Nagoya International School

Head of School Weekly Notes (Archives)

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Farewells & Celebrations

And as another year winds to a close, today was a day of celebration. We celebrated the students for the inquiry, inspiration, impact and inclusivity they bring to our lives every day. We celebrated them for enjoying their successes and learning from their challenges. We celebrated them for their humor, their compassion, their insight and their joy. We said our sad farewells to the students and staff moving on. We shared excitement for the future pathways ahead....

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Beginning of the Busy Ending

At this time of year there are always so many things to write about as the year comes to a close. And, as we moved into our Level 2 COVID response level, with much more free access to campus, the past week has been alive with community events. We held the graduation for the Class of 2022 on Saturday, the culminating celebrations for the PYP and MYP on the following Monday and Tuesday, and . . .

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A Team of Trust

There is an old saying – ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. And it really is so true. None of us can do it alone. To grow and thrive, a child needs the adults in their life to work together, listen to them, listen to one another, and support them in their path to independence as a confident, capable and caring adult. It was therefore wonderful to welcome some of our ‘villagers’ in the Elementary school community onto campus today . . . 

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A Golden Holiday (for Some!)

As we approach the “Golden Week” holiday period, we wish everyone in our school community a wonderful and relaxing time with family. Whatever your plans, we very much hope that you can enjoy the beautiful Japanese spring and special times creating memories with your children and family. As you enjoy Golden Week, please spare wishes of good results for our Grade 12 students whose IBDP examinations began today. The IBDP exams are scheduled for . . .

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A Time to Celebrate

This week has been one to celebrate for many reasons. First of all, it was so wonderful that we were able to begin welcoming parents back to campus. So many of us wish to get back to ‘normal,’ but at the same time, we need to follow the local health department regulations, which with strict contact tracing in effect, means that to reduce the chance of school campus closure, we must remain cautious. However, from this week . . .

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Good Luck Class of 2022!

Today was the last day of class for our Seniors – the Grade 12s, our Class of 2022. Of course, the school year is far from over. After two years of hard work, many of them are now preparing to take the challenging IB examinations over the next month, and then, we will celebrate their graduation at the on May 28. But today was their last regular school day and . . .

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End of Quarter Three!

The last day of the quarter always has a special feel to it. It is our day to wear ‘jeans & greens’ and it has been terrific seeing all the NIS “spirit-wear” at school today making today a bright and sunny day in spite of the weather! Thank you to the PTA and parents for encouraging our Dolphin Spirit! Also, we’ve had our end-of-year assemblies celebrating the . . .

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Students Leading Change

This week was a week of celebration for our community, but especially for our student groups who are passionate about leading our school to a more environmentally sustainable future. Before this year, although there was a great deal of student action to raise awareness – as well as some . . .

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Ukraine Peace Space

As we think about those suffering because of conflict in Ukraine and all those around the world impacted by war,  our counselor and principals have set up a reflective space in the school's lobby this week. It is a space where students and staff can think about peace, our shared humanity, and our responsibility to one another. There are quotes from . . .

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Trying to Comprehend

As we come to the end of this week, our thoughts are with all those involved in the current conflict in Ukraine. It is always a tragedy when any part of the world reaches the point of armed conflict and the inevitable human loss, misery, and suffering this creates. Of course, this also poses challenges for international students and families. Our NIS community includes students and families . . .

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Guidance for Future Paths

Last night our Gr. 10 students and their parents enjoyed two hours of imagining the possible two years ahead in grades 11 and 12. So many options and choices! Which science course should I take? Which Math course is right for me? Should I take more than two courses from one block and then not take any courses from another block – or is it better to be more balanced? What should my . . .

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Nurturing Positive Outcomes

Thank you all for your support as we have moved to Level 4. We will send an update later this evening so please watch for another email. With the current wave of infections in Japan, we may need to move your child’s learning online on short notice, so it is important that parents check for emails each evening and morning.

In other news this week, I really appreciated the work of the Primary team . . .

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Students playing in the snow on the playground

A big thank you to everyone for getting today up and running! It was such a beautiful start to the day with the snow all around campus (although I know that actually getting to campus was easier said than done!) I am grateful to . . .

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Happy Holidays to All!

The excitement was in the air all day today. Starting with the ELC showcase (again, more parents on campus!), then two outstanding Secondary assemblies celebrating the arts, learning, sports and responsible action in all grades - and then our two final Elementary assemblies. The excitement and festivities . . .

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Parents sitting in the new East Building MPH

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, the Grade 10s, their teachers, and parents gathered in the Commons for their concert – what a great evening it was. Music, laughter, and good conversation. Drinks and snacks were for sale at the back of the room. Like so many other events, I was able to sit back and enjoy the performance through the eyes of the parents who had come to celebrate their children that evening. Yet, this was not a night like any other. Of course, we were not unaware of the news of the new coronavirus . . .

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Student Leading an Eco Committee Meeting

A question that has come up a few times over the past week has been 'what makes NIS unique'? To those who have been asking the question – thank you! After all, in many ways, a school is a school – we all teach roughly the same subjects, and we all hope to help learners be ready to be healthy, active, and contributing members of the adult world. What makes one school different from another? And why does it matter?

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Small Steps, Big Smiles

This week has seen us begin to enjoy some of the possible changes now that we are in our Level 2 COVID response. The changes are not dramatic – we intend to exit the pandemic in the same safe and cautious way that we have navigated it so far. But the changes we are starting to make are significant and will have an important impact on our student and community learning and well-being. At the moment, the changes are modest. But still powerful. For example, this week . . .

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The Importance of Including People to Build Our Community

This week we have seen a very important coming together of the community in support of choosing our next Director of Business and Operations. The Director of Business and Operations role encompasses oversight and leadership of school finances as well as human resources, facilities, technology, infrastructure, and wider operations. We are incredibly grateful to our . . .

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Wellness day students with balloons

Walking around the school these days gives a real feel for the buzz of activity that is happening outside the classrooms. Indeed, learning that occurs inside the classroom is only a part of the learning that takes place here. And much of the buzz of activity is definitely student-led.

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Student-led Eco Committee Meeting

Lots of good things happened at school this week. One of these was the meeting today of our new Eco-Committee. This is a whole-school committee, driven by students with staff support, working towards our school achieving a ‘Green Flag’ status from the Foundation for Environmental Education. This foundation, based in Denmark, works with . . .

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Well-Being Wall for All

There is always something new to see each time you walk the campus of NIS. This week, appearing on the wall in the Secondary section of the Raymond Building, is a new well-being wall entitled ‘take what you need, leave what you can’. The wall is . . .

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First Online NIS PTA Meeting of the Year

Part of getting back to school and kicking off the year has always been the pleasure of the first PTA Executive Board Meeting and feeling the great sense of excitement and potential for the year to come. Even though our inaugural PTA meeting on Wednesday was still online, it was so good to see everyone - and it was especially nice to see many of the executive members who were serving for the first time. It has been a tough time for all of us throughout the pandemic, but I can honestly say that . . .

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Up and Running!

The end of the first full week of school is here and the school year feels truly underway! In addition to getting to know new friends, teachers and routines this week, we’ve also started on some important projects for the year. Our Grade 10s have begun their journey through the MYP Personal Project, the PTA are gearing up for our "Welcome Parent Tea" tonight (online at 6pm - please join! - https://meet.google.com/zpf-bvbc-yxa) and staff have begun work on our major educational and wellbeing work for the year . . .

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Welcome Back to School!

It has been wonderful to welcome so many new students and families along with our returning students on campus at NIS this week to mark the start of the school’s 58th school year. Schools can be empty and lonely places over the summer – and we’ve been overjoyed to fill the classrooms and corridors with the laughter and cheer of our students once again! On Wednesday, new students (and their families!) were introduced to the NIS community for the first time as students on campus. Then, on Thursday . . .

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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 . . .

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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 . . .

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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 . . .

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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 . . .

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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!)

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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 . . .

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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 . . .

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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 . . .

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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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