Head of School Update, August 13

Welcome back Kriday and Anousha

Welcome (Back) Dragons!

We are off and running on a the fantastic journey that will be the 2019-20 school year.  We look forward to partnering with you to make it special. Let me officially welcome all of you to what I know will be a rewarding year for your children.

It was fantastic to see such a large turnout at our New Family Orientation. This year, we welcome over 80 new SCIS Dragons. Our school continues to grow as we open with 400+ students, and we look forward to all the connections, relationships, and experiences that we will share as an SCIS Community over the 2019-20 school year.

For those of you who are new, this Head of School Update is one way in which we aim to stay in communication with families throughout the year. Principals also share a Principal’s Post at the end of each week. You will also notice that we added some new features and links to this blog that parents typically reference.

The first day was filled with boundless energy – old friendships renewed, new students a little nervous, returning students welcoming new students, and a lot of supportive parents and faculty trying to make sure the first day is a positive one.

Ms. Gale’s Absence

As I shared during New Family Orientation, Ms. Gale is home in the United States for a few days. Unfortunately, earlier last week, Ms. Gale learned of her mother’s declining health. As such, she rightly decided to leave on Sunday for the USA for a short period of time to be with her mother and family. As a community, I know we send our thoughts and prayers to her at this time.

She worked diligently over the previous days to ensure that all the pieces were in place for a successful school opening. In her absence, the entire Lower School team has stepped up in support. From a parent’s perspective, if you have questions that would normally be directed to Ms. Gale, please reach out to the Lower School Counselor, Laurie Luebbe (lluebbe@scis-china.org).

Facilities Upgraded

Returning families will see a campus that has seen significant upgrades. Check these out the next time you’re in school.

  • Thanks to PAFA for the funding, and to parent Victor Ngo for the awesome design ideas. The Lobby/Lounge Space has been re-built to allow more informal and formal meetings for parents, teachers, and students
  • A new Upper School Music room was added to the 4th floor. 
  • Lower School Music will moved to a much bigger room on the Lower Level.
  • Dedicated individual learning spaces built into Upper School Rooms 310 / 308.
  • The addition of a fourth PS/PK classroom to accommodate growth.
  • The addition of a (new) second Grade 5 classroom to accommodate growth.
  • The addition of an ECE indoor play-room.
  • Additional space added to create 3 Mandarin rooms on the 2nd floor.

We continue to be very fortunate that our Board of Directors continues to invest in the facility to ensure we have spaces that align with research-based best practices for learning.

Our new lobby design… Thank you PAFA (and Victor !)
Mr. Demas in the new US Music Room

Communication at SCIS

As we kick off the new year, I want to ensure that all families are aware of the importance of communication, and each of you are aware of the various communication methods we use throughout the year.
We want to partner with you in pursuit of making this year a success for your child. Personal communication is the most important aspect of developing our relationship and clarifying our shared understanding of our program and your child’s needs.

Here are a couple important reminders:

Communicate first and foremost with the person most directly knowledgeable about your child’s problem. Usually, this is your child’s teacher. Email is a great way to communicate, and if needed, a personal visit can always be scheduled.

We maintain a number of unofficial WeChat groups to facilitate communication. (The addition of WeChat groups resulted from a yearlong Communication Task Force – involving students, parents, teachers, and administration in 2016-17 – aiming to strengthen our communication practices.) We are a unique school in the way in which we utilize WeChat to help facilitate parent communication. Some reminders about the WeChat groups.

As unofficial groups, a school faculty member is always included in each group, but the school (or the representative) does not typically reply to WeChat messages or questions posed by parents. We officially communicate through other channels, noted in the chart below.

Utilzing WeChat groups is an exercise in trust in our collective ability to self-monitor the conversation and ensure that it stays healthy, professional, and supportive of the school and each other. We have developed SCIS WeChat Norms to clarify these expectations. Please review these norms. For example, WeChat should not be used to complain about a particular person or policy. If you have personal questions or comments that you would like to make which may violate these norms, those questions/comments are likely best communicated in person,  via email to the specific person, or raised to PAFA representatives for broader discussion.

PAFA is an excellent conduit of information and source of knowledge. Please feel free to reach out to this year’s PAFA president Vanessa Thomas (pdpafa.president@scis-china.org ) if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.

Below is a helpful chart to summarize the various ways that we stay connected as a school community.

Unofficial Communication Channels

  • (Wechat) SCIS Fantastic Parents Group – an excellent source of connecting and learning about what’s happening from parents within the SCIS community. Daily questions and online conversations. (NOTE: As of Aug. 13, PAFA is still using the 2018-19 Fantastic Parent group. If you are not a part of this group, please ask someone to add you. In the near term, a newly created group for the 2019-20 school year will be added, and individuals can add themselves via a new QR code. Stay tuned !)
  • (Wechat) Grade Level Groups – Connect with all the parents who are in your child’s class.
    As a school, we are always looking to strengthen our community by expanding our ability to communicate with one another. If you have an idea, email me our School Community Officer, David Mazer at dmazer@scis-china.org and/or PAFA President Vanessa Thomas at pdpafa.president@scis-china.org

Important SCIS Contacts

David Mazer, School-Community Officer, dmazer@scis-china.org

Dr. Frank Volpe, US Principal, fvolpe@scis-china.org
Jelly Ling, US Secretary, jling@scis-china.org
Maja Kelly, US Counselor, mkelly@scis-china.org

Elizabeth Gale, LS Principal, egale@scis-china.org
Vicky Xu, LS Secretary, vxu@scis-china.org
Laurie Luebbe, LS Counselor, lluebbe@scis-china.org

Stu Ren, Transportation Coordinator, sren@scis-china.org

Upcoming Events

We have a number of important school wide events. Please mark your calendars. There are a number of PAFA events shared on the PAFA Post (below).

PAFA Welcome Back Coffee Morning, Tuesday, August 20 from 9:30 – 11:30.

Come meet in the Black Box for this introductory meet and greet.
– Hear from Mr. Luebbe and divisional representatives,
– Meet the PAFA Executive Team,
– Learn about volunteering opportunities, events, and other ways to build our school community,
– Join a break-out group to meet other parents in your child’s grade level,
– Participate in our annual “Uniform Swap”,
– Just relax and connect with others in the SCIS Community.

Welcome Back BBQ – Saturday, August 24 11:00-3:00 pm

Come join us for a day of family fun.

The Welcome Back BBQ is an annual tradition filled with food, drinks, games, entertainment and socializing to connect (and re-connect) our SCIS Community. Come out for a fun day of family relaxation. Busing will be provided from designated pick-up points. See Friday’s blog post and Fantastic Parents for more information on how to sign up for busing.

This is a free – and fun – event!

We are looking for PERFORMERS who want to sing, dance or play an instrument at the AUG 24th WELCOME BBQ. Contact Laurie Luebbe if you or your child(ren) are interested. DEADLINE Friday Aug 23. Email Laurie: lluebbe@scis-china.org

Back To School Night, August 29, 6:00 pm

Join us for a night to meet your child’s teachers, learn about our program, and build the school-home relationship.

Let us know how we can help!

On behalf of everyone at SCIS Pudong, I welcome you to the 2019-20 school year. Our job is to partner with you to make this a memorable year for your child. If we can be of any help, please reach out at any point throughout the year.

Warm regards,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Photos from Campus: Day 1

Ms. Marcos leads a fast-paced, “Get to Know You” game

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