News from Alfonso - 3/28

Dear Friends,
I write to you from Dalian, China, from which place I will oddly enough begin by welcoming back all the fifth grade Capstone adventurers to TIS. While we always need to refine details and protocols of trips (and of our lives in general), my impression is that an exciting and rewarding journey was had by all involved. This spring I cannot wait to experience our first fifth grade PYP exhibition which will be focused primarily on what the students learned about different cultures and their own culture during their journeys. This year saw our students really researching, through first hand observation, through surveys and through person on the street interviews, the transportation, schooling, family life, food and culture, economy, environment and free time activities of China, Spain and Japan.

Last week we mailed out contracts to re-enroll students for the fall. Please return them as soon as possible - by April 11 at the latest, as indicated in the mailing. After April 11 we will be offering spaces to new students and making decisions about how many teachers and which classrooms are needed for each grade and track.

I would also like to welcome Maria Xiong, the new receptionist in what we will now be calling the Hilltop Building. Originally from California, Maria has a rich and varied background in education and business and will bring great energy, creativity, professionalism and warmth to the post. An internationalist by nature who has, among other experiences taught English at the Royal Palace School in Thailand, Maria is excited to be joining our unique community.

Speaking of building names, we recently took note that the way the names of our buildings had evolved over time was sometimes confusing. What is the Wright building? Which is the “Main building” And why did we have Modulars 2 and 3 if there was no Mod 1? In a humble attempt at greater clarity here are the new names:

  • "Hilltop building" (the one at the top of the hill)

  • "Small modular" (the one above the playground - it has just 3 classrooms)

  • "Large modular" (the one above Stearns Hall - it has 6 classrooms & 2 bathrooms)

  • "Stearns Hall" (bottom of the hill, named after TIS founders Douglas & Frey Stearns)

  • "Arthur Street" (the PreK building)

We have received 250 responses to our annual survey. I would really like to see everyone else respond at by the end of this week. If you appreciate our work this might be the nicest thing you can do for us. And if you don’t appreciate something about our work, this is a very clear and direct way to let us know so we can learn and improve. I know we are all busy. Make us a gift of 10-15 minutes. Please respond.

Further on the subject of gifts, thank so much to all those children, staff, parents, grandparents, and friends of every description who have generously supported our Mercy Corps page for Japan earthquake relief. I note that the total there which includes funds from the sock drive generously donated by Sockdreams, the greatest sock purveyor in the world, has reached almost $4500!!!!

And thank you also for your donations to the TIS book drive which was organized by students in the third grade English class Unit of Inquiry on persuasion. We plan to soon put these students to work with Kelsey in the Development Office.

On that note I must also thank you for all of your donations to the Special Appeal and to the TIS Fund, both of which bring not only magical resources to classrooms and the library but also things like good old electricity and heat and insurance and rent!

Last request: remember to drive carefully and respectfully at drop off, pick up, and at all times. Please feel free to email me while I am in China this week. You won’t get an automated response as I am like an extremely neurotic parent who has left 450 kids with the world’s best child care experts.

Have a good week and see you soon,
Alfonso, 503-226-2496 x109