Head of School Updates, March 29 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

On Thursday, March 28, all parents received an important email from the school regarding a child safety incident which occurred just outside of our campus. (The email was sent at 4:06 pm.) The email is great reminder of the important role that both the school and home play in communicating to children about interactions with strangers.

The email included resources for parents on how to talk to children about the interactions with strangers.  We will continue to monitor children’s perceptions and stay diligent in ensuring a safe environment.

If you did not receive this email, the event should serve as important reminder that all emails are sent to your SCIS Parent Email Accounts. We can help you set up your SCIS email account to automatically forward  to your personal account so that you will not miss future important emails. Contact the divisional secretary to make an appointment with our Technology Support who can assist you.

I also want to draw your attention to the upcoming elections for the PAFA Executive Board for the 2019-20 school year. Our current PAFA Executive Board has been working diligently to revise our election process. Our goal is to provide avenues for multiple roles for parents who wish to get involved.

For 19-20, we are moving forward with one change in our election process – online voting. In preparation, I want to encourage parents to consider stepping up and encouraging friends to help lead next year’s PAFA by contributing to the following positions on the Executive Board.

2019-20 PAFA Board Positions

Communication Coordinator
Events Coordinator
Food & Beverage Supply Manager
Country Ambassador Coordinator / Volunteer Outreach (NEW)

Non-Board PAFA Positions
Divisional Coordinators (Lower School, Middle School, High School)
Aquatics Booster Club Representative
Bingo Night: Lead Organizer
Halloween Lead Organizer
Winter Festival: Lead Organizer
International Festival: Lead Organizer

Our process leading up to the election is shared below, and we invite you to take an active part in helping continue the strong tradition of community at SCIS Pudong into the 2019-20 school year!

April 9: Job Descriptions Released, Nominations Open
April 16: PAFA General Meeting (update)
April 24: Nominations Close
April 26: Online Voting Opens
May 2: Voting Ends
May 6: New PAFA Board for 2019-20 Announced and transition meetings with current board begin.

Please consider supporting the school. You can learn more about these positions by speaking with a PAFA representative or Laurie Luebbe (lluebbe@scischina.org)

Lastly, I want to leave you with some Photos From Around Campus which feature our Literacy Week and our annual March Madness Ping Pong Tournament. One of the highlights of our Literacy Week was hearing our newly formed Teacher Band (Ms. Williams, Ms. Mount, and Mr. Schultz) play an original song written by Ms. Williams called “Just Right Books.” It was shared in our assembly and was just one highlight of many in a special week celebrating reading and literacy.

Our ping pong tournament will finalize when we return – much like the NCAA Basketball Tournament in the USA it is named after. But the lunchtime competition has been a fun way that teachers and our students come together as doubles team for some fun, laughter and friendly competition.

Wishing you all a restful Spring Break!

Derek Luebbe
Head of School


Upcoming Events

Monday, April 8, HS Badminton Practice, 4pm-6pm, Dragons Lair

Wednesday, April 10:

  • PSAT, 8am-11:30am, Black Box
  • Girls Varsity Soccer @ SMIC, 4:15pm-5:15pm, SMIC
  • HS Boys JV Soccer @ SMIC, 4:15pm-5:15pm, SMIC

Thursday, April 11 to Saturday, April 13, ACAMIS Badminton (Tentative)

Saturday, April 11:

  • SISAC Soccer 7-aside D1 Tournament, Boys and Girls Sites TBD
  • Swim Meet – East Sprints DCS, Dulwich Jinqiao

Save The Date for International Festival

In order to help support the International Festival, we are still seeking parent volunteers to share food and culture from your home country. The list below represents the countries represented thus far. If you would like to help support your country, reach out to the Country Head or contact pdpafa.eventco@scis-china.org to add your name (and country!) to our celebration on April 27.


Consider joining the next Positive Discipline Parent Cohort. You will not regret it.

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Updates, March 22 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

Once again, it is a busy week at the SCIS Campus. This week, special thanks go out to the parents who joined us for a variety of events – from IB Visual Arts & Music Exhibitions to today’s  MYP Science Expos. Of course, the big event this week was our Student-Led Conferences. The goal of these conferences is to help students take agency for their learning, and we are appreciative of the strong parent turnout on Thursday to give students such an authentic audience to share their learning. Many of our photos below highlight the fantastic interactions that were happening on Thursday.

We continue to plan for next year. I trust that all parents have received a few communications for our Admissions Department already. Thus far, we have received responses from 85% of families to share your plans for next year. Our enrollment continues to grow, and we are already wait-listing new families while we save space for our returning families. Next week represents a big date in the admissions process.  On Friday, March 29, all returning families who have not paid a deposit (or been in contact with our admissions department directly) will be moved to our Wait List pool in order to free up the space for newly arriving families. Our goal is communicate this process clearly to everyone so there are no surprises. If you have questions, please reach out to our admissions department (admissions@scis-china.org ) to ensure we keep a space open for you and your children.

Hoping you are all able to enjoy the spring weather.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Events on the Horizon

Monday, March 25:

  • ACAMIS Badminton vs YCIS PX, 4pm-6pm, Badminton Center
  • Boys Varsity Soccer @ Wellington, 4:15pm-5:45pm, Wellington

Tuesday, March 26, Varsity Girls Soccer Big Game Night vs SMIC, 4:15pm-5:15pm, Dragon Field

Wednesday, March 27, Varsity Boys Soccer Big Game/Senior Night vs NAIS, 4pm-5pm, Dragon Field

Thursday, March 28, Lower School Assembly Featuring 2V, 8:15am-9am, Black Box

PAFA International Festival

Save the date for our annual International Festival. It promises to be a fun-filled day for the entire family.

We are still seeking parent-ambassadors to represent various countries. If you hare interested in supporting your country’s representation, email Trish at pdpafa.eventco@scis-china.org .

Parents Learning Together: Positive Discipline

We are still accepting enrollment for our next group of parents to learn more about Positive Discipline. Interested parents can contact Liz Gale for additional information. (egale@scis-china.org )

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Updates, March 15 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

A big thank you to the parents who attended the Conceptual Math Workshop with Erma Anderson. Unfortunately, conceptual math is not the way most of us – including me – learned math. But I promise that we will all think twice before asking our children to solve multiplication problems in a procedural manner. For parents who want to learn more about Conceptual (versus Procedural) Math, you can visit the resources section of Ms. Gale’s Principal’s Post.

As I shared at the workshop, conceptual math is just one educational aspect of what we believe and put into practice at SCIS.  Having parents understand our philosophies and practices is an incredibly important part of helping your child succeed. As parents, you may not even agree with every aspect of how we approach each topic, but by better understanding what your child experiences during the day, it helps to strengthen the potential connections and deepens the quality of conversations you can have with your children at home.

Math Lab Site in action in Ms. Meidinger’s KG room

Erma worked with our SCIS teachers on Wednesday and Thursday, participating in what we call Lab Sites. During Lab Sites, many educators come together for a brief period of time to observe and take part in one lesson for one grade level. The power of the professional learning takes place afterwards in the “debrief session” as we lead structured protocols to allow each professional to share strengths and areas for growth. The key to making these powerful conversations is to focus on the children (not the adults), and what evidence we do or don’t observe from the lesson. With that as our foundation, we are able to collaborate and assess the effectiveness of various teacher actions along the way.  I was fortunate enough to be a part of a Lab Site in Ms. Meidinger’s KG classroom. The lesson, and especially the debrief, reminded me of how lucky we are to be in an environment where we openly share and discuss best practices in a safe, supportive environment.

During debrief, one of my important takeaways was to be reminded that math is more than coming up with answers and even following the right procedures. Math takes place in the discussions and thinking that children have to make to justify their answer and provide evidence for why they believe they are right. This is how we can reinforce a conceptual understanding of math in children. (But I can promise you, that to truly value that discussion and honor what children are trying to express requires a significant amount of patience and restraint when we so badly want to help point them in the right direction and get them started on the procedure of solving the problem!)   It’s something I know I struggle with in the classroom as well when I’m teaching.

Speaking of teaching, I will happily self-promote my own Upper School Activity. In recent weeks, I have been leading some sessions for Upper School students at  lunchtime and during advisory to promote Financial Literacy. We call these sessions Financial Fridays. Today, I shared the poster below in the hopes of appealing to Upper School students who want to learn more about saving, investing, and various financial literacy basics. Students can sign up in the office.

On Thursday, we kicked off our 3rd Annual March Madness Student-Teacher Ping Pong Tournament.
What is March Madness?
Well, the official March Madness references America’s NCAA (University) Basketball Tournament with 64 teams to determine a national champion. The SCIS version randomly pairs up 32 students with 32 teachers who have volunteered to take part. During lunch, we take part in a doubles tournament, getting to know one another, building new teacher-student relationships, and just generally having a little fun. It is fair to say that many in the tournament have not touched a ping pong paddle since last year, but that’s what makes it a great time. Matches continue Monday and throughout next week. We’ll share some great photos as the action unfolds!

We are launching another series of Parent Workshops on Positive Discipline which will begin in April. A small fee (500 RMB for 4 workshops) is charged for books and resources . As a small thank you to a few of our parents who substitute at SCIS (or wish to substitute at SCIS), these workshops will be free of charge.  The workshops will allow you to engage in strategies and discussions to help us (as parents and educators) move past rewards and punishments as motivators. Instead we want to help build skillful children who have the capabilities and mindsets to make intelligent choices about their own behavior. Positive Discipline workshops are a great tool to help adults instill this mindset in our children.

Hoping you are all looking forward to Student Led Conferences on March 21. As a reminder, there is no school for students on this day, but students are obviously meant to accompany you (and lead) the conference itself. Families should have received sign-up forms to reserve spots from each Principal.

Lastly, I leave you with one my favorite daily traditions here at SCIS – the personalize goodbye! This video happens to be Mr. Schultz with his Grade 1 class, although each day you can find other teachers taking part as well. Small moments like this have a big effect!

Wishing you all a restful weekend. Enjoy the sunshine!

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, March 16

  • ACAMIS Swimming, SSIS and DCS (Suzhou)
  • Shanghai Student Film Festival (S2F2)2019
  • Middle School Cross River Event Volleyball  

Monday, March 18:

  • International University Fair, 2:30pm-4:30pm, Hongqiao Campus,  Grades 9-11 will go as group to participate in this college fair featuring over 100 universities from around the world.
  • DP Recital and Art Exhibition, 4:00pm-6:00pm, Theater/Gallery
  • High School Badminton @ YCIS PX, 4:00pm-6pm, Puxi

Wednesday, March 20, Varsity Boys Soccer vs Wellington, 4:15pm-5:15pm, Dragon Field.

Thursday, March 21:

  • G10 Parent DP Planning Conferences
  • Student-Led Conferences (No School for PD students. Half day dismissal for HQ students)

Friday, March 22:

  • Mid semester Progress Reports released
  • Science Expo, 8:00am-9:15am
  • Varsity Girls Soccer @NAIS, 4:15pm-5:15pm 

Photos From Around The Campus

Head of School Updates, March 8 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

Today, we welcomed 600 IB educators to our campus to take part in 28 different workshops to improve our teaching and learning. It’s one way that we strive to get better each day in the hopes of giving students a more authentic learning experience.

I want to draw your attention to three upcoming parent events.

  1. This Wednesday from 3:00-4:00, Math Specialist Erma Anderson will run a parent workshop on the topic of understanding Conceptual vs. Procedural Math. It’s an informative session, and parents of all ages are invited.
  2. On March 12, the SCIS PAFA will be holding an important meeting to begin the future-planning process for the 2019-20 school year. Parents are encouraged to attend the meeting, share input, and help keep the SCIS Community strong and vibrant.
  3. Our SCIS International Festival is April 27!  See the poster below for more information and save the date.

Lastly, I want to share an admissions reminder for the 2019-20 school year. Returning families have until March 15 to secure a spot for the next school year. All parents have received emails from our admissions staff sharing information about how this can be done. Because our school continues to grow, the process will be very important because we expect to have wait lists at many grade levels. If you have not reserved your child’s space for next school year and want to learn more, please contact admissions@scis-china.org for more information.

Hoping you and. your family are finding time to get out in the sunshine in recent days. It’s a welcome change from the rainy weather.

Have a safe and restful weekend.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Events On The Horizon

Saturday, March 9:

  • Middle School Cross River Event Badminton
  • IB Regional Workshops, Pudong Campus

Sunday, March 10, IB Regional Workshops, Pudong Campus

Monday, March 11, Mock IB/G12 Final Exams

Tuesday, March 12:

  • Mock IB/G12 Final Exams
  • PAFA General Meeting, 10:00am-11:00am
  • Middle School Girls Volleyball Green vs DCS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Home
  • Middle School Volleyball White @SMIC,4:00pm-5:00pm, Away
  • Junior Varsity Boys Soccer @ YCIS PD, 4:15pm-5:15pm, YCIS PD

Wednesday, March 13:

  • Mock IB/G12 Final Exams
  • Varsity Boys Soccer @ YCIS PX,4:15pm-5:15pm, YCIS PX
  • Varsity Girls Soccer vs DCS, 4:15pm-5:15pm, Dragon Field

Thursday, March 14:

  • Middle School Boys Volleyball Green @ DCS,4:00pm-5:00pm, Away
  • Middle School Boys Volleyball White vs WCIS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Home

Friday, March15:

  • ACAMIS Swimming, SSIS and DCS (Suzhou)
  • Shanghai Student Film Festival (S2F2)2019
  • Last Day of ASA 2, End of 2nd Trimester

Saturday, March 16:

  • ACAMIS Swimming, SSIS and DCS (Suzhou)
  • Shanghai Student Film Festival (S2F2)2019
  • Middle School Cross River Event Volleyball  
  • Notes: End of season tournament

Photos From Around School



Head of School Update, March 1, 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends,

We head into a busy stretch of the year.

This weekend, our sister campus, SCIS Hongqiao is welcoming approximately 500 educational leaders from around China for the ACAMIS Leadership Conference. I’m proud to say that SCIS Pudong is the most represented school at the conference with seven different presenters. It’s a testament to the following professionals that they have been chosen to share their expertise with colleagues around the world: Dr. Volpe, Ms. Gale, Mr.(Vic) Caban, Ms. Kelly, Ms. Pearson, Ms. Dean, Mr. Lawrence.


The conference theme is “The Power of Agency”, an important educational philosophy that speaks to the changing nature of schools. By developing agency in schools, and specifically student agency, we seek to shift the ownership of the learning from the teacher to student. Doing so, requires that we change our environment and practices to make this shift.

A similar conceptual shift is happening in Math, and it is in this light that I want to invite parents to our upcoming Parent Presentation with math specialist Erma Anderson, who again will be visiting SCIS Pudong on Wednesday, March 13 at 3:00 pm. (If parents need supervision for their SCIS children on this day in order to attend the presentation, please contact Laurie Luebbe (lluebbe@scis-china.org )and we will strive to make that a reality.) Her presentation will rooted in understanding the shift into giving students a deeper, “conceptual” level of mathematics versus a more procedural approach which is likely the method that most of us were taught. As a earlier participant in this session, I promise that it will leave parents with some new understandings and profound questions about our assumptions about math comprehension.

Lastly, I want leave with a very important announcement in support of the continued work and upcoming transition of our PAFA representatives. As you all know, we are a special community, and this is fueled by the belief that students benefit when we are better able to give them experiences from our incredibly diverse and talented parent body. As an example, one such event took place Thursday when our Brazilian parent community helped organize a celebration of Carnival with Brazilian dancers. Our PAFA is the driving force that fosters experiences like this, and I want to thank our current PAFA for all that they have given to SCIS this year. Furthermore, in the month of March, we will be sharing information on the election and transition of our PAFA leadership for the 2019-20 school year. I encourage all of you to become active within PAFA and consider running for a PAFA leadership position for the 19-20 school year. More information will be forthcoming.

As always, it is an honor to work with your children. Wishing you a relaxing weekend.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School



Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, March 5,

  • Middle School Girls Volleyball Green vs SAS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Home
  • Middle School Girls Volleyball White @ SAS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Away

Wednesday, March 6,

  • Mock IB/G12 Final Exams
  • Varsity Boys Soccer @NAIS, 4:15pm-5:15pm
  • Varsity Girls Soccer vs NAIS, 4:15pm-5:15pm, Dragon Field

Thursday, March 7,

  • Mock IB/G12 Final Exams
  • Lower School Assembly Featuring 3K, 8:15am-9:00am, Blackbox
  • Lower School Principal Coffee Morning on Student Led Conferences, 9:15am-10am, Room 208
  • Middle School Boys Volleyball Green vs SMIC,4:00pm-5:00pm, Home
  • Middle School Boys Volleyball White @ DCS, 4:00pm-5:00pm away

Friday, March 8,

  • Mock IB/G12 Final Exams
  • Varsity Boys Soccer @Wellington, 4:15pm- 5:45pm, Wellington
  • Varsity Girls Soccer @ Wellington, 4:15pm-5:45pm, Wellington

Saturday, March 9,

  • Middle School Cross River Event Badminton

Photos From Around the School

The Writers Workshop In Action in Mr. Ruf’s class. Differentiation in action.



Head of School Updates, February 22 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Friends

Peter Drucker, the famous organizational management guru, is known for saying: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This isn’t to say that strategy isn’t important. But, if all you have is strategy, then the organization can very easily fall into the trap of staying busy.  Building culture involves building trust and security – so that the organization can become more responsive and embody a growth-mindset.

Another important difference. Strategy tends to be top down; building culture flattens the organizational hierarchy – allowing contributions and adaptations from everyone toward a common purpose. The result is a dynamic, responsive organization. These are the mindsets we want our students to develop.

The culture of a school is evidenced in many little ways. To me, one of the more important elements happens completely (well, almost completely!) behind the scenes. When adults truly model professional openness and seek constructive feedback, individuals and organizations grow. As I’m sure you know, it can be a daunting experience to have your colleagues review your work and then debrief on the entire process using systemic prompts to target student learning. We find out what areas worked, what didn’t, and collaboratively grow in our skill-sets of developing next steps. Developing a culture happens with many small steps and is never-ending.

Teachers observe and provide feedback to each other in Readers Workshop Lab Site.


During this blog post, I want to focus on just a few of the culture-building professional opportunities here in this building that I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of in the past week.  Each of these experiences requires a great deal of trust and confidence as professionals share their ideas, struggles, and collectively reflect how to more effectively reach students.

  • Monday’s Lower School’s faculty was one of the regular “Teachers-Teaching-Teachers” sessions in which multiple teachers (Ms. Mount and Mrs. Ruf, in this case) lead sessions for their colleagues which allow everyone to collectively problem-solve issues using research-based best practices.


  • On Tuesday, SCIS hosted 30 educators from various Shanghai schools to improve our practices in Positive Discipline in the classroom. SCIS had 7 teachers in attendance. Dr. Myers was one of the presenters at the
    30 Teachers from around Shanghai share Positive Discipline strategies and techniques

    workshop, and it was fantastic to see Ms. Meidinger volunteer to role play (in front of many strangers) a current issue in which she is seeking alternative solutions. The process that followed helped me, Ms. Meidinger, and everyone in the room grow as professionals.



  • On Thursday, I was part of a panel of evaluators after-school as Upper School Principal, Dr. Volpe led a lesson for his teachers. We call this process a “Mini-Lesson Study”, and it entails Dr. Volpe sharing his goals, teaching the
    Dr. Volpe, modeling a lesson with US teachers, prior to the debrief.

    lesson, and then taking part in a collective debrief on the effectiveness of the lesson. The debrief session was led by Ms. Gale and included Ms. Shanks and me, modeling a process that is collaboratively reflective, and remains focused on the evidence of student learning that did or did not occur at various parts of the lesson.

  • On Friday morning, I was able to join 7 other teachers who took the time to
    Lab site in Mr. Schultz’s room

    join Mr. Schultz’s class during Readers Workshop time. Similarly to the process above, the teacher debrief group was led by Mrs. Ruf as everyone engaged in conversation with Mr. Schultz about the effectiveness of various parts of the lesson observed.

  • I returned to my office Friday afternoon to receive an impromptu invitation from US Humanities teacher Mr. Nicholaides to join his class in the next few minutes to give him feedback on a technique he was piloting. Ms. Shanks and I were able to join him, circulate among the students to gauge learning, and debrief with him with our thoughts.

These are the kinds of interactions take us out of our normal comfort zone, and perhaps because of that, they are they types of experiences all professionals need in order to grow. They certainly remind us that teaching is an art – not a science. But the reflective, collaborative process is one way we can become more effective in reaching our students.

And, these experiences do something subtle, but equally powerful for our students. They build a culture that models lifelong learning. When students see adults in the building who want to improve, who seek feedback, and acknowledge mistakes, it empowers students to do the same. In many ways, it’s a more important skill than the content they are learning.

Financial Fridays

I also want to make parents aware of an optional program we are offering to teach Financial Literacy to students. This week I helped launch our Financial Fridays. The goal is to increase students’ Financial Literacy about topics such as investing, credit cards, interest rates, stocks, mutual funds, and budgets. It is early, but so far, there has been a good deal of interest. Most of what we provide is directed by student questions on these subjects. We run sessions for grades 11-12 during one advisory and at lunch for grades 6-12. If any parent wants to help out in this project – or with possible extension subjects like entrepreneurship, please contact me (dluebbe@scis-china.org )

Lastly best of luck to our SCIS participants this weekend as SCIS Pudong hosts approximately 200 students from around China for our first ever First Lego League (FLL) Championship Tournament at the school on Friday and Saturday. Big thanks go to our coordinator Barry Johnson who was helped by Mr. Willauer and parent Avishai Chelouche.  Their energy and preparation made this experience a reality for our students. Come out and enjoy the action.

Enjoy the weekend,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School


Upcoming Events:

Saturday, February 23,

  •      First LEGO League Championship Tournament, SCIS Pudong Campus
  •      Swim Meet SSL Championship, SAS Pudong
  •      Dragon Cup Soccer, Hangzhou International School

Sunday, February 24, Swim Meet SSL Championship, SAS Pudong

Tuesday, February 26, Middle School Volleyball White vs DCS, 4:00pm to 5:00pm, Home

Wednesday, February 27, Varsity Girls Soccer @DCS, 4:15pm-5:15pm, DCS

Thursday, February 28,

  •      Middle School Boys Volleyball Green vs YCIS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Home
  •      Middle School Boys Volleyball White vs CISS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Away Concordia

Friday to Saturday, March 1 and 2, ACAMIS Leadership Conference hosted at SCIS HQ Main (No School for HQ Students)

Head of School Updates, February 15 2019

Dear Parents, Faculty, Students, and Friends,

Welcome back and welcome to the Year of the Pig!

I’m hoping that the break was restful and relaxing for you and your family.

We are back in the flow of things here at SCIS, and ready for the learning opportunities that await during the rest of the 2nd semester.

Our hiring of new faculty for the 2019-20 school year is now fully completed. We will share a more formal introduction of the new staff later in the year. As our school grows, so does our faculty with the hiring of 15 new faculty.  We are in the midst of collecting short biographies so that we can introduce them all to you!

As a quick reminder, if you are planning to re-enroll in SCIS next year, it is important that you reserve your seat as we do expect many grades levels to reach capacity. You can secure a space for next year by responding to the (reminder) email sent to all parents on Tuesday, Feb. 12. The email details that you must complete our short re-enrollment survey and pay the seat deposit by March 15. We ask for your attention to this matter to avoid any possible confusion. As a reminder, the survey will require you to use your SCIS email account to login. If you did not receive your re-enrollment email or if you have any trouble with the survey, email admissions@scis-china.org

Next week, SCIS hosts our first-ever First Lego League Championship Tournament. Congratulations (and thanks!) go out to Barry Johnson for all his dedication to our students – and behind the scenes – in making this event a reality for our SCIS Dragons. If you’ve never seen a lego tournament before, find time to come out and enjoy the action. It’s impressive.

Lastly, I want to say a thank you to PAFA Executive Board. I was able to meet with them this week, and we are in the beginning stages of planning the election and transition process to initiate the 2019-20 PAFA board. I want to encourage all parents to become involved in PAFA in whatever capacity you can. Our community – and more specifically, our students –  are greatly strengthened by your support. If you have any questions, please contact PAFA President Vanessa Thomas at pdpafa.president@scis-china.org

Wishing you all a pleasant weekend.

Go Dragons,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, February 16
  • First Lego Junior Event, 8:30am-12:30pm, SAS Pudong Campus
  • Tuesday, February 19
  • MS Girls Volleyball Green @ NAIS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Away
  • MS Girls Volleyball White vs CISS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, SCIS Pudong Campus
  • Thursday, February 21
  • K-5 Lower School Assembly, 8:15am-9:15am, Blackbox.Notes: Grade 1- Ethan Schultz’s students present this month’s Lower School Assembly
  • MS Boys Volleyball Green vs CISS, 4:00pm-5:00pm, Home
  • MS Boys Volleyball White @ WCIS, 4:00pm- 5:00pm, Away Wellington
  • Friday, February 22
  • First LEGO League Championship Tournament, SCIS Pudong Campus
  • Varsity Girls Soccer vs Wellington, 4:15pm-5:15pm, SCIS Pudong Campus
  • Saturday, February 23
  • First LEGO League Championship Tournament, SCIS Pudong Campus
  • Swim Meet SSL Championship, SAS Pudong
  • Dragon Cup Soccer, Hangzhou International School
  • Sunday, February 24, Swim Meet SSL Championship, SAS Pudong

Photos From Around Campus

Head of School Updates, February 1 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

We head into Chinese New Years with a fantastic celebration of our host country culture. Our students celebrated with an assembly featuring a number of student and outside performances to celebrate our host country. This was followed up by a Temple Fair where Lower School students were able to take part in cultural activities and crafts.

A special thank you goes out to our fantastic Mandarin Department who planned the day so well. Once again, we are so appreciative of the 20 parents who volunteered their time and creativity to help run some of the Temple Fair activities. It’s another example of how our students benefit from a generous parent community.

All of this is made even more special by celebrating this event with such a diverse group of nationalities in the middle of one of the most vibrant and important cities in the world!   I must say, when I was 20 years old, I never could have predicted that I would be a part of a day like today.

Below, you will see a few photos of our Chinese New Year activities to prepare for the celebration.

Additionally, you will find some mind-bending photos from our Grade 4 Learning Celebration to their Light and Sound Unit. I was able to visit the groups and have them explain their inquiry into the concepts of light and sound. Their ability to explain and answer (what I thought) were tough questions, truly surprised me. The photos are interesting, but the learning was outstanding. Congratulations to our Grade 4s!

As you all know, Chinese New Year is a special time to connect with family and celebrate. I am excited to be returning to the USA to visit my eldest daughter in university. I hope that you too are able to spend your holiday with family and friends.

Warm regards,

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Upcoming Events:

  • Monday, February 4 to February 8, Chinese New Year Holiday (No School)
  • Tuesday, February 12,

     PAFA General Meeting, 10:00am-11:00am

     HS Soccer Try-outs, 4:00pm-6:00pm

     Wednesday, February 13, HS Soccer Try-outs, 4:00pm-6:00pm

  • Friday, February 15, HS Winter Formal 6:00pm-8:30pm, Black Box
  • Saturday, February 16, First Lego Junior Event, 8:30am-12:30pm, SAS Pudong Campus

Photos From Around Campus


Head of School Updates, January 25 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

It’s been another busy but productive week.

Last weekend, we hosted 150 educators to learn from the world leader in Inquiry-Based education, Kath Murdoch. It was a great weekend of learning for the 35 SCIS teachers who attended.

On Tuesday, we welcomed faculty and parents to view the culmination of our MYP Personal Projects. As you know, our philosophy of education is grounded in inquiry and a constructivist approach to learning. Briefly, this means that learning should not simply be a rigorous amount of knowledge that needs to be remembered for a test. Learning experiences should be personal, where each student is challenged to connect new learning to existing knowledge within a context that makes sense for that person and for a specific (ideally) real-world context. These are the authentic environments that adults face in the real world. These are the types of skills our students need to learn in order to be successful in the future.

Nathan plays the Guzheng

On Tuesday, we witnessed a great example of how we try to accomplish this goal.

Each 10th grader, with the help of a faculty member, completes a Personal Project which takes approximately 5 months to complete. Each Personal Project is entirely created by the student to pursue a personal passion. Their exploration includes research and a practical component of creation with an emphasis on real world learning.

Garrett shares his computer project.

On Tuesday, the 10th graders shared their projects with a descriptive poster, the display of their product, and a short speech and Q&A regarding their product and process. One of the unique features of the Personal Project is that each student determines the scoring rubric for quality, and this rubric needs to be approved when they start the project in September. One of my favorite aspects of the Personal Projects is that in almost all cases, the project never develops as the student intended. Often times, we find that students struggle to budget their time, they don’t always ask the right questions, and their questions are not answered in the most efficient manner. We learn and grow from these experiences.  Congratulations to our 10th Graders for all they accomplished during the project. Some of the topics are listed below:

  • to design and build a computer

    Sejin’s Personal Project: 3D Modelling
  • to research the history and meaning of Polynesian tattoos in order to design and apply them successfully
  • to learn the basic skills to play the Guzheng (Chinese Zither)
  • to learn the process of 3D modelling, texturing, rigging, and animating in order to produce short 3D animations in blender
  • to research types of language usage and figurative devices to design and produce my own book of short stories in order to become a better writer

I want to share a special thank you to the parents and faculty who made time to attend the presentations and ask probing questions. These are great learning opportunities for our students, and they are only possible with the help of an involved community.

Lastly, there are 2 letters attached to this email regarding routine cases of head lice and H1N1 which are typical for this time of year. Please pay special attention to these issues with regards to your children this weekend.

Lastly, we wish our Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball teams good luck. As of this writing, they are in the middle of their ACAMIS Tournament in Macau.

Next week promises to be a busy one as we celebrate Chinese New Year. We encourage parents to join us for the festivities and our other events.

Wishing you a relaxing weekend. Go Dragons!

Derek Luebbe
Head of School

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, January 28 to February 1, US Chinese Culture Days
  • Thursday, January 31, Positive Discipline Parenting Session 4, 8:30am-11:30am, room 208
  • Friday, February 1,
    Chinese New Year Kick-off Assembly, 1:00pm-1:40pm, Theater
    LS Chinese New Year Temple Fair, 1:45pm-2:45pm, Black Box
  • February 4-8 No School. Chinese New Year
  • Tuesday, February 12: PAFA General Meeting 10:15

Photos From Around Campus

Check out all the MYP Personal Projects in our main lobby.


Head of School Updates, Jan. 18 2019

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

This Friday-Sunday, Pudong teachers will attend professional development with a worldwide leader in inquiry-based education, Kath Murdoch. We are fortunate to have Kath here at Pudong and will be hosting close to 150 educators from around Asia to ensure that our classrooms are aligned with research and best practices in effective learning.

In light of that, it seems an opportune time to share more about what an inquiry-based education actually means, and how it is different from the traditional form of education that I (and probably you) received when we were children.

My hope is that the better we all understand the philosophy of inquiry-based learning, the more we can strengthen the home-school partnership to help students succeed.

As I’m sure many of you know, SCIS has a few defining attributes. Some schools believe in rigid systems and ask students to fit within those systems; SCIS prides itself on developing a system that can be flexible to meet each child. Similarly, the IB takes a whole-child, approach with it’s philosophy. Instead of rote tests, each child strives to make personal connections to construct their knowledge using inquiry. Unlike traditional units which focus on one topic, the inquiry approach requires that teachers shape their units around meaningful questions which are worth uncovering. This requires a shift – in how we teach, how we view learning, and how we report student learning (grade). As a system of schools, it is something we have been focused upon for the last four years in order to earn our IB Authorization for the IB Programs (PYP, MYP, and DP) in the spring of 2017. 

It will be our job as a school to share what makes the IB and SCIS so unique. As parents, you have some ‘homework’ as well; seek to understand what makes the IB philosophy so unique.

Research links students’ success to the partnership between families and the school. The belief in a true community is something SCIS has valued ever since it opened its doors in 1996. As a community, we will need to work together to ensure that we share a common understanding of what learning means. When parents and educators share a common understanding for student outcomes, it’s the students who ultimately win. 

What is inquiry, and how is it different? To borrow the words of Kate Murdoch, “to suggest that learning is not about inquiry is, in many ways, nonsense. The act of inquiry is critical to our learning and growth.” (Murdock, The Power of Inquiry, 2015.  p11) Yet, often in schools, there is a tendency to push a learner’s natural curiosity to the background. In short, many current teaching practices “present information (rules, laws, principles) together with examples, then ask students to replicate what they have been told.” (14) Inquiry-based learning is based in inductive practices – wherein the learner is challenged to gather and analyze information, review it against existing knowledge, seek connections, notice patterns and gradually build an understanding of a concept.” (14) It is grounded in a belief called constructivist learning, where students need to build (or construct) their own knowledge by connecting it to previous knowledge instead of disconnected memorization and recall of information. The IB itself makes this link clearly by stating that students “become enduringly skillful when learning is authentic and in context. The curriculum should emphasize the active construction of meaning so that students’ learning will be purposeful.” (Making the PYP Happen, IBO)

Allowing the space for students to question sounds great, but I wonder if they are learning any content. How does that work? And, how do teachers actually ‘teach’ with an inquiry mindset? At SCIS, each subject’s curriculum is tied to national standards (example: the USA’s Common Core). One of the great misconceptions of inquiry-based learning is that students may not learn facts and meet standards because they are asking and exploring questions. Inquiry is a philosophy and it is led by the teacher. In effective inquiry-based classrooms, you will still see drills, lectures, and didactic learning. But those methods are not the default. They are means to an end – developing students’ skills in order to give them the tools to effectively navigate the exploration. Quality learning is always linked to standards. Inquiry classrooms believe that students will have a deeper understanding and longer retention of the standards when they build it themselves. Teachers strive to keep students focused on a relevant exploration.

So, how might my child’s unit be planned differently using inquiry? A typical unit is usually focused on a single topic (examples: The French Revolution or Persuasive Writing) with a goal of “What do I want students to know?” An IB Unit of Inquiry starts with the goal of “What do I want students to understand and be able to do?” Initially, you can see that it is rooted in action, applying their learning to be transferred elsewhere. The term understanding is an important and complex term. What does it mean to understand? It is more than summarizing or recalling information about a topic. Understanding comes in layers as we make connections. We peel these layers back like an onion depending on the depth of our understanding. With this we come to see the difference – and the power – in inquiry. IB units of study are different than traditional units because they are focused on over-arching essential questions of inquiry – questions that are concept-driven (not topic-driven), are worth pursuing and whose understandings can be applied in other situations. An example, shared by SCIS Pudong Upper School Principal, Dr. Volpe, will illuminate the difference.

Exploring the MYP question allows connections. It is easy to see that the example of Chinese migration can still be the focus of study, but the goal is to apply those understandings to the broader world. Two aspects of inquiry are worth noting.

  • Strong inquiry questions are concept driven, not topical. They can be used at a variety of age ranges and involve multiple disciplines (geography, economics, science, civics). Using our onion analogy, these questions provide the opportunity to allow different learners to peel back the “next” layer at the level of understanding, challenging each learner.
  • Inquiry learning requires more work than traditional learning. It is not linear. It is somewhat messy as learners inquire and continually shift their understanding. This type of learning more accurately reflects how we all learn in the real world; it is shown below.

By reviewing the models, we can infer that classroom practices within inquiry classrooms also differ compared to traditional classrooms. Practices are never an “all or nothing” choice, but it is fair to say that inquiry classrooms will have…

Inquiry-based learning can be big, ugly. So that’s a beginning towards understanding Inquiry. We’ve unpacked one concept. It can be a bit of educational jargon. But stick with it. And, just as we expect our students to be inquirers, we ask the same of parents as we unpack other aspects of what makes SCIS and the IB Program so unique.

Seek to understand. Ask questions. After all, we’re just peeling back the first layer of the onion.


On behalf of everyone here at SCIS, know that we are grateful for the opportunity to help play a part in helping to shape your child each and every day. I wish each of you a relaxing weekend.

Derek Luebbe
Head of School


Photos from Around Campus