Back to School Nights are Done!

With back to school nights complete (Ooops – not High School yet – that’s next week), let’s reflect on what we’ve heard in recent days.  First, you should have heard broad goals and timelines for key events in the coming months and should have a general sense of how the year will unfold.  You won’t know everything and our plans are flexible in order to take advantage of unique learning opportunities.  But, the general flow of the year should now be evident.

Second, you should have a better understanding of our International Baccalaureate framework and how it helps us to weave content into deeper understanding.  I saw this in presentations throughout the school at both the Elementary and Upper School opening events and in the classroom presentations in a variety of formats.  In essence, you should now be seeing the mastery of how inquiry is used as a backdrop to give students ownership of their learning, making it both relevant and accessible.  The real gift her is that our students will retain more learning and the learning will be more usable in new settings, something that education strives to assure at every opportunity.  Our capable and talented staff will work tirelessly to ensure scaffolded experiences that are both challenging and rewarding for students.

Third, you should now have a sense of how we will keep you informed of student progress.  Depending on the age level, the systems were described for you and our work to keep you informed of both process and product will expand significantly.  You are already seeing some evidence of this.  This is one area that was a clear focus for us coming out of the parent survey.  We have embraced that feedback and will seek to improve in this area across the school.

As a responsive and reflective school, our aim is always to keep pushing to greater levels of capability and accomplishment.  We never stop and the work is never done.  But, the talented teams of teachers are up to the task of working closely with you to assure student outcomes.

Facility Access

Hopefully, we are now settling into our main patterns.  Parents seem to be adapting well to wearing their badge at all times and thank you for this!  To help with after-hours access to the facility, we’ve prepared a document to guide you on the times that access is available.  In general, access to the building is only for scheduled and arranged activities outside of normal school hours.  Open access to indoor facilities is only during scheduled and published times.  Outdoor areas are accessible but limited by requirements for school ID and supervision.  While our outdoor areas are accessible, they are not the same as a public park and we depend upon our community helping us to take care of the entire campus and show responsibility for the care of our equipment and spaces.  Scheduled events will take priority over any open use.  The entire document is here: Campus Access – School Hours

PowerSchool

We have initiated our annual PowerSchool update of contact information update and permissions.  You must now complete this process before being able to access other PowerSchool features and we are logging your completion of this important GDPR and personal information task.  ALL parents must login to PowerSchool and submit their responses.  Parents who have not done so by next week, we will be calling you!!  If you need help accessing your Powerschool account, please see our divisional office staff or write to support@aswarsaw.org for assistance.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the two upcoming PTO events.  See below, but really important to come and join us for the gatherings.  Adults can join us for the Mixer this weekend and the wonderful PTO BBQ is the following weekend – fun for the whole family.  Exciting and powerful way to create community at ASW!

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Some things to be reminded about…

As is always the case, we must take stock on the routines and simple rules that help us keep everyone safe and assure that the school runs smoothly for everyone.  To that end, and continuing on the good work last year, some reminders are always helpful in the early days of school.  As I noted at the PTO meeting last week, we have done well reminding ourselves of our basic safety rules, but can continue to remind each other regularly as the year progresses.  Here’s some key bullets to check and see if you are ready for the year:

  • Parents and staff must wear their ID badge visibly at all times.  This is for students to identify adults who are authorized to be on campus and have stipulated to our code of conduct.  The badge, visitor or regular, is a commitment to the code of conduct that is also in our handbooks and policy. Please wear your badge at all times.  If you need help getting or replacing a badge, please ask at the Security Desk for assistance.
  • The campus working hours are 8:00a to 4:30p each day (Monday through Friday).  We’ll send out more details on this, but we have clear times for accessing the campus and a different set of rules for times outside our normal working hours.  Activities that start just before 4:30p continue until complete and then students must depart.  The basic rule is that students may only return to campus after hours for scheduled activities or to access outside areas only for recreation purposes only.  They may not re-enter the building.  In order to gain access to the campus after hours for Middle School and High School students, they must have their student ID (we are in the process of making sure students all have their ID).  For elementary students (who do not have an ID except in their classroom), they may only access the campus with parent supervision (therefore with a Parent ID).  Parents can escort their elementary students onto campus for outdoor recreation or for organized activities.  Just know for now that students will not be admitted back onto campus if they have departed unless they are coming back for a specific activity and have their ID or are in need of assistance.
  • Thank you for all your work to make things as smooth as possible in the parking lot.  All seems to be going smoothly, but please remember the following:
    • Park carefully and please help to maximize our parking by staying within lines.
    • NEVER leave your vehicle in a yellow zone for any reason.
    • Turn engines off if waiting in a yellow zone or if parked for more than a minute.
    • Never drive over a curb or park in areas not designated as parking.
    • Use overflow parking outside the back entrance if necessary or drive the loop until space becomes available.  Don’t block traffic flow under any circumstances.
  • Please be sure to respect the learning environments in the school.  Parents are welcome in the cafeteria after students go to class, but please don’t linger in hallways or classroom areas while school is in session unless you are there at teacher request.
  • Remember that pets are not allowed on campus and we have signs posted in this regard at both entrances.  We do allow pets to transit in vehicles, but they must remain in the vehicle at all times on campus.  Thank you in advance for your kind attention to this rule.

That should be enough for now.  We’ll offer additional details and other reminders as the year continues.

Also, please note that our handbooks have been refreshed and are now available on our website for reference.  Here are the links for easy direct access:

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First week of School and Smiles All Around!!

While we are only finishing day 2 of our school year, there are many positive reflections on reconnecting and beginning a new school year.  It’s always wonderful filling a building again and enjoying the presence of all the hearts and minds that are truly the most important part of a school community.  By the end of the week, all of our students, even the youngest, will all be on full and regular schedules.  Let the learning begin in earnest!!

In the early days of school, we settle into our routines by focusing on relationships and expectations for how we create community.  Students will be sharing lots of information with you in the early days and we encourage lots of home conversations.  If you have any questions, please reach out to the teacher or principals to get important questions answered as early as possible.  Look for upcoming opportunities for meetings to also answer many of those questions as well.

Let us know if there is anything further we can do to help in your return to school or in your transition to a new home and country.  We are all ready to assist!

Don’t forget that we have our first PTO Meeting on Friday at 8:45a in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR).  If you are new and not sure where to go, meet us in the cafeteria and we’ll take you on the short walk across to the Annex building.  Looking forward to seeing you all on Friday!!

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Narrowing the focus…

Welcome back to a new school year!  We are now counting the minutes until our wonderful students, new and returning, cross the threshold into their school and re-ignite their learning journey.  What a wonderful time we will all enjoy in the coming week!

This summer, I had the opportunity to digest some wonderful literature, but one book stands out in my learning and growing.  Rev. Gregory Boyle has inspired me this summer through wisdom and thoughtful reflection on the things that really matter.  He brings a message that amplifies the importance of human kinship, the community becoming one in purpose and providence.  While I have reflected on it often, it is important to remind us all again of one of our core values, “Work together. Because without us all we’re nothing.”

It was profound for me to immerse myself in stories of the importance of the community.  Nothing spectacularly new here for you to learn.  We have been taught to cooperate since the day we started Kindergarten.  It is built into the human reality that we recognize the power of the group over the individual.  We accept that together is more important than alone in almost every aspect of our lives leaving only the smallest sliver to isolation.  This is even more important in schools where these truths are first tested and ultimately become part of character and accomplishment.

As we come back together this year, let’s find our unifying purpose and the collective opportunity to nurture the future in the minds and hearts of our children.  It is important, as inspired by Rev. Boyle’s words, that we fight the distraction of focusing on the narrow and instead seek the collective purpose of narrowing our focus on the things that really matter, celebrating the kinship and community that makes us one.

May the start next week offer insight and confidence in the diligent care of all our children!  Here’s the reminders of the dates and times in case you missed it last week:

  • New Family & Student Orientation, Monday, August 19, 9:00a, Cafeteria & Theater
  • First Day of School, Tuesday, August 20
  • Director’s Welcome Back Coffee, Tuesday, August 20, 8:45a, Cafeteria
  • PTO Kickoff General Meeting, Friday, August 23, 8:45a, Multi-Purpose Room

School start and end times remain the same as last year.  Wednesday morning late start begins with the first week of school:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday

  • Student arrival – no earlier than 8:00 am
  • School starts for Grades 11-12 at 8:20 am
  • School starts for PK-10 at 8:30 am
  • School ends for Grades 11-12 at 3:20 pm
  • School ends for PK-10 at 3:30 pm

Wednesday (Late Start for students!)

  • Student arrival – no earlier than 8:45 am (cafeteria open)
  • School starts for all at 9:30 am
  • School ends for all at 3:30 pm
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