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Osaka International School



The Educator

              April 10, 2009




John Searle    

Head of School   

It is great to see everyone back from the Spring Break. This is a wonderful time of year in Japan as the weather warms up and with the cherry blossom in full bloom. The school building takes on a different quality at this time of year with students enjoying the courtyard and field at lunchtime. In this season of change and renewal I would like to take advantage of this theme to talk about the new trimester and the end of the school year.

As we look toward the end of the year, it is time to recognize those teachers who will be leaving in June. As I have said in previous articles, turnover at international schools is expected and in many ways a healthy phenomena. International school teachers are ambitious and interested in the world and therefore we can anticipate that each year some will move on. We will have plenty of time to say our individual goodbyes; however, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the teachers below and the contribution they have made to Osaka International School and the lives of the students.

Mr. Hara, Mr. Bonnefoy, Dr. Coombs, Ms. Okamoto, Dr. Shiffman, Mrs. Shiffman, Mr. Stenger, Ms. Yanaga

We are all replaceable in our jobs. However, the mark of a successful tenure at school is that some echoes of our presence remain after we have moved. All of these teachers have made a distinct impact on the community and the students and have contributed to the programs they have administered or taught in a way that will endure long after we have said goodbye to them. I am deeply grateful to them for this.

Attached to this Educator is the planning sheet for parents to let us know about their intentions to move next year and I ask that you return it by April 17th.

On a different note of change, all parents who have visited the school since the beginning of the new trimester will know that the road in front of school opened on April 1st. This has certainly changed the atmosphere around school from that of a quiet cul-de-sac to a more busy and bustling neighborhood. The most important aspect of this change is ensuring the safety of the students. It is going to take some time for us all to get used to the idea that there is continuous traffic travelling much faster than we have been used to.  I will be sending a letter to everyone by the end of next week to outline how we would like parents to drop off and pick up students. We are waiting to see how the bus routes will be altered, what the volume is of the traffic passing the school at key times in the day, and also until the road works on the minor roads around the school are completed. Parking will pose a problem, especially for occasions when there are concerts and as yet we can offer no solution for this. The police came to school on Friday morning and afternoon to observe the situation in response to our concerns that the traffic was travelling too fast and we will be following up on this. In one respect the change that the road brings is actually good for the school in that it develops the infrastructure in the neighborhood and the transport connections. The housing area to the east of the school is developing and potentially provides attractive housing for new families and the addition of Starbucks has proved popular with the school community.

Our merger with KG takes place one year from now. Please plan to attend the Spring coffee meeting at the end of April, which I would like to combine with the PAC open meeting. At this time I would like to outline how we see the school developing in the next three to five years. I will send details about this when the date is set.

The start of the final trimester also gives all the students a renewed chance to overcome anything that has been proving difficult through the year: an academic problem; a relationship; a challenging piece of music, or how to resolve climate change. It is an important time for everyone as we enter the final stretch toward the end of the school year and a time to put in maximum effort to get maximum results.

Again, welcome back to everyone. I look forward to seeing you all around school over the next weeks.



Gwyn Underwood

Middle and High School Principal

Welcome back from spring holidays. I hope you had a good break from the regular school routine, and are now enjoying the lovely spring weather and cherry blossoms. Coming from a mostly two-season region in North NZ, this is an especially beautiful time of the year for me!

Over the holidays, you received winter trimester student reports, and I hope you had a chance to go over these with your children. I can not say enough about the importance of parental interest in the progress of your child. For those in the MYP, please remember to access the OIS community web site to be able to look at the full set of MYP descriptors for each subject ( and encourage your child to reflect on how to reach the next levels. If you need further guidance, please approach the subject teacher for specifics. Now is the time to address areas that need attention, in order to allow students to work on improving these areas over this trimester.

I was reminded of the uniqueness of our students in a recent article1 on “Third Culture Kids” (TCKs). A TCK refers to children who spend a significant period of their formative years outside their home country. This affords unique experiences that lead to identifiable traits that can be advantageous, but can also lead to some difficulties. Were you aware US President Obama is a TCK, spending time in Indonesia as a kid? Furthermore, did you know a number of his staff are also TCKs, namely White House advisor Valerie Jarrett (Iran and London), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (Africa, India, Thailand, China, and Japan), National Security advisor James Jones (France) and Bill Richardson (Mexico) – oops, perhaps he is not a good example as he withdrew from nomination for Secretary of Commerce in January!

So why is this significant? Well, as many of our children are also TCKs, it is interesting to consider why TCKs are being selected for such high profile positions. One reason outlined by the author is

      “… the classic  profile of a “TCK” is someone with a global perspective who is socially adaptable and intellectually flexible. He or she is quick to think outside the box and can appreciate and reconcile different points of view.”

In this day and age, this ability is extremely valuable, and I think many around the world welcome US leaders who have such ability, bringing hope for positive movements in policies which affect the rest of the world. Our students likewise have important roles in the future of our global society, and we encourage the development of this skill in order to contribute now and in the future.


The author of this article was Ruth Van Reken, co-author of the bestseller book “Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds” (available in our library). You may remember the other author, David Pollock, visited OIS a number of years ago.



Rod Adam    

Elementary School Principal  


Next Thursday and Friday, Grades 1 – 5 will be holding formal Student-Led Conferences where students will share their work and their progress with their parents. Because the format of these conferences depends on the age of the child, we have regular Parent-Teacher conferences at the Kindergarten level. Based on positive feedback from last years’ survey, we have scheduled conferences for all subjects, not just the homeroom class for students in grades one through five. This will give students a chance to share their progress in all subjects. Kindergarten parents will have an opportunity to meet with the classroom teachers, but due to scheduling constraints, meetings with single subject teachers will need to be scheduled at another time.

Many new parents may not be familiar with Student-Led conferences, so here is a brief description of the process. As the year has progressed, the students in Grades 1 – 5 have, with the support and guidance of their teachers, selected work (based on predetermined criteria) to be discussed. The conferences have been carefully prepared so that the students have had a chance to reflect (analyze and assess) on their own learning. These conferences give the students more ownership for their learning and provide a venue to celebrate what they have learned and to share their goals for improvement.

At the conferences, you will have a chance to view your child’s portfolio. This collection of work is designed to demonstrate success, growth, higher order thinking, creativity and reflection. For parents, it gives you a more complete picture of your child as a learner. For some single subjects such as P.E. and music students may demonstrate skills that they have learned.

Since the work has been chosen for a variety of reasons, some of the pieces may have errors; they may not be the child’s “best work”.  They may be chosen to show growth or how a difficulty was overcome. It would be easy for a parent to point out errors/problems in the work but this would detract from the purpose of the conference. The key in this type of conference is for the parent to ask questions and make supportive statements that will help your child feel comfortable in sharing his or her successes and challenges. The overall goal is to celebrate your child’s achievements and support future goals.

Here are some suggestions that may help facilitate more productive conferences for you and your child.

Listen carefully for the reason a piece was chosen – don’t jump to conclusions, or criticism.

Be supportive and encouraging – remember that your child is probably very nervous.

Give supportive statements like:

    - I can see why you are proud of this piece – give reason

    - I can see that this was a big challenge – give reason

- I can see real progress from earlier in the year – give examples

Ask questions that will help your child tell you more:

    - what did you learn from doing this work?

    - what changes did you make to it?

    - what process did you use in creating it?

    - what have you learned from this piece/activity that you didn’t know before?

    - what changes would you make if you did it again?

- what are some goals that you have set for yourself?

You may be asked to write a response during or after the conference. Please take your time and respond in a way that will help your child to achieve his or her goal. If you have questions for any of the teachers, please contact them at another time – they will be happy to schedule a time to meet with you.


Parents often inquire about programs for our students during the summer months. Here are two opportunities that may be of interest to OIS students and parents. CISV is a non-profit, volunteer organization that seeks to build friendship and international understanding. The Kansai branch of this worldwide organization is running two trips for 11 year olds this summer: Germany from July 10 – August 6 and England from July 25 – August 21.  Four students and one volunteer leader will go to each country to represent Japan. They will join together with students from eleven other countries. Since English is the common language, this is an excellent opportunity for non-native English speakers to travel and improve their English skills. They sponsor trips for older students as well. You can find out more information about this organization and opportunities at

Last month I had the opportunity to meet Mr. David Green, the director of Discover Japan and Nambo Discovery Camp. Mr. Green, a long time educator at Nishimachi International School and his wife Yoshiko Kimura, a teacher at St. Mary’s International School have been organizing programs for international students and families for over 25 years. Some of their activities include ski/board trips, bicycle weekends and summer discovery camps. They have recently opened Nambo Kokusai Mura, a lodge and outdoor education facility near the ocean in Minami Boso, Chiba Prefecture. Here students from Gr. 3 and up can enjoy nature, marine science, cycling, hiking, tennis and snorkeling. They are offering a number of programs this summer and later in the year. For more information I have placed brochures (English and Japanese) in the display rack on the second floor near the business office. I’d be happy to send one home with your child if you send me a note or e-mail. You can also find out additional information at their website


Jim Schell
Business Manager

We are now accepting applications for financial aid for the 2009-2010 school year, which commences on August 26. Please contact Jim Schell directly, or drop by the Business Office to pick up an application. The deadline for application is Friday, May 8, 2009.



Simon Parker

Athletic Director

HS Boys Soccer Tournament @ DAI II Soccer Ground on Route 171, April 10th/11th
Come out and cheer on the boys soccer team this weekend as they bid to win the first ever Saber Cup Soccer Tournament. We are welcoming teams from Vietnam, China and Korea to this event and would love to have some large crowds out there to make the tournament a real success.

We also wish the girls luck as they take part in the Dragon Cup up in Yokohama.
For a complete round up of the happenings and some photos of the action remember to click on Sportsweb at



Leanne Stephen, Barbara Bertram, Jessica Shiffman, Greg Navitsky  

Visual Art Teachers

Studio works completed by Visual Arts students during the Winter Trimester are currently exhibited in the hallways and the library. The collections include Grade Two relief assemblages inspired by Louise Nevelson, elements of architecture and the students classroom unit on Cities; Grade Seven adaptions of traditional Japanese hagoitas which reflect their understanding of form and pattern; paintings by Grade Eight based on a compositional and conceptual analysis of I and the Village by Marc Chagall; three dimensional miniatures by high school students exploring the work of contemporary sculptors and the concept of Imprints: Intervention and Nature; costume designs from the Textiles class; and a diverse collection of two dimensional and three dimensional forms from high school students developing their own paths of study in the Personal Programmes course. We hope that you enjoy viewing the pieces on display.



You are cordially invited to the 2009 IB Visual Arts Exhibition Reception

Friday, April 24, 4:00-6:00 pm

3rd Floor Conference Room

Art works will be on display April 20-24 during school hours.

Please preview the show for young viewers.



Peter Heimer  

IBDP Coordinator

Course selection by 10th graders: Grade 10 students are now choosing their DP courses of study for the next two years. Students will discuss their decisions with the DP coordinator, DP subject teachers and counselor. Parents, please be involved with your child’s decisions. Parents need to sign a pink “course planning” sheet indicating approval of their child’s choices. Please be on the look-out for this sheet.

Internal assessment (IA): IA refers to the in-school evaluation performed by DP subject teachers and accounts for about 30% of the final subject scores. (The remaining 70% of the assessment is done externally by IB-trained examiners.) OIS teachers assess many kinds of student work, including essays, portfolios, projects, oral commentaries, musical performances, and art work. Congratulations, students, on completing this important step toward your IB diploma or certificate.

Exams: DP students now focus on their final exams to be taken throughout the month of May, with the notable exception of the Visual Arts examiner’s visit which takes place on April 25. The first exams – English, Japanese and History – take place May 4th and 5th, the Golden Week holiday. Students and parents, please make appropriate plans.



Lyn Melville-Rea

Camps Coordinator

Thank you to all middle and high school parents for your support of the camps.

All camps look set to become a highlight of 2009.

Camp costs have been calculated and the following refunds will be given to your daughter/son:

Gd. 6 "Kansai's Cool Camp" 700 yen

Gd.7 "Amanohashidate Camp" 1000 yen (+ 2, 445 yen to grade 7 account)

Gd.8 "Hiroshima/Miyajima Camp" 900 yen (+ 400 yen to gd.8 account)

Golf 1600 yen

Ski camp        Av. 10,000 yen (varies by individual)

Bali (A total of 13,425 yen remained. Used to cover school fees for 2 SMK students for this year)


YOMAWARI (Feeding the Homeless)

Lyn Melville-Rea

Community Service Coordinator

Saturday April 25, 7 - 9 p.m.
@ Sannoh Children's Center
OIS students who volunteer at this project receive much more than they give. They learn to ask how and why. They see that they can contribute to a global society.

Quote from Takasakisan, a long-time worker in Kamagasaki:
"Loneliness is the deepest problem. Yet the poor give food to those without any. You can see the beautiful side of human beings. I love it here."

Please phone Lyn Melville-Rea (090)9612-8364 if you plan to join us.


Shake Shack Sale

Dear Parents and Students of SOIS,

We are proud to announce the opening of our Shake Shack beginning Thursday April 9.

We will sell tasty healthful drinks every Tuesday and Thursdays in the cafeteria during lunch from 11:15 to 11:45 and after school from 3:30 to 4:00 until April 30.

We are offering Strawberry Banana milk shakes (140 yen) & Mango Lassi (120 yen)

We look forward to serving you.

G5 Kizuki, Muhammad, Tai, and Yuwi




The next PTA meeting will be April 14th at 8:45 am in the small room near the cafeteria. Your opinions and ideas are very important to us. Therefore, we invite all parents to attend so that together we can make a difference at OIS.

Thank you and hope to see you on the 14th!



Hiroshi Baba 

Triathlon Club & Running Club Coach

Date: Sunday, April 26, 2009
Place: Suita-shi Sogo Undojo
Entry Fee:
Elementary: Free
Gr.7-9: 500yen
Gr.10-Adults: 1000yen
Entry Qualification:
 Gr.1-6: Run 1km

Run 2km, Stationary Bike 10km, Run 3km
Run 2km, Stationary Bike 15km, Run 5km
Deadline: April 11, 2009
For details, please e-mail Mr. Baba.



April 10 - 11
SABER CUP SOCCER 2009 / HS Boys Soccer Tournament @ DAI II Soccer Ground on Route 171
April 13 - 14
WASC visits
April 14
PTA Meeting @ Cafeteria, 8:45-10:00 am
April 15
OIS/SIS HS Student Council Club Fair
April 16 - 17
ES Spring Student-Led Conferences - ES No Classes
April 18
April 20 - 24
IB Visual Arts Grade 12 Exhibition @ 3F Conference Room


MONDAY, April 13
Pork Cutlet
TUESDAY, April 14
Chinese Noodle Soup
MONDAY, April 20
Stir-fried Rice with Chinese-style Barbecued Pork
TUESDAY, April 21
Spaghetti Carbonara
Kitsune Udon / Japanese Wheat Noodle with Deep Fried Bean Curd
THURSDAY, April 23
Chicken & Egg Bowl
FRIDAY, April 24
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



Contact us

*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: