Head of School Updates, September 12, 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

It was a short week, and I trust that everyone is enjoying the long weekend.

I do want to congratulate our 9th graders who organized a quick morning bagel sale and gave everyone a little morning boost on Wednesday. The proceeds from the sale will be used to support the 9th Grade China Go Trip to Inner Mongolia where our students’ funding and efforts will help support additional trees to support the desertification.

9th graders getting ready for Wednesday morning’s Bagel Sale

On Thursday, our entire SCIS Pudong and Hongqiao faculty gathered for full day of Professional Development learning. One of our main topics focused on further defining our learning goals in terms of the evidence we have, and additional evidence we can gather to support our students. It was a great day of productive discussions to help further clarify what we can do to better support students.

SCIS Teachers, learning from and with one another

As a last reminder, Sunday is the deadline for September Parent Satisfaction Survey. If you have not completed the survey, please take two minutes to share your opinion. It helps us improve as a school, and allows us to follow up with students and parents to gather more information about what is working well, and where we can improve.

Wishing you all a restful weekend.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival.

Derek Luebbe

Upcoming Events:

  • Tuesday, Sep. 17:
    • MS Touch Rugby vs SAS-PD, Home, 4pm
    • JV Girls Volleyball @ SMIC, Away, 4:15pm
    • JV Boys Volleyball vs SMIC, Home, 4:15pm
  • Wednesday, Sep. 18:
    • Varsity Boys Volleyball @ SMIC, Away, 4:15pm
    • Varsity Girls Volleyball @ SMIC, Away, 4:15pm
    • JV Boys Volleyball @ DCS, Away, 4:15pm
    • JV Girls Volleyball @ DCS, Away, 4:15pm
  • Friday, Sep. 20:
    • UN Day of Peace Assembly, 1:30pm-3pm
    • Varsity Girls Volleyball vs NAIS, Home, 4:15pm
    • Varsity Boys Volleyball vs NAIS, Home, 4:15pm
  • Saturday, Sep. 21: CISSA CRE Touch Rugby, SAS-PD

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Update, Sept. 5

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Staff

Next week will be a short – but busy – week. There will be no school for students on Thursday and Friday. Thursday is an important day for our faculty as we collaborate with SCIS Hongqiao faculty for the first big event in launching our WASC Accreditation / IB Authorization process.

In an earlier post, I shared more about the upcoming synchronized visit with WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and IB (International Baccalaureate). It is a special challenge and opportunity to affirm the quality of what we do. Only a few schools around the world (less than 1%) have gone through a synchronized visit from WASC and the IB. It will be a fantastic opportunity for our school to reflect and grow. All school constituents will be involved in the process.

Speaking of parent involvement, I want to remind everyone about our Monthly Parent Satisfaction Survey. An email was sent to all parents on September 4th encouraging each of you to complete a two-minute survey to share your perceptions about SCIS. (If you did not receive that email from “PD News”, please contact the school so that we can ensure we have your correct email address.) A version of this survey will come out each month for parents. Of course, we are all here to better serve our students. So, we will be surveying them as well throughout the year to gather data, hear perceptions, and work with them to make their experience more meaningful.

If you have already completed this short survey – thank you! If you did not complete it, please do so. Each parent can complete it. It only takes two minutes! The deadline to complete this survey is midnight on September 15.

As a reminder, next week we will take student photographs. Check your divisional communication for additional information.

Next week, the school will also practice our emergency fire evacuation drills. For those of you with younger children, we would greatly appreciate your help in talking through this process with your child to help him/her understand that this is a practice.

Morning Bus Pick-Up Reminders:   The bus will not wait for students who are late in the morning. Doing so causes all the students on the bus to arrive late for school. To help keep us on schedule, I have instructed to drivers to leave the bus stop promptly on time. To prevent problems, please be sure that your child arrives at the bus stop  prior to his/her scheduled departure. If you have any bus questions, contact our transportation coordinator Stu Ren at pd-transportation@scis-china.org .  Thank you for your help in keeping our bus times on schedule.

Wishing each of you a restful weekend.

Warm regards,
Derek Luebbe, Head of School

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, 4:00 pm: JV Volleyball (Boys and Girls) vs. Concordia (@ SCIS), Varsity Volleyball (Boys and Girls) at Concordia.
  • Tuesday: Lower School student picture day.
  • Wednesday: Upper School student picture day.
  • Thursday: No School for students. Professional Development Day for Faculty.
  • Friday: No school for students. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Updates, August 30, 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends,

With so much happening, it was a fast week.
It was only a week ago when we celebrated as a community during our Welcome Back BBQ. I want to extend a big thank you to all the families that came out to celebrate our SCIS Community. (I also want to thank Mother Nature for stopping the rain at just the right time.)
Our Welcome Back BBQ is a perfect way to start our year together, celebrate the diversity of SCIS, and get to know each other.
We captured a few of the memories of the day in the photos below.

Additionally, this Thursday, our Back To School Night was well attended. It provides the foundation for building a strong relationship between school and home. Three important take-aways from the night:

  1. Lower School parents need to ensure that they are on SeeSaw.
  2. Upper School parents should sit down with their child at least one time per week with ManageBac open to understand work (past and future), and reflect on teacher feedback.
  3. All students and parents are encouraged to communicate with the child’s teacher. We all want this to be a successful year for each child, and that is far more likely when we communicate.

Since the Back To School Night is our last “welcome” event, I will close by re-sharing my goals for a successful year.

  1. Each child is challenged.
  2. Each child is supported in that challenge.
  3. Each child is appreciated for who they are as an individual.

That’s our challenge as a school – and I hope those are goals which you can support at home as well.

I wish you and your family a relaxing weekend.

Sincerely,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

PAFA Updates

All parents are invited to the PAFA General Meeting on Tuesday, September 3 at 10:30 in Room 208.
You can learn more about upcoming PAFA events via the PAFA Post.

And, all parents are invited to a special PAFA Parent Social night out on September 19th. This event is a sponsored by the PAFA from SCIS Pudong and SCIS Hongqiao. It plans to be a fun night of relaxation, food, and drink. Busing will be provided. For more information contact Vanessa Thomas at pdpafa.president@scis-china.org .

SCIS Dragon Cup Volleyball – Saturday @ Pudong

Come out and cheer our Boys and Girls Varsity Volleyball Teams in action on Saturday as we SCIS Pudong hosts the Dragon Cup Invitational.

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, August 31, Dragon Cup Varsity Volleyball @ SCIS Pudong
  • Monday Sep. 2 to Sep. 5, US NWEA-MAP Testing
  • Tuesday, Sep. 3:
    • PAFA General Meeting, 10am
    • JV Boys Volleyball @ YCIS PD, 4:15pm
    • JV Girls Volleyball vs YCIS PD @ Home, 4:15pm
  • Wednesday, Sep. 4:
    • Varsity Boys Volleyball @ WCIS, 4:15pm
    • Varsity Girls Volleyball vs WCIS @ Home, 4:15pm

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Updates, August 23, 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

Please join us this Saturday for our Welcome Back BBQ from 11:00-3:00. There will be drinks, food, entertainment, games, and a lot of socializing as we welcome our new families and re-connect with those returning. Children are encouraged to bring swimsuit / change of clothes because there are water games.

The entire day is free of charge.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Stay Connected

As the school year gets moving, it’s important to ensure you are aware and connected to the multiple ways in which we communicate.

  1. Each parent should have an SCIS school email account. This is the official avenue for sending information home. Many parents set up their school email to auto-forward to their personal email account so that they do not miss notifications from the teacher or school. We can help with this if you have questions.
  2. Each school division (Upper School and Lower School) shares each student’s academic information through an online platform. It is very important that parents can use these platforms to stay informed. If you have any questions, contact Barry Johnson at bjohnson@scis-china.org
    1. Lower School: SeeSaw
    2. Upper School: ManageBac
  3. We have a number of unofficial WeChat groups which we use to keep everyone informed and help foster our community connection. For all WeChat groups, we agree to abide by our SCIS WeChat Norms. Three important WeChat groups are:
    1. Fantastic Parents: General information and Q&A.
    2. Your child’s Grade Level WeChat group: Led by a parent-volunteer in the role of Grade Level Leader, this group helps build a grade level community.
    3. Upper School White Board (daily activities and announcements).
  4. Contact your child’s teacher via email or schedule a face-to-face meeting. If you have questions along the way, your child’s teacher is usually the first point of contact. Please feel free to reach out.
  5. On Aug. 22, all parents received an important email regarding our emergency contact system via cell phone text message. Please check to ensure you received that email. Emergencies such a typhoons require that our school community can be reached quickly to ensure safe and successful communication. Note that we will test our emergency contact system at noon on August 27. All cell phone numbers in our system will receive the message below. If you do not receive this message, please check the Aug. 22 email for how to update your contact information.
This TEST Emergency message will be sent at noon on Aug. 27.

If you want to learn about more avenues for communication, please see our earlier post.

Back to School Night: August 29 at 6:00 pm

All parents are encouraged to attend out Back to School Night from 6:00-8:15 pm. This is an important night to meet your child’s teacher, learn more about your child’s program so that you can better support him/her, and strengthen the school-home relationship so that we can partner with you to provide success for students.

This can be a busy night with lots of information and introductions. Please note that this is not a night when you should plan to meet about your child with your child’s teacher. On this night, the teachers have limited time. We encourage individual meetings, but one-on-one meetings should be scheduled for a different day. Thank you for your understanding.

We look forward to welcoming you August 29, and hope to see you all tomorrow afternoon.

Warm regards,
Derek Luebbe

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday Aug. 27:
    • LS Swim Team Tryouts
    • JV Girls Volleyball & JV Boys Volleyball @ SAS-PD, 4:15pm
    • Varsity Girls Volleyball & Varsity Boys Volleyball vs SAS-PD @ Home, 4:15pm
  • Thursday Aug. 29, Back To School Night, 6pm-8pm
  • Saturday Aug. 31, Dragon Cup Volleyball, SCIS – PD, 9am – 3pm

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Updates, Aug. 16, 2019

Dear Parents,
We’ve reached the end of a busy Week One.

In my earlier post, I highlighted a number of different upcoming school events. Review that post if you were unable to read it. It included:

  • Ms. Gale’s temporary absence
  • Our summer facilities upgrades
  • Communication channels at SCIS: Do you know our WeChat norms?
  • Important School Contacts
  • Read the PAFA Post (Parent and Friends Association)
  • Upcoming Events:
    • PAFA Meet & Greet Coffee Morning, Tuesday Aug. 20, 9:30-11:30
    • Welcome Back BBQ, Saturday Aug. 24, 11:00-3:00 pm
    • Back to School Night, August 29, 6:00 pm

It’s been a fun week for me to roam the hallways and try to connect with the 80+ new students, and of course all of our returning students as well. The school year has a great community feel to it.

Speaking of community, I am proud to announce the arrival of a new SCIS Dragon over the summer. On July 24, SCIS teachers Mr. and Mrs. Ruf welcomed the birth of their first child, a girl named Charlotte Reese Ruf. Everyone is smiling (or crying!) as should be expected. Seeing them all together is sure to brighten anyone’s day!

During my introduction to new families, I highlighted our focus on the development of the whole child. As a Three-Program IB school (PYP, MYP, DP), our academic program is strong and at the forefront. But we strive to be more than the IB – to help children develop socially, emotionally, athletically, and ethically. This is called educating the whole child.

During the welcome message, I shared three foundational goals we have for every child’s experience. They are worth repeating as they apply to all children.

  • We strive to challenge each child, to push toward improvement, in each of these areas.
  • We strive to support each child within this challenge.
  • We strive to appreciate each child for who they are at this point in time.

I know that if we are able to do that, we have the foundation for a very successful school year.

As the year begins, on behalf of everyone here at SCIS, I wish to express how fortunate we feel to have the community we have. We are all here for the success of children. If, at any point in the year, you have questions, please reach out to your child’s teacher, principal, or me.

Hoping your year is off to a successful start.
Respectfully,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Uniforms & Greens and Jeans

SCIS Green Spirit T-Shirt

If you have any uniform needs, please see Ann in the SCIS Student Store. New families also received a Green SCIS T-Shirts. Next Friday will be a Dragon Spirit Day in preparation for our Welcome Back BBQ on Saturday. Friday the 23rd will be Green & Jeans Day. This means students do not have to come in the SCIS uniform as long as they come in their SCIS Green T-shirt. They can also wear jeans or other appropriate shorts/pants. It’s a fun day to celebrate who we are, and the fun will continue into Saturday’s BBQ.

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


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. Busing will be provided to / from selective spots in the city. You must reserve your spot using the QR code below by Thursday at 3:00 pm

Scan for bus sign-up

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

Synchronized IB / WASC Accreditation Visit: Preparation

In this week’s blog, I would like to provide a very short introduction into an important strategic process that SCIS will undertake in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school year. You will hear much more about this process in weeks to come.

This year we embark upon the task of preparing for an accreditation visit. Accreditation is very important process for a school; it is similar to an educational audit, performed by visiting educators. SCIS is a fully accredited school since it’s inception in 1986. We are one of the rare schools in the world that is authorized by both the IB (International Baccalaureate) and accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) in the USA. In the spring of 2021, educators from both both organizations will visit SCIS for approximately one week to verify our internal self-study.

Why is accreditation so important?
An accredited school allows everyone around the world to know that this school meets high standards of quality. It allows universities and other K-12 students to accept students, knowing that the standard of quality has been verified.

Is SCIS already accredited?
Yes. We have are fully accredited by both agencies. Accreditation terms run for a maximum of six years. Our term is up for renewal. What makes this visit so special is that we have aligned both organizations into one, larger, synchronized visit.

This seems over a year away. Why are we learning about now?
Over the course of the next 18 months, SCIS will be going through a rigorous self-study using the externally provided criteria from WASC and IB to learn where we are strong and where we can improve. Our self-study process is a detailed analysis of all stakeholders’ perspectives (students, teachers, parents, support staff, administration, Board members, etc.) to better understand SCIS. The self-study will be published next school year and available for all.

As a parent, how might this affect me?
As a parent (or a student), you can expect that you will receive a few more surveys than in previous years. We will also be organizing feedback sessions to talk about the results of the survey, and solicit more detailed, nuanced perspectives. You can expect to hear more about these in the future.

Is accreditation basically just a stamp of approval?
No. The accreditation process is an opportunity for a school to renew its purpose, review its practices against standards-based criteria of effectiveness, and then benefit from an educational audit from educators from around the world who specialize in each aspect so what we can learn and continuously improve.
We are looking forward to the journey, and sharing more about it this year.

Upcoming Events:

  • August 20, PAFA Welcome Coffee Morning, Black Box, 9:30am-11:30am
  • August 24, Welcome Back BBQ, 11am-3pm

Photos From Around Campus

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

Head of School Updates, June 14, 2019

Farewell 2018-19

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends,

We have been truly fortunate this year. This week, we shared a number of ceremonies, celebrations and reflections that were great representations of our SCIS Community.

Today in the hallways, there we many personal goodbyes between students, families and faculty members. For most of us, it will just be a few weeks apart, but for those leaving the SCIS community, it may be awhile before you see you again – but we hope we do!

As I shared with the students, we have all played a part in collectively shaping the experience and culture of SCIS. I sincerely hope that everyone leaves with fond memories and that our school community has made you a better person. Additionally, I am sure that the contribution of each of us has added something (big or small) the community we have.

To those of you leaving SCIS, allow me to wish you the best of luck. Once a Dragon; Always a Dragon.

Teachers say goodbye to students as busses depart. Summer 2019 begins!

And, to those of you returning, I wish you and your families a safe and relaxing summer vacation. We will see you in August!

To those returning, we look forward to seeing you on August 13. You will be greeted by upgrades in our facility, new classrooms, an expanding community of teachers and students, and the same Dragon Spirit.

For those curious about next year, please visit the following resources to stay informed throughout the summer.

SCIS Pudong Portal – http://pd.scis-his.net/ : On the portal, you can access the SCIS Pudong Calendar – Get a head start on important schoolwide events by clicking on the calendar icon on the Portal website. And, of course, we will update you all by email and this blog post over the summer.

I wish each of you a restful and relaxing summer with family and friends. Thank you for being a part of the SCIS Community.

Go Dragons!
Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Yearbooks Still Available

It’s not too late!  We still have some extra yearbooks left. If you did not order a yearbook to remember the 2018-19 school year, you can still purchase a book by contacting Joanna (jzhou@scischina.org) in our office.

Head of School Updates, June 6 2019

This week, I was fortunate enough to be a part of two different celebrations of personalized learning that is a part of a small-school experience.

On Wednesday, our 10th graders presented their entrepreneurial Pitch to a panel of judges in our first-ever Dragon’s Den. The Dragon’s Den experience is formatted to simulate the types of investment pitches that entrepreneurs need to make to investors – and it follows the model of the TV show Shark Tank. Under the leadership of Mr. Lawrence, our 10th grade students worked in groups of 2 or 3 to create an eco-friendly business that they could create. Student teams put together business plans and each of those business plans were entered into an online classroom stock market simulation called simCEO. The stock market lasted for approximately 3 weeks while student-CEOs continued to develop their business plans and buy/sell shares in other’s company to provide feedback on each others’ ideas.

The Dragon’s Den is the culminating experience to the unit -allowing students to refine their presentation skills as they ask for funding to launch their business. (We will look at the actual funding and business development next  year – and I will use the opportunity of this blog post to make a request for parent volunteers who might wish to mentor these young entrepreneurs as they launch their project!).

Each of the business ideas had to align with B-Corp standards, making it a sustainable business model serving the greater good.  Each business idea had a prototype created and ready to share with the judges, along with their 10-minute investment pitch, detailing the problem/solution and financial rationale to persuade us to invest. It was a fantastic piece of real-world learning. The students shared ideas and actual prototypes for:

  • Sustainable bar soap
  • Computer cases and bags made from recycled materials
  • Eco-friendly, scented lip balm
  • Sustainable, scented candles
  • Credit card / Transportation card holder that attach to your phone made from recycled materials

Each presentation allowed students the chance to showcase their designs and detail the market need it met. Following each presentation, the panel of judges was allotted time to ask probing questions to the aspiring CEOs. A special thanks to the judges who joined me on the day –  Mr. Willaugher, Dr. Volpe, and Mr. Carel Van Apeldoorn. And a big congratulations to our students and Mr. Lawrence for some fantastic presentations!

Additionally, this afternoon we held our Lower School Variety Show. (Photos will be shared next week.) It’s a showcase of students on stage, sharing their unique talents – from singing to magic to yo yo tricks to stand-up comedians – it was truly a unique and personal way to allow our students to shine and share who they are. Many thanks to the parents who were able to attend, and to all the parents who could not attend but put in many hours at home helping children prepare.

Both of these events are perfect examples of personalized learning within the SCIS Community. Students get opportunities to share who they are – their ideas, their talents, their personalities – while practicing real world skills with the help and support of adults.

These are some of the most important learning experiences we can give our students to build skills and confidence.

With so much going on, please take time to read the Principal’s Posts.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! Wishing you and your family a restful 3-day weekend!

Derek Luebbe

Upcoming Events:

  • Monday, June 10, Theater Imba (Swedish artists) present to LS
  • Tuesday, June 11:
    • Theater Imba (Swedish artist) present to US
    • PAFA General Meeting, 10am-11am
    • Grade 5 Moving on Ceremony and Family Brunch, 10:30am-12:30pm, Black Box
  • Wednesday, June 12:
    • Theater Imba (Swedish artist) present to US
    • Lower School Field Day (all day)
  • Thursday, June 13, K-5 Lower School Assembly, 8:15am-9:15am, Black Box
    • Notes: Farewell Assembly
  • Friday, June 14:
    • Last Day of School
    • Notes: Semester 2 Reports released
    • Students Dismissal (PD only), 11:30am
    • Faculty Dismissal, 3:30pm

Photos From Around Campus

Dragon’s Den Presentation: The Financials

Head of School Updates, May 31 2019

Congratulations to the SCIS Class of 2019!

On Thursday, we celebrated the achievements of our 22 graduates from 12 different countries. For those of you who were fortunate to be there, it was a extremely touching ceremony – allowing our graduates to share who they are and how SCIS has shaped them. If you were not able to attend, I encourage you to watch our LiveStream recording of the event to get a sense of fine young men and women who are about to go out into the world as proud SCIS graduates.

The ceremony itself – and the feelings that our graduates shared – are great examples of how personalized relationships make a difference. Throughout the entire event, it’s safe to say that everyone who attended found moments to laugh, moments to cry, and moments to celebrate and remember. It was an event that captured the SCIS Spirit.

As a parent of a graduate, I have special reason to be proud of the day. I’m so grateful that these 22 have been a part of our SCIS story, and I know that bigger things await them.

Yearbooks are finished. Order yours today!

Facility Upgrades for 2019-20

Heading into the 2019-20 school year, SCIS Pudong continues to grow – thanks to the support and feedback of our parents. With an estimated 10% increase in our student population, our Board of Directors continues to re-invest in our facility to ensure our students receive the best educational experience. For those of you returning next year, in addition to the typical summer maintenance and upkeep, you can look forward to the following upgrades.

  • The two music rooms will be relocated into larger spaces.
  • A remodel of our lobby / coffee shop area to include greater access for students and parents to gather, socialize, and hold meetings.
  • New furniture (and furniture replacement) in our Upper and Lower School classrooms.
  • The development of a special room for K-12 robotics
  • A re-model of some Upper School rooms and spaces to accommodate more break-out work spaces for students.

We are grateful that our Board of Directors continues to re-invest, and look forward to utilizing the new spaces next year.

Fostering Better Student Reflections Through Inquiry-Based Learning

Let’s start with the obvious. Students can and should be reflective learners in any environment. Many would agree that the most important skill we can teach children is learning how to learn. That only comes with when students reflect. But not all classrooms are equal when it comes to fostering reflection in students.


Inquiry-based classrooms have an advantage.


Let’s first describe what we mean by an inquiry based classroom. Inquiry-based learning is built on questions. These can be student-developed questions or teacher-developed. These questions – and the subsequent questions they produce – drive the unit of study.
When I was in school, we studied with traditional units. These usually had topics like “Migration” or “China” and we would learn lots of information about our topic so that we could summarize it back to the teacher later on a test. Sometimes, I had a fun or innovative teacher who gave us a specific problem such as “Why do rural residents of Anhui province choose to migrate to Shanghai?” These kind of questions are really the foundation of inquiry-based learning. (And later in her career, maybe that innovative teacher worked at an IB school where she learning more about conceptual learning; she then changed the question to: “Why do populations choose to migrate? And, how does this migration change the destination and origin?” Now, students can example multiple examples and students can look for common trends. That’s called conceptual-based learning – and it’s another important part of the IB philosophy. But our focus for this article is on inquiry-based learning, so I should re-focus on the topic.
Inquiry-based learning can be summed up with the following bullets:

  • It builds on students’ individual knowledge and interests, and emphasizes learning how to learn and how to find out
  • Learning within the classroom must be engaging, relevant challenging and significant. There are no time-filling worksheets.
  • It views teachers as ‘facilitators’ and not ‘distributors’ of knowledge.
  • It is constructed in a way that is differentiated or that is specific to the needs of each learner within the classroom. 
    Source: https://www.whatisib.com/inquiry-based-learning.html

The following chart provides more detail.
Inquiry-Based Traditional
Principle Learning Theory Constructivism Behaviorism
Student Participation Active Passive
Student Role Problem solver Direction follower
Curriculum Goals Process oriented Product oriented
Teacher’s Role Guide/facilitator Director/transmitter
source: http://www.brynmawr.edu/biology/franklin/InquiryBasedScience.html

When we transform traditional units of study into rich, inquiry-based units, we provide an environment where high-level cognitive activities have greater potential to surface. Students create additional questions. Students develop their own understanding of issues by constructing their answer around the knowledge that they know. Within inquiry-based learning, we help students take the next step by giving them the tools to collaborate and assess their initial understanding – and build upon it.
For example:

  • As you answer this question, what additional questions come to mind?
  • What information might you need to learn in order to develop a deeper understanding of this issue?
  • Because others are constructing their own answers to this question, what are you learning from their perspective?

    When we look at the questions above, you begin to see a big difference between traditional learning environments (Ex. “Write an essay on China’s migration.”) and inquiry-based learning environments (Ex. Why do rural residents of Anhui Province choose to migrate to Shanghai?”)
    The traditional topic is a task that a student has to finish. The inquiry question is an engaging prompt that can be explored with an ever-increasing complexity. Like an onion, students can learn, layer upon layer.

Reflection can be a part of any classroom. But inquiry-based learning allows for a much deeper level of reflection.
In traditional classrooms, the following examples are typical student reflections.

  • “I should have worked harder / started earlier.
  • “I should have focused more on Chapter 2.” (Usually, this is because the assessment had more Chapter 2 questions than the student envisioned.)
  • “I should have taken better notes along the way.”

    None of these reflections are bad. But they are limited because the tasks tend to be limited. Students are missing out on the chance to reflect on their understanding. When students are asked to do more than summarize, they construct their own meaning. And, because each student will have his/her own personal construction, they each have a unique answer – and therefore can learn from one another.
    In an inquiry-based classroom, students can still reflect about their process. But they can also reflect upon their understanding. For example:
  • When I first answered this question, I only considered the economic advantages of why people move to Shanghai. I had not really thought about the impact on how it affects families who might be separated. It’s more complex than I thought. I now have a few more questions I want to explore because I think I might need to change my opinion.
  • I should have considered different peoples’ viewpoints (employers, government, families, and children) before I came to my conclusion.
  • I started to write my answer to this question too soon. I wish I had asked a few more people their opinions and read a few of my classmates’ answers prior to forming my opinion.

    These the types of powerful reflections that are possible within an inquiry-based classroom. These are also the types of reflections that skilled adults make in the real world everyday.

Upcoming Events:

  • Monday, June 3 to 6, Upper School Semester Exams
  • Thursday, June 6, Lower School Variety Show, 1:30pm-2:45pm, Theater
  • Friday, June 7, Duanwu “Dragon Boat” Festival Holiday (No School)

Photos From Around Campus

Inter-Disciplinary Unit – In Action

Head of School Updates, May 24 2019

Today I had the pleasure of working with ten very dedicated PAFA Leadership Team members for 2+ hours to work through some yearlong goals for next year.

I am truly appreciative of the ideas and dedication of this group. Thus far, they have identified two main goals for 2019-20.

  1. PAFA will add value to the students’ experience at SCIS.
  2. PAFA will increase parent participation through value-added experiences for SCIS parents.
PAFA Ideas – Generating Yearlong Goals

They are in the process of mapping out and prioritizing the many ideas that were generated. It is fair to say that if you wish to be involved in PAFA, there are a large variety of ways you can contribute. You can find more information on the PAFA webpage.

In advance, I want to say thank you to this group for putting in the time to plan so many ways to enhance the SCIS Community.

Leaving SCIS

Being a part of an international school means we become all too familiar with transitions. To all of our departing families – thank you for all that you have contributed to the SCIS Community. Remember: Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon.

We have many families who will be re-patriating at the end of the year. The transition process can be filled with questions. Moving countries – and repatriating back to your home country – are big steps in a child’s life. Below, I’m sharing a few articles to help pave that eventual transition.

Having lived overseas for 23 years, I know that saying goodbye to your current home – and the special people within it – is not always a natural or easy process for children; but it an essential part of making a healthy transition. Help provide your children with the skills to say goodbye to their friends and teachers. It’s important.

Along those lines, we must also say goodbye to a few of the special SCIS teachers who are embarking on new challenges for the next school year. On behalf of the entire community, I want to personally say thank you for the service that each of you have provided to our students and community.

Aloura Pearson
Brenda Dean
Cleo Peterson
Dave O’Reilly
Emily Putnam
Eva Torrontera
Kyeungwon Lee
Kristen Scheiner
Marty Mavec

We wish each of these educators the best of luck on their next adventure!

Somewhere Nowhere

Join us at 6:00 pm tonight for the Upper School Drama Performance: Somewhere Nowhere. Come out to support our students as they showcase their talents on the stage. If you cannot make the performance, it will also be shared on the school’s LiveStream account.

Wishing you a fantastic weekend,

Derek Luebbe

Upcoming Events:

  • Monday, May 27, G7/8 Arts Performance,2:15pm3:00pm
  • Tuesday, May 28, Upper School Sports Banquet, 3:30pm-6:15pm, Black Box
  • Thursday, May 30, Pudong Graduation:
    • Grade 7 IDU Exhibition, 9:35am-10:55am, Gallery
    • Pudong Graduation,4:00pm- 6:00pm, Pudong Theater
  • Friday, May 31, Last Day of ASA 3, End of 3rd Trimester
  • Monday, June 3 to 6, Upper School Semester Exams
  • Thursday, June 6, Lower School Variety Show, 1:30pm-2:45pm, Theater
  • Friday, June 7, Duanwu “Dragon Boat” Festival Holiday (No School)

Photos From Around Campus