year. This primarily applies to Upper School at both the middle and high level, but also have positive implications for Elementary scheduling. One core component of these changes is better alignment with the IB philosophy that we are currently implementing, and particularly the alignment between the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP).
But, this has been a broad based effort and we also intend to capitalize on this opportunity to improve other overall aspects of our daily schedule that in many ways have been carried forward year-on-year with little thought for the inconveniences nor opportunities that might exist. With much research and with increasing conflict over time and space, we have undertaken some key decisions that we are implementing next year:
- We are making slight changes to our start and end of school times. Starting next year, the school hours will be aligned and affirmed with school beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the end of school at 3:30 p.m. Based on a number of scheduling requirements, this is a modest change that solves many problems.
- The more significant change, introduced at a recent PTO meeting, is the change to the Wednesday schedule for next year. The need for teacher work time continues and the small carve out that we have secured for a number of years is critical for ongoing curricular, planning, and accreditation work. But, the administrative team and teachers have been considering all year the implications of the current structure, particularly in regards to after school programs and the availability of teachers to support and muster the important and growing array of activities and athletics. After research involving review of other international schools, both in the region and around the world, we have decided to move to a late start rather than early dismissal on Wednesdays. This means that the Wednesday school day for 2017-2018 will change to a 9:30 a.m. start and a 3:30 p.m. dismissal.
- There will be a slight difference to the above schedule for our DP students in grades 11 and 12 that will have them starting at slightly adjusted times from the above. This difference is small and should be easily managed, providing them with necessary alignment and offering them the additional minutes needed to their upper level studies. More on this in August.
We will be working during the summer to prepare for a smooth transition to this model, including necessary morning supervision in our cafeteria and additional options for student support in the morning before school, while teachers are engaged in their work with colleagues. We’ll be correcting our website and literature to align with this as well and will send reminders in August as families prepare for their return to a new school year.
And on a final note…
I want to take a moment and express our condolences to nationalities recently impacted by terror attacks in their home countries. We have all watched in horror as these events have unfolded before us. If you are like me, there is a growing sense of powerlessness in these now overly regular reports. I fear we are increasingly becoming immune to these events as they become more frequent and, as we are bombarded with the political messages that often follow, fill our screens with acrimony and blame.
For me, it is important to discuss these events with our children, helping them to understand that everyone deals with tragedy in their own way. It’s important that children feel free to express their thoughts openly and without judgement in safe family and school environments. But, we should reinforce in our conversations the importance of preserving and protecting life, an amazing gift that cannot be squandered on the basis of political and ideological squabbles. It should always be our hope that future generations can address the human condition with greater tolerance, kindness, and forgiveness.
To our friends who are experiencing grief, whether because of national connection or through the actual impact of tragedy on friends or family, know that the Warrior Community is always keeping you in our thoughts and offering our deepest and warmest condolences.