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Osaka International School



The Educator

              Feb. 13th, 2009




John Searle    

Head of School   


This week I was absent from school to attend a recruiting fair. I talked with many teachers who could potentially come to our school at a time when our present faculty is making decisions about their futures. Our goal as a school is to retain the very best teachers; however, any international school must expect some change in personnel each year. I would characterize an international school faculty as a dynamic and ambitious group of professionals. One way this manifests itself is through the transfer to another school to take on new responsibilities and add new experiences. The selection of new faculty, as replacements, is one of the most important jobs for the Head. If we want to be a world leader then we must attract leading professionals. In addition, our school, because of its relationship with our sister school, is a unique place to work. So, we are also looking for faculty who can add to and help further develop the unique nature and mission of the school and contribute to our school community.

WASC Report

Those families who have been at the school since 2006 will have heard of WASC. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is an accrediting group for schools in the USA. WASC accreditation is necessary for school diplomas to be accepted by American universities. Our last full accreditation was in 2006; therefore, if you were part of the community at this time you will probably have been asked for information or your opinion about some aspect of the school. Three years on at it is time for our mid-term review. In April we will be visited by a WASC team who will check our progress on the recommendations that were made in 2006. A committee of faculty is working on this study and we have asked a student and parent to join us. You may remember that it is only 3 months since the IB team visited us to check on the progress we are making with our PYP and MYP programmes, so we are certainly under frequent scrutiny. Whilst they create extra work, these occasions are first and foremost opportunities for reflection and improvement. I am of the opinion that unless a school is improving then it is declining – there is no option of just maintaining the status quo. Examination by outside groups and the resulting professional discussion therefore is greatly valued.

Merger with Kwansei Gakuin

Mr. Ito of Hankyu organized a parent meeting to talk about the merger about three weeks ago. The attendance was quite low. I imagine that there were many reasons for this. I met with the Parent Advisory Committee last week and their strong recommendation was that the administration make a presentation about the merger to the parents at the next PAC open meeting. I would like to combine the next PAC open meeting with the coffee meetings I had in the first trimester. At this time we will be able to address some of the questions which were raised at Mr. Ito’s meeting and hopefully meet with a larger group of parents. I would like to note here that any change inevitably creates stress, worry or uncertainty. I am frequently asked if I am optimistic about the outcome of the merger. I am indeed very optimistic; however, I also believe that optimism or pessimism in this situation is not important. What is important is that we control our own future through careful planning and discussion of what we want the school to look like in 5 years time given the opportunities the merger with a leading university presents and then lead the merger to this end. Central to this will be how OIS continues to deepen its relationship with SIS. Therefore, at our next PAC open meeting I would like to talk with the parents about this aspect of the merger in particular. I will let you know the date of this meeting once it is set and the timing of this depends on our talks with the SIS administration.

Finally, I would like to thank all OIS families for your continued support of the programmes and the work that your sons and daughters are doing at school.



Gwyn Underwood

Middle and High School Principal

Thank you parents for your support with our recent Parent-Teacher Conferences.  We had a 74% turnout over the two days, plus had many parents contact teachers directly as they could not come. I trust you have all received feedback on how your children are progressing at school, and are ready for End of Trimester reports which will be issued with achievement levels in about 5 more weeks!

I mentioned last Educator that I was going to be serving on an MYP authorisation team to a school in Tokyo. After that visit, and reflecting on our own recent 4-year evaluation visit, I thought it would be a good time to share some IB facts with you along with a few thoughts on how I have seen the IB develop over the last few years.

·       The IB works with 2,511 schools in 132 countries to offer the three IB programmes to approximately 681,000 students (as at Feb 2009). This number has been growing at approx. 15% each year, reflecting the success of the programmes around the world.

    o       In Japan there are currently 14 IB world schools, with a number of candidate schools working towards becoming authorised in the near future. Recent developments indicate more and more Japanese schools are interested, and in the MYP in particular due to its’ flexible curriculum. A recent announcement that further Japanese translations of MYP documents are being planned will no doubt boost this interest. I find this an interesting development for Japanese education, as it will introduce new educational practices into Japan, with the probability that public schools would consider successful aspects of the programmes in the future.

    o       Projected figures show continued growth, and the IB have developed a strategic plan to help ensure this growth is managed in order to maintain quality…

·       The IBO unveiled their new strategic plan in 2004, focusing on 3 areas:

    o       Quality - Continuously improving the quality of our three programmes

    o       Access - Enabling more students to experience and benefit from an IB education, regardless of personal circumstances

    o       Infrastructure - Building a highly effective and efficient infrastructure so that we can provide excellent service to students and schools

    The IB is working very hard on this action plan, and has been making many organisational changes and programme adjustments to ensure the action plan is completed successfully. There are many implications stemming from this plan – too many to write about here! Please ask me if you are interested in a specific area, and I can share my thoughts with you individually.

·       A new publication “MYP: Principles into Practice” was released in 2008.     This document contains many clarifications for the developing MYP, and moves the MYP out of a “development phase” (the programme began in 1994), and into a “maturing phase”. This document was written with input from educators around the world, so addresses many of the issues schools struggled with. It is somewhat more definitive too, which provides schools more concrete ways of implementing aspects such as the Areas of Interaction.

    In addition, each subject gets reviewed on a 7 year cycle to ensure it maintains a focus on MYP principles and to implement updates to enhance the teaching of the subject. The Arts curriculum has been the latest to be updated.

·       The Diploma Programme continues to be rated as the best college preparatory programme around the world. The IB World magazine note in their Jan. 2009 edition (pg 9) that British Universities rate IB students as the best-prepared for further education. In a recent survey, “92% of admissions officers believe they [IB World Schools] encourage independent inquiry, 88% say they help develop an ability to cope with pressure and maintain an open mind, and 80% say they encourage creativity. They are also valued for developing teamwork and presentation skills.” (The IB World magazine is available in the library.)

With that in mind, I would like to encourage you all to attend the DP and/or MYP information sessions Mr. Heimer (DP coordinator) and Ms. Rennie (MYP coordinator) are organising for parents at the end of this month. These sessions will help you understand the programmes, and keep you informed on the choices students need to make regarding courses next year. The IBO website also contains a wealth of information – please peruse it when you can



Rod Adam    

Elementary School Principal  


Recently I attended an evening workshop with OIS parents and faculty sponsored by our school counselor, Mr. Stenger, called Growing Up Online. Most of the issues we viewed and discussed were North America-based and relevant at the middle/high school level: gaming, cheating in school, bullying, predation, online addiction. Certainly I came away with admiration for and support of our OIS parents, teachers and counselor who are preparing our students for the inevitable challenges of teenage years. I was greatly relieved that elementary students are ‘young’ AND ‘safe’ in Japan!

Or are they? That same evening Canada’s national news networks - CBC radio, television and internet sites – gave me cause for concern precisely BECAUSE our students are young . . . and in Japan, or anywhere else they may be, using cell phones.

Up until now, I was only aware of the psychological and social harm that cell phones might present to children and teens, similar to the topics discussed at Mr. Stenger’s workshop. Last May, Japan’s Cabinet Meeting on Education Rebuilding called for a ban on primary and middle school students bringing their cell phones to school, followed last month by advice from the Education, Science and Technology Ministry leaving it to individual schools to address the issue. However, both of these government advisories omitted a more ominous threat to children. What of the adverse health affects – including cancer – especially to fragile, developing brains of children who use cell phones?

The results are alarming. Physicians, scientists, and government actions world-wide are warning about health impacts caused when people are exposed to electromagnetic radiation (EMF) such as in cell phones, especially for children. France is about to make it illegal to market cell phones to children under 12. The United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Israel, and India are also advising children to limit their use of cell phones. Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority encourages parents to err on the side of caution. Russia recommends children under 18 not use cell phones at all.

In January in the UK, Sir William Stewart, past chairman, Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, and chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board said, “If there are risks – and we think that maybe there are – then the people who are going to be most affected are children, and the younger the children, the greater the danger. Parents have a responsibility to their children not simply to throw a mobile phone to a young child, and say ‘off you go’ ”. He advised a precautionary stance while scientific data is gathered, adding that children should not use the devices for the time being.

Last July in the US, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute published collective research from 23 international oncology experts titled The Case for Precaution in the Use of Cell Phones*. Dr. Devra Davis, Director of the university’s Center for Environmental Oncology, says the brains of adults and children are different when it comes to how they absorb the radiation that cell phones emit. “The brain of a child literally is less dense, it’s more porous. It’s more susceptible to everything. The low-level radiation emitted by a cell phone is absorbed more than halfway through the brain of a five-year-old.”

And so, while the debate rages on whether or not there is a direct link between cell phones and cancers, I would support the advice of Dr. Davis and her colleague Dr. Ronald B. Herberman: children should use cell phones only in emergencies. Since cell phones are not a necessity, should parents err on the side of caution?



One of the five Essential Elements of the PYP curriculum is Action. This is defined as          “Demonstrations of deeper learning in responsible behavior through responsible action; a manifestation in practice of the other essential elements.” For elementary school students this means putting all that they have learned into action. The action should not be teacher directed but should come from the students’ own understanding and initiative. This is definitely the most difficult element of the program to demonstrate.

Recently two grade five students have initiated a project that exemplifies the “Action” element. Disturbed by the sight of many homeless people living in difficult conditions on her train ride home, Sally Wilhelm along with classmate Nana Yanagisawa decided to try to do something to help these needy people. They consulted with teachers and the social service committee and have come up with a plan of action. They are challenging each classroom to donate items that would be of use to homeless people: soap, towels, rice, disposable razors, etc. The class/grade with the highest participation rate will get the prize of a “free period”. Sally and Nana have made a presentation at Elementary, Middle and High School assemblies and then visited each elementary classroom to explain their project in more detail. You will have received a letter written by them earlier this week. Brightly colored and labeled cardboard boxes have been placed in each classroom to collect the items over the next two weeks. Parents and other community members are encouraged to “take action” and support Sally and Nana in their worthy project.



Simon Parker   

Athletic Director 

Important Upcoming Dates

February 13th/14th                     

HS Boys Soccer Tournament @ ASIJ, Tokyo

February 20th/21st

Saber Invitational Swim Meet @ Osaka

February 28th

All Japan MS Boys Futsal Festival

And so the HS Basketball seasons are over and we finished in true style with championship trophies in both the Dragon Cup for boys in Yokohama and the Saber Cup for girls here in Osaka. A huge thanks to everyone involved - the coaches, players, officials, table scorers, travelling band of parent supporters, homestay families, catering volunteers - a great job done by one and all! The Soccer seasons are underway as I write this and for a full check on all the scores and on game schedules for the coming weeks check the website at

        Saber Cup HS Boys Soccer Homestay - April 9th-12th, 2009

  • This year sees us in our first year post APAC and the Saber Cup Boys Soccer Tournament will be our first international invitational soccer event. We are looking forward to welcoming 45 students from Seoul International School in Korea, Suzhou International School in China and the International School of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.
  • We would very much like to show our guests some true Osaka hospitality and are looking for homestay places with families in our own community for 3 nights. Without the assistance of all of you in our small community we could not be a part of such exciting opportunities and I would personally like to recognize and thank you in advance for your generosity and efforts in helping out.
  • In past tournaments and festivals students from SIS/OIS have stayed with some wonderful families who have made them feel very welcome and have provided a local experience during the tournament. Our students have been cared for very well while representing our school overseas in past events and now it is the turn of the OIS/SIS school community to host visitors from the visiting schools.

If you are able to offer a homestay place for one of our visiting students between April 9th and 11th, 2009, or you simply need more information, please mail me at school on or call me directly on 072-727 5050 extension 132. As I said previously many thanks in advance for your help - we are truly grateful for your support of the programme.


Jim Schell  
Girls Basketball Coach

The High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team finished their season with an exciting, well-earned championship in the invitational tournament hosted by SOIS. The Sabers went 4-0 in the tournament, beating CA, Yokohama Int’l School (twice), and Seoul Int’l School. Sarah Sibbett, Yumiko Inoue, and Haruka Arai were selected as all-tournament players. The Sabers finished with a season record of 13-8. Congratulations girls!



Peter Heimer  

IBDP Coordinator

Reminder – DP deadline: March 5

The first major deadline for submission of IB diploma programme assignments is only two weeks away: March 5. Panic time officially begins now.

Notice – IBDP information meetings for parents, February 28 and March 3

For the past few weeks, Mr. Heimer has been meeting with the 10th graders once a week, introducing to them the IB diploma programme (DP). In the spring, 10th grade students will make important, long-lasting decisions about their DP courses; it is imperative that students and parents are well informed. Students should share an informational document with their parents. Parents of 10th graders, if you haven’t seen this document, please ask your child.

To help parents better understand the IB diploma programme, Mr. Heimer will hold IBDP Presentations to Parents on two dates (as marked on the school calendar): Saturday afternoon, February 28 and Tuesday evening, March 3. The presentations are meant primarily for parents of 10th grade students, but all parents are welcome to attend. More information about content, time and location will follow. Please make plans to attend. Also, parents are always welcome to visit the IBDP office anytime. Please e-mail if you’d like to make an appointment. Thank you.

Reminder – DP summer camps

There are summer camps every year for IB students. Please see Mr. Heimer or check out these websites: or



Masako Shishikura

International Fair Committee

As previously reported in the Educator, the 2008 International Fair raised approximately ¥850,000, which was donated to SOIS for use on projects outside the regular school budget that benefit students. After collecting suggestions for potential projects, the Academic Planning Committee decided to use this year’s proceeds to purchase moveable display boards, picnic- style tables for the courtyard, and any additional flags needed to ensure our flag collection reflects all countries represented in our student body.

A gathering was also sponsored by the Heads on December 3rd to thank the fair committee members for their work.

Thank you very much again to all participants for your great cooperation.




Natsuko Hasegawa

School Nurse

If you follow the Japanese Immunization Schedule, DT(diphteria, tetanus) immunization at age 11~12 is strongly recommended.

Please see your child’s doctor for a DT shot for free at age 11-12).
If your child missed a DT shot at age 11-12, please ask your child’s doctor for advice.
If you do not follow the Japanese Immunization Schedule, please check when your child needs a DT shot (Td booster).
(A Td booster is recommended 10 years after the last DTP.)



OIS/SIS HS Student Council Election
ES Report Writing Day - ES No Classes


MON., February 16
Spaghetti Meat Sauce
TUE., February 17
French Toast
WED., February 18
Chicken Rice au Gratin
THURS., February 19
Hash & Rice
FRI., February 20
Curry with Pork Cutlet
TUE., February 24
Chicken Cutlet
WED., February 25
Chinese Noodle Soup
THURS., February 26
Spaghetti Carbonara
FRI., February 27
Rice Bowl with 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
Caroline Rennie, MYP Coordinator
Clarence Coombs,
PYP Coordinator
Natsuko Hasegawa, School Nurse
Student Attendance





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