"In the Know" Weekly Newsletter - The International School

From Head of School Robert Woods - on teacher line-ups

July 15, 2013

Dear Parents,

Thank you for being part of the TIS community for 2013-14! There is a lot of work underway for the new school year, and I will be providing updates and sharing news through ITK in the coming weeks.

My biggest focus over the last month has been hiring and preparing for new teachers to join us for the fall. As I shared near the end of last school year, it is common for all schools to lose a few teachers each year because spouses take jobs in other cities, people find positions at other schools, or employment agreements are not renewed. This year we have all of those situations at once. Fortunately we have a very focused team and our teaching line-up is almost complete.

The process of filling vacancies always begins with asking returning teachers if they want to switch grades. This year those conversations resulted in several grade changes that will meet our teachers’ professional goals as well as provide a strong base of experience throughout the school’s tracks and grades:

In the Spanish Track:

  • Maria Lira will move from 4th grade back to 2nd grade, which she taught at TIS in the past. She will be part of the 2nd grade inter-track collaborative team and will work closely with the new teacher for the other 2nd grade Spanish class. 
  • Gilberto Rios will move from kindergarten to 4th grade, becoming part of the 4th grade inter-track collaborative team and working closely with returning 4th grade teacher Paola Gagliardo.
  • Celina Guttierrez will move from PreK to kindergarten, becoming part of the kindergarten inter-track collaborative team and working closely with long-time TIS kindergarten teacher Adela Pedrosa. 

In the Japanese Track there is only one change from last school year:

  • Chisa Terano-Chilgren will return to TIS to teach PreK, rejoining the inter-track PreK collaborative team.

In the Chinese Track:

  • Jennifer Zhu will move from 2nd grade back to 3rd grade, becoming part of the 3rd grade inter-track collaborative team and working closely with the new teacher who will take the other 3rd grade class.
  • Aiyun Yin will move from LowK to 2nd grade, joining the 2nd grade inter-track collaborative team and working closely with the new teacher who will take the other 2nd grade class. 

With these movements set, we were able to very specifically target our candidate search and found many qualified applicants. Departing teachers Hong Shentu and Jenny Lin very graciously agreed to assist with the interview process. Thanks to everyone’s dedication and focus, we already have signed contracts to fill most of our teaching vacancies:

  • Hongbo Zhu is a native of China and will be teaching LowK. For the past two years, Hongbo has been an instructor and graduate teaching assistant at Northern Arizona University teaching English reading, writing and composition to ESL students. Prior to that, she spent two years teaching Chinese at the Contemporary Chinese School of Arizona. She has a B.A. in English Linguistics from Arizona State University in Tempe and an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. 
  • Jing “Zoe” Zou is a native of China and will be teaching 2nd grade. Since 2011, Jing has taught preschool and first grade at Northwest Chinese Academy in Beaverton. Before that she was responsible for the English/Mandarin preschool program for Kindercare in Portland. She has a B.A. in Economics Management from Yunnan University and a Child Development Associate.  
  • Maggie Chang Yihyun is a native of Taiwan and will be teaching 3rd grade. Since 2009, Maggie has worked as an Early Childhood Education Trainer at Mt. Hood Community College. She brings a versatile skill set, having taught preschool, elementary and middle school in Taiwan. Maggie has an M.S. in Educational Technology from National University in San Diego, and a B.A. in Chinese Literature from University of Providence in Taiwan. 
  • Yu Min Liu is a native of Taiwan and will be teaching 4th grade. Yu Min has been teaching Mandarin at the Portland Chinese School, and before that she taught Mandarin at the Tsukuba Japanese School, an IB Primary Years and Middle Years program. Yu Min has a B.A. and an M.A. in Chinese Literature from Taiwan’s National Central University. She also holds a certificate of proficiency for teaching Chinese as a second language from the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. 
  • Xiao Fu is a native of China and will be teaching 5th grade. Since 2010, Xiao has been teaching Chinese and some English in the Linguistics Department at Michigan State University. She has a B.A. in Indonesian Language and Literature from Peking University in Beijing, an M.A. in Linguistics and an M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) both from Michigan State University.
  • Ariana Levi is a native of Uruguay and will be teaching 2nd grade. Since 2009, Ariana has taught preschool through 3rd grade at Maimonides Jewish Day School in Portland. Prior to that she held several preschool teaching posts in Pennsylvania. Ariana has a B.Ed. and Teaching Certificate in Special Education from ORANIM, Academic College of Education in Israel. 

Within the next few days we hope to be extending offers for our two remaining open positions: Spanish PreK and Spanish 5th grade. Please see the full teacher line-ups at:

Any time we have new teachers we use a multi-faceted plan to help them adjust and be successful at TIS, and to ensure that your children get the true “TIS experience” no matter how long their teacher has been with us. This begins with a full orientation before school begins, including at least two intensive days of new teacher orientation, plus the five day Inquiry Week with all faculty members.

As happens every year, Inquiry Week will kick off the inter-track grade-level collaborative planning process. On a weekly basis throughout the school year, teachers meet with their grade level colleagues from every track to plan their units of inquiry and share ideas. These teaching teams will provide ongoing orientation and support for our new teachers.

In addition, during Inquiry Week all teachers receive their students’ individual IB Portfolios, including work samples from the prior grades. In most cases, teachers will be able to speak with their students’ prior year teacher. Orientation and mentorship will continue throughout the year with support from IB Coordinator Teresa Wirsching and Educational Technology Specialist Meg Guerreiro, in addition to time with Maria Abad and with me.

This gives you a picture of our faculty for the upcoming year. I know that many parents are also anxious to know specifically who their child’s teacher will be. As usual, student class assignments will be finalized when all teachers return to campus the week of August 26. Parents will receive an email from their child’s teacher before the end of that week.

As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Have a great week,

- Robert

Robert Woods, Head of School,  503-226-2496 x122*, RobertW@intlschool.org

* During the summer you may leave a voicemail for me at this number. I am working in one of the classrooms and don’t have direct access to my office phone. If you contact me first by e-mail, we can arrange a time to talk.