Last Saturday, the parent social committee arranged a marvelous party for parents and school staff, and on Wednesday, a group of parents set up a delicious breakfast at school. We really do appreciate the generous spirit of our parents and I always enjoy seeing the excellent relationships and sense of collaboration we have throughout our community.
Last week we had a visit from a professor from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. HGSE is interested in placing student interns at BISB. This is what she said to one of my colleagues in her follow-up email message:
“You teach in a very special place! The brightness and warmth of the school are, as we say, “to die for! The teachers are relaxed and happy. In fact, happiness and seriousness fills the school. The work the children are doing is stellar. I loved watching the creation of nylon and the students’ obvious enthusiasm for the work. In fact, the kids’ enthusiasm for school, and their love for the place is evident everywhere. It was a delight to spend time with you………. you have much to teach us.”
I have to say that it is an absolute delight to experience, every day, the brightness and warmth of our school and witness the happiness and enthusiasm of your children. Their energy, commitment and resolve are really beginning to pay off and they are achieving great things. Following last year’s excellent academic results and university entrance successes, we are looking to another brilliant year.
Students applying to the UK for university are already getting generous offers at top universities. I am especially delighted to see that female students are being given offers to study sciences at universities that include the Universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews (two unconditional places!), Bristol, Bath, Durham and Imperial College, London. We have an offer again at King’s College, London and two students applying for Cambridge (Jesus) and Oxford (St Hugh’s) have visited their colleges for an interview and entrance examinations respectively. For the USA, one early decision has come in, with an unconditional place at Bowdoin College.
The season is all about giving and I was amazed at the response to our service learning community wishing tree project. Over 300 presents were presented to five shelters, including: Lazarus House; Cambridge YWCA; ST Ambrose Family Inn; the Children’s Services of Roxbury; and the Temporary Home for Women and children. The Class Communication Reps did a fantastic job in organizing this project and I thank them for their efforts.
Another area in which our parents have been in strong collaboration with the school is with the current review of our Library. The place and role of the library in schools has been undergoing transformation for some time and they are beginning to look like very different places from the traditional library that most of us experienced.
As we completely rethink how our own library space should be developed, a small group of parents have given up considerable time going through the entire book collection, challenging every item against certain criteria and reorganizing shelves and collections. They have done a magnificent job and this is the first step in the redevelopment of our school library and media services, which includes investing in new technology and, with other NAE schools, a digital library service. I look forward to sharing more news on this next term.
At the start of term we embraced our new identity as the British International School of Boston and put an even stronger focus on our community's international ties and global learning opportunities. Students were privileged to participate in a number of international learning opportunities, highlights being the Harvard Foundation presentation of its Humanitarian of the Year award to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, attendance at an MIT presentation by the Dalai Lama and significant student successes in local Model United Nations conferences.
The entire school community became involved in an exciting music video project called "Anthem for the Amazon" in October, partnering with local music group Rhythm of the Universe to record and film a portion of the video. The project, which aims to raise awareness of the damage being done to the Amazon Rain Forest, will soon be premiered at a United Nations conference in Lima and entered into National Geographic environmental film festival in the spring.
We also strengthened our international connections within our Nord Anglia Education family of 31 schools, introducing to students the network's digital learning platform, The Global Classroom. Through the Global Classroom, BISB students are able to connect and learn from their peers across the world and participate in international competitions, conversations and debates.
This initiative will continue to grow as the year progresses, and we look forward to the many learning opportunities ahead for our students, including the second annual service learning trip to Tanzania. Once again this year, this trip will bring together students from around the world to work at a school to teach students, educate teachers and improve facilities. This year, BISB is expanding our work in Tanzania. A new group of five students will be involved and will stay on for an extra week of additional service activities at a local orphanage.
Another Nord Anglia Education-wide initiative is being led by our school. This is to establish individual student exchange opportunities between our schools. Currently, the pilot programme includes us linking up with Prague, Budapest and Bangkok.
Our effort to strengthen student leadership has been an ongoing this term. Our new system for Prefects and our Head Boy and Head Girl has provided more structure to the leadership roles, and the elected high school students have filled these roles wonderfully. Prefects now help with morning drop-off, guiding our youngest students to their classrooms, have been responsible for organizing and running.
Assemblies, student social events, and have helped to publicize school events to students. These expanded roles have helped make these students true leaders in our community, and we look forward to watching them continue to grow in these positions as the year goes on. An expert on developing student leadership will visit the school on Tuesday, January 6, working with students and hosting a parent learning event that evening in the school gymnasium.
We have also seen strong growth in our athletic programmes this year. For the first time, we had enough student interest to host boys' and girls' High School soccer teams, fielded a strong cross-country team and were pleased to introduce a rowing of great success, with twenty-five students engaged. We will continue the growth of our sports programmes, as student interest and resources allow.
I hope you will agree that we have made a promising start to the academic year. Meanwhile, as we begin thinking about the challenges and opportunities that 2015 will bring, I wish you a very happy holiday and look forward to seeing you all soon.