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

Greetings, Fellow Warriors!!

With messages you received earlier today, I can confirm my excitement over joining you in the coming year! Taking over one of the main communication mediums associated with my role as director is a key step in my transition toward joining you in the coming days.

After 5 wonderful years in Moscow, I’m excited by both a new country and a new community, rich with culture and diversity like all of my previous assignments. I’m looking forward to the many opportunities for getting to know you during our day-to-day interactions and through the smooth transitional activities that the board, faculty, and staff will help to orchestrate.  My email address is already up and running, so you can contact me easily through  I look forward to your messages and our many opportunities to connect as we get closer and closer to the opening of school.

Look here on this blog for many updates throughout the year.  I will post messages both small and more significant as a way to keep the lines of communication open and vibrant.  Subscribing is a great idea and I also encourage dialog through commenting.

It is also a pleasure to be bringing my family into your midst.  My wife Emily will be very present at school.  She is a teacher who will often sub in elementary classrooms, but will also be a mother to our daughter, Erin, who will be entering 10th grade.  My son Jaisen starts at college this year and will be attending Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

As promised at our parent gathering, I’ll be forever letting go of my Penguin background in favor of a Warrior persona.  As your newest Warrior, I look forward to cheering on our students in all their pursuits, athletic and academic!

I’m including below the board’s message from earlier today for reference and the associated documents for easy access:

Your Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Mr. Jon Zurfluh will be joining ASW next month as Interim Director for the 2016-2017 school year.  Jon is an experienced educator and international school administrator who for the past five years has served as Director of the Anglo-American School (AAS) of Moscow and St. Petersburg.  He will be accompanied to Warsaw by his wife Emily, an early childhood educator, and their daughter, Erin, who will be a 10th-grader at ASW.  Jon’s son, Jaisen, will be a freshman at Pacific Lutheran University (his dad’s alma mater) in Washington State in September.  Attached to this email are Jon’s resume and a philosophical summary of his leadership approach.

The selection of Mr. Zurfluh as interim director represents the culmination of a month-long recruitment process led by the Board of Trustees with the participation of members of ASW’s executive transition team.  This process was guided by criteria developed in consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including input from ASW’s Teachers Association.  We are excited to have Mr. Zurfluh join our community and are confident his collaborative leadership style and track record of strong community relations will be an excellent fit both for our School and our community.

The 2016-2017 Board of Trustees will continue to provide regular updates on significant events, activities and other developments.  In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any other member of the Board.  We look forward to seeing you all again at the start of the coming school year.

With best wishes for a relaxing summer,

Rob Batchelder, Chair
ASW Board of Trustees

Zurfluh-Philosophical Summary

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