Principals’ Post #14

The Musical is Here!

The anticipation is building for what will certainly be one of the highlights of the semester, our Fall Musical, The Addams Family. Students have been preparing since August when the first auditions were held, and rehearsals are ramping up. The sets are built, the costumes sewn, the lighting perfected–everything is coming together! This year the production will be framed by our annual Winter Arts Showcases, and planned in support of the PAFA Winter Festival. Please note the following:

  • Winter Arts Night (Middle School Showcase) – Friday 29 November 5pm
  • The Addams Family evening performance – Friday 29 November 6pm
  • Winter Arts Day (High School Showcase, part of the PAFA Winter Festival) – Saturday 30 November 1-3pm
  • The Addams Family matinee performance – Saturday 30 November 3pm

Waterloo Math Competition

This week over twenty Upper School Students participated in the Waterloo University Math competition. Waterloo University of Ontario, Canada sponsors the international math competition annually. According to the University, “the Center for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) develops and administers internationally recognized contests to help to inspire the next generation of students to develop an interest in and love for mathematics and computer science.” Congratulations to the Upper School math students on their participation and a special thank you to Etienne Bilz (Upper School Math and Physics) for his organization of the competition and sponsorship of our Math Club.

SCIS Swimmers Travel to Suzhou

Congratulations to the SCIS swim team for their strong showing this past weekend in Suzhou. The event marked the second swim meet of the season for our teams which compete in the Shanghai Swim League. Both Upper and Lower School swim teams had a strong showing with a number of heat winners and personal best times. Congratulations swimmers and thank you to Coach Oscar and Coach Mount for giving up your weekend so students could have this amazing experience. Go Dragons!

Counselor’s Coffee: Focus on Student Wellness

Please join us on Thursday 28 November 9am in Room 411 for an Upper School Parent Coffee – Focus on Student Wellness. Our Upper School Counselor, Ms Maja Kelly, will be sharing survey results addressing a range of habits that impact student health and wellbeing. We will explore current trends in adolescent health and wellness, and discuss how we can effectively support our students towards healthy choices both at home and at school.

Upcoming Events

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal . Upper School Vice Principal

Principals Post #13

SCIS Delegation Participates in West Lake Model United Nations in Hangzhou

SCIS sent a delegation of over twenty Middle and High School students to the West Lake Model United Nations Conference this past weekend in Hangzhou. Model United Nations (MUN) allows students to role play the work of international diplomats as they seek to solve real world challenges like the climate crisis or the refugee crisis created by the war in Syria. Delegates introduce and debate resolutions, voting in support or against these propositions based on the interests and perspectives of their assigned countries. Students learn important research, collaboration, and communication skills in these efforts. The conference hosted over 200 international students from across China which allowed students to meet and work with students from around the region. We are proud of how our delegation represented SCIS and of the hard work students did in preparation for the event. We would also like to thank Mr. Steele for his leadership of our MUN delegation and Ms. Broad for chaperoning the trip. Well done MUN!

Varsity Basketball has Begun!

The boys and girls varsity basketball season kicked of this past week. Action began last Saturday with students catching a 5am bus to Hangzhou for the annual Dragon Cup basketball tournament. The boys and girls teams played hard against against the talented pool of teams that included SCIS Hongqiao, The Canadian International School of Hangzhou, and Hangzhou International School. Both teams will be in action again this weekend against Concordia. Boys are at home and girls travel to Concordia with both games starting at 10:00am. We would like to thank the coaches for making this seasons possible. Thank you Coaches Walsh, Berezowski, Nedeljkov, and Shultz! Follow our teams on social media or better yet in person. Go Dragons!

Promoting Digital Citizenship

Technology is an inescapable part of life in the 21st century. It allows us to express ourselves, connect with others, and get fast access to high-quality information. When it comes to adolescents and technology, and especially teens and social media, it’s not always easy to know how and when to step in as a parent. Part of this uncertainty comes from the fact that teenagers use technology differently than adults do. Most teens turn to their devices to watch video clips, play online games and connect on social media apps where they communicate using hard-to-understand shorthand. Their knowledge of the digital world can be intimidating to adults. And yet, they need help and guidance from parents and educators to develop the skills that they need to use technology in safe and positive ways.

This week in Advisory marked the start of Digital Citizenship Education for 6th grade students. Older students will soon revisit this topic in their own Advisory lessons, in order to review and build on the skills they learned in previous years. The topics that will be covered include using social media safely and responding to cyberbullying and inappropriate online interactions. Skills needed to navigate social media use are reinforced when teens are engaged in conversations on this topic both at school and at home. Common Sense Media ( is an excellent resource for educators and parents alike, as it provides unique, data-driven insights into the impact of media and technology use on children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual development.

For some ideas on how to start conversations about social media use with your child, we recommend this article that can be found on the Common Sense Media website:

Upcoming Events

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal . Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #11

ACAMIS Champions…Again!

Our ACAMIS Champion girls’ volleyball team returned from Nanjing victorious, winning the national tournament without dropping a set. This is the second year in a row that this powerhouse team has taken the championship, and the team keeps growing in skill and depth every year. The boys’ team placed fourth, with strong opening games showing their best play of the season. Throughout the weekend, both teams demonstrated sportsmanship and Dragon Spirit, and were supported by a rousing cheering section of faculty and parents who took the train ride up to join in the fun. Special thanks go to our Coaches Vic, Caban, Vanta, and Sculerati, whose commitment of time, skill, and heart raise the level of play with every practice.

Grade 7/8 Ready for the Spotlight

This is the second year that our Grade 7-8 students have benefitted from a carousel approach to Arts education, and excitement is building for their first performance, next Thursday 7 November at 2:15. The Arts Carousel is designed to ensure that all middle schoolers experience a unit each of Visual Arts, Music, and Drama, and that they have the opportunities to explore the rich cultural fabric that results when these three disciplines are woven together. Last year the Arts Carousel staged a series of original adaptations of fairy tales, performed in the theater. This year the Arts Department is mixing it up, and taking advantage of our Black Box theater space. Next Thursday’s performance will be an experimental multimedia piece performed the round, featuring original dramatic monologues, musical compositions, and visual arts pieces all created by our 7/8 students. Thank you to the visionary and innovative work of our Arts Team, Ms Whiteside, Mr Demas, Ms Arvay, and Ms Riddle. Parents are encouraged to come and enjoy the show, one performance only!

Attendance Update

All parents are advised that we have simplified our attendance procedures. This will streamline records for the convenience of parents, teachers, advisors, and students themselves. Accurate attendance records are essential for health and safety and emergency response, as well as being one important measure of a students’ availability for learning. Regardless of the reason for the absence, students will be supported in keeping up with their classes whenever possible. We now record only four categories of attendance:

  • Present – student is in class, on time
  • Late – student arrives to class within the first 30 minutes
  • Absent – student misses 30 minutes or more of class
  • Field Trip – student is away from class for a scheduled activity supervised by an SCIS teacher (ACAMIS, MUN, etc)

When you log in to ManageBac, you can see at a glance the number of times your child has been Absent from each of their classes. On the right hand side bar, you will also see a pie chart showing the number of school days present and absent.

This student has been absent from ONE Humanities class so far this semester.
This student has missed two school days so far this semester.

Please note that it is just as important as ever that parents contact the office–by ManageBac, email, or phone–to verify their students’ absences as early as possible. If your child is not accounted for, our Upper School Secretary Ms Jelly Ling will contact you immediately to confirm that they are under your supervision. Please support her in keeping these records as accurate as possible.

Shanghai Expo Long Weekend

Please keep in mind that that in compliance with municipal government guidelines, school will be closed on Monday and Tuesday next week. Enjoy the unexpected long weekend! School will resume following the published day rotation with Day 2 on Wednesday 6 November. Please also note that classes WILL be in session on Friday 22 November, which was formerly scheduled as an inservice day for teachers.

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal . Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #10

Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences

It was wonderful to see so many of you, together with your Upper Schoolers, turn out for Parent-Student-Teacher conferences yesterday. These midsemester opportunities are carefully placed in the calendar to ensure that home-school partnership is in place early in the year, with the first quarters learning and feedback shared and discussed to create a shared understanding going forward. It has been particularly meaningful to have students themselves taking their place at the table and fully participating in the vast majority of conferences, taking ownership of their own learning.

If your schedule did not permit you to join us on Thursday, or if you prefer an extended conversation going beyond the structured 10 minute conference slots, please feel free to reach out teachers ANY time to make an individual appointment.

In the spirit of continuous learning from experience, we ask all parents to complete the attached survey to help us build on the process for next year. Thank you for your feedback!

It’s a Dragon Halloween!

Halloween is being celebrated in style at SCIS-Pudong. Today the MS Student Council got the party started with the annual MS Halloween Dance, a long running MS Dragon tradition. Tomorrow our Upper Schoolers are excited volunteers, ready to support the PAFA sponsored Halloween Bash, here on campus from 12-3. Next Thursday, on Halloween proper, October 31, HS students are invited to wear costumes to school for a lunchtime costume contest sponsored by HS Student Council.

What Does the Research Say… Regarding Substance Abuse

As part of our ongoing efforts to share relevant research with parents, Ms. Kelly has summarized some important information regarding teen substance abuse and prevention to share with the SCIS community. This series of “What Does the Research Say” is focused on following up on our recent visit from FCD works substance abuse prevention specialist George Brown. This is part of our overall efforts to promote student wellbeing by providing the most up to date and accurate research available in order to enhance our home and school partnership. Special thanks to Ms. Kelly for preparing this information!

In their book Teens Under the Influence: The Truth About Kids, Alcohol, and Other Drugs – How to Recognize the Problem and What to Do About It, authors Katherine Ketcham, the author of Under the Influence, and Nicholas A. Pace, M.D., former chair of the New York State Governor’s Advisory Committee on Alcoholism explore the causes and effects of substance abuse on adolescents. This comprehensive resource combines factual, scientific information with real-life stories of teen addiction and recovery, and practical guidance for parents and teens.

In “Part One: Why Kids Get Hooked”, the authors challenge common myths and misconceptions about adolescent drug use and addiction:

Myth: Marijuana is not physically addictive.

Fact: Although physical withdrawal symptoms are generally subtle compared to other addictive drugs, research clearly shows that marijuana can be physically addictive. Studies also indicate that regular marijuana use can have profoundly damaging long-term effects on adolescents’ physical, mental and emotional health. Research shows that marijuana use is three times more likely to lead to dependence among teenagers than among adults. Physical addiction to a drug is determined by the presence of two basic conditions – tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Both of these indicators have been observed and documented in chronic marijuana users.

Myth: Alcoholism and other drug addictions progress in similar ways in adolescents and adults.

Fact: Addiction develops much faster in adolescents, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as hyperspeed addiction. There are three underlyig reasons for this:

  • The adolescent’s developing brain and other vital organs are extremely vulnerable to the toxic effects of drugs;
  • Adolescents start using drugs at an early age. Evidence shows that teens who start drinking before age fifteen are under a greatly increased risk of becoming alcohol-dependent
  • Adolescents often combine drugs, taking multiple drugs at a time, which dramatically increases the risk of brain damage and addiction

Good Luck at ACAMIS Volleyball, Go Dragons!

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #8

Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences October 24th

We would like to remind parents that we will be holding our midsemester Parent-Student-Teacher conferences on Thursday, October 24th. The conferences are designed for parents and students to have a three-way conversation regarding student progress with individual subject teachers. The conference day is an essential opportunity to build our home-school partnership as we support our students to success.   Parents are encouraged to sign-up for a session with each of your child’s teachers. We’ve provided a useful handout below for parents regarding how to make the most of these conferences. Please click the buttons below or scan the QR codes to make your appointments today! 

Introduction to the IB Middle Years and Diploma Programs

Tuesday morning we hosted our first general Principals’ Coffee of the year. We were very pleased with the turnout and would like to thank those parents that were able to attend the event. The focus of the morning was to provide an overview of the IB programs at SCIS. In his role as MYP Coordinator, Dr. Volpe introduced the Middle Years Program and reviewed MYP assessment. As the DP Coordinator, Ms. Shanks introduced the Diploma Program. Parents who were unable to attend the meeting can access a copy of the PowerPoint Presentation here. We encourage parents that have questions about the IB programs to reach out to us in our role as program coordinators or to ask teachers questions directly regarding questions you may have about specific courses.

FCD Visits SCIS to Educate Students on Substance Abuse

Thursday and Friday of this week we hosted George Brown from FCD Educational Services. FCD is a US based non-profit organization that specializes in providing schools, students, and parents the tools they need to help students make positive healthy choices related to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Educating students on the most up-to-date medical and social science research regarding substances abuse and the impact of substance abuse on brain development is emphasized. Our program this week started with an Upper School assembly Thursday morning where Mr. Brown introduced himself, the FCD program model, and shared some of his personal story. Mr. Brown, then delivered the curriculum primarily through our PHE class schedule, contextualizing the lessons in his own personal story which students found extremely compelling. Students were very engaged in George’s presentations which translated into a very engaging two days.

We would like to thank the parents who were able to come to campus Thursday for the parent focused FCD presentation. In addition to hearing from our FCD guest, parents also heard from Ms. Kelly who provided a brief overview of the SCIS statistics we have collected regarding substances abuse and how our results compare to students in the United States where the survey we used is based. Ms. Kelly shared that our statistics are encouraging but there are some areas that need our attention as a community. One area in particular is the growing use of vaping or cigarette products. We know from experience that only as a community can we truly support our students in developing the knowledge and skills they need to make informed healthy choices. In support of these efforts we encourage parents to review the materials below as they contain important information and strategies regarding how to talk with your children about drugs, alcohol and tobacco. We’ve also included an extensive parent vaping guide which we feel is essential for all parents to read. Please contact Ms. Kelly or Dr. Volpe with questions.

Volleyball Big Game Night

Wednesday night we had an electric atmosphere in the Dragon’s Lair for our Volleyball Big Game Night. Big Game Night is a celebration honoring our senior athletes in their last home game of the season. This year we had five senior athletes playing in their final volleyball home game. Coaches took advantage of the opportunity to speak to each of the senior athletes, relive some of the highlights of their volleyball careers, and thank them for their contributions to the program. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our varsity volleyball coaches Mr. Vanta, Coach Caban, and Coach Vic for all of the time, effort, and energy they have contributed to making this opportunity possible for our students. We would also like to thank Mr. Johnson for the live-streaming of the event, StuCo for providing snacks, and Mr. Demas and the Jazz band for bringing a festive atmosphere to the games. Thank you all for another great shared experience. We wish both teams the best of luck in this weekend’s SISAC tournament. Go Dragons!

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #5

Dear SCIS Families,

Teachers and students made the most of this short week as many students prepared for their first summative assessments of the semester. With China GO! trips scheduled for the last week before break, many classes will be wrapping up their first units with assessments. As a reminder, all unit, and assessment information can be found in ManageBac. We encourage parents to set a weekly time to review ManageBac with students as a means of staying informed of what is happening in the classroom. Please take a moment to ask your child about their upcoming assessments.

Spotlight on MYP Science

The Grade 7 MYP science students played the role of product testers in class this week as they worked through their Battle of the Brands lab. Ms. Marcos, a new addition to the SCIS Science Department, had the students fully engaged as students as they designed their own experiments to test which of the brands performed best under laboratory conditions. Students were able to choose the products they wanted to compare and then had to work through a series of scientific trials to collect data on which product they would recommend. Students tested a range of products including bouncy balls, magnets, and toy cars. In designing and carrying out experiments, students had to exercise their critical thinking skills as they identified and controlled for variables that would influence their data. Students will follow up these experiments with an investigation into Criterion D: Reflection on the Impacts of Science. In this next phase of the unit, students will evaluate the role of scientific investigation in marketing, including the consequences corporations face when claims are made in their marketing. This unit is an excellent example of the ways SCIS seeks to make the curriculum relevant to students by helping them make connections between what they’re doing in the classroom and the real world. Thank you, Ms. Marcos, for designing such a thought provoking unit!

2019 China GO!

Less than two weeks to go before China GO! and students and advisors are making final preparations for the trips. Each grade has investigated their destinations and are now in the process of planning out their service projects. We encourage parents to have a conversation with students about the information they have learned about their destination and the service activities they will be engaged in while there. In addition to the suggested packing-lists for the trips that were posted last week, the travel information for each trip is now available on our SCIS-Pudong Website as well. By early next week you will also receive detailed bus pick-up information for Monday September 23rd. Some of the pick up times will be significantly earlier than the normal school day pick-up so please note the times and locations carefully. Please feel free to email advisors or administration with any questions.

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Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #4

Dear SCIS Families,

This week students were on a special schedule due to NWEA-MAP testing for grades 6-9. This year we piloted a schedule that allowed students to test Tuesday through Thursday mornings outside of the normal class rotation. This schedule was designed to minimize classroom disruption and capture the most accurate results. SCIS uses the MAP Growth assessment to monitor student progress in grades 6-9. Students take assessments in the areas of Math, Reading, and Language. These assessments are aligned to SCIS teaching standards which allows us not only to track student progress but also provide teachers with feedback on their instruction. Parents who wish to learn more about these assessments are encourage to review the NWEA FAMILY TOOL KIT. We expect to be able to share assessment results along with mid-semester reports on the 18th of October. Both reports will be accessible in ManageBac.

While students in grades 6-9 were testing, we took advantage of the special schedule to provide some additional focused instructional time for students in grades 10-12. Grade 10 students went through a series of workshops to help jumpstart their Personal Projects, the MYP capstone project. Diploma students had the opportunity to have additional extended classes in their IB DP Higher Level courses and to hear from Hong Kong Baptist University as part of our University and College series. A special thank you to all of the students and teachers for their flexibility with this week’s special schedule.

Dragon Cup Volleyball

SCIS Pudong hosted the annual Dragon Cup boys and girls varsity volleyball tournament this year which brought together SCIS Hongqiao, Hangzhou International School, and this year’s invited guest YCIS Pudong. Our teams took advantage of the tournament as an opportunity to test their skills early in the season. This year’s girls team returns all but one starting player and is expected to compete at a very high level. The boys team returns only one starter from last season but has seen the infusion of a number of athletes new to SCIS. Both teams showed great promise for the season, exemplifying the hard work and growth mindset of the competitive Dragon competitive spirit. Special thanks to Coach Vic, Coach Caban, Coach Vanta, and Coach Sculerati for their dedication to our athletics programs. Be sure to keep an eye on the SCIS-Pudong Web Portal Calendar for the most up-to-date information on games schedules.

Middle School Student Council

Ms. Roberts helped our Middle School Student Council get a head start on their planning for the year with a retreat last Friday. Students participated in team building activities, and brainstormed ideas for the 2019-2020 school year. Student Council has two primary mandates. First, they work to plan events and activities to bring Middle School students together for fun and shared experiences that build the bonds and relationships of our Middle School Community. Second, Middle School students engage with their classmates to work to continually reflect on how to make SCIS a place where all students can thrive. We would like to thank Ms. Roberts and the whole MS StuCo for their time and dedication to enhancing middle school life.

2019 China GO!

The countdown has begun with China GO! just a little more than two weeks away. Excitement built this week as students spent time in Advisory reviewing their itineraries and learning more about the activities and service they will participate in while on the trips. We have also posted our suggested packing-lists for the trips on our SCIS-Pudong Website. Please be sure to look through the packing list and speak with your child about the upcoming trips, which will be a highlight of the year.

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Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal

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Principal’s Post #3

Dear SCIS Families,

It was great to visit with so many of you at yesterday’s Back to School Night, thank you for taking the trouble to come out on a rainy Thursday evening. Our teachers were thrilled to make the home-school connection with you, and it was great to see the enthusiasm of parents as they pored over the course syllabi, flipped through coursebooks, and discussed the program with the teachers, new and returning. Parent engagement is a significant factor in a every student’s educational success, and your commitment to be here makes a difference. Please remember that this is just the beginning of a yearlong conversation. Checking ManageBac at least once a week, together with your Upper Schooler, following the units and tasks in each class, and discussing the teachers’ feedback are important strategies to stay connected with your child’s learning. As questions arise, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers. as well as to the administrative team.

Photos from Back to School Night

What Does the Research Say? NurtureShock: Importance of Sleep

In the “Lost Hour” chapter of NurtureShock, Bronson and Merryman summarize important research on the negative physical and cognitive impacts of teenagers not getting enough sleep. According to the U.S. based National Sleep Foundation teenagers should sleep for 8-10 hours each night. However, research conducted in the United States by Dr. Fredrick Danner at the University of Kentucky found that most teens only sleep on average 6.5 hours. A survey of students enrolled at SCIS during the 2018-2019 school year found that 68% of MYP students (grades 6-10) sleep for 8 or more hours but this number drops to only 20% of the students sleeping for 8 or more hours once they are enrolled in the DP (G11-12). These lost hours negatively impact the physical health of our students as well as their academic performance in school.

According to Bronson and Merryman, researchers have attributed a number of challenges teenagers face to these lost hours of sleep. Sleep deficits can lead to decreased academic performance and emotional instability, an increase in obesity rates and ADHD, and it has been theorized that persistent sleep deficits can lead to permanent changes in the brain. According to research done by Dr. Avi Sadeh at Tel Aviv university, “a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to the loss of two years of cognitive maturation and development”. In other words, an average 6th grade will perform like an average 4th grade student when suffering from only one hour less sleep then the target eight hours. Using Functional MRI technology, scientists observe that far fewer connections are made during learning in subjects that have sleep deficits compared to control groups that have optimal sleep conditions. Essentially, what the researchers have found is that sleep is required to consolidate new learning, or more simply sleep = memory.

We encourage parents to set students up for success by supporting a bedtime routine that promotes at least eight hours of sleep per night. For more information on how parents can help teenagers get the necessary amount of sleep, please read this ARTICLE from Commonsense Media.

2019 China GO!

As a reminder, China GO! forms, passport and visa copies were due to student advisors on TODAY. If you have not provided the signed forms or copies of your child’s travel documents please ensure they are turned in Monday, September 2nd. Please contact your child’s advisor or Coach Vic ( with questions.

We hope to see families on campus this weekend for Dragon Cup Volleyball. Go Dragons!

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #2

Dear SCIS Families,

With our first full week behind us, classroom learning and after school activities are in full swing. Now that the academic semester underway, we would like to remind parents that ManageBac is the primary tool we use for communicating curriculum, assignment, and assessment information, as well as for sharing feedback with students. We also use ManageBac to publish our morning announcements, communicating important information about upcoming events such as ASAs, special schedules, or other reminders. Students receive a ManageBac message with the day’s announcements and parents can follow the daily announcements through the Whiteboard WeChat group. These announcements are the primary way we communicate After School Activity offerings to students (please see last week’s post for more information on ASAs). We encourage parents to regularly review these announcements as a way of keeping up to date on events and school and to help encourage students to participate in extracurricular opportunities.

Service as Action at SCIS

This week we opened the Service Program for the year our annual Service Kick-Off Assembly. Throughout the school year, teachers in every subject look for opportunities to raise student knowledge and awareness of global issues and contemporary challenges, providing background knowledge, and building connections, inspiring students to Action. In the context of MYP Service Advisories and DP-CAS, students step up to engage with service projects that allow them to use their knowledge, understandings and skills to make a contribution addressing authentic community needs. At the Assembly, students reviewed the different types of Service, the stages a service project goes through, and the service learning outcomes. A highlight of the Assembly was the Expert Panel, in which representatives from Grades 7-12 sat on stage to share some of their learning through experience over recent years. The first Service Project of the year for Grade 6-11 is China GO! Please talk to your child about the Service component of their trip, and the steps they are taking over the next few weeks to Investigate the need and Prepare to Act. GO! Dragons!

What Does the Research Say? NurtureShock: The Inverse Power of Praise

In the first chapter of NurtureShock, Bronson and Merryman summarize important research on how we talk to our children and how the words we choose can impact their motivation and performance in school. As parents, we all want our children to be happy and it is a natural reflex to praise and compliment our children in an effort to boost their self-esteem. Unfortunately, certain praise can be counterproductive, actually decreasing motivation and performance. As parents, many of us hope to instill confidence in our children by letting them know how smart we think they are. However, research done by Carol Dweck and colleagues has found that in fact, praising children for being smart can actually make them less likely to work hard or challenge themselves. When we praise our children for being smart or good, they receive the message that intelligence or behavior are fixed traits and not qualities that can be worked on or improved. This is referred to by Dweck as a Fixed Mindset. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compliment our children on a job well done. Instead the lesson from the research is that we should focus on the process of the achievement rather than the end results. We should praise our children for persistent effort, trying new strategies, or seeking help when they needed it. Rather than say “you solved the problem, you’re so smart” we should instead say “I liked the way you kept trying until you found a strategy that worked!” This type of praise can help our children develop what Dweck refers to as a Growth Mindset or a belief that intelligence is flexible and dependent on effort and strategy application. At SCIS we seek to foster a Growth Mindset through our Advisory Program and through how we communicate with our students. As parents, how we speak to our children can also have a significant impact on the development of a Growth Mindset. To learn more about this topic, read THIS article from New York magazine or get a copy of NurtureShock for yourself.

Back to School Barbecue (Saturday August 24th)

As a reminder, our PAFA sponsored Back to School Barbecue will be held tomorrow, Saturday August 24th from 11-3. The BBQ is a great chance to catch up with friends and meet new teachers and families. We hope everyone will be able to come out and enjoy the entertainment and festivities!

Back to School Night (Thursday August 29)

Next Thursday, August 29th we will be hosting our annual Back to School Night. This is a great opportunity for parents to connect with teachers and the administration to learn more about the coming school year. There will be a short presentation in the theater followed by time for parents to visit classrooms, get information on upcoming events, learn more about PAFA, and receive help from our technology department regarding parent emails and ManageBac access. Back to School Night is designed to help parents better understand the curricular program by hearing directly from teachers. We hope to see all of you our for Back to School Night next week.

2019 China GO!

Please see last week’s post for an overview of the important role these trips play in our curricular program. On Thursday, August 19th all parents should have received an email from Dr. Volpe regarding our upcoming China GO! trips. The information packet outlines 3 documents that need to be returned to your Child’s advisory by August 30th. Please be sure to sign and return the Conduct and Permission Form, Medical Release Form, and updated copies of your child’s passport and visa. Please stay tuned for additional information.

We look forward to catching up with everyone at the BBQ!

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal


Principals’ Post #1

Dear SCIS Families,

We are very excited to have students back on campus getting the new school year underway. The excitement of a new beginning was visible in the hallways as students caught up with each other and met new classmates for the first time. As an administrative team we could not be more proud of the returning students as they worked hard to welcome our newest Dragons. The SCIS community spirit was most visible at lunch as new students were invited to sit with their classmates, sparking new friendships. In addition to introducing students to their new courses, teachers spent considerable time this week building the relationships that form the foundation of our community. Teachers organized ice-breakers, games, and other activities in classrooms and grade levels to help students get to know one another and develop grade level bonds.

For those that are new to SCIS-Pudong, this blog is one of the primary ways you can stay up to date on what’s happening in the Upper School. We will celebrate events that have taken place and share upcoming events. Our Principals’ Blog provides a great window for parents into the student experience at SCIS and also serves as the best source of information for parents who want to learn more about SCIS programs and how parents can get involved. We are also committed to sharing important information with parents regarding the latest research on how you can support the educational and social-emotional development of your child. We look forward to sharing this information and showcasing the growth and achievement of our students over the course of the year.

Meet the New Teachers

We are delight to share that we have increased the number of teaching faculty this year in the Upper School. Whether coming in to fill a new position or replacing one of our beloved departing teachers, this new group of teachers is uniquely positioned to have an immediate impact on our programs. All of the incoming teachers have experience in other international schools and are extremely well qualified in their subject areas. Please be sure to introduce yourselves to our new faculty when you next find yourself on campus. We are excited to introduce you to (pictures appear in the order names are listed):

Jennifer Arvay: Visual Arts
Kyounghee You: Language and Literature (Korean)
Lisa Marcos: Science
Maitane Arruti: Language Acquisition (Spanish & English)
Andrew Shearer: Mathematics/Economics
Ivana Nedeljkov: Learning Support
Dan Olsen: Learning Support

What Does the Research Say?

In this year’s blog we are excited to offer a series of articles that will summarize important research across academic disciplines. Our goal is to share relevant research with families regarding education, the science of learning, human development, psychology, health and wellness, and other fields in order to provide families with important tools and strategies to support our students. The first articles will focus on summarizing select chapters from Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s NurtureShock. This book does an excellent job of synthesizing important research across many fields in an effort to provide parents and educators with important knowledge and strategies from academic research that can be used to help optimize the development of our students. Stay tune for lessons from NurtureShock!

After School Activities (ASAs)

After school activities in the Upper School are an important part of the balanced SCIS student experience. We feel strongly that students develop important skills and relationships through their participation in the Arts, Athletics, and many clubs. These ASAs seek to capitalize on student interests and passions as well as provide opportunities for students to be exposed to new experiences and opportunities for growth. After School Activities provide an important opportunity to have shared experiences that deepen and develop new relationships. These shared experiences and relationships are the foundation of our SCIS community. As parents, we ask that you encourage your children to participate in areas of passion and that you encourage them to try something new. The skills and relationships they will gain from these experiences will truly last a life time.

The logistics of student sign-ups requires individual students to identify the activities they are interested, for them to follow through by communicating with the sponsor of the activities, and for them to communicate with parents regarding the activities they will participate in. We realize for students new to SCIS or for students in grade 6, this may be a new experience. As a school, we will support students through this process. During today’s welcome back assembly, students were introduced to the many opportunities available for them to get involved with the Arts, Athletics, and Clubs. Students will receive information through announcements and advisory regarding activities and sign-up procedures. While students are encourage to independently take charge of their own participation in activities, parents are encouraged to help students find the activities they are interested in. Below, we have attached a list of the current offerings available for students. However, please be aware that other activities may be added over the course of the semester. Any changes or additions will be communicated to students directly through the daily announcements. Please feel free to contact us, or Coach Vic ( our Athletics and Activities Director with questions. Go Dragons!

2019 China GO!

Excitement is building for this year’s China GO! trips. China GO! is consistently identified by students as one of the highlights of the the school year. At SCIS, China GO! trips seek to build our community through shared experiences by engaging authentic service-based activities which promote host culture connections. These shared experiences help build the bonds of friendship between classmates and help build a foundation for positive student-teacher relationships. Research research shows these relationships have a positive impact on student learning. Whether focused on community building in grade 6 or literally building a new home for villagers in Chengdu in grade 11, these experiences help to shape who we are as a community of learners. Students will be learning more about these trips through our Advisory program and parents will receive grade level information and required permission forms in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we ask that parents do not make plans to travel with their students until the day after students return for the trips (Sept. 28). We also ask that parents make sure that student passports and visas are up-to-date as we will be requesting updated copies for booking the trips. Please make a point of speaking with your children about their trips over the coming weeks as you receive important information.

In closing, we would like to welcome everyone to the 2019-2020 school year. We encourage parents to stay connected to school by following this blog, reviewing ManageBac with students on a weekly basis, and participating in the many events on campus. Finally, we wish all of our Dragons an amazing 2019-2020 school year filled with growth and achievement.

Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                  Naomi Shanks
Upper School Principal        Upper School Vice Principal