Head's Corner

TRAFFIC AND PARKING
Meeting for the first time on Wednesday, May 7, the Traffic and Parking Committee quickly came to the conclusion that everyone knows there are traffic and parking problems, but nobody knows a solution that fits the whole school. The committee is searching for a solution that will bring safety to all children and satisfaction to most, if not all, parents. Want to take part in formulating a great plan? The committee is looking for diverse membership. Potential members should send a message to Lynda Wannamaker lynda@wannamaker-consulting.com and include information about where you usually park, car pool, children’s ages, and the building(s) your family uses this year.

SCHOOL ACCREDITATION
On Wednesday, April 30, The International School was examined by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools. This important event may result in The International School’s first full accreditation certificate.

The 8:30 to 4:30 school evaluation ended with a verbal report from Dr. Richard Darst, Oregon Director of NAAS and leader of the Visiting Team. He spoke to the TIS Head, Principal, and Lead Teachers. When the full report arrives, we will find out whether TIS has been awarded full accreditation status or been given an additional year of provisional status during which to prepare for a second Accreditation Visit.

Tara O'Neill, Pat Maquire, and Kathy Kaiser, school administrators from private, charter, and public schools, made up the rest of the Visiting Team. They toured the school and grounds; spoke with administrators, teachers, students, and parents; reviewed faculty surveys on the effectiveness of the TIS education program; attended classes; reviewed profiles of the student body, graduates, and teachers; sat in on an Administrative Staff Meeting; inquired about school finances and Board Governance; and took a close look  at The International School's plans for improvement.

In the verbal report, Dr. Darst gave The International School eight commendations and six recommendations.

Commendations:

  1. A very unique, interesting, and challenging program.

  2. A passionate and hardworking staff.

  3. All appearances indicate The International School is moving forward in the right direction.

  4. Students are ready and willing scholars.

  5. In both the written Self Study and verbally, The International School's responses are refreshingly honest in describing school strengths and challenges.

  6. The Head of School is closely in touch, highly supportive of the staff, and aware of school needs.

  7. The day care programs before and after school are a benefit to parents.

  8. Great use of limited facilities. Clean, well lit, and inviting classrooms.


Recommendations:

  1. More and better written policies and procedures

  2. Provide training and resources to help teachers fill "specialist" roles. TIS classroom teachers fulfill guidance counselor, special education teacher, and remedial teacher roles. These are roles filled by specialists in larger schools.

  3. Improve Staff Development. Provide more staff development opportunities.

  4. Use the data generated in the Self Study to further develop specific, targeted, measurable goals.

  5. Move quickly forward to create facilities that better meet student and instructional needs.

  6. Improve instructional leadership. This will be challenging because of the unique nature of the school and the diversity of teachers in three tracks.


Prior to the visit, the school prepared a comprehensive Self-Study and sent it to the Visiting Team so they would be familiar with the school’s profile, beliefs, mission, and student learning expectations. TIS teachers participated in eight surveys evaluating TIS’ fulfillment of NAAS standards. Chapter Four of the Self-Study is made up of 13 Actions Plans for School Improvement. If you would like to read the Self-Study, please contact Phil Sylla.

In a follow-up email message this week, Dr. Darst wrote, “The team was clear in their perspective that you have a unique program and one that appears to be serving students overall well. I am currently working on the report and it should be back to you in a couple of weeks.”

Phil Sylla
Head of School
psylla@intlschool.org