Welcome to The New School Year at Bali Island School

Dear Parents,

I hope that you and your families are enjoying your holidays!

Please read this Opening Newsletter carefully, along with the attached BIS Student & Parent Handbook 2016-2017 (click on this).

Both documents will help provide new and returning families with useful information for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

What will be new this year?

As always, there is a great deal going on. Here are some of the more significant changes for the upcoming academic year.

Faculty and Staff: Obviously one of the biggest changes will be myself!  My name is Justin Walsh. I spent the last six years as the High School Associate Principal at the American School of Doha.  My family and I are very excited to be joining the BIS community.  We looked long and hard for a school that fit our beliefs of what great education is; BIS was right on target with the importance of community and compassion, as well as, a culture of growth and challenge for our students.

We have a few more new faces added to the secondary school this year.  Christy Mathers will be teaching Math and Design and Technology for us this year.  She is coming from Kuwait and is a very experienced Math teacher.  Michelle Shepherd will be teaching Drama, Biology and Chemistry-what a combination!  She is coming from Estonia with her husband Tim, who will be covering a maternity post in the primary school. We are fortunate to have Pam Vollmer from Frankfort covering a maternity leave for Maikiko Wood.  Pam brings a wealth of experience as an MYP math teacher. Karli Walsh will be covering Mary MacDonald’s English classes while she is away on maternity leave at the start of the year.  Karli is coming from the American School of Doha and is very excited to be a part of the Secondary School for the beginning of the year.

Facilities/Resources: Over the summer the maintenance staff has been hard at work getting all of our facilities ready for the start of another new year.  We do not have any major additions this year. There have been updates to the pool, covered court area and music room. Additionally, Mr. Hopkins continues to look for new spaces to develop his environmental system projects.  

Program: Following our successful Accreditation/Evaluation visits by the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme (IB MYP, DP), we are able to grow from our own ability to reflect and follow the recommendations from CIS and WASC. A few key priorities for the secondary school for this coming year and the future are:

1.Continue to ensure and communicate the vertical alignment of our courses through                                                 

  the effective use of ManageBac

  1. Harness assessment/learning data and curriculum information to guide instruction
  2. Continue to support the growth and development of mother tongue language amongst our student population
  3. Continue to develop a climate of care amongst our school community and beyond

The reflection and subsequent action steps have provided us with a framework for our continued growth and focus this year. We are also quite excited about many of the milestone dates for this year.

Here are some of the most exciting ones that you may have already heard about.

  • Secondary Back to School Night will be on Thursday, August, 11 from 4-6pm.  This will be an opportunity to hear about both the MYP and DP programs as well as a chance to meet your child’s teachers to hear about their classes.  The evening will begin in the MPR for brief program introductions and then parents will follow their child’s schedule for the remainder of the evening to receive brief overviews of each class.
  • Our whole school celebration of Independence Day will occur on Tuesday, August 16th at 1:45.  This is an opportunity for us to celebrate our host culture and come together as a community.  This event will highlight our students understanding of the culture and context that they are so fortunate to be a part of
  • We will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary on Friday, September 2nd. Mark your calendars so that you can join us in celebrating our diversity all morning during International Day.  All of you should have received a message from the PTFA, inviting you to help set up a country stall for this special occasion. These stalls are not in competition with each other. Instead, they are intended to represent the diverse, yet unified nature of our community. They will share foods, drinks, crafts, songs, games etc. from our various cultural backgrounds. Please contact our parent coordinators Alison or Briged (ajaquier@gmail.com & adambriged@gmail.com) if you would like to become involved in some way. You might also want to consider bringing back some clothing for you and your children that identifies you with your nationalities.


A note about campus security

All parents and staff are asked to wear their ID Badges when they come to school. Please understand that admittance to campus will not be allowed without an ID badge. It is our responsibility to be role models for this behavior, helping to ensure a safe school environment for our students.

Is there an orientation day for new students?

Yes, there is a general orientation for all new students and parents on Thursday, July 28th between 09:00 and 12:00. Everyone meets in the Multi-Purpose Room for a general introduction. Secondary students and parents are then briefly introduced to teachers while they are shown around the school. This is a good time to ask questions about campus activities, lunch arrangements, school uniforms etc. The purpose of our orientation morning is to put new students and their parents at ease and to eliminate the anxiety that usually accompanies new situations.


On what day does school begin?

School begins on Monday, August 1st for Secondary Students.  Students will begin their day in their homeroom at 7:45.  Homeroom lists will be sent out to students and parents and there will also be a hard copy posted at the Secondary School Office.  After a brief homeroom session, all Secondary Students will meet in the MPR for a short introductory assembly, followed by their regular school day schedule.


When are students expected on campus?

All teachers are on campus before 7:30. Supervision does not begin until 7:30. Students may go into the classrooms from 7:30 onwards. The school day officially begins at 7:45. It is important that students are punctual for the start of the school day so that attendance can be taken and important routines established.  Attendance will be taken at homeroom and throughout each class.  First block attendance will be used to let teachers know which students are on campus.  If your child comes late they need to report to the Secondary office to sign in and receive a late pass.  Please look at our attendance policy within the Student/Parent Handbook.


What about dismissal?

Students are dismissed from school at 2:45. If students have afterschool activities they will begin at 3:00. The After School Activities program is set to begin on August 8th.  Students will receive information regarding our offerings within the first week of school.  Being active and finding other outlets are extremely important to the growth and development of all of our students.  I look forward to sharing in these activities with students and learning more about their passions and interests outside of the classroom.


How/When can I communicate with the teachers?

Communication is key to the growth of our students.  At this developmental stage many adolescents want to branch out on their own.  It is important that we maintain an open line of communication between all three members of this partnership: Students, Parents and Teachers.  We, of course, encourage our students to be self-advocates, but we also know the importance of parental support.  All of our teachers are available via email and welcome the chance for a parent to set up a time for a conversation regarding the learning that is going on.


What can I do to help my child prepare for a successful school year?

Learning comes through growth and growth comes through the meeting of challenges.  This is an important time to remind our students that some of our best learning comes from the mistakes that we make and how we respond to them.  It is more important to try and challenge yourself than to simply look for the easiest way forward.  Your child may not show it as much at this age, but they want/need to know that you believe in them and that you understand the challenges they are facing.  Ask them questions, get involved and give them the support that they need.  Their identity is not tied to whatever number they receive on a particular assessment, it is more related to how they engage, reflect and grow as a result of that assessment. This is our charge.


What is the Back to School Night?

Our Back to School Night will be held on Thursday, August 11th from 4-6pm.  We will start the evening in the MPR to go over both the MYP and DP Programs.  After some general information parents will follow their child’s schedule to receive information about each of the classes that they are attending.


Are there important dates I should be aware of?

Yes, our calendar is packed with events, some of which I have already referred to. Please keep yourselves informed of all that is going on. You will receive more information in due course.

In the meantime, here are a few important dates to keep in mind for August and September.

  •  Thursday, July 28th – Orientation for New Students
  •  Monday, August 1st – First Day of School
  •  Monday, August 8th – Morning Parent Presentation on Campus Security
  • Thursday, August 11th – Open House
  • Tuesday, August 16th – Whole school celebration of Independence Day
  • Thursday, August 18th – Evening Meet the Teachers Cocktails
  • Friday, September 2nd – International Day & BIS 30th Anniversary
  • Monday, September 5th – MYP Parent information Session: MYP for New Parents
  • Monday, September 19th – Morning Parent Presentation on Child Protection
  • Tuesday to Friday, September 13-16th – Secondary EOTC Trips
  • Wednesday, September 28th – Conferences


How can I become involved in assisting the school?

The role that a parent plays is vital in the growth of their child at school.  There are many ways to become involved within the school and your child’s education.  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Provide a welcome to new families and students
  • Be a part of school organized curricular events
  • Attend information sessions and providing feedback to the Secondary Principal
  • Be present at student events-Drama, Sports, Cultural
  • Serve on the school board to help provide strategic direction
  • Attend PTFA meetings to engage with parent organized initiatives
  • Participate in ongoing, school endorsed community engagement projects

Creating a community starts with involvement and engagement.  I was so impressed last year during my visits with the supportive BIS community.  I look forward to being a part of that community this year and helping to foster continued growth amongst all of its members.

Information about the Secondary School will come from our parent presentations/workshops, BIS eNews, classroom bulletins, emails and of course face-to-face conversations.

I look forward to continuing with you the positive and nurturing environment that BIS has created.

Kind regards,

Justin Walsh

Secondary Principal

Bali Island School