Update from the Principal May 2016
Dear Parents and Students,
I hope you are enjoying the gorgeous spring weather and all the cheer it brings with it after the long, dark months of winter. A school is always a busy place but after years of teaching, I feel pretty confident stating that springtime is a particularly busy time at schools. Ms Holmerson and I are now completing the last of our staff development talks and are also neck-high in the many logistical preparations necessary for the coming school year. That said, we are also deaply involved with the day-to-day dynamics of the school and the students and staff, which are and will always remain our first priority.
With a few months behind me as principal of IES Tyresö and only one month left of the academic year, I thought I might stop in the midst of everything to review our progress and talk about our progress as well as some of our upcoming activities.
First off, know that I have had my boots on the ground from day one, walking the halls and interacting with students and staff on a daily basis in order to get to know the dynamics of the school first-hand. I am very pleased with the changes I have seen this term and with the direction we are heading.
During the past months, we have introduced Head of Year (HoY) staff positions, and a disciplinary Behavior Notice system as well.
The Head of Year (HoY) positions (listed at the end of this letter) are an extra support for both families and staff. While teachers and mentors remain the most important and close contact for students and families, the HoY is responsible for keeping a check on the behavior patterns of students and activities for all the classes within their assigned grade level. They help out the mentors and teachers when necessary and facilitate communication among the different classes within the same grade level and with the rest of the school.
Every student within the IES system signed our IES Code of Conduct before matriculating to the school. We have behaviour standards which allow us to offer a classroom environment “where teachers can teach and students can learn”. We have noted, especially with the upper grades, that some students have had difficulty adjusting to our school environment and the behaviour standards we demand. For this reason, we have instituted our system of Behaviour Notices (BN) that were introduced at the same time we introduced HoY.
In short, BN are given when students break school rules despite two warnings or, if the behavior is blatantly disrespectful, without a warning. If a student accumulates several BN’s, a coaching session is required with a member of our Student Care Team and the HoY. During this session, we work together with the student to help them find solutions and support for altering their patterns of behavior. Moreover, we now require that students who are consistently late to class (late to 5 lessons or 45 min late to a single lesson) sit in detention. Detention is held every Monday morning at 8:15 and parents are notified on the preceeding Friday if their child is on the detention list.
Make no mistake, we will not tolerate disrespectful behavior. I encourage all of you parents to speak seriously with your children about the responsibility they have toward upholding our Code of Conduct. Feel free to contact your student’s mentor or HoY should you have any concerns or questions.
We will be initiating a Merit System that recognizes and reinforces positive behavior, and will use it as a tool to “change the conversation” from negativity to something positive that includes celebrating successes. Students will be rewarded for being punctual and prepared for class, when they are positive and actively participate in class activities, when they are cooperative and when they are respectful toward others.
We are happy to announce that we are now accepting applications for a second Assistant Principal position for the fall term. This position is dedicated toward serving the pastoral care needs of our students and the successful applicant will work closely with our Student Care Team.
Ms Holmerson, who has been working incredibly hard this year on all fronts, will then be able to dedicate more of her time towards serving the academic needs of our students.
Speaking of academics, we congratulate all sixth and ninth graders who have made it through their National Exams! It’s been a long haul, but they are finally behind you.
On the cultural side of things, we hope you have read the latest edition of the school newspaper that was published mid-April under the guidance of Ms Hermansdottir, our librarian. The students who contribute to the newspaper do so in their free time and the contributions are very entertaining and of high quality. Do have a look!
Ms Murphy, from the art department, recently organized our first annual Film Festival. Students made their own short films (5 minutes) and the winners from this year’s entries was a group of students from class 5B (Tindra Sillén, Babafolayemi Oyeyemi, Elin Örnekull, Mathilda Norström).
Moving on, a popular topic of discussion at all schools I’ve ever worked at is the school lunch. As you may know, the current catering company has a water-tight contract that extends through the next school year. Ms Hinchy, our lower school nurse, has been in constant discussion with our catering service and the Student Council since we completed the student survey regarding the lunches served. As a result, some concrete measures have been taken by the catering company in response to our requests.
Here are a few:
- The caterers now serve only eco potatoes and fruit
- Potatoes are now offered roasted and in other appetizing ways
- At least once a week, fruit other than apples are offered at lunch
- Only boneless chicken is served when chicken is on the menu
- Breaded fish fillets are offered at least once per month
- More lactose-free sauces are being served
- The popular salad bar continues to offer a variety of fresh options
- Favorite soups such as lentil, broccoli, minestrone and tomato are continued
- The chef is trying to find different sausages to serve
- Meals with pita bread will be offered
- The popular falafel and taco-filling-with-nacho-chips will continue
- New vegetarian options are being offered
The London Café is now open 8:30-10:00 and 12:30-15:00
A punch card for 11 mellanmål is available for 150 SEK. Without the punchcard, students pay 15 SEK/mellanmål and exact change is required. Mellanmål is served in the lunchroom every day 14:30-15:00.
We have also just completed several very successful activities I’d like to mention:
The school-wide PTA-sponsored Spring Fair was a great success. I so enjoyed seeing so many of you there. Each class took responsibility for one of the components of the fair. There was barbeque, food, drinks, sweets, games, and a second-hand market for books, toys, clothes, sports equipment, etc. All in all it was a fabulous afternoon enjoyed by all.
This year’s IES Tyresö Charity Fundraising Day was justa few weeks ago. Last year’s efforts raised 38.000kr which was donated to Barncancerfonden. This year, the Student Council has chosen to donate all funds raised to SOS Barnbyar, a charity that works building and running villages, schools, vocational schools, social centers, medical clinics and the like in 134 countries. We haven’t yet got the final count for how much money our students have raised but we asked that each student try to work and ear at least 100kr to donate toward the charity.
The IES Talent Show (sponsored by class 6C) was a huge success! I had no idea what talents lurked in the hearts of so many of our students (and staff). The winner of the entire event was Stella Chirinos (8A) as voted by a panel of experts (two students and two teachers). But trust me, there were many, many talented individuals participating.
Looking towards the finals days of school, we have these activities to look forward to:
Details for Sports Day and Student Choice Days are being finalized as I write this. Due to double-booking of the venue, it has been necessary for us to revise our original plans. Sports Day will be for both Upper and Lower School and we will eat lunch here but we will be outdoors during the day. Information regarding Student Choice Days is now being shared by mentors so students should know very soon what their schedule looks like for those days.
Closing ceremonies for the academic year, including 9th grade graduation, will be held at Bollmorahallen on June 15 and parents are invited. Do keep in mind that the seating is limited.
We will have three ceremonies before lunch: one for 4th & 5th grades (8:30-9:10), one for 6th & 7th grades (9:30-10:10), and one for 8th & 9th grades (10:30-11:30).These times are for parents at Bollmorahallen; the students will be meeting in advance at school and returning to school with their mentors afterwards. They will be released from school shortly thereafter before lunch, so no lunch that day.
I look forward to seeing you all at the graduation ceremonies, if not before.
Paul McKay, Principal