Dear Parents and Families:
It is hard to believe, given the steamy weather, that summer is “over” and that we will be enveloped in the next school year soon. Students new to the school will be on campus on August 8th, and returning students will join them on August 10th, for the first day of school. The school day starts at 7:58 am. Please check our blog at sites.saschina.org/mspudong/ for bus routes.
We will be moving our method of communicating with you from the blog to our new learning management system, Schoology, throughout the month of August. During the month of August, you will be able to go to either our blog or to Schoology to get information. We will discontinue using the blog in September. In the meantime, please avail yourself of trainings we will be offering to parents.
On August 16th, 10:30-11:30, we will have our first Principal’s Coffee in the MS/HS library. This will be your first opportunity to learn about Schoology. We will also offer sessions during our Open House on August 31st.
Those of you who were with us last year know that we devoted ourselves to creating an action plan, based upon the vision statement we wrote the previous spring:
At SAS Pudong Middle School learning is an explorative journey that connects people and ideas through an inquiry-based curriculum. Our classrooms are transformed into laboratories for learning that empower students to make a meaningful impact outside the classroom. Members of our learning community seek balance and model empathy, compassion, kindness and inclusiveness. By giving students voice, choice, and the confidence to take risks, we help them develop the skills to become visionary and versatile learners.
An action plan is a road map for a school to follow that articulates our priorities and provides focus. Action plans are vital for all schools, but particularly for high performing ones, as they vaccinate us against the hazard of becoming complacent in our success.
Our focus this year will include strengthening the professional learning communities we established last year. Pudong Middle School faculty meet in teams that follow Richard Dufour’s model for professional collaboration. At meetings we ask ourselves the following questions:
- What do we want students to know and be able to do?
- How will we know when they have learned it?
- What will we do if they are not learning it?
- What will we do if they have already learned it?
Our teachers will be attending a three-day conference at the Puxi Campus in September. The Solution Tree consultants that will be in attendance are respected around the world, as well as in the United States. We will also add to our knowledge and skills through book discussions and “learning by doing”.
A second focus is EAL instruction. Virginia Rojas, an expert on teaching students with mother tongues other than English, will be on campus again this fall. She will observe classrooms and consult with teachers and administrators on how we can improve our EAL program and instruction. Our EAL teachers will also provide workshops for our staff.
We will make our advisory program, called “Homebase”, even more responsive to students’ social, emotional, and academic needs. Students moving through our division shall receive support with goal setting, appreciation of diversity, being part of a community, meeting developmental challenges, and treating others with empathy, respect, and kindness.
Alfred Olivias will take on a new role this year, that of Instructional Coach. He will work with teachers to support individuals and team, with a focus on providing students with challenging, rich, and meaningful learning experiences.
James Manning will also work with teachers and students, on integrating learning opportunities across disciplines. This will help teachers make learning activities, especially problem-based activities, for students more realistic. Students will be better able to appreciate the interconnectedness of concepts and ideas when they have to apply them to a realistic situation.
Glynis Hill will move provide math support for students who are having difficulty learning our advanced math program. All students are capable of learning at high levels, and this is especially true when that is what we expect of them and we provide them with additional, focused instruction. Glynis will be in other math teacher’s classrooms, co-teaching with them. She will also work with small groups of students at different times.
Our Design Studio and library are up and running again. I encourage you to stop in and take a look around. Summer work projects included giving the Design Studio a bit of a face-lift, with features included to increase the flexibility of the space. The library has well-stocked bookshelves, and parents are welcome.
We have six new staff members this year, and it has been an honor to work with them for the past few weeks. They are:
Ross Jones- Band
He has been teaching instrumental music for almost ten years, and holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Masters of Music in Trumpet Performance from Western Carolina University, and also a Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. He began his classroom career teaching music theory and trumpet to college freshmen, then taught middle school band in a suburb of Charlotte, NC. He began his international teaching career in 2010 at the International School of Kuala Lumpur teaching general music and beginning band. To supplement his teaching knowledge, he performs often conducting ensembles and on trumpet throughout Malaysia and has presented internationally at the Association for Music in the International Schools conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, and Seoul, South Korea. He has also been published in the International Trumpet Guild Journal.
Alyssa Benedict- Art
She grew up, was educated, and started working in Wisconsin, USA as a K-12 Visual Arts teacher. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire she worked as a substitute teacher at local schools in Wisconsin. Six years ago, she took a position at the American School of Dubai.
Jordan Benedict- Math
He has taught in Wisconsin and at the American School of Dubai, most recently as a Middle School math teacher. Prior to becoming a teacher, Jordan studied classical music and French in University, and he trained customer service personnel for Frontier Airlines. He is currently earning his second masters degree (and eventual PhD) in Statistics.
Heather Valentine- Humanities
Heather Valentine is from 2 hours north of Toronto, Canada. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science before receiving her Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Windsor. She worked for the Canadian Senate for a year as a research assistant before she undertook her teaching degree at York University (History & Social Studies). Although, she is certified to teach Grade 4-12 , Heather has found a home in grade 8 for the past 10 years. She previously taught for 5 years in the Peel District School Board in Canada, before moving to London, England. She spent 2 years teaching at the American School in London before moving to Switzerland where she taught for 3 years at the International School of Zug and Luzern.
Yolanda Kukuia- Guidance
Yolanda is from Laguna Niguel, California. That is near Laguna Beach. She has been the 9/10th grade counselor at Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait for the last 5 academic years. She has a bachelor degree in Human Development and also a Master of Education in School Counseling.
Sarahi Vicente- EAL
Sarahi has 11 years of experience in providing EAL service in 4 different countries – each with its own set of challenges to overcome and opportunities for personal and professional growth. She has served a wide range of nationalities and every manner of learning style. She has taught EAL in every grade (K-12), built a strong skill-set in helping other teachers modify curriculum to better serve their students, and has even dabbled in administration. Although she has served in these various facets, she believes her passion and focus will always return to helping students excel in academics. Sarahi’s Master Degree is in ESL and Curriculum.
Please welcome them when you see them in the hallways!
We are looking forward to having your children here on Wednesday, the halls and classrooms are so empty without them! Teachers and staff are preparing an engaging, challenging, and memorable year for them. Thank you so very much for the privilege of working with your children. We at Shanghai American School, Pudong Middle School pledge to provide your children with an excellent academic program, while at the same time inspiring them to have…
- A lifelong passion for learning
- A commitment to act with integrity and compassion, and
- The courage to live their dreams
Becky A.S. Read, Middle School Principal