"In the Know" Weekly Newsletter - The International School

News from Head of School Dr. Alfonso Orsini - 7/18

Dear Friends,
Greetings from Dalian China. I am still trying to get into summer mode as there are always questions arising during the summer that require careful analysis and of course decisions. On balance I am working from my Dalian office but I do have more time to read, and this week I will be visiting our new Capstone host school in Tianjin.

We have been informed by our esteemed colleague Helen Xia, teacher of Low K Chinese, that because of family commitments she will not be able to return next year. I personally will miss seeing Helen each morning on the streetcar and at school, and I am sure many of you will miss her as well. She has been committed to her students at TIS for the last five years and we are grateful for her dedicated service. She is a superb colleague and teacher.

Because there will be one class of 2nd grade Chinese next year due to student moves, Yu Yen Lee will be taking on Helen's Low K Chinese class. Yu Yen is very excited to be back with the early childhood program as she taught Pre K for many years. As it looks right now, Yu Yen will be assisted by Jing Jing Zhu and Ouyang will move to assist Jenny Lin in grade 2.

In other changes, Maria Abad and I, after two years of delightfully working side by side on EVERYTHING, have figured out what we believe is a logical way to split up our work. Because for many years Maria was an early childhood teacher and has great experience in that area, she will become the Head of the Early Childhood Program, encompassing grade Prek through K.

I, on the other hand, who take great delight in acting silly and stirring up little kids to the dismay of their teachers, will oversee the grade 1-5 program (though I will still visit regularly to act like a delinquent grandparent). Of course we will still consult each other regularly but this way it will be easier for everyone to know whom to consult on key questions. With regards to Capstone trips, I will handle Japanese and Chinese trips and Maria will handle the Spanish class trip. Maria will still oversee the after school program and scheduling of teacher assistants. I'll continue to handle the regular Head of School duties such as fundraising, networking, building plans, and of course traffic.

Speaking of traffic, I have been informed that even though Sheridan Street will reopen in August, Northbound Moody will remain closed until January as the monumental project continues. Stacey and Whitbeck, the contractors, are trying very hard to work with us as they work hard on the project.

As part of our new status as a Confucius Classroom School, the Hanban Organization of China will provide us with two Chinese teachers in addition to monetary grants. I am sure the teachers (and the money) will be a great help to our program.These teachers, both of whom have MA Degrees in teaching Foreign Language will be assisting in the Kindergarten classes.

Summer School again has very strong enrollments, even though we shortened the program by two weeks this year. It is humming along under Lauren's leadership.

Our facilities team of Frank and Eros are doing and overseeing a number of projects this summer. One project is to create English offices out of a corner of the music room to provide a home for the English teachers who will be travelling this year instead of having students come to them. While this change is necessitated by a need for more homerooms, it is a welcome one to the English teachers who will now have real walls between them and the outside world and thus much less noise to contend with than when they were in their partitioned rooms next to the library. The former English classroms will be converted into one large homeroom.

The HVAC system in Stearns Hall is being overhauled so that a major and noisy unit will be moved from above room 27 to above a closet, and we will also have return vents so that rooms are no longer seemingly vacuum sealed. Eros and Frank are also painting the interior of the Arthur Street PreK building and installing Marmoleum, an organic wall covering, in the hallways.  I should add that they have completed the construction of a large sandbox on the upper playground, and have many many other items on their extensive to do list.

I hope you are enjoying a little time reading or just talking with your child.

Take care and more next week,

Dr. Alfonso Orsini, Head of School, AOrsini@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x122 (accessible by phone after Aug 4)