View previous Educators:



The Educator     November 1, 2008



John Searle    

Head of School   

This year is the thirtieth anniversary of the death of the anthropologist Margaret Mead. Margaret Mead’s research developed much of our current understanding of human nature. She spoke and wrote on a wide range of subjects, including the generation gap, aging, the nuclear family, education, the environment, race, poverty, and women's rights. The main body of her research spanned either side of the Second World War. It was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the resulting pessimism that pervaded the early 1950s as the world appeared locked into a course of self-destruction, which influenced her work in the area of the human capacity to change and choose between possible futures. This led to her conclusion that all aspects of human life are interconnected and that we should "never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".

This theme, that small groups of people can influence the outcome of a situation, has particular relevance to all of us at OIS. As an international school dealing with global community challenges Ms. Mead’s research is important in that it gives us the confidence to act and not to be overawed by the size of the problem despite our relative lack of numbers. Therefore I am very pleased to learn that the senior class has decided, as their class project, to build a school in Cambodia. Here is a concrete example of a small group of committed young people changing the lives of generations of children and possibly, in turn, the world. In addition to this the Student Council is working out how the school can decrease the size of its carbon footprint: the amount of global warming emissions we produce through the normal functions of running a school. A possible goal for them is to help the school become carbon neutral, where our generation of global warming emissions is reduced and offset in some way. Although our school’s overall effect on the climate is miniscule, in a time when the world is slipping perilously close to irreversible climate change, if the Student Council can develop this idea through to a working project then quite possibly this will act as the catalyst for initiating change on a larger scale. This could happen either through its connection to other similar grassroots projects, or as an inspiration to other students when they go on to university and work. I hope as a school community we can support these and other efforts, which will in turn benefit us all in some way. – a small group of committed citizens changing the world.

The arrangements for the Foundation merger with Kwansei Gakuin are continuing. I would like to plan a second coffee meeting with parents in November to talk about this and how in particular we will approach the item in the Basic Merger agreement that an education at OIS should be based on Christian principles. Please look out for the dates in the next Bulletin.

In the meantime, the year is progressing well, and I have seen some wonderful public performances in the past week that complement all the hard work in the classrooms, and that are a credit to the students, teachers and parents: the varsity girls’ Volleyball victory in the Saber Cup, the UN Day assembly led by the 4th grade and the Genkan lunchtime concerts. Thank you for your continued support of your child’s education with us at OIS.



Gwyn Underwood

Middle and High School Principal

The importance of attendance

A recent report titled Present, Engaged, and Accounted For1 has highlighted the need for students to be “present and engaged” in order to learn. “Common sense and research suggest that attending school regularly is important to ensuring children develop a strong foundation for subsequent learning.” The report notes this is especially important in the early years (elementary school), and in high-poverty areas. Chronic absenteeism (loosely meaning missing over 10% of classes) diminishes the educational experiences of not only the child who is absent, but also children who attend school regularly. Tardiness can likewise contribute negatively, as classes are missed and disrespectful behaviour patterns are developed.

A summary of negative effects of excessive tardy/absenteeism is as follows:

  • Teachers have to do extra work to follow-up on students, re-explain work missed and adjust lessons when members do not turn up (especially if presentations or tests etc. are planned). It is impractical for all instruction to be given again, however, so an absent student will simply not get the same level of instruction upon their return.
  • This extra work also negatively affects other students as teachers end up having to divert their attention to meet the learning and social needs of children who miss classes.
  • Other students have to carry the burden of group work when a group member is absent, plus the absent student misses out on valuable social learning opportunities that can not be re-created by catching up when they return. Social interaction may also be part of the assessed learning task.
  • Excessive tardies not only cause disruption to a class when a student arrives late, but also contributes to reinforcing disrespectful and undisciplined behaviour that if not corrected, can lead to future difficulties later in life. Tardy students also miss out on announcements during SHR, causing more work for the HR teacher to catch up with them at a later time.
  • It is harder for some students to stick to school regulations when others consistently ignore them. High school students in particular are role models to younger students, so should make attempts to be worthy of this role.
  • Now, having written this, it is important to make two points. One is there will be times where absences or tardies are unavoidable, so parents and students should not feel bad if it happens occasionally with good reason. If it develops into a habit, however, it needs to be addressed. This leads to the second point – oftentimes students need some help to get out of bad habits.

    Here are some practical tips to consider:

  • Parents need to discuss the issue openly with the student and emphasize the seriousness of the habit. Note the negative consequences that occur if the situation is not rectified. Refer to the attendance policy in the handbook, and go through it together. If a student is denied credit, they may not be able to graduate as planned.
  • Do not take blame for a student not making an effort to improve habits. As a parent, you need to guide them into making right choices, and helping a student take responsibility for themselves is an important part of growing up.
  • As a parent, ensure your child gets adequate sleep, an appropriate diet, and exercise. In addition, if they are participating in excessive out of school activities (such as Juku/Cram School, part time work, sports etc.), please discuss if these are appropriate considering the absences.
  • Encourage your child to get help with organizational skills if they are taking excessive lengths of time to complete homework. It is not good for students to be consistently studying into the morning hours, and then coming to school tired and inattentive, or ending not coming at all. This type of behaviour will only make the situation worse. If a student feels they are getting too much homework, ask them to discuss this with their teachers. Organized students will plan for “crunch” times, plus if there is going to be a deadline conflict, they must approach the teacher early (NOT just before it is due), so something can be worked out.
  • Help students with good study habits. Trying to do homework with the TV on is not effective.
  • Procrastinating (putting things off) will not get it done. Time should be planned, including short breaks to stretch and get refreshed. Studying late at night is not efficient.
  • Book flights early, and respect school days. Being overseas poses difficulties, especially with prices rising during holidays, but it is important to keeping in mind the very beginning and end of school terms are very important to help students settle in and complete assessment tasks respectively.

Overall, I think OIS has a very good student attendance record, and encourage this to continue!


Hedy N. Chang and Mariajosé Romero (2008): Present, Engaged, and Accounted For - The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades



Rod Adam    

Elementary School Principal  

I look forward to seeing all of you at our Parent-Teacher conferences next week on November 6 and 7. Please “catch me in the hallways” or drop by the elementary office to share your pride in your child’s achievements this term!

OIS Celebrates United Nations Day

The anniversary of the founding of the United Nations on October 24, 1945 has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. It has traditionally been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the UN.

Last Friday, October 24, the Elementary School held its second student assembly of the year to recognize this important day as well as to highlight the IB Learner Profile attribute of Caring.

At our previous assembly, students presented ways to understand and help needy children in the Osaka area. This time, students focused on the role of the United Nations and the ways that the UN helps those less fortunate around the world. Using a “Newscast” format the grade four class led the assembly and shared information they had learned about the UN during their Unit of Inquiry: How people share responsibilities working toward a common goal. Students gave “news reports” and “interviews” highlighting the work of the UN and the Declaration of Human Rights. Grade one/two students from the Japanese beginners class shared their newly acquired Japanese language skills. Guest speaker Ms. Kaori Tsuda, a representative of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), spoke about her experiences working for four years as geologist in Malawi, Africa. Her presentation highlighted the similarities and differences of school children in Malawi and Japan. The entire elementary student body, with several student soloists, stirred our emotions as they capped the assembly singing We Are The World.

Adding to the effectiveness of the celebration was the participation of so many students, parents and teachers who wore national costumes, national colours or brought memorabilia from their home countries or countries they have lived in or visited. The room was a kaleidoscope of colourful costumes, surrounded by flags of the 17 nationalities that make up the elementary student population. It was a visual reminder of our diversity and re-enforced the concept of being “internationally-minded.” Two visiting Australian teachers who attended the assembly commented on the positive school spirit and student proficiency they felt and observed. We have much to celebrate at OIS.

Early-to-Bed Students Shine in the Classroom

At the beginning of each school year, parents are often eager to learn ways in which they can help their child’s achievement at school. The almost unanimous attendance at our Back To School Night confirms parents’ commitment to their child’s success. One suggestion is almost always mentioned by teachers – ensure that your child has adequate sleep. Many studies world-wide have identified this important factor and a recent study in Japan reported last month in the Daily Yomiuri confirms this important fact. Professor Yasuko Kamikawa of Toyama University found two very significant results:

- Children who went to bed earlier scored better on academic achievement tests, especially mathematics.

- Children watching TV and playing electronic games for more than three hours per day were found to forget school items, were less alert during classes and got lower test scores.

Dr. Kamikawa’s advice (and ours): “Sleep guidance, especially for third and fourth graders, can help them grow mentally and physically and improve their academic skills. Parents should not think that it’s sufficient for children to have the same amount of sleep as adults do.”



Simon Parker

Athletic Director

Important Upcoming Dates : 
November 26th-30th
HS Boys/Girls Basketball
Great Wall Shootout @ ISB, Beijing

November 5th-8th
Asia Pacific Tennis Tournament, Chiba

A huge thanks to everyone in the school community who was involved in the HS Volleyball Saber Cup Tournament this past weekend. The event was a great success and that was down to the efforts of so many in our relatively small community.

I am as always really grateful to our homestay families without whom we would not be able to host our guests from overseas - thank you for opening your homes to the students from Seoul and Suzhou.

I also want to mention the SIS PA - and OIS PTA volunteers - who catered lunch for coaches and officials during the tournament and then laid on the banquet dinner for 100 guests and players on Saturday night. The food was delicious and as always it was great to see such a team effort with at least 30 parents from both school communities working hard together.

The OIS PTA who held a bake sale and are donating money to our tournament charity World Vision; the JV Volleyball members who scored; the Sports Council who really do so much not only on tournament days but also in the build up; and the faculty here at school for their co-operation and support of the athletic programme. Thank you to you all!!

The volleyball itself was also hugely exciting and indeed we could not have scripted the dramatic finale late Saturday afternoon. After two tough days our own Osaka team found themselves in the championship game with the team from Sacred Heart in Tokyo. After twice falling behind we came back to send the game into a 5th set, and a monster effort aided by the excellent support saw us win by 3 sets to 2. Three players were selected to the All Star Team - Mayu Yao (SIS 12), Sachi Yoshida (SIS 12) and Mana Sasaki (SIS 12). The Sportsmanship Award went to Marist Brothers.

And so with the exception of the tennis team who go to Chiba next week, we have completed the fall season and in turn the winter season and HS Basketball has started this week. Many many thanks to Ms. Hirai, Mr. Mori, Mr. Sagara, Mr. Stenger, Mr. Entwistle and Mr. Shiffman, for their time, energy and expertise over the past 2 months. And good luck to Coaches Heimer, Ray, Schell and Adams in the months ahead.

For a full check on all scores and the latest week by week schedules for all our teams visit



Patrick Stenger

School Counselor

Starting this year our students will have the choice of taking the ACT and/or the SAT.  The American College test is similar to the SAT in that it is a college entrance exam for U.S. colleges and universities.  Almost all colleges and universities in the U.S. accept both the SAT and the ACT.  The ACT consists of four curriculum based, multiple choice tests in English, mathematics, reading, science and an optional 30- minute Writing Test.  Some students perform better on the ACT than the SAT and now we can offer both tests.  We will be offering the ACT two times a year.  This year the ACT will be offered Saturday, December 13 and in the spring, Saturday, April 4.  Students can register online at:  I recommend current 11th graders choose one of the exams in the spring time or the ACT and one of the SAT exams to see which one they perform better on, for example, the ACT in April or one of the SAT exams in May and June or the ACT in April and the SAT in June.

This year no American university tours made it through Osaka or the Kansai area.  However, I was able to travel with two OIS seniors to the CIS college tour in early September at St. Mary's International School in Tokyo and six OIS seniors to the Kanto Plains International College Fair, Oct 20 at ASIJ. Traveling to Tokyo for college fairs, while inconvenient and expensive, are very valuable for students.  Living so far away from colleges/universities in North America, Europe and Australia makes it difficult for applicants to make an impression.  College fairs and tours are sometimes our student's only way to meet with and impress college/university representatives. Many of the representatives are those international admissions representatives who will be reading our student's applications.  If students have made careful and thoughtful decisions about the schools they wish to apply to, attending college fairs to meet with representatives can be very rewarding in terms of admission and scholarship.  I would like to take more students with me in the future. I highly encourage 9th -11th grade students to consider not only attending these large college fairs but also attending the college visits at OIS. Our students who have regularly attended college/university visits have done very well with admission and scholarships later. Please take the time now, they may not be back in the future.


Attention! How It Works and How to Work It.

Dr. Ron Shumsky, Clinical Psychologist and Child Neuropsychologist. Bluff Medical Clinic Yokohama, Private Practice Tokyo.

For Parents and Educators

Do you have children who have been diagnosed ADHD or who exhibit similar behavior?  Would you like to learn strategies to use at home?  Would you like to understand more about attention and how it develops or does not develop in children?  If you would like to learn more about attention and attention issues you are cordially invited to attend an OIS/PTA sponsored presentation by Dr. Ron Shumsky.

This presentation starts with a brief introduction about attention deficit disorder, also called ADHD. It then gets beyond that, addressing specific aspects of attention and how attention is supposed to work, plus problems that emerge when attention isn't working. After that, the main part of the presentation addresses specific strategies for operating attention -- tools children can use to attend better at home and school.

Baby sitting will be provided for a small fee by high school students.  The money they raise will go towards their senior service trip.  Please let us know if you’ll require baby sitting services.

Date and Time:Tuesday, November 25 from 6:30 p.m.– 8:00 p.m.

Location:OIS Theater. The counseling department can provide directions.

Please email or contact Patrick Stenger if you would like to attend.

Phone: 072-727-5062



Lyn Melville-Rea

Community Serivice Coordinator

One Saturday evening each month, a few OIS & SIS students join with children from Sannoh Children's Center to make onigiri and offer support to Osaka's homeless. Our students learn valuable interpersonal skills and compassion. They also get to make friends in the wider community.

If you would like to join us on Saturday, 08 November, please phone Lyn Melville-Rea, OIS community service coordinator, on (090)9612-8364.

We can meet at Kita Senri Station (taxi stand) at 5:30 pm or Dobutsuen Mae Station, exit 8, around 6:50 pm.



SAT I & II Tests @ OIS
Culture Day - No School
Registration Deadline for Dec. 6 SAT I & II Tests
ES Fall Parent Teacher Conferences
 - ES No Classes
Osaka Performing Arts Festival in Kyoto
Lost & Found Display,
2F Showcase Area


TUE., November 4
Kitsune Udon / Japanese Wheat Noodle with Deep Fried Bean Curd
WED., November 5
Stir-fried Rice with Chinese-style Barbecued Pork
MON., November 10
Rice Bowl with Chicken & Egg Topping
TUE., November 11
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
WED., November 12
Chinese Noodle Soup
THURS., November 13
Beef and Egg Bowl
FRI., November 14
Fried Chicken


John Searle, Head
Gwyn Underwood, MS/HS Principal
Rod Adam, ES Principal
Patrick Stenger, Counselor
Mike McGill, Admissions Director
Jim Schell, Business Manager
Peter Heimer, IBDP Coordinator
Natsuko Hasegawa, School Nurse
Student Attendance




Contact us via e-mail

*For direct e-mail, all faculty have e-mail addresses with their first name initial and family name @

For example: If a faculty member had the name John Smith, his school e-mail address would be: