One of the things I enjoy is thinking about the message I get to write to the community at the end of each week. I usually go back over the school's and my Twitter feed to review the fun, insightful, and exciting stories from our community in the past week. This week, going back over the tweets I shared, was the rehearsal for the MS musical, a student-devised piece of NIS 'going back to the 80s.' There was also one capturing the fantastic moment where a group of High Schoolers all decided to change their game to include their friend in a wheelchair. There was . . . .
Head of School Weekly Notes (Archives)
Sakura cherry blossoms have such incredible significance beyond their beauty. The idea that something so beautiful can appear as if from nowhere and then, almost as quickly, be gone again, teaches us the value of appreciating all that life has to offer, of seizing the opportunities that come our way and of enjoying the moment we are in, always understanding that this is but a moment in time. This is very much a part of parenting as well. Parents will know how, like the blossoms . . .
Today spring has definitely sprung and we have enjoyed a beautiful day of sunshine to celebrate the end of the quarter. In the last week we’ve had so many special events – the talent show, the IB art exhibition and the Grade 3 Book Shop to name just a few. Today we had . . .
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which claimed close to 16,000 lives and continues to affect so many communities to this day. At NIS, we remember the day well – feeling the edge of the . . .
This was another week in which we could celebrate the achievements of some of our amazing students. This past weekend, Mina and Steven, two of the members of our Model United Nations Club, attended the Kyoto Congress Youth Forum which is a precursor to the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to be held this weekend. Not only were they . . .
The days in which the teacher is the only one doing the teaching are long gone. Of course, great schools need great teachers, and that will never change. But there is something very powerful about learning from peers – not only for those doing the learning but also for . . .
One of my favorite parts of the week is the times I spend in discussion with students. Too often though, school ends up being something we do 'to' children as opposed to being something we do WITH children, and here at NIS, we strive to . . . .
At NIS everyone is a learner, including the staff. In fact, one way of thinking of an NIS teacher is as the ‘lead learner’ in the classroom. At NIS, just as we want learning to be meaningful, relevant and engaging for our students, so too do we strive to create a professional learning culture which meets the needs of our diverse staff. Today was the launch of the . . .
This week, our Grade 5 students were busy with their pop-up art exhibition in the East Building's new Kawanabe Room. Making learning relevant and engaging is a cornerstone of a curriculum that . . .
How wonderful it was to end the week with two full days on campus. As I walked around the school, I saw all the things that make campus-based schooling so relevant and important. Dance, music, sports, kids chatting, playing, hanging out. Just the ability to . . .
Thank you to all the parents who joined my Head of School Coffee today. It was good to connect, hear your concerns and your words of encouragement for staff. I’m always reassured in knowing that the way we get through this is by listening, discussing concerns people have, and then working together to support our students. “Challenging” is the word I hear and use most frequently these days. All of us are . . .
As we wrap up our first week back to school in a new semester and new year, I wish to express how impressed I am with the flexibility and understanding shown by our entire community. Though we always knew pivoting to online learning was a distinct possibility - perhaps even a certainty - we kept feeling extremely lucky week after week during our first semester. This week was a test on the . . .
We’ve made it to the end of the semester and the end of 2020. It has been a year that has changed the world for generations to come and in ways that we still do not yet fully know or understand. Ironically, this pandemic, which is a massive global issue, has also made our world much smaller as it finds us looking to family, friends, and community, centering in on the human connections that define us. Not only . . .
We had an excellent day of performance art in full display on the stage in the MPH today. As we wind down the first half of the school year, the MYP students had the opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve been working hard on all semester. Grade 10 students found it a perfect opportunity to practice some of their performances that will be assessed later in the year, thanks to the stage setup, lights, and seating in the MPH. They warmed up the stage for the Grade 6 and Grade 9 students, who . . .
It has been another busy week at NIS. On Wednesday, we enjoyed our online PTA meeting planning with parents around the events and semester ahead. One of the things that became clear was that even though our students enjoy many of the experiences they would have enjoyed pre-pandemic - lessons, sports, events, and activities - one of the most significant differences is that we simply don't get to welcome our parents to campus. This is tough for all of us as we try to partner around your children's success and happiness. Of course . . . (Click "Read More" for a "Head of School Coffee Morning" sign-up!)
It goes without saying that to be an effective teacher, you need to be a good student. What sets NIS apart from other schools is the deliberate and regular efforts to improve our own skills in the classroom. This past week, we dedicated Monday and Tuesday to the professional development of our teaching staff. Over the two days . . .
One of the best parts of the job as Head of School is the opportunity to spend time with kids and teachers in classrooms learning together – and this week, I’ve had the chance to see some incredible teaching and some remarkable learning. It is sometimes hard to get a sense of how the NIS (IB) framework comes alive for parents. This is especially so during COVID when access to campus is limited. I encourage you to talk to your children about their learning and have them explain to you what they learned and how they learned. This week, for example . . .
Collaboration, connection, and support...these abound around our school on a daily basis, but sometimes it is worth calling out for recognition. Because when we share our knowledge or our talents, it isn't just a nice thing to do, but it is essential in shaping how we learn now and retain what we are learning well into the future. A wonderful example of this is . . .
Thank you to all of our parents for your enthusiasm for the Three-Way Conferences held on Tuesday. We always say that our partnership with parents is essential as we work together to support your children's growth. And though we encourage parents to reach out to teachers any time they feel the need to, these conference days are a very important part of the school calendar when together we can sit – student, parent, and teacher – to reflect on progress and learning. This year we were online, and it was . . .
While many things in 2020 are not the way they used to be (!), this has been a week in which I have been very grateful and proud of our staff and students. We were able to keep some of the important annual traditions alive – again, making us thankful to be learning face-to-face at this time, unlike so many children around the world.
This week, I have really enjoyed being interviewed by students and reminded of the power and importance of student voice in our school. First was the student ...
Today we reached the end of the first quarter of the school year and I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone in the NIS community for all that we have achieved.
We are fortunate that...
As our parents and students know, at the beginning of the school year NIS started with a focus on getting accustomed to our safety norms and procedures as we work to keep school open and ...
While we are so delighted and grateful to be back on campus with students, we are so sad that we cannot welcome parents on-site as we would like to. Of course, for specific prearranged appointments, parents are...
It was great to spend time talking to parents during our parent start of year meetings on Tuesday. Thank you to all those who were able to attend (online of course!). We discussed three core issues. First . . .
This week I was pleased to learn that NIS – like most schools in Japan – are in the lucky group of international schools that opened with full on-campus learning this year. Only a quarter of international schools globally . . .
A highlight of the week was definitely our clubs fair held for our secondary students on Wednesday. This fair was an important part of our preparations for . . .
How great it has been to start off the year, face-to-face, with our returning and new students, families and staff – and with our brand new building! The long period of online learning has taught us many things. One is to be proud of the resilience, determination and autonomy of our young learners and staff who were able to keep the learning going throughout. But the other is . . .
It was such an amazing joy to welcome our new students to campus today. Around this same time 52 years ago, a gathering of NIS students cut a ribbon and entered the original Raymond Building at NIS for the very first time full of hopes and dreams – and some nervous fears, I’m sure – about the year that awaited them in their new school.
Today, half a century later . . .
2020 was a year we at NIS have all been thinking about for a long time – especially here in Japan with the promise of the Olympics and of course our own NIS ‘2020 Vision Project’, there was so much hope and optimism as the dawn broke on Jan 1. Who could have imagined the craziness that would start off the year of 2020; our school, families and lives turned upside down by COVID-19. In many ways, though, this still has been an exceptional year. Not only . . .
It is hard to believe that we only have one final week remaining of what has been quite an exceptional school year. A highlight this week was of course the Graduation ceremony of our grade 12 students who were able to come to campus, face-to-face one last time to celebrate and share their memories of school. At the other end of the school, our ELC preschool students are busy decorating and painting the fairy house (or is it a butterfly house!?). In the middle school . . .
I would like to thank you all – our community pulled together and we managed to being our students back this week – with a little over 80% of students coming in on their designated days. I can’t tell you how much better, real and human our school feels now that the campus is once again ringing to the tune of students voices and laughter. Our students have been great – following the guidelines and looking after each other with care. They have been creative to find solutions for . . .
I am so impressed with how virtual interpretations of our students' artistic endeavors are having a #NISimpact this week. As I walk the halls, they remind me that although the students haven't been here, they are still creating and NISinspiring us with their talents! Thanks to our art department, the hall displays will be ready in time to welcome back students for the last three weeks of school. The Primary students have been . . .
It has been a busy week here at NIS. Although a large number of staff have been working from campus throughout the online learning phase, next week will be the first time we will gather our whole staff team back on campus since early March. Our planning for bringing students to campus . . .
It was a delight to see Mr. OK interview one of our student artists about her design process for this year’s Walkathon T-shirt. It seems like such a long time ago that the Raymond entrance area was . . .
While we all know we would prefer to be living in a world where online learning was not needed, we should never forget the positive opportunities which online learning can bring. Today was “Meet the Workers Day”, and in celebration of the “International Day of the Worker”, we held . . .
It was a pleasure to share in our parent coffee morning today. I always value hearing from parents directly about the challenges of supporting your children and families through COVID-19 and online learning. Today we discussed again some of the common themes families are facing . . .
As we close out on another week of NIS Online I’m reminded of how far we have come from those first uncertain few days of trying to build our systems, schedules and methods and get up to speed as a community with online learning. I’m incredibly proud of what has taken shape here . . .
It is the end of week five of “NIS Online”, and while we have been enjoying the digital conversations and the opportunities to get creative, it has been a tough week for staff here at school. The sakura blossoms this year . . . .
I thank our entire community for your patience and understanding this week; a week in which we made the difficult decision to continue to offer online learning. I know that while this decision had the support of the large majority of the community, a strong minority take a different and equally valid view. I understand these ...
Though we went into Spring Break hopeful that we might be able to convene on campus upon return, thanks to the hard work and creativity of our teachers, the support of our parents, and the dedication of our students we were able to resume ‘NIS Online’ and . . . .
The end of the third quarter has been a strange day on campus. Usually we would be having a big assembly and waving goodbye to the students, wishing the best on their well-earned break - but today this all happened online! I am so grateful to . . .
Day two of online learning at NIS is a wrap and we have come to a close on a busy week! The feedback we’ve received has been so positive…
A special thank you to everyone in our NIS community for your support as we begin online learning next Thursday. I am especially thankful to the students and staff for . . .
I’m very grateful to our parents, staff and students for helping our students understand the emerging situation with the COVID-19 virus . . .
A very exciting day today at NIS as our Global Issues Network (GIN) students took the lead by hosting students from international schools across Japan . . .
As we enter the mid-winter break, I wish to thank you all - everyone - for all that you do to make NIS a special community for everyone . . .
To be an inquiring, inspiring and impacting community school, NIS relies on the dedication and support of parents, staff, students and friends . . .
This week, over 60 NIS students submitted Walkathon T-shirt designs for consideration for the 2020 event’s official shirt design . . .
At NIS, we understand that our goals as a community are achieved only when we are in partnership with our wider community . . .
I trust everyone in the NIS community had a wonderful holiday season. The school is back and running and full of excitement . . .
The wonderful performances, art display, and parent participation by both the ELC and the Gr. 5 was a fitting end of a busy semester . . .
Last night we had our fourth “Community Parent Meeting”, and this time it was held downtown in the hope of making it easier for parents living closer in to town . . .
Yesterday was a day of artistic creativity. In the morning, the Gr. 10s gave their pitches to a panel of judges for community art . . .
A big thank you to the parents who came out to share their thoughts and ideas in the first of our parent ‘Community Meetings’ . . .
The annual ACCJ/NIS Walkathon is a terrific community event - a day of good food, friendship (and some walking!) in the park every Spring . . .
It was terrific week for parent partnerships at NIS. Thank you to the many families who came out to campus on Monday . . .
Welcome back to all our families after what was, we hope, a wonderful week spending time with your children. This first week of the second quarter has been a busy...
• Our thoughts this week have been with the victims of the recent typhoon Hagibis which included a minute of silence to pay our respects . . .
NIS is grateful to be a member of the Japan Council of International Schools, a network of 27 schools across Japan . . .
Last Friday, while school was on holiday, a number of our committed students were busy participating in the global movement for climate action . . .
Two events on Wednesday this week provided a great example of how NIS strives to live our mission to inspire and empower...
The annual start of the year retreats in Secondary have finished and, if like me you’ve been following the hashtags ..
Welcome back! What a great start to the year it has been. The long summer of preparations all made sense when the corridors and classrooms...
All of us here at NIS are excited to welcome students and families for a wonderful year together. Over the summer we’ve been busily preparing for the school year ahead . . .
As the last full week of the 2018-19 academic year closes up, the school is a frenzy of activity. With concerts, sports days, closing assemblies, marches and celebrations . . .
As the year comes towards a close I was very grateful to see so many parents come out to spend time reviewing our partnership with parents . . .
Today saw the first of our two-day graduation celebrations as we honor our amazing students in the Class of 2019. Following the Graduation March of Pride in which our graduates paraded around the school . . .
It was wonderful to see so many students and parents at the Walkathon on Sunday. Besides being a beautiful day weather-wise, the event provided a great chance to interact and make connections with many . . .
The arrival of spring heralds different things in different cultures, and here in Japan it often feels like new beginnings for many things, as the school year starts in April in Japanese schools . . .
It was wonderful to see many images of the secondary students on their trips throughout the region, and to see them reflect on their Interdisciplinary Units today . . .
On behalf of all of us here at NIS, I wish all of our families a wonderful Golden Week. This year, Golden Week is particularly special, with the abdication of Emperor Akihito on April 30 . . .
Today saw a true “celebration of learning” at NIS. In addition to the Student Led Conferences in most grades, the day also saw the concurrent events of . . .
While students in an international school such as NIS have incredible benefits in terms of the richness of learning which is not possible in a national system in any country . . .
A huge thank you to the PTA for organizing such a wonderful parent excursion to Asuke-Korenkei yesterday . . .
This has been a week of many highlights - some of which are big and obvious . . .
On Saturday last weekend our school was filled with educators from across Japan as we discussed how to embrace translanguaging in our school culture. Translanguaging is the process whereby . . .
As a part of the CIS/WASC accreditation process, the school engages in a comprehensive ‘Self-Study’ in which we analyze ourselves against international standards . . .
Walking around campus this week it has been great to see so many Inquire-Inspire-Impact t-shirts being worn, especially today with the HS girls volleyball team off on their first tournament of the season . . .
NIS secondary students returned this afternoon – tired but happy – from the start of year retreats in Nagano. I hope parents have been following on twitter to . . .
A school without kids in is a very strange place indeed and so it was wonderful for us to welcome back our nearly 500 NIS students this week for the start of the new school year.