Latest Head of School Posts

January 06, 2012

"Embedding" in China: CAIS-SYA Beijing Academy

Dear CAIS Community,

On Wednesday evening, December 14, 2011 CAIS launched a major initiative to our Middle School families: CAIS-SYA Beijing Academy.  It is with a great deal of excitement and a genuine sense of pride that I announce this program to the entire CAIS community.
Program Overview
The CAIS-SYA Beijing Academy is a structured, three week academic program for all CAIS 7th grade students that will run in the spring, in partnership with School Year Abroad (SYA) and Beijing Normal University Sanfan Middle School.  During this inaugural year, students will receive three hours of intensive Chinese language instruction in small classes that are organized by proficiency level.  On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons, students will engage in field projects outside of the classroom that will require them to use the language they have learned in the classroom, but in authentic contexts.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays students will participate on excursions in and around Beijing to places of cultural significance such as the Guangji Temple, the 798 Arts District or the Xing Zhi School for the Children of Migrant Workers.  Sundays will be spent with Chinese host families with whom students will live for the duration of the program.
Mission Consistent Program Objectives
The... » read more
November 30, 2011

CAIS's Mission: Walking the Walk

Dear CAIS Families,
On October 20, 2011, I sent a communication to the CAIS community entitled CAIS 2014—An Overview, in which I provided a broad outline of our school improvement process.  I identified five “Areas of Focus,” and promised to follow-up on each one.  I’d like to expand on one of these areas, “School Identity and Culture.”   One of our goals within this area was to adopt a new Mission Statement.  On November 22, the CAIS Board of trustees sent a communication to the community that explained the process by which we reviewed and adopted the Mission Statement below:
Embrace Chinese
Become your best self
Create your place in the world
I have re-posted the Board’s communication on my blog; you can read it by clicking on “Announcing CAIS’s Revised Mission Statement.”
Two other goals for the current school year that fall under “School Identity and Culture” are to: 
  • Develop a program to insure the community understands the new Mission
  • Unpack the Mission to determine program implications


I’d like to explain to you the process by which we will achieve these two goals.   I want to answer the questions: “What is ‘Mission’ and why does it matter?”  and “How can we ensure that daily life at CAIS is... » read more
October 20, 2011

CAIS 2014--An Overview

Dear Members of the CAIS Community,
This letter is the first in a series of communications in which I will share with you the integrated and strategic school improvement initiatives that CAIS is undertaking.
Our efforts began last year to create and maintain a culture of continuous school improvement that remains true to the spirit of our school’s visionary founders while preparing our children for the future that they will face.
Over a year ago I sent a letter to the community outlining a process for evaluating CAIS and improving the school program.  Subsequent communications from me have included the following diagram, which is a visual representation of the school improvement process at CAIS:
The initial stage of “Observation, Listening and Learning” was based on several sources, which include:
  • 2009-2010 Faculty survey;
  • 2009-2010 Parent Association survey:
  • 2008 Accreditation report;
  • 2009-2010 Chinese and English Program Review;
  • Individual “stakeholder meetings” with members of the faculty and staff;
  • Individual “stakeholder meetings ”with CAIS parents;
  • An array of various group meetings and observations;
  • Research and writing on best practices.


At the end of the first semester, I met with the faculty to discuss the things that I thought we had learned in the first half-year. Based on faculty feedback, I then hosted a community meeting at which I outlined the following five Areas of Focus where I believed the school needed to place its efforts and resources over the next three to... » read more
October 06, 2011

On Confucius, Character and Carp

In early June of 2009 I had the good fortune of being asked to speak at the high school graduation ceremony of the senior class of Western Academy of Beijing, a large international school where I served as board chair.  For me this was a special opportunity for a number of reasons.  One reason was that the ceremony was held at the Confucius Temple in central Beijing.  It also happened to be the first day of the  gāo kǎo 高考 that year–the national university entrance exam.  As I formulated my remarks to the class of 2009, I thought that the venue and the timing could not have been more fortuitous.

Just inside the entrance to the Confucius temple in Beijing there are rows and rows of enormous stone tablets, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).  The tablets are inscribed with the names and home towns of all the successful candidates on the kējǔ 科举—the highest level of exam in China’s imperial civil service examination system.  Those who succeeded on the kējǔ achieved the lifelong goal of all scholars in the Yuan, Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties—service in the imperial court.  The hard work, focus, dedication and perseverance displayed by these scholar officials have not been lost on modern day students preparing for the university entrance exam in China.  Each year before the exam, countless families make the pilgrimage to Confucius temples all over China and pray for good luck on the exam.  As I prepared my remarks for the the class of 2009 at the Confucius Temple, I drew my inspiration from the imperial scholars whose names were inscribed on the stone tablets just inside the temple’s gates, as well as from the Chinese high school seniors whose years of hard work and dedication were to be put to the test that day on the national university entrance exam.
Recently much... » read more

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