Nagoya International School

Head of School Weekly Notes (Archives)

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teachers waving goodbye to students on last day of school

No matter how many years I’ve been an international educator, this day - the last day of school, with all of the thoughts and emotions of wrapping up a full year and all that it contains -  is something that I never get used to. It is never easy to say goodbye, but for many of our students and staff, saying goodbye for the last time today is especially hard. The previous two school years have been . . .

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First Board Meeting for NIS PTA Leaders

This week we were able to have the first meeting of the new NIS PTA Executive Board. A huge welcome to Melissa, our new President, and her entire team – we are very excited about the year ahead! One of the most challenging things with COVID this year has been . . .

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Gr. 12 students say farwell to all studnets on the field on their last day at NIS before graduation

It seems incredible that we are almost at the end of the year. One group of students who, in particular, deserve immense credit and recognition are our current grade 12 students. When they embarked on the start of their two-year-long coursework in grade 11, they could not have imagined that for one full quarter they would be working online, or that through most of their courses they would need to navigate the complexities of living and studying in a world with COVID. How proud we can all be of them that tomorrow they will graduate! Their coursework and . . .

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Walking for the Community

Every year as we approach this time in May, the school ramps up for the annual NIS-ACCJ Chubu Walkathon, scheduled this year for this Sunday. In its usual form, it is a wonderful outdoor, family-friendly charity festival with the dual purpose of coming together as a broad and diverse community while raising money for local charities that work to make Chubu a great place to be. Whether it is a short-term assignment or our forever home, giving back to this community where we work, live, and raise our families benefits all of us. It also fits perfectly with our learning as we consider our place in the world and how we want to impact our community. Today . . . .

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Feeling Safe AND Silly!

It has been good to welcome students back to campus this week after what was, I hope, a relaxing "Golden Week" break for all families. Of course, this week, Aichi entered the State of Emergency, and here on campus, we went back to doubling down on our COVID protocols. I never cease to be impressed - and thankful - for how everyone has stepped up, again . . .

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students demonstrating on Earth Day

On Thursday of this week, we – along with millions of others around the world - celebrated Earth Day, a call to action for all those who live on this planet. Many challenges are facing the generation of the future. The pandemic is, of course, the immediate challenge, but the pandemic in many ways is an overlay of some already unstoppable forces. These require us all –especially the . . . 

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Showcasing our Learning

I hope you have enjoyed conversations this week with your children about their learning. We truly miss our big on-campus community events where we can welcome parents here to share and celebrate learning together. However, we are finding virtual and hybrid ways to connect and engage and appreciate our parents and students for their support in making these connections within our community. This week's . . .

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boys playing inclusive soccer

One of the things I enjoy is thinking about the message I get to write to the community at the end of each week. I usually go back over the school's and my Twitter feed to review the fun, insightful, and exciting stories from our community in the past week. This week, going back over the tweets I shared, was the rehearsal for the MS musical, a student-devised piece of NIS 'going back to the 80s.' There was also one capturing the fantastic moment where a group of High Schoolers all decided to change their game to include their friend in a wheelchair. There was . . . .

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graduating students taking group photo in front of Sakura Cherry Blossoms

Sakura cherry blossoms have such incredible significance beyond their beauty. The idea that something so beautiful can appear as if from nowhere and then, almost as quickly, be gone again, teaches us the value of appreciating all that life has to offer, of seizing the opportunities that come our way and of enjoying the moment we are in, always understanding that this is but a moment in time. This is very much a part of parenting as well. Parents will know how, like the blossoms . . .

Read More about Fleeting Beauty
Gr. 12 students talking with Gr. 8 students about Clubs

Today spring has definitely sprung and we have enjoyed a beautiful day of sunshine to celebrate the end of the quarter. In the last week we’ve had so many special events – the talent show, the IB art exhibition and the Grade 3 Book Shop to name just a few. Today we had . . .

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Students observing moment of silence

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which claimed close to 16,000 lives and continues to affect so many communities to this day. At NIS, we remember the day well – feeling the edge of the . . .

Read More about Remembering Tohoku
Students speaking at 2021 Kyoto UN Youth Congress

This was another week in which we could celebrate the achievements of some of our amazing students. This past weekend, Mina and Steven, two of the members of our Model United Nations Club, attended the Kyoto Congress Youth Forum which is a precursor to the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to be held this weekend. Not only were they . . .

Read More about Celebrating Student Achievements
Two high school students leading elementary classroom discussion

The days in which the teacher is the only one doing the teaching are long gone. Of course, great schools need great teachers, and that will never change. But there is something very powerful about learning from peers – not only for those doing the learning but also for . . .

Read More about Learning as Peers
Back on Campus

How wonderful it was to end the week with two full days on campus. As I walked around the school, I saw all the things that make campus-based schooling so relevant and important. Dance, music, sports, kids chatting, playing, hanging out. Just the ability to . . .

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A Challenging Start

Thank you to all the parents who joined my Head of School Coffee today. It was good to connect, hear your concerns and your words of encouragement for staff. I’m always reassured in knowing that the way we get through this is by listening, discussing concerns people have, and then working together to support our students. “Challenging” is the word I hear and use most frequently these days. All of us are . . .

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A Team Effort to Keep Our Community Safe; NIS will remain Online until Jan. 28

As we wrap up our first week back to school in a new semester and new year, I wish to express how impressed I am with the flexibility and understanding shown by our entire community. Though we always knew pivoting to online learning was a distinct possibility - perhaps even a certainty - we kept feeling extremely lucky week after week during our first semester. This week was a test on the . . .

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Closing Semester One with Hope

We’ve made it to the end of the semester and the end of 2020. It has been a year that has changed the world for generations to come and in ways that we still do not yet fully know or understand. Ironically, this pandemic, which is a massive global issue, has also made our world much smaller as it finds us looking to family, friends, and community, centering in on the human connections that define us. Not only . . .

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MYP Artists Shine on Stage

We had an excellent day of performance art in full display on the stage in the MPH today. As we wind down the first half of the school year, the MYP students had the opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve been working hard on all semester. Grade 10 students found it a perfect opportunity to practice some of their performances that will be assessed later in the year, thanks to the stage setup, lights, and seating in the MPH. They warmed up the stage for the Grade 6 and Grade 9 students, who . . .

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Library display with autumn theme

It has been another busy week at NIS. On Wednesday, we enjoyed our online PTA meeting planning with parents around the events and semester ahead. One of the things that became clear was that even though our students enjoy many of the experiences they would have enjoyed pre-pandemic - lessons, sports, events, and activities - one of the most significant differences is that we simply don't get to welcome our parents to campus. This is tough for all of us as we try to partner around your children's success and happiness. Of course . . . (Click "Read More" for a "Head of School Coffee Morning" sign-up!)

Read More about Missing our Parents on Campus!
NIS teachers meeting in groups in the Multi-Purpose Hall for professional development day

It goes without saying that to be an effective teacher, you need to be a good student. What sets NIS apart from other schools is the deliberate and regular efforts to improve our own skills in the classroom. This past week, we dedicated Monday and Tuesday to the professional development of our teaching staff. Over the two days . . .

Read More about When Teachers are Students
Nine Elementary students gathered around a poster writing about "making connections"

One of the best parts of the job as Head of School is the opportunity to spend time with kids and teachers in classrooms learning together – and this week, I’ve had the chance to see some incredible teaching and some remarkable learning. It is sometimes hard to get a sense of how the NIS (IB) framework comes alive for parents. This is especially so during COVID when access to campus is limited. I encourage you to talk to your children about their learning and have them explain to you what they learned and how they learned. This week, for example . . .

Read More about Adventures in Learning
Sharing Our Teaching and Learning

Collaboration, connection, and support...these abound around our school on a daily basis, but sometimes it is worth calling out for recognition. Because when we share our knowledge or our talents, it isn't just a nice thing to do, but it is essential in shaping how we learn now and retain what we are learning well into the future. A wonderful example of this is . . .

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Teacher online for Three Way Conferences

Thank you to all of our parents for your enthusiasm for the Three-Way Conferences held on Tuesday. We always say that our partnership with parents is essential as we work together to support your children's growth. And though we encourage parents to reach out to teachers any time they feel the need to, these conference days are a very important part of the school calendar when together we can sit – student, parent, and teacher – to reflect on progress and learning. This year we were online, and it was . . .

Read More about Nurturing the Home-School Partnership
From Walkathon to Halloween

While many things in 2020 are not the way they used to be (!), this has been a week in which I have been very grateful and proud of our staff and students. We were able to keep some of the important annual traditions alive – again, making us thankful to be learning face-to-face at this time, unlike so many children around the world.

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Back at The Place We Call 'School'

How great it has been to start off the year, face-to-face, with our returning and new students, families and staff – and with our brand new building! The long period of online learning has taught us many things. One is to be proud of the resilience, determination and autonomy of our young learners and staff who were able to keep the learning going throughout. But the other is . . .

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Ready to Inquire, Inspire and Impact!

It was such an amazing joy to welcome our new students to campus today. Around this same time 52 years ago, a gathering of NIS students cut a ribbon and entered the original Raymond Building at NIS for the very first time full of hopes and dreams – and some nervous fears, I’m sure – about the year that awaited them in their new school.

Today, half a century later . . .

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End of a Week, End of a Year . . . and WHAT a Year!

2020 was a year we at NIS have all been thinking about for a long time – especially here in Japan with the promise of the Olympics and of course our own NIS ‘2020 Vision Project’, there was so much hope and optimism as the dawn broke on Jan 1. Who could have imagined the craziness that would start off the year of 2020; our school, families and lives turned upside down by COVID-19. In many ways, though, this still has been an exceptional year. Not only . . .

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Importance of Physical Space

It is hard to believe that we only have one final week remaining of what has been quite an exceptional school year. A highlight this week was of course the Graduation ceremony of our grade 12 students who were able to come to campus, face-to-face one last time to celebrate and share their memories of school. At the other end of the school, our ELC preschool students are busy decorating and painting the fairy house (or is it a butterfly house!?). In the middle school . . .

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Thanks, Congratulations and Farewells

I would like to thank you all – our community pulled together and we managed to being our students back this week – with a little over 80% of students coming in on their designated days. I can’t tell you how much better, real and human our school feels now that the campus is once again ringing to the tune of students voices and laughter. Our students have been great – following the guidelines and looking after each other with care. They have been creative to find solutions for . . .

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Celebrating NIS Arts Online!

I am so impressed with how virtual interpretations of our students' artistic endeavors are having a #NISimpact this week. As I walk the halls, they remind me that although the students haven't been here, they are still creating and NISinspiring us with their talents! Thanks to our art department, the hall displays will be ready in time to welcome back students for the last three weeks of school. The Primary students have been . . .

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Finding Connections

It was a pleasure to share in our parent coffee morning today. I always value hearing from parents directly about the challenges of supporting your children and families through COVID-19 and online learning. Today we discussed again some of the common themes families are facing . . .

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It Takes a Team

As we close out on another week of NIS Online I’m reminded of how far we have come from those first uncertain few days of trying to build our systems, schedules and methods and get up to speed as a community with online learning. I’m incredibly proud of what has taken shape here . . .

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The Learning Continues

I thank our entire community for your patience and understanding this week; a week in which we made the difficult decision to continue to offer online learning. I know that while this decision had the support of the large majority of the community, a strong minority take a different and equally valid view. I understand these ...

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