Alfonso's update - 1/25

Dear Friends,
In my first year in Portland it is a nice surprise to see that spring actually starts in January here. (I know. I am just joking. You needn’t write to me with the harsher reality.)

I have sent you an email about the Volunteer Counter website through which you can now log hours, but I must again thank Richard Foote and Sara Shah for making it so much easier to log our hours and to communicate with volunteers. Richard writes that this past week, 65 families alone logged in 1445 hours. Thanks to all of you for your work on behalf of TIS.

A few parents have written to me concerned that we were not mentioned in an Oregonian article which dealt with Chinese language learning and which apparently neglected to mention TIS in the sidebar. I spoke with the author Betsy Hammond, who affirmed that we were left off only as a function of how the search for schools was done. Fortunately, we know who we are and all the people of Portland whom I meet seem to know who we are: are a long established school and one of the few PYP schools in the world offering immersion in three languages!

Chinese teachers and students are hard at work preparing for the Chinese New Year Festival on February 5 at the Gerding Theater. Many of the older Spanish and Japanese classes will be attending the show (your child’s teacher will notify you and you can contact the if you wish), and younger students will be able to attend the rehearsals in the TIS gym. The Japanese teachers are also diligently preparing with students for their forthcoming Sakura Matsuri Festival on February 19. All of these shows as well as the April 30 celebration by the Spanish track require a lot of additional work and resourcefulness from our wonderful teachers. I am deeply grateful to them. Our Annual Giving campaign this spring is rightly focused on supporting teachers, the key to everything we do here.

This Friday, as you may have noted, there wil be no school for students as it is a professional development day for teachers. Teachers will have a presentation on Teaching Via Inquiry from Janis Heigl, who also happens to be the grandmother of two TIS students. Ms Heigl, who has over 30 years experience including work in PYP schools, was voted Washington State Teacher of the Year. She is also the founder of Educational Solutions Northwest and has consulted with schools and districts around the world. Inquiry teaching, unlike textbook teaching, requires a great deal of creative work from teachers, so it is a great help to learn from experts like Ms Heigl.

Finally, today we were visited by Professor Jun Liu who is Chair of the English Department at the University of Arizona. Professor Liu is also Head of the Confucius Institute there. I am always delighted to host visitors to our classrooms, especially language teaching experts. The word Dr. Liu repeatedly used while visiting our Chinese classes in LowK through grade 5, was “amazing.” Dr. Liu is conducting research on immersion learning, and as he considers TIS a leader in immersion language learning, he will return to do research on TIS.

Take care and have a good week,
Alfonso, 503-226-2496 x109