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