News from Alfonso - 10/26

Dear Friends,
I write to you from the Heads of Schools Conference of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS), which is taking place in Bellevue, Washington, a place I have only seen outside the hotel room window. However, the workshops have been quite informative. Most interesting was a workshop on Sunday morning with Dr. Yong Zhao, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University and Executive Director of the Confucius Institute. In his new book Catching Up or Leading the Way, Dr. Zhao argues that America should not be trying to follow the Chinese education style of high Stakes Testing but instead continuing to lead the way in educational innovation and training for innovative thinkers and global entrepreneurs. China, according to Zhao, who left China to come to the US for his undergraduate studies, is engaged in a rigid testing program largely because there is no room for students in the universities, so that students must be weeded out. He further argues that, if anything, China, along with most of Asia, realizes that it must look outside to discover new and better ways of teaching thinking, creativity, problem solving and innovation. To read more about his research, have a look at .

So many Heads I meet here are fascinated that we are doing total immersion in three languages within the framework of the IB Primary Years Program. There is so much talk of global education, but I am proud that TIS is living it already and has been for quite some time. Tuesday morning we will host a documentary film crew from China. They have been steered to us by the Confucius Center at Portland State University.

Last Friday we had another very productive professional development day, working on our school wide program of inquiry. The Spanish track did extra work in preparing to use the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) for checking Spanish reading levels of students in various grades.

On Friday, I also stepped out for a lunch meeting with former Board member George Nakata and the President of the Japanese American Society, in an effort to re-establish our connections with that organization and better get the word out about our excellent Japanese immersion program. We are making every effort to build enrollment in Japanese.

I will soon be directing you to a survey on the possibility of a Middle school at TIS. I am also going to re-send the expertise questionnaire in the hopes of a greater response. I implore you to respond to these surveys and other communications so I can better understand the community I am working for. Your views DO matter.

We WILL have assembly this Thursday morning at 8:15 for grades 3-5 so please have your children to school on time.

We have much to do, and we are, as the old saying goes, dancing as fast as we can. We are making progress each day. I take the train back to Portland on Monday afternoon, and I’ll see you back at school on Tuesday morning. Maria Abad is also out this week at the ISAS (Spanish Government Education) meeting until Thursday.

Until Tuesday, take good care,
503-226-2496 x109