Tsukuba International School Report – August 2011

August seems like it should be a quiet month, but it is actually a very busy month of preparations for our new school year, which started on August 30.


Student Enrollment
As of August 31, 2011, we have 14 students in Tsukuba International Preschool, 56 students in our Primary Years Programme, and 16 students in our Middle Years Programme for a total of 86 students. (We had 84 students before the March 11, 2011 earthquake. As we have added one more teacher for this school year, we were hoping to have at least ten more students by this time, so we will continue our recruiting efforts.) The following nationalities are currently represented in our student body: Bangladesh, China, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

Here are our first units for this school year.

Preschool: We use our senses to understand and explore the world around us.
Grade 1: People have a universal need to stay healthy.
Grade 2: Listening to other people’s perspectives and communicating our own points of view help us to live together more harmoniously.
Grade 3: The human body is a complex combination of intricate systems.
Grade 4: The human body is a complex combination of intricate systems.
Grade 5: We have a responsibility to understand what is happening in the world around us.

If you have any resources or ideas that we can use in these units, please let us know! In particular, we are interested in finding out about experts in our community who might be able to come in and talk to our students about these topics, or field trips to places in our community that might help our students understand these concepts. We would also like to invite you to join our TIS Brain group on Facebook if you are interested in continuing to contribute to our school knowledge community on a regular basis through social networking.

(The Grade 3 and 4 students are doing a similar topic this year, but next year the Grade 3 class will focus on the human body and the Grade 4 class will be studying diseases and disease prevention.)


Parent Orientation
We held our parent orientation meeting on Friday, August 26. We were very happy to see so many families at the orientation, both of continuing students and new students. After the meetings, parents and students had a chance to meet their new teachers.


New Staff Arrive in Japan
Two of our new teachers arrived in Japan this month. Mr. Jared Dano arrived in Japan from Manitoba, Canada on August 9 and Mr. Jordan Breithaupt arrived in Japan from Idaho, US on August 12. Both of them have lived in Japan in the past, so they are settling into their new lives here easily. (All of the other new teachers already live in Japan, but three of them moved to Tsukuba over the summer.)

Professional Development of Teaching Staff
Ms. Skye Wheat (preschool) and Mrs. Dianne Suzuki (Grade 1) attended a literacy workshop by Maggie Moon at Nagoya International School on August 13 and 14. Both teachers were able to come away from the workshop with lots of fresh ideas for the new school year.

Kabuki Performance
On August 19, Mr. Okyne (Grade 4 teacher) and Ms. Crawford (principal) went to Enbujo Theatre in Shinbashi to watch a kabuki play. The Grade 4 class is doing a unit on traditions and values and we are looking into the idea of having the class travel to Tokyo to watch a kabuki play in January. We are in talks with Shochiku (the company that puts on the plays) about arranging for a kabuki workshop and a possible backstage tour. Stay tuned for more details!


Donations and Volunteering
Juwa Transport donated a large number of slippers to the school. We are now able to have meetings with parents and not have to ask everyone to bring their own slippers!

A few people donated computers and computer parts to the school. Ideally, we would like to have enough computers to have one for every student in the computer room (already accomplished) and one for every student in the Middle Year’s Programme (not yet accomplished). If you have any computers or computer equipment that you would like to donate to the school, please see our post on this topic.

Many parents came to the school to volunteer their time to clean up the school at the beginning of the school year. We were able to clean all of the classrooms, the verandah, all of the bathrooms, and do some grounds maintenance. We were also able to reorganize the library and put the picture books in alphabetical order on the shelves. We are extraordinarily lucky to have such helpful parents at TIS!

During August, Team Tsukuba made four trips to Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture to help with the tsunami recovery efforts. We were able to bring large amounts of donated fresh fruits and vegetables and also help with cleaning up the Watanoha neighbourhood (cleaning out the ditches on the side of the road, clearing a field of debris and weeds so a summer festival could be held on the lot, etc.). We are planning one or two trips in September and at least one trip in October.

Summer Camp
The second week of Tsukuba International Camp was held at the beginning of this month. In the first week, we had 17 students and in the second we had 28 students. Our camp counsellors were from Brazil, Israel, Nigeria, Russia, and the US. The program included arts and crafts, singing, learning about other cultures, and doing science experiments. We also had special workshops with a professional drama club and a professional soccer club. We are planning on holding this camp again next summer (Week 1: July 23-27; Week 2: July 30-August 3, 2012).

The Tsukuba International Preschool building received a new coat of paint and one of the windows in the foyer was replaced over the summer.

The elementary school now has wireless internet throughout the whole building. Every classroom has an access point so computers can be moved freely around the classrooms.

Power Conservation
Despite the heat, we are trying to keep our use of the air conditioners to a minimum. We have portable fans in every classroom and the rooms on the second floor all have ceiling fans too. We are all trying to be careful to drink lots of fluids every day.

We used a “REN 200 x gamma radiation monitor” to take some radiation readings around the school with the help of one of the TIS parents. We took measurements in a variety of locations around the school. The readings were generally between 0.14 to 0.22 microsieverts/hour, which is basically in line with other readings that were taken at a variety of facilities in Tsukuba on June 20. However, we did find some elevated readings at the base of the eaves pipes on the southwest corner and near some pipes in the wall beside the preschool fence. Another parent has bought a device to measure the radiation, so we will combine the readings and report on them to all parents.


Here is what we have in store for the future.

September 12 – Open School Day for current parents, Parent Circle
September 14 – School Tours for prospective parents
September 17-18 – Mr. Dano, Dr. Kolba, Ms. Crawford attend MYP In-School Workshop
September 17-18 – Mrs. Suzuki, Mr. Breithaupt attend workshop at Yokohama International School
September 18 to 24 – FBC Fundraiser for TIS
September 19 – School Holiday
September 23 – School Holiday
September 26 to 30 – Parent-Teacher Conferences at TIS

October 5 to 7 – Parent-Teacher Conferences at TIP
October 10 – School Holiday
October 20 to 21 – PYP Authorization Visit
October 27 – Fall Festival / Volunteer Day

If you have any questions about this report, please feel free to contact us.