• Thursday, November 19, 2020

Head of School Newsletter - November 19

Dear CAIS Community:

It’s weirdly counter intuitive; by most measures this should be the worst Thanksgiving ever. Like many of you, I had to cancel my Thanksgiving travel plans. I’m from the Midwest with a large contingent of relatives in New England. My extended family has observed a whole slew of traditions and rituals over the years: touch football on Thanksgiving day (the “Turkey Bowl”) in Madison, Wisconsin. The five-mile Turkey Trot run in Salem, Massachusetts. The Marblehead vs Swampscott High School football rivalry. Grandma Zippy’s green Jell-O thingy (no idea what she put into it). Refreshing my turkey carving skills by watching 3-4 YouTube videos and then carving up the bird. Stepping over Uncle Tim—in his annual, tryptophan-induced turkey coma—snoring in the middle of the living room floor. But this year there will be none of that. I should feel depressed. Yet somehow, oddly, I feel more grateful than ever—really. 

We have just come through the most challenging stretch of school any of us have ever experienced, and it has revealed many, many strengths in our community. First, there is our faculty and staff; this is the most creative, resourceful, courageous, caring, and selfless team I have ever worked with. How fortunate are our kids that they have these people supporting their learning and safety everyday? Did you know that 100% of our teachers are observing the California travel advisory and remaining at home for the duration of the Thanksgiving break so that they can keep your children safe? We can all be grateful for that. And how about the kids themselves? We welcomed back a group of kids this fall who are fundamentally different than the kids we sent home on March 11; they are better at self management, more independent, more patient, and less demanding—the pandemic has forced them to grow up faster and think more about others. We can be grateful for that. I know that the change we see in our kids reflects the work that our parents did with them over seven months of sheltering at home, so thank you, parents, we are grateful. I have worked at seven different schools over my career, and the CAIS parent culture is more genuinely supportive of teachers than any other school I have worked—we are grateful for this as well.  

As we head into our 10-day school break, we have much to be thankful for in our community. We have gotten through the pandemic up to this point by leaning on community and we will need to continue relying on community as we go forward. Please think about our community and make healthy and safe decisions over these next ten days. 

Meanwhile, I look forward to welcoming you back at the end of the month. When we return, there are a number of events in December that will continue to build and nurture our community, including:  

Holiday Faire 

Saturday, December 5 from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Held virtually via Zoom this year, the annual FSA event is a can’t-miss community tradition. 

“What It Means to be Black in White Spaces” by Julie Lythcott-Haims

DEI Roundtable Event—Screening and Community Conversation 
Tuesday, December 8 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

More details to come in the event invitation, but save-the-date for this powerful online presentation and conversation.

Happy Hours with the Board

Wednesday, December 2 and Thursday, December 10, both from 5:00-6:00 p.m. 

A small group of trustees and CAIS parents gather for a quick, cordial Zoom to learn about each other and the workings of the Board. Spots are still available, so be sure to sign up. 

I know that, for me, even just thinking about upcoming community events is a refreshing departure from the focus on the pandemic; I hope it will be for you, too. 

Have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.   

Take care, 


团结就是力量  We’re stronger together

  • Chinese American International School


    Early Childhood Division (Preschool) | Alice A. Carnes Center
    42/52 Waller Street 

    Early Childhood Division (K-1)
    and Lower School (2-5)
    150 Oak Street 

    Middle School (6-8)
    888 Turk Street 

    San Francisco, CA 94102