Principals’ Post # 9

Dear SCIS Families,

This week students have been busy planning and preparing for a number of upcoming activities.  Middle School Student Council has been preparing for next week’s Costume Contest and Halloween Dance. High School Student Council has been busy planning a Spirit Week for Octover 29-November 2, Model United Nations (MUN) students are preparing for the upcoming conference, and the High School Volleyball team is preparing to make the most of our home team advantage when we host the ACAMIS championship beginning November 8th.  Preparations are also underway for Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences which will be held next Thursday, October 25th.  Please be sure to review the information below regarding important upcoming events.

Mid-Semester Progress Reports Posted Today

Progress reports will be posted to ManageBac today.  Mid-semester reports will include a progress designation (i.e. “progressing towards class expectations”) for each class along with narrative comments describing each student’s individual progress.  We encourage parents to review these reports with your students in preparation for Parent-Teacher-Student conferences on the 25th.  Reports will be released by 5pm TODAY and can be found in the Reports tab of your  ManageBac account.  You will receive an notification email to your SCIS email address when the reports go live this afternoon. 

In addition to reviewing student progress reports, this is an important time of year to review assignments and the feedback provided by teachers on individual assignments.  Teachers provide detailed narrative comments in ManageBac posted under the assignment or on the assignment itself.  Reviewing and learning from the feedback provided by the teachers is well-researched as one of the most effective ways students can accelerate their learning and improve their scores on the next assignment.  Reviewing feedback from teachers on individual assignments along with closely reading the mid-semester progress reports are the best way to prepare for Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences.

Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences October 25th

Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences are an essential opportunity, early in the school year, for parents, teachers and students to come together, discuss the progress already made and set goals for the months to come. 

Conferences are scheduled for all day Thursday, October 25. All conferences will be booked through our online sign-up portal, linked below.  You will build your own schedule of 10-minute appointments in the session most convenient for your family. Thanks to the many parents who signed up over the last 10 days. All teachers still have open slots, with most availability in the afternoon, between 2-5pm. Please note that students are expected to attend the conferences with their parents and participate in the discussion. Students must arrive and leave together with their parents, as there are no supervised activities or classes that day.   

Conference sign-ups went live Wednesday, October 10th and will close Tuesday, October 23rd at 3pm.  Detailed instructions for using the sign-up system can be found by following the link below.

Parent TIPS for Effective Conferences


Warm regards,

Frank Volpe, PhD                   Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal           Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #8

Dear SCIS Families,

This past Monday teachers returned from the October National Holiday rested and ready for professional development.  Teachers spent Monday working on their craft and preparing for the return of our students on Tuesday.  Monday morning’s training was run by our in-house English Language Acquisition specialists Melissa Lawrence and Alison Roberts.  The focus was on helping teachers further develop strategies to support students who are working to develop their English language skills.  SCIS firmly believes that all teachers are teachers of language. Consequently, we have dedicated significant resources and energy to ensure that our teachers receive necessary training and support to fulfill this objective.

Students hit the ground running this week completing end of unit activities and picking up where they left off with extracurricular activities. Middle School soccer kicked off today with their first games both at home and away.  We have been impressed with the enthusiasm and high levels of participation this season with over 35 students joining in the fun.  Middle School Jazz Band was also in full swing as the started preparing for their first gig.  Finally, High School Volleyball has started the countdown to the ACAMIS tournament which our campus will host November 8th through the 10th

Principals’ Coffee

Tuesday morning we hosted a Principals’ Coffee morning prior to the monthly PAFA meeting.  Dr. Volpe presented an overview of the Middle Years Program with an emphasis on how students are evaluated.  Ms. Shanks provided an introduction to the IB Diploma Program reviewing the required components and course options. Following the introductory IB curriculum framework presentations Ms. Kelly gave parents an update on the Upper School Relationships and Sexuality curriculum. The gathering provided a great chance for parents to learn more about the IB programs offered and SCIS and to gain a deeper understanding of the topics covered by Ms. Kelly in her sessions.

NYU Shanghai

We also hosted NYU Shanghai on campus this week.  Students in grades 9 through 12 had the opportunity to hear directly from the admissions officer on what the experience would be like on campus and what admissions counselors are looking for in student applications.  Students were excited to hear about the NYU opportunity here in Shanghai and benefited in general from learning about the admission process directly from a college admissions representative.  A big thank you to Ms. Kelly for organizing the event.

Mid-Semester Progress Reports

Reports will be posted to ManageBac on Friday, October 19th.  Mid-semester reports will include a progress designation (i.e. “progressing towards classroom expectations”) for each class along with narrative comments describing each student’s individual progress.  We encourage parents to review these reports with your students in preparation for Parent-Teacher-Student conferences on the 25th.  You will receive an email in your parent account notifying you of the publication of this report by 5pm on the 19th and can follow the link to the Reports tab of your child’s ManageBac account. 

Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences  – Thursday October 25th

Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences are an essential opportunity, early in the school year, for parents, teachers and students to come together, discuss the progress already made and set goals for the months to come. 

Conferences are scheduled for the entire day of Thursday, October 25.  All conferences will be booked through our online sign-up portal (linked below).  You will build your own schedule of 10-minute appointments in the time block most convenient for your family. Please note that students are expected to attend the conferences with their parents and participate in the discussion.  All regular classes and activities are cancelled on that day, so students should both arrive and leave together with their parents. 

Online conference sign-ups went live Wednesday, October 10th and end Tuesday, October 23rd at 3pm. Please note that the morning session is filling up very quickly, but there are plenty of slots still available in the afternoon. 

Detailed instructions for using the new sign-up system are included below. The following tips may also help:

        • Before scheduling your appointments, consult with your child(ren) and together make a list of the teachers you plan to meet with.
        • Try starting at the second or third hour of a given block for more openings.
        • If you are scheduling five or more conferences, schedule in a break for yourself. Conferences will start every 10 minutes without exception.
        • If you have two children taught by the same teacher, you may book two slots in a row with that teacher.
        • All conferences will take place on the third floor in designated rooms. You do not need to allow extra time to move between conferences.
        • If you need more time with a teacher, or cannot book the slot you want, you are ALWAYS free to email a teacher directly to schedule a meeting outside of the conference day. 

Sign-ups are open now!

PTC Sign-Up Instructions
TIPS: Making the Most of PTCs

Warm regards,

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

Principals’ Post #7

Dear SCIS Families,

It felt like we were able to accomplish five days worth of activities in our abbreviated week.  Students were busy with sports as MS started the boys and girls soccer season and the HS volleyball teams continued their action.  Students also completed summative assessments in many classes as teachers wrapped up some units of study prior to the October break. Much of the week was dominated by the Freedom from Chemical Dependency Program and China Go! assembly preparation and reflection.   

Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD)

This week our visit from Freedom from Chemical Dependence prevention specialist Diana Hu was a hot topic of conversation amongst our students and staff.  The FCD presentations and advisory follow up activities are an important part of the SCIS wellness initiatives.  FCD is a non-profit organization that provides alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education world-wide.  As a prevention specialist, Diana Hu’s role was to provide students with the most up-to-date information available on the physiological and psychological effects of substance abuse.  Special emphasis was placed on how to address the social pressures students may face and how to react in these situations and make healthy choices overall.  We encourage you to review the parent handout below.  This week’s FCD programming provides a great opportunity for parents to have conversations with your children about making healthy choices.  We hope to invite FCD back again next year with a major goal of increasing parent participation in the family focused portion of our program.

FCD Parenting for Prevention Factsheet


China Go! Celebration

Today’s China Go! Celebration was a true celebration of our host country. The  assembly allowed students to look back and reflect on their own trips and to learn about the experiences of students across other grade levels.  The student videos demonstrated deep reflection on the service and action components of the trip and highlighted the new friendships and deepened bonds that have grown from these experiences.  Anticipation for next year’s trips was already building as students learned about the experiences they will have in the future.  Mr. Lawrence closed the assembly with a brief presentation on how students will be building off of the Service and Action experiences they had on their trips with new initiatives in school-based Action over the coming months.  The journey has just begun. Enjoy highlights of our student speakers below: 


Looking forward to October, we want to remind families that teachers will be on campus October 8th for professional development but student’s first day of class will be Tuesday, October 9th.  We’d also like to remind parents that Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences will be held on Wednesday, October 25th.  More information will be shared following the October holiday but please mark your calendars now.

Warm regards,

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

Principals’ Post #6

After a weekend’s rest, students were back in the classroom on Monday and quickly transitioned back into our academic schedule.  The benefits of the China Go! trips were clearly evident in the new friendships that were formed, and in the reflections on the cultural and service experiences.  Many clubs and sports resumed or started this week adding to the excitement of the triumphant return.  The First Lego League team is busy preparing for their qualifying competitions this semester, MUN is in full swing in preparation for their October conference, and Long Talk is taking applications for their editorial board.  In the sports arena, our Middle School rugby team represented SCIS with pride on the pitch Saturday and the volleyball teams were back on the court this week setting new school records.  Here is a summary of some of this week’s highlights and a look ahead to next week. 

China Go! Reflection  

This week and next students will be spending time in Advisory reflecting on their China Go! experiences and preparing for the China Go! Celebration assembly next Friday afternoon.  Each grade level will reflect on the service outcomes and on their experience in general.  The service component of the China Go! trips lays the foundation for the service and action expectations the students will work toward over the course of the year.  This year Mr. Lawrence is taking the lead in supporting our students in achieving these objectives across the MYP and DP.  MYP Service and Action experience provides the ideal opportunity for students to develop skills they will use for the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) requirements of the IB Diploma Program.  Over the coming weeks, students will transition their service focus away from the China Go! trips toward school-based group projects as a key part of our Advisory program. 

Teachers and students will be asked to provide feedback to administration regarding how China Go! can be improved for the coming year.  Parents are encouraged to email us with suggestions on how these experiences can improved from their family perspective.  We are committed to developing experiences to enriching SCIS student life by helping our students connect with each other, our host culture, and to deepen their understanding of what it means to make a contribution to our communities through services. 


While MS sports have slowed down as we transition from rugby to soccer, HS sports are just heating up.  The girls varsity volleyball team is on track for a record season.  If they win their Big Game tonight, they will capture the school’s first ever girls volleyball league championship and complete the first undefeated league season. 

The boys are playing at an exciting level as well, and more importantly, improving on a daily basis. They have only dropped very close games to last years SISAC tournament champ (Dulwich) and SAS-PD, a perennial Shanghai/Asia power house. They are currently on pace to earn a spot in the SISAC Cup Championship which hasn’t been accomplished in the last several years.   

We hope to see everyone out this evening for Big Game Night.  The level of this year’s play alone is worth the trip out.  The electric atmosphere will be enhanced by Mr. Demas and the Jazz Band as they warm up the crowd and prepare for their own turn in the spot light this weekend during the JZ Musical Festival where they will be performing Saturday night at 7pm.    

UN Day of Peace

It was great to see so many of you here this afternoon for our annual UNIDOP Celebration. The spirit of the our international community filled the theater and overflowed. Grades 4-5 opened the show with a stirring percussion and voice performance. Keith Leung and Samuel Zhang represented the Upper School with speeches on behalf of our MUN delegation. The highlight of the show was, as expected, the Parade of Nations, with representatives from Austria to Venezuela crossing the stage in style. Enjoy the pictures below!  

Freedom From Chemical Dependency  

Looking forward to next week, we want to draw everyone’s attention to the Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) visit which will take place Wednesday and Thursday of the coming week.  This is an annual event which focuses on educating students, parents, and faculty on how best to encourage healthy choices related to drugs and alcohol.  Students will be together for a short introductory assembly and then will meet in grade level group over the two days for developmentally appropriate presentations.  Last year’s parent presentation was extremely well received.  We hope to have even more parents out this year for what we promise will be one of the most important parenting education events you attend this year.  

Looking forward to seeing you on campus next week for the FCD parent presentation and tonight for Big Game Night !

Go Dragons!

Principals’ Post #5

Dear SCIS Families,

The journeys travelled this week have been memorable for students and teachers alike.  We will be reflecting back on and building off of these experiences all year long  The service activities, the opportunities to better understand our host country, the bonding experiences, and pure fun of these trips combine to lay a great foundation for personal relationships and strengthen the bonds of our community. We want to thank parents for the trust they placed in the school this week. By working together we are able to help students maximize their individual growth. Also special thanks to the PAFA Grade Level Reps who helped us share pictures with you throughout the week.  Please read on for more information regarding this week’s trips and important upcoming events.

China Go! Successes

We recommend that parents make a point of sitting with their children to review the successes and challenges of the trip.  This is often best accomplished by sitting with your child and looking through pictures from the trip.  Students are often more likely to open up about their experiences when the focus is not directly on them and you ask specific questions about the trips based on the photos as you view them together.  We have included galleries from each of the trips below to serve as prompts for these conversations.  By taking the time to reflect on these trips with your child you will not only learn about their experience, you will also help solidify the lessons they have learned and help them prepare for the China Go! Advisory activities that will take place next week.

United Nations International Day of Peace

Next Friday, September 21st SCIS will celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace.  The UN General Assembly has designated this day to draw attention to the importance of focusing on strengthening the ideals of peace.  In the spirit of peace within and across national boundaries, SCIS celebrates UNIDOP day by recognizing and celebrating the diversity that makes our community so special.  Students are encouraged to come to school Friday in the traditional clothing of the culture they most identify with.  We will have an assembly at 1:30pm which parents are invited to attend.  During the assembly each country represented in our community will be called and students will march across the stage together.  We understand that many students identify with multiple nationalities.  Students are welcome to walk with each of the nationalities they identify with.  We hope to see you on Friday!  

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Freedom from Chemical Dependency

Starting September 26th SCIS will be hosting Diane Hu from Freedom from Chemical Dependency. FCD is a global nonprofit organization focused on supporting school-based substance abuse prevention programs.  Students will meet with Diane over the course of two days and will have follow-up activities with our Upper School counselor Ms. Kelly.  There will be an important parent presentation after school Wednesday the 26th at 3:15pm in the Upper School Library Conference Room.  Last year’s participants found the parent meeting extremely helpful.  We hope you will be able to attend.  More information will be provided next week regarding the specifics of the FCD activities.

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

Ready, Set, China GO!

Thanks to each and every parent, teacher, and student for making the opening of China GO! 2018 as smooth as it could possibly be. Grade 11 arrived in Chengdu last night, Grade 12 is checked in at their Suzhou hotel, and every other grade is now safely on the road, everyone on schedule and exactly where they’re supposed to be. 


Principals’ Post #4

Dear SCIS Families, 

The first four weeks of the school year went faster than we could have imagined! There is a lot going on, and this is only the beginning! 

Sports and Clubs  

This was a busy week for Upper School athletics and clubs.  Saturday’s Dragon Cup volleyball tournament gave JV and Varsity Boys and Girls a great chance to get into the swing of the season.  The effort and overall sportsmanship of the annual event was a great reminder of the spirit of SCIS athletics.  Both the boys’ and girls’ teams demonstrated they have many of the pieces necessary to have strong seasons.  It will be exciting to watch them develop over the course of the season as we prepare to host this year’s ACAMIS volleyball in November.  This potential was on full display Wednesday as both the boys and the girls chalked up wins against Pudong rival Concordia.  A big thank you to the all the fans that came out to support the teams over the past week.  It’s great to see so many parents, students, and faculty members supporting our athletes.  

Middle School touch rugby also had a great showing at SCIS this week.  Coaches Mavec and Nicholaides have done a great job getting this co-ed group of middle school students up to speed and ready for competition.   

Off the field many of the Upper School clubs also got underway this week, including MUN, Yearbook, and Math Club, and much more.  As a reminder, Upper School clubs have staggered starts based on the calendar of events and the schedules of the faculty supervisors.  Students should contact the coordinators of the individual clubs to verify the start dates for individual clubs.   


ManageBac as a Tool for Monitoring Progress 

Many teachers have worked hard to ensure that students have received feedback by this point in the semester.  We would like to encourage parents to review ManageBac weekly together with their students.  We feel it is ideal to pick one day a week to sit down with you child and have them walk you through the latest ManageBac updates.  Students receive feedback on their progress in a number of ways through ManageBac.  The will receive numerical feedback in the form of performance level progress indicators on MYP criteria or toward DP objectives.  Teachers will also provide narrative feedback written into ManageBac or annotated directly onto assignments.  Students are trained by their teachers to find this feedback but it may be confusing for parents to find on their own.  Asking your child to show you any feedback they have received from their teachers and reviewing it together once a week a great way to understand how students are assessed and how they can improve.  


China Go! Trips 

We are excited for students to begin their journeys around China this coming week.  Students have been preparing for trips during Advisories and parents should have received grade level specific departure information by email this week.  Please refer to the grade level transportation letters that were sent out earlier this week. Here are the links to important information.

Grade 6 Travel Information

Grade 7 Travel Information

Grade 8 Travel Information

Grade 9 Travel Information

Grade 10 Travel Information

Grade 11 Travel Information

Grade 12 Travel Information

General China Go! Information (itineraries and packing lists)


Please watch the blog next week for updates and pictures from the trips.  

Safe travels to all!  

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

Principals’ Post #3

Dear SCIS Families,

It was great to see so many new and returning faces on campus last night for Back to School Night.  The evening started out in the theater as Head of School Derek Luebbe welcomed parents and shared schoolwide updates including summer construction projects and the positive enrollment trend. We reviewed our many active communication channels, including include this blog, ManageBac, and a range of in-person school events design to help educate parents on the school’s academic and extracurricular programs. 

The primary purpose of the evening was the opportunity for parents to get to know this year’s teachers. Teachers shared course objectives and materials, providing a chance for parents to better understand our academic programs and courses.  Parents also participated in China Go! Trip information sessions with Coach Vic, had the chance to discuss the advisory curriculum with Ms. Kelly, and have their technology problems solved by Mr. Johnson. 

China GO!

This coming week excitement will be building as students prepare for the China Go! Trips which will begin the following week.  We encourage all parents to review the individual trip itineraries on the SCIS-PD website.  All forms should have been turned into trip leaders this week.  Please be sure to communicate directly with your child’s Advisor with any concerns you may have regardingtravel documentation.  These trips are very important opportunities for students to build important relationships and have the shared experiences that will help bond them with their classmates.  Coach Vic, Ms. Shanks, and Mr. Lawrence have invested significant effort into transforming these trips into opportunities for service and action.

Ongoing reflection before, during, and after the trips will help students evaluate how they have grown as individuals and contributed to their broader community through these experiences.  We encourage you to review the trip itineraries with your child and do some research of your own to help you better understand the experiences students will soon embark on.  Please note that if students bring mobile phones they will be expected to keep them powered off and zipped into their bags throughout the day, and only use them with teachers’ permission, normally during a short window of time in the evenings.  Limited phone access allows students to focus on the experience without distraction.  We appreciate your support of these expectations.  Again, please contact your child’s Advisor with any trip specific questions you may have.

NWEA MAP Testing

We’d like to bring your attention to a few important events that will be happening next week.  First, students in Grades 6-9 will be taking the NWEA MAP tests.  Please encourage students to try their best as we use this assessment as an important tool to monitor student progress.  Parents new to the NWEA MAP assessment are encouraged to review the parent tool-kit available online HERE.  Next, we would like to encourage parents to attend the Upper School Counselor Coffee which will be held on Tuesday at 9am in room 208.  This will be followed by the monthly PAFA meeting.

ASA Sign-Ups

We are still missing a significant amount of student entries for the Upper School ASA sign-up portal. The deadline has been extended to Monday morning to give all of our US students the chance to sign-up. Despite our open and fluid US ASA program, it is important to give our teacher leaders an opportunity to adequately prepare. Therefore, we ask, that all US students sign-in and sign-up for the ASAs of their choice, if they haven’t already done so. Please refer to the schedule below and use THIS LINK.

Thank you taking the time to read this update on campus events

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

Principals’ Post #2

Dear SCIS Families,

Its hard to believe we are already wrapping up our second week of instruction.  Students have quickly settled into the rhythm of the classroom and our four-day rotation, and work is underway as they begin completing homework assignments and preparing for assessments.  We would like to encourage parents to schedule a time weekly with your children to review ManageBac.  This platform provides parents with a window into the academic lives of our students.  At this point in the semester parents already have access to the units of study and can see upcoming deadlines.  Please be sure to review the ManageBac Tip for Parents on the side bar.  Please note that ManageBac will down this weekend across China due to a server upgrade.  

During our welcome back assembly last Friday we emphasized to students that our community is built on strong personal relationships and shared experiences.  We could not be more proud of the way that our returning students welcomed our newest Dragons.  Whether helping new students find their classes, explaining assignments, or inviting them to join their lunch tables, our returning students have demonstrated why SCIS is truly a unique community.  The opportunities for shared experiences in our ASA programs are also in full swing.  We’ve had a great turn out for our HS Volleyball and MS Rugby teams.  Students had a chance this week during their PHE classes to survey all of the clubs and activities available during this first trimester.  A list of these activities and message from Coach Vic was emailed our earlier this week and can viewed HERE.

Another important aspect of our after school offerings got underway this week.  Office Hours provide a chance for students to meet with teachers after school and receive individual and small group support.  Each teacher has identified at least one day a week after school when they are available to meet with students to provide them with support in their studies.  Students are encouraged to take advantage of Office Hours if they need additional help or if they are passionate about a subject and are looking to extend their learning. Due to after school activity sponsorship and coaching duties, individual teacher office hours may change over the course of the semester.  The most up-to-date office hours can be found on our website

In closing, we would like to encourage everyone to attend our Back-to-School BBQ this Saturday from 11-3. 

Frank Volpe, PhD                     Naomi Shanks

Upper School Principal             Upper School Vice Principal

Principals’ Post #1

Dear SCIS Families, 

Thank you for your help making this first week of school a success!  It was great to see the halls filled with our students as our school year got underway.  We are excited for the year of learning and growth ahead.   

We want to take this opportunity to thank the Upper School teachers for welcoming and supporting new and returning students in our first week of school.  We are lucky to have such dedicated caring professionals.  We are also grateful to the returning students for the way they welcomed our new students with open arms.  Whether showing new students to their classes or inviting them to eat with them at lunch, the returning students showed their caring side by supporting those new to our school.  New students deserve congratulations as well for facing the challenge of their first day and successfully navigating new courses and making new friends.   

Speaking of new faces, we would like to take a moment to celebrate the significant growth in our student body.  The SCIS Pudong campus has seen a 16% increase in enrollment compared to the start of last school year. This growth includes a 10% increase in enrollment in the Upper School with new students enrolling across grades 6-11.  Much of the credit for this growth goes to the amazing community parents and students have helped to develop here at SCIS.   

 In addition to the new students, we have five new teachers in the Upper School.  We are excited to have these experienced and talented educators joining our staff: Chris Willauer (Design), Xiating Fang (Mandarin), Jill Sculerati (Science), Julie Broad (Learning Support), and Michael Nicholaides (Humanities and Literature).  We thank you in advance for helping to welcome them to our community.   

This is the first of many weekly blog posts we will be sending throughout the year.  These updates are meant to share the many wonderful things happening at our school as well as inform you of upcoming events.   

This blog will be written jointly by Dr. Frank Volpe, Upper School Principal and Ms. Naomi Shanks, Upper School Vice Principal.  While you should feel free to contact either one of us with concerns or questions, we will continue to serve distinct roles in facilitating the International Baccalaureate Programs.  Dr. Volpe will be coordinating the Middle Years Program (MYP) and Ms. Shanks will be coordinating the Diploma Program (DP).  

 In closing, we want to thank you for entrusting us with the honor of educating your children.  We will work diligently every day to ensure that your student has a world-class academic program and opportunities for personal growth through our arts, athletics and activities programs.  We look forward to seeing everyone at the Welcome Back BBQ. 

 Warm regards, 

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