December 11, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,

     We held our second School Advisory Board meeting this Saturday, Dec 10th in the conference room at ISG DMM.  Our first order of business was to review “Old Business”  These topics can be seen on the Principal’s Blog. A major item on the review list was the idea that our students must have their own device in grades 5-12 for the coming school year.  It would be great for them to get one yet this school year and we have published the minimum specs that all students should have again on the Blog.
     Another item was “After School Tutoring”.  In the high school, this is being taken care of by staff manning Academic Clubs after school. Several staff have volunteered to help with students seeking extra help and only have to see their counselors for sign up on certain days of the week.  In the MS, these clubs are being handled by the Junior Honor Society during recess for students seeking out this extra help.
     New business:   We discussed the idea of the SAB and its role.  A number of people mentioned that the school needed to do a better job of publishing the work and outreach of the Board.  A suggestion was to publish minutes using Skyward and the Blog together.  This will be adopted.  Another role of the Board is to actively seek input from the community at large.  An idea to set up and man a booth at the Carnival was floated and agreed upon.
     Homework:  This issue has been brought up mostly by grades 3 & 4 parents.  I explained the idea of the “No Homework Policy”.  It isn’t that there is no homework, but that the expectations that homework is to be corrected and graded in school should no longer be an expectation.  ALL STUDENTS still have 20-30 reading expectations and perhaps a short journaling process to complete.  Any work in all other subject areas are to be in the form of games, website visits, family “thinking problems” and the like.  Mrs. Wood, our “literacy specialist”, has volunteered to produce a calendar with monthly formats for you and your child to engage in good ways to build skills and learning together.
     School Wide Testing:  This idea was discussed in that parents felt that they needed more information regarding the testing administered at the school  The school will double check that all families are given access to the fall and spring testing results with the emphasis on “growth” to be the major factor of interest for our individual and grade level students’ results.
     Carnival:  February 9th is our school Carnival.  It is a wonderful celebration of our school, its students, staff and community.  If you are willing and able to help us get sponsorships, donate cool prizes to raffle, or work in any capacity, you are more than welcome to contact me @ 050688-2670 to volunteer.  We are looking at a show that is bigger and better than ever!
     New & Old Student Registration:  These dates are rapidly approaching us.  Shortly after the winter break, papers will be sent home asking for your intentions for the new year and also opening up our school to new families for possible seats at the school for 2017-18.  (JUST A NOTE THAT THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL NEXT FALL IS SEPTEMBER 10, 2017)
     Screenagers: The Movie:  We reviewed the movie and talked about the impact of screen time on students in a global sense. Also, I reported that we will be having another presentation after the winter break having to do with the impact of the internet on adolescents and how to be safe online.  We will let you know about this important event as soon as dates are nailed down.
     MakerSpace:  I attended the Bayan Gardens Maker Fair last week.  It was a good attempt at showing off the new reality of computational power merging with everyday life.  Our dream is to do much of the same and show off our students building, computing, and creating cool and sophisticated projects for everyone to enjoy.

November 28, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,
As we bare down on winter break, I want to take this moment to reflect on the year to date.
We welcomed 5 new sponsored hires to the Leopard Family.  They have made a great impression on our school.  Mr. and Mrs. Ann and Clay Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob and Amy Jaskowiak, and Mr. Gary Moore.  All work in the high school except for Mrs. Amy who is in Middle School English.
We are very settled into our new facility and getting used to its unique properties of what works and what doesn’t work so well.  Mostly we are happy and have plans to fix what is not working as it should. i.e. (some leaks in the roof where the library intersects with floors one and two.)
Our students are involved at a high level in after school activities across the elementary, middle and high schools.  This past weekend alone, we had close to 200 students playing sports, debating, applying business skills, or doing service learning.  Every week and weekend all year long, your students and their teacher sponsors are competing, learning, running school businesses, and serving our Leopard and greater community with their time, energy, and resources.  It is BEAUTIFUL to see in action.  The BOOK FAIR was a lovely example.  Very creative and useful activities are planned for the whole year.  You can be a part of it if you wish to be.  Want to volunteer your time as part of one of these projects?  Just let me know and I am sure to be able to put your energies to good use.
Screenagers the movie:  We showed the Screenagers video to around 100 people total over the two showings.  The main idea like in much of life is that screen time must be monitored and moderation is the key.  Overuse of such devices and technology can lead to addiction and consequences that are devastating to young and old.  I have seen it personally in my own life and know for example that television is a type of drug to me.  I get sucked into that vortex of watching nonsense on television very easily.  As parents, your job is to guide and mentor your children.  Setting rules and guidelines is part of your job.  Making rules together with your children is the best strategy, but YOU must check any unreasonable requests and must be the judge and jury.  For example:  A reasonable guideline for high school students would be for all cell phones and devices to be turned into you by 10:00 on school nights so that your child can get a decent amount of sleep.  Earlier for middle school and elementary children.  These ideas guard against addiction and HUGH problems later in life.
In conjunction with this theme, a consultant from Seattle, Washington, is coming to Dammam to present to our students in all grades about the proper use and danger of the internet in
Upcoming Events:
1.  Order your school laptop.  See the letter on Skyward for information on how to order.
2.  School Advisory Board:  Parents are invited to the next SAB at 10:00 in the conference room at ISG DMM Saturday, Dec. 10th.  This is an advisory sounding board for interested families to offer their ideas for school improvement.  President Masroor Khan
3. We are often looking for Afterschool Activity sponsors to help us offer extra activities that the school can not. If you have a skill that you can offer once or twice a week for 8 weeks, let me know and perhaps we can make it happen.
4. Carnival is coming!!! February 9th from 11:00-3:00! We are looking for donations, gifts, sponsors, and help. More information is coming soon.
5.  Compassion Summit:  Regional High & Middle Schools are organizing a compassion summit to take place in Jordan this coming spring.  It sounds like an exceptional opportunity for our students to reach out into the world with open eyes.
Hoping this finds you well and don’t hesitate to connect if you have questions whatsoever.

October 31, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,

We end the first quarter of school this week.  This week the teachers are very busy as we have two full days of workshop together at the Dhahran Campus.  This is a time to learn from each other and also share our successes with the broader ISG staff from all the campuses.  This followed up with our Virtual School Day.  We hope to make these virtual school day practices useful because it seems like every year we have something come up which cancels classes and forces us to use this virtual format.
Last week I attended the Leadership Conference in Doha, Qatar.  I had the pleasure of visiting the Qatar Finnish International School.  The Finns have shown year after year that their methods of administering a school results in a #1 ranking.  I was struck by how much our school looks a lot like their school.  Their school day, their lunches, their course offerings are much the same as ours.  Their class sizes are a bit smaller and they offer more hands on activities like woodworking, sewing, art, and music classes.  I would love to be able to do more of these activities in our school.  We keep looking for ways to increase opportunities for our students.
Another great idea of the conference was the idea of building Culture Of Thinking.  Now we would all like to believe that at ISG Dammam, we are all making our students think.  However if you know what you are looking for, we have a way to go on this journey toward really getting our students to think by planning, problem solving, and collaborating. We hope to take this theme to a new and productive level in the coming months and years ahead.
Our school wide goal of having every child equipped with a laptop in order to do their work has been given a boost by the discovery of a local company that can give us a reasonably priced Chromebook just in time for the winter.   We will need to have an order of at least 100 to get the best price of SAR 1778.
I really appreciate your patience with the road and sewage pipe work outside the school.  Please continue to take your time and be courteous with one another.  Also let me remind you that as we come into the season of FOG and rain that you are always to use your best judgement as to whether or not to send your children to school on these days.  I will try to warn you of school closing days via the school TEXT SYSTEM.  Please call us if you think your phone is not on the list.
Please note that Parent /Teacher Conferences are coming up November 17 & 19th.  I hope that you can plan to make it to these important conversations

October 12, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,

This past weekend our School Advisory Board met for our first time for the 16-17 school year.  After a few ground rules and formalities, and by the end of the meeting we elected by acclamation tentatively Khan to be our first SAB Chairperson for this school year.  We also selected the following dates for our meetings at 10:00 a.m on December 10, February 11 and May 13
We enjoyed a spirited and healthy discussions on the following topics:
1. Canteen: There are some concerns about the health food options. Parents need to pack lunches if they are concerned as we continue to explore ways to make our choices for our students better, healthier, while still being affordable.
2. Bathrooms: We talked about the bathrooms and whether or not they are being cleaned. We also talked about the use of Arab showers. Rest assured that students have complete access to these showers. Students are mostly using them responsibly. Also the custodians are cleaning on an hourly basis.
3. Timing for school: We talked about the school day about starting and ending times. We concluded that the start and end dates are probably as good as it can get at present.
4. 1 to 1 Laptop Plan for 2017-18:  We are going to make mandatory the idea that all students from grade 5-12 have their own laptop for work in our school next year. Laptops have become an indispensable tool for students in school. Our school is no different.
5. Screenagers: This is a documentary about the use of screen time and the idea of how dangerous this can be for our youngsters. Please join us for the showing of this important showing of this film on November 17 at 3:30 p.m. just after the Parent Teacher Conferences.
6. Tutor Help After School: This is an annual problem for students and families. We are setting up peer helper sessions during school time with the help of NHS and NJHS. These recess help times will be posted next week. We are also working on “Homework Clubs”. These clubs would meet to get extra help in the major subjects of English, Math, Science, and Social Science.
7. Orientation: Parents new to the school sometimes feel that they and their children are not getting the attention they feel necessary to become oriented to our school. Suggestions included: clearer messaging on the website, an orientation seminar, a day in school for new students without the rest of the school up and running. These are all good ideas that we will take to the administrative team for consideration.
8. Maker Space: Our school is invited to take part in a KSA educational program that brings 21st century learning to the students of Saudi Arabia. Out first project will be 3D printing course to take place at our school in the near future.
9. Please note that the municipality has begun some work on the street next to the school. This will snarl traffic a little for a couple of weeks.
A note about SCREENAGERS the film. ISG Dammam will show this film tentatively scheduled for Nov. 17 at 3:30 directly following the Parent / Teacher Conferences. The video lays out the case for vigilant parental supervision of students and what they are seeing on line, the hours in front of a screen and the impact this all has on them as adolescents.
  Watch the trailer here:   www.screenagersmovie.com
And Lastly: The district is asking for your input. I am sending this email to you regarding the 16/17 admission survey for new parents/families to our school only. Below is the link to a short survey of approximately 10 questions.

September 17, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,

I trust everyone had a very good Eid.  My wife and I were lucky enough to share some time with our son in Sheffield, UK.  He just finished his MA degree and is now joining the real and harrowing world of looking for a job.  He seems to have pretty good options out there but still the prospects of looking for work is no fun for anyone!
I have been thinking about the whole idea of college and the costs and our hopes and aspirations for our children. I also look at our students and their dreams and their families’ dreams for these wonderful students.  It is getting more and more difficult all the time for our goals for our children to be realized.
Talking to people and reading about this issue and three themes keep popping up:  Coding, the trades, and learning to understand yourself.
Coding kind of explains itself.  Students who like this kind of thing and study it through the university level are in high demand.  At least at present this is true.  For how much longer?  Who knows.  The IT age is really just beginning in some ways.  Perhaps the coding will be so good and so intuitive that we will be able to speak into a computer and the computer will write the code to program the machine that we want to do a specific task. (At ISG DMM our students are getting a taste of coding all the way from grade 2-12)
The trades:  By this I mean the people who get their hands dirty fixing the many machines we use, or become electricians or plumbers, or a technician of some sort.  These are growth areas as companies are not willing to pay for an engineer when a technician will do quite nicely.  I have heard these stories right here in the kingdom as well.  (At ISG DMM we are introducing “Maker” classes with our Art, Music, Science labs and ICE BOX room.  ICE stands for Invent, Create, and Experiment room.  We are planning to host “Maker” events this year so that families can come into school and work together on projects for fun and enjoyment.
Learning about oneself:  This is a life quest.  I often joke that “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”  There is always a bit of truth in jest.  I often look back on the life choices I made and say that there are not many things that I would have chosen to do differently.  However there are a few things.  At ISG DMM we try very hard to model lives of Integrity, Responsibility, Respect, & Tolerance.  We also talk about these themes often.  Global citizens need these values as much as ever.
I am interested in your thoughts on these important topics.
I am also needing volunteers to sign up for the School Advisory Council.
If you are interested in signing up, PLEASE use this form:  HERE
Thanks reading this blog and have a great week!

September 4, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,

I want to thank the families of DMM for helping us all get off to a great start at ISG DMM.  Also want to wish everyone a safe and peaceful Eid Mubarak.  I am especially encouraged by the very good attendance, by DMM standards, at the Saturday parent workshops on Math and Literacy.  It was great to see so many of you here to listen to these presentations.  I believe that most of of the parents left with a much better understanding of what it is that we are trying to do as we tackle these two main subjects.
Mrs Fedio’s  presentation can be seen here .  If you weren’t in attendance, I encourage you to watch it.
The Literacy presentation by our Language Arts teachers was also outstanding, if more complicated to follow.  Literacy is such an important topic and not easy to try to explain in a short amount of time.  I encourage you all to keep in touch with your teachers as your child progresses through the school year.  Good communication will help us all to help our children make great gains in their language skills.
It is time to re-establish the Parent Advisory Board.  PAB is a voluntary group of interested parents, staff and students who would like to be more involved in the school as they meet with the school principal.  If you are interested in participating in these meetings, please note the following:
1.  We meet 3-4 times per year at present at the school usually around 10-11 a.m. Meetings last about 60-90 minutes.
2.  We are not a rule or policy making body.  Our job is only to discuss relevant issues related to the school. More of a discussion roundtable, so to speak.
3. Parental involvement will be a priority for us as we move ahead this year.
4. Please fill out the Google Form to give me your contact information:  here
One thing that I have been thinking about for sometime is the idea that children must move to grow their brain, be creative, and healthy. Lately evidence is showing that children are spending way too much time in front of screens.  From TV, to PCs, to Xbox and the like, too many students are sitting and watching, and “playing” with this technology.  Recently we saw a trailer for Screenagers which you can watch here. The district is sponsoring a community wide viewing of the program in the near future.
At ISG DMM, we are very lucky to have a robust physical education program. Also we are lucky to have the facilities to have such programs. I know that it is not easy to keep your children active as many of you are not near a park or live on a compound with facilities for exercise and play. This video is a thought provoking way to bring attention to an immediate threat to your child(ren). How will you handle it and how can we as a community help?
Have a great week?

August 9, 2016

Dear Leopard Families,

Welcome to the new school year!  I know that I am very excited to begin the 2016-17! Hopefully, your summer vacation was one filled with family, friends, and joy. I consider myself honored and privileged to serve as the principal of such as an exemplary learning community.

Fortunately, our school continues to be a team of exceptionally talented and committed staff that is anchored by a supportive Central Office Administration and Board of Education. This summer, we upgraded our school facility by painting, installing shades and storerooms, and remodeling some rooms for classes. Our custodial staff has been working diligently to prepare the halls and classrooms for another school year. A few reminders:

1.  Please send your child to school with a backpack rather than a trolley.  This should help us keep things cleaner, easy, and simple. Also remember that “less is more”, in that your student(s) do not need a lot of school supplies.  Keep it simple!

2.  Students in grades 3-12 who might be looking for a laptop should follow these guidelines:

Laptops (Minimum Requirements)

Operating system   Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Mac OS X 10.8
Screen Size –              Minimum 13”
Memory  – 4 GB RAM
Processor – Intel i5,    2  GHz processor
Wireless connectivity – yes, 802.11AC needs to be supported
USB – yes
Bluetooth – yes

Chromebooks (Minimum Requirements)

Operating system   Google Chrome OS
Screen Size –              Minimum 13”
Memory  – 2 GB RAM
Processor – Intel i3

We hired and replaced sponsored teachers for this year.  4 of the 5 teachers will be arriving August 13th.  One set of English teachers from Minnesota and one set of teachers from Florida.  I will be sending bios on these new staff next week.  I hope to hear good news on our the last teacher very, very soon.

Our dear Mrs. Doreen Jobard, in preschool lost her husband over the summer.  This is a huge blow to her and her family and to our whole school community.  Please keep her in your prayers as she returns to India to restart her life without her life partner.

Remember that the first day of school is August 22!  Only two weeks away!  If you are arriving late, please let us know one way or another. School Phone:   +966138292444         School Email:  dammam-help-desk@isg.edu.sa

If you have any lingering questions, please do not hesitate to email or call us.  We want to provide you with first class customer service.