HoS Final Post, June 11, 2010

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

It has been quite a year. And true to form, today was quite a unique goodbye. We held virtual assemblies and award ceremonies, doing our best to connect those in the building with those outside of Shanghai, and helping to build a sense of community.

While this year has no doubt been frustrating we take inspiration and gratitude from those around us.

Today in the hallways, there we many personal goodbyes between students and faculty members. Yet, for most of us, we will return on Monday for our Summer Program! So, even our goodbyes are quite unique this year. For many, it will be a few more weeks until we reunite. And for some – including myself – it will be our last year with SCIS and we must say goodbye.

On a personal and professional level, I want to thank our entire community for the experiences you have given Laurie and me. Additionally, our children have had the opportunity to be a part of the SCIS community. It is a feeling of gratitude that is impossible to put into words.

This year moreso than others, our faculty truly had to rise and and re-create themselves as professionals in the midst of adversity. I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short period of time. My thanks (and our collective thanks) go out to all of them.

I also want to honor those faculty members who will be leaving SCIS Pudong this year. I trust that they take away many special memories, and experiences that will enhance their new school environments. We wish nothing but the best of luck the the following departing staff members, listed alphabetically, as they embrace their new adventures

  • Ms. Maitane Arruti
  • Ms. Brooke Bolden
  • Mrs. Tiffany Johnson
  • Mr. Steve Lawrence
  • Ms. Yang Liu
  • Mrs. Laurie Luebbe
  • Ms. Aleksa Moss
  • Ms. Deveor Rainey
  • Mr. Matt Ruf
  • Mrs. Whitney Ruf
  • Mr. Ethan Schultz
  • Mr. Michael Steele
  • Mr. Ian Sylvester
  • Ms. Emilee Vandelaarschot
  • Mr. Mat Walsh
  • Ms. Wendy Wen
  • Ms. Gina Zhang

And I would like to give a special bit of thanks and congratulations to two of our departing faculty members who are Golden Dragon (representing 8 or more years of service to SCIS). It is impossible to measure the impact that these two have had on the culture of SCIS. On behalf of faculty, parents, and students – past and present – thank you!

Ms. Karin Valenza (11 years)

Mr. Garret Newell (12 years)

As we say all the time, Once a Dragon, always a Dragon. We hope that all stay connected, united by our shared experiences.

Lastly, as we say goodbye and transition as a community, I share my thanks to David Mazer for organizing – and for all the families who contributed – to our End Of Year Goodbye Videos. Click the link to see (and hear) from those amongst us!

Warm regards and best wishes for continued success!

Go Dragons

Derek Luebbe
Head of School, SCIS Pudong

Photos Around the Campus

June 5, Head of School Updates

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends

With just one week left in our formal year, there are likely lots of unique, confusing, and sometimes conflicting thoughts that ending this year will bring. For the sake of your child’s well-being, my hope is that we can acknowledge these within ourselves and likely our child to see how we can be deal with the inevitable transition. School will end for some on next Friday – but not all. Our Summer Program will be heavily attended by students in all grade levels. This situation can be a confusing time for students regarding saying good bye and transitions.

  • Should I say goodbye on or before June 11?
  • Which of my friends and teachers will be here after June 11?
  • How can I acknowledge the challenges of this year and remember to express my gratitude to those who helped me through it – knowing full well that each of us experienced our own set of individual challenges as well.
  • How will I remember this year? How can I make sure that my perspective remains focused on growth?
  • And lastly, our youngest learners are returning to school for just a short period of time. How can we best help them understand all that is happening?

Our advice on all of this – as in any year – help take time to acknowledge special people in your life. While it certainly was a year full of challenges, and there is a tendency to want to simply forget and move on in the hopes that August will be entirely different, the reality is that it likely will not be. This is true whether you are staying in Shanghai or leaving.

Use these remaining days help your child bring closure to the year. Say thank you to those that supported you and made your experience better. Take the time – and learn the skill- of saying a proper goodbye to those who you will not see.

We are social creatures, and our experiences in time are rooted in social interactions. While we are in the midst of a pandemic caused by a virus, our experiences and memories of this situation will not be about medical facts. They will be tied to how we felt and how we connected with others.

All my best in making those connections meaningful as we wrap up the 2019-20 year.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

LAST CHANCE: SCIS Community Video

Share a short video to say goodbye, share a memory, or share a story with the SCIS Community. We can accept submissions up to Sunday, May 7 at midnight. We will compile all the videos and share on our portal next week.

SCIS 2019-20 Yearbooks On Sale Next Week: 100 RMB

Photos From Around Campus

May 29, Head of School Updates

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends,

Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

On Thursday, May 29, SCIS celebrated the graduation of sixteen outstanding young adults in our Graduation Ceremony. We were joined by 100s of visitors on Zoom from all over the world. In case you missed the event, the entire ceremony will be posted on our Portal. As of this writing, we can share photos of the event and a link to the placeholder for the video.

Like many events this year, it was quite unique but no less meaningful and important. To our graduates, we once again say “Congratulations. Go be you and do great things!” I want to share a special congratulations to all the parents of our graduates. In many ways, you too have graduated ! And I would be remiss if I did not share a special congratulations to SCIS staff members Barry and Tiffany Johnson as their eldest daughter graduated. Barry, as our tech coordinator, played an even more important role in streaming the ceremony to so many around the world to share what is truly a “celebration for our entire community.”

The ceremony was filled with some very memorable student speeches, student awards, and a Faculty Address to the graduates made by Ms. Whiteside. After the ceremony, the Graduates paraded through the school past rows of faculty and students cheering their congratulations before ending up on the field for the traditional tossing of the graduation caps.

We cap off the graduation week with our Senior Dinner tonight with families and friends. A special thanks go out to Sandra Machan for organizing the event in what I know will be another great community experience.

On another note, I encourage everyone to share thoughts from your family on the year with the rest of the SCIS community via the SCIS End of Year Community Video. It’s a great way to build connection. See the flier below for more details.

On the horizon, we look forward to welcoming back our youngest SCIS Dragons in the near future!

  • Grades 1-3: June 2
  • KG: June 3
  • N-PK: June 8

Wishing each of you a safe and relaxing weekend,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Photos From Around Campus

May 22, Head of School Update

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

I want to begin this week’s blog with a special call to action for everyone in our community. With the government’s recent announcement that we will return to school for all grades, we are closer than ever to trying to having more of our families re-join the physical school community. Over the next few weeks, those numbers will increase.

This semester has been unpredictable and uncertain. In fact, the only thing that is certain is that each person in our community is a unique situation and will respond in a unique way. At the current moment, we know have many high school families who are now getting used to the begin back at school, families in grades 4-8 who just finished their first week, and families of those in grades N-3 who are anxiously awaiting their return. (Hint: See Ms. Gale’s letters today for more information!)

And, I want to share a special acknowledgment to the families and faculty members who have not been able to return to campus. Some are not within Shanghai and some have not returned for a variety of different reasons. Yet, we all remain committed to supporting one another throughout. We continue to know that our individual experiences and circumstances are unique, but we are together in our support. For those of you who are out of the country, we look forward with anticipation to when the borders re-open. In the meantime, know that we are thinking of you and please reach out if we can support you in any way.

To help us celebrate and acknowledge our community, we launching what we hope will be uniting effort to bring us together. We ask you and your family to help share your thoughts and add to our SCIS Pudong Community Video. The directions are below, and we encourage you and your children to share your thoughts with everyone. We know that our sense of community will be needed far beyond June, and our hope is to provide an environment where that community is alive and able to support us. We are stronger together.

Wishing each of you safety and peace during this time.


Derek Luebbe
Head of School

SCIS Pudong Summer School

Today marked the deadline for parents to express interest in the SCIS Pudong Summer School Program. The turn out has been strong and we look forward to welcoming our students after June 12. Our staffing models are now determined and we are busy preparing for the additional weeks.

Each Principal has detailed additional information about the structure of the Summer Program. Families can sign up for specific weeks of camp, but please note that all cancellations need to occur before May 31 or a fee of 3500 RMB will be assessed.

Divisional leaders will provide more details including schedules and procedures. If you have any general questions, please reach out to David Mazer via email (dmazer@scis-china.org ) and he will direct your question to the most appropriate person.

During our Summer Program we will continue to place the health and safety of our students and faculty as the primary focus.

Photos From Around Campus

May 15, Head of School Update

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends,

This week we welcomed back grades 9 and 11. And, we look forward to Monday morning when we will add Grades 4-8.

During this time, we continue to function as a community with health and safety as our number one focus. To maintain the community’s commitment to safety, it means that each of us has a responsibility to monitor ourselves and be diligent about our environment.

Please read the important information below.

Wishing you and your family a safe and restful weekend.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School


Throughout this process, communication is a key component. Towards that end, I want to share with you a few updates and resources.

  • We created a Return to Campus (RTC) Parent Portal to share all of our videos, guidelines, and forms. In the last 24 hours, we updated this website with information about:
    • Shanghai Education Commission (SEC) requirements regarding children at school who have a fever, diarrhea or have vomited.
    • Requirements for families should your child exhibit any of these symptoms while outside school
    • Updated information on which Daily QR codes are accepted by SCIS. (We follow the SEC requirements for this process as well.)
  • On Tuesday, May 12, Ms. Gale, Dr. Volpe, and I led a Parent Informational Webinar to preview the Return to Campus process for parents and students in Grades 4-8. We recorded this webinar, and you can view it from our RTC Parent Portal
  • Yesterday, Ms. Gale led efforts to create a very helpful Welcome Back Video to preview our school day for parents and students who are returning on Monday. A similar video was shared by Dr. Volpe as well. This video is provides a great example to showcase that school may not look and feel the “same” as it did in January, it is still no less a learning community. Enjoy a look at life inside SCIS the past few days.

Summer School Announcement

We are pleased to announce the next steps in our Summer School Program. Please see the attached MS Word Summer School Information document for more information.

The deadline to sign up to express your interest in the program is May 22. Based upon registration and student interest, we will share more information about the specific programs being offered later in May, allowing you to confirm your spot in the Program by May 31.

If you have general questions about Summer School, please contact David Mazer at dmazer@scis-china.org

Congratulations to our Seniors!

They spent this week engaged in their Final Exams and are looking forward to the proud feeling of successfully completing their high school experience. Congratulations everyone!

Photos From Around Campus

May 8, Head of School Update

Well, this week, our campus finally became a school again! It was only for 3 days and it only involved Grades 10 and 12, but it was so pleasing to see students walking, talking, laughing, and interacting (with safe distance!)

On Monday May 11, we welcome back Grades 9 and 11. And, on May 18, we welcome back Grades 4-8.

I am sure are many questions within our community. Our goal within this blog post is to share information a few more pictures and images to help share our new normal. It is certainly different, but it’s already apparent that we can find creative ways to keep our spirit and community alive – and still continue to maintain safety as our top priority. We will be safe because we will do so together. Our sense of community has never been as important as it is now – when we must think even more about how our individual actions impact those around us. Thankfully, we’ve always had a conscientious community and we will continue to leverage that to end our year safely and successfully.

Return to Campus webpage

The most important resource for parents is our Parent Portal webpage: Return to Pudong Campus. On it, you will find videos, pictures, safety guidelines and procedures, and mandatory steps students/families must take to ensure a safe return-to-campus experience for everyone.

For those of you who were unable to attend last Monday’s Parent Webinar with Dr. Volpe and me, I am highlighting a few important pieces of information from that webinar. (These are also on the Return to Pudong Campus webpage.)

Returning To School Checklist

  1. There is a mandatory Online Form which needs to be filled out to share health information for the five days prior to a student’s start date. Here is a link to that form.

2. Each day, students will have to present the following information to be allowed on the school bus and to enter the campus.
– A Green Shanghai QR Health Code with “today’s” date on it.
– A completed Daily Student Health Card (which includes a morning temperature check)

See the images below for more information.

I am well aware that the rest of the year will not be as it was in January, and that many challenges still lie ahead. The school is different. The schedule and learning is different. On a fundamental level, our purpose is different. But I am reassured by all that I see in the last three days to know that our school will continue to be a place of learning and community.

I’m appreciative of the opportunity to play a part in the lives of our students’ in such an important part of their lives.

I wish each of you a restful weekend, and I look forward to seeing even more students back on campus next week.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Your Questions

During the webinar, if you have health, safety, or other general questions you’d like to us to address, we opened up an Online Question Form for parents to share their questions.

Please review our information materials and the Parent Portal. If you still have questions, we are re-sharing that link here to help us better address questions you or your child may have.

Please note: Do not expect a personal response. If you have a personal question about your child’s experience please write to your teacher or Principal.

Photos From Around the Campus

It was our Seniors last day before exams! Raz is smiling underneath her mask. I promise.

April 30, Head of School Update

Well, the day has finally arrived ! (Or, it’s just around the corner.)

After a long absence, we are just days away from welcoming students back to SCIS Pudong. It will be quite a day.

Our collective health and safety remain our top priority and we are committed to working through the Return-To-Campus process in a methodical, safe, and transparent way. In this spirit, I am sharing with each of you a link to our Return-To-Campus Procedures so that you can familiarize yourself your child’s eventual return. You will find videos, photos, and detailed procedures to ensure we keep everyone’s health and safety in mind.

Although each grade level will start at a different intervals, this will be a community effort. Working together, we will ensure that everyone in our SCIS community: students, parents, drivers, secretaries, teachers, assistants, guards, ayis, support staff, cleaners, administrators, cooks, etc. make this a Community effort. We will succeed because we will do so together.

Welcome Back Dragons !

I leave you with a copy of my emailed letter from Wednesday night which includes more details regarding our return. On behalf of Dr. Volpe, Ms. Gale and our entire faculty and staff, we are very excited to see everyone once again and be together as a community.

Our students health and well-being will be our priority – now and always.

Wishing you a relaxing weekend and hoping you are able to spend some time in the wonderful Shanghai Spring weather.


Derek Luebbe

Repeat of Mr. Luebbe’s Email from April 29

Dear SCIS Pudong Parents,

We are excited to share this email with all of you because we can now see the light at the end the tunnel.  We are busy planning for our eventual return to campus! 

As Mr. Eschtruth’s email shared on April 26 states, we will welcome back students by grade levels according to the following schedule.

  • Grades 10 & 12:  Wednesday, May 6
  • Grades 9 & 11: Monday, May 11
  • Grades 4-8: Monday, May 18
  • All other grade levels will have return to campus announcements made once we have confirmation from the SEC and District Educational Bureaus.

The administrative team has been at school this week preparing to welcome students in Grades 10 and 12 on May 6. Our entire faculty will return to school on Monday May 4.

The process of re-starting our school year after such a significant event, will not be easy. Schools, like all organizations, will need to adjust to a new normal. Our new normal will prioritize health and safety first and foremost. We also recognize that returning to school will require our focused attention on the social and emotional well-being of our students, parents, and faculty.

It is clear there will be some anxiety. But we will work through this process safely because we will do it together. And, we work through this process together, because we will make a commitment to each other’s safety. 

  • You have already received an introductory video from Mr. Eschtruth to preview our new reality and the steps we will take to ensure that safety remains our top priority.
  • We will be creating a number of guidelines and procedures for the Pudong Campus, and I will share those with you in my blog post tomorrow. 
  • Dr. Volpe and I want to invite all parents and students in grades 9-12 to an online meeting for the SCIS PD Return-To-Campus Orientation on Monday at 3:30 pm.  A separate email will be coming very shortly from Dr. Volpe with an invitation to the online meeting.

We will be repeating these meetings for additional grade levels in the near future to ensure that we are going through the Return-To-Campus process together, by being informed and unified in our approach.

The campus, the school day, and the mindset of everyone will be different than it was in January. Yet, on behalf of the entire faculty, I know we are excited to see the campus alive with learning, rekindled relationships and laughter in just a few short days. 


Derek Luebbe
Head of School
SCIS – Pudong Campus

April 17, Head of School Update

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends

Today’s update is a special one of course. It includes a short update regarding our Return to Campus. And, it includes the full text of the important emails shared earlier today regarding my departure from SCIS this June. I again share those communications here, and thank you all once again for the memories and progress we have made.

As a reminder, May 1 is a school holiday. There will be no school for students and staff on this day.

Return To Campus

SCIS, along with all other international schools in Shanghai, have received additional clarification from the Shanghai Educational Commission on our next steps.  We now understand that May 6th is identified as a date by which we should be operationally ready for a return to campus, having completed all mandatory preparation work, and submitted our application for the inspection.

We still do not have a specific timeline for our return-to-campus learning which would include students and teachers. If we learn of a date, we will share this with all of you. In the meantime, we will focus on that which we can control and continue our efforts toward complying with all requirements for the operational and planning requirements for our eventual return.  We stand ready to complete all required actions once a return-to-campus learning date is established. 

Thank you for your ongoing understanding and patience as we continue through this situation together.

My Departure from SCIS

For those of you who may not have received the initial email from Dan Eschtruth and my subsequent email, it is shared below.

Dear Pudong Parents,

I write to share some important information with each of you in tandem with the announcement from our Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the financial projections for schools all around the world; SCIS is no exception to this.

Due to upcoming budget shortfall, I agreed to take a one-year sabbatical for 2020-21 school year  I will continue to work through to the end of this academic year. Beyond that, I am considering my professional options and what that may mean for my family. Given the situation, steps like these are an unfortunate reality to ensure SCIS continues to meet the needs of our students and remains financially responsible.

The adjustments to the Pudong Campus leadership structure for the 2020-21 school year are detailed in the accompanying letter from Mr. Eschtruth.

On a personal level, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you.

My time leading the Pudong Campus has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences in my life. I’m very proud of what we have built, and what we continue to build.

I have always appreciated SCIS’s focus on finding success for each individual child. This focus makes us unique, and it’s also the common thread that builds our community.

It is this community I will truly miss:

·       the students who come into school each day with a smile (usually),

·       the dedicated faculty who come up with creative ways to meet students’ needs, and challenge each other (and me) to be better each day. I respect them greatly.

·       the parents who work with us as partners in order to support students in pursuit of a shared goal.

I am hopeful that my next professional experience will provide the same level of satisfaction.

In the last four years, the school has successfully overcome so many challenges.  Whatever the future brings to SCIS Pudong, I do want to share my sincere thanks for having welcomed me and giving me the honor to lead.   I’ve been lucky to come to work each day be surrounded by this international environment and people within it.

I wish nothing but the best for all of you and for SCIS. Go Dragons.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

March 20, 2020 Head of School Update

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

Let me start by wishing each of you a restful upcoming Spring Break. Virtual Learning will resume March 30th.

I know it is not the break that any of us envisioned months ago, but it is certainly needed. The past seven weeks are hard to put into words. As a school community, with little notice, we have created an entire virtual learning model. It has not gone without challenges; we’ve had to make adjustments along the way, and we will continue to do so. But it is has been an outstanding accomplishment by our entire community – to make something so complex work for our students. The past two months have challenged our flexibility, ingenuity and resilience but we’ve made it work through everyone’s dedication to students. Our community is due for a much needed break. Do ensure you rest, relax, take care of yourself, and find the time to connect with your family and friends.  Above all stay safe.

In the past few weeks, I have been contacted by more than a few offers from educational companies who are sharing their resources free of charge with students impacted by campus closures. Here is a useful site that has compiled and shared many of them for those families who might wish to learn more.

This past week I returned to work from the unfortunate loss of my father, John Luebbe. He passed away suddenly but peacefully in his sleep on March. He was a fantastic man, and my family had so much to celebrate about his life. I want to say a thank you to our faculty for the emotional support they provided during this time, and a special thank you to Dr. Volpe and Ms. Gale who stepped up in my absence. As a school community, we celebrate the good times and support each other through the difficult times. I feel very fortunate.

Today, you will receive a parent update from Dan Eschtruth. While we see progress regarding the virus within China, many other countries are now struggling to contain its spread – bringing a whole new set of challenges to those returning. It has brought a whole perspective to how we are all a part of a connected, global community.

My thoughts are with all of you.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Head of School Update, February 28

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

It is hard to believe that it has been five weeks since we last saw each other. The situation continues to challenge us, and hopefully bring out the best in our resourcefulness, perseverance, and empathy. I know that everyone in our community -faculty, students, and parents – are working extra hours to help support student learning. I remain appreciative, grateful… and tired. But we will come through this period as a stronger community, and as stronger individuals. My wife Laurie and I have already shared many discussions about how special and celebratory it will be when we are all able to be together again.

In the last few weeks, thanks to the feedback of teachers, parents, and students we continue to adjust our program to increase our opportunities for interaction. Teachers are increasing our use of features such as Live Learning sessions, online office hours, and virtual class meetings. We believe these methods increase learning and continue to foster the contentedness and relationships which make up our SCIS community, an increasingly important aspect as our time apart grows.

Today, all parents will receive another check-in survey from the Principal(s). We appreciate your input in helping us better understand and support students.

No matter where we are geographically located, this event has brought on new challenges that each of us must navigate. Our SCIS community provides an important opportunity to support one another.

I continue to refer everyone to our SCIS Parent FAQ webpage where you can review all of our COVID19 resources, information, and updates from SCIS Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth – including today’s email update to all parents.

I ask for your continued patience as we proceed through this unique period in time.

Wishing you and your family health and safety.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School