Head of School Letters
Dear Chadwick International Family,
It is wonderful to be back at CI with the faculty and staff the last two weeks. We are just waiting for the students to show up to make the halls come alive. Last week we welcomed our new faculty and staff to the CI community and they are so looking forward to meeting you. They come from as far as South Africa, Hungary, Italy, Canada and the United States and as close as Songdo. Some bring children and partners, some are grandparents and some are recent teacher credential graduates. All are enthusiastic about joining this community and are committed and engaged educators. Along with our amazing returning faculty, I truly believe we have the best educators from around the world working with our students. This intentional focus on a diverse faculty means that we all have the opportunity to learn and grow with individuals who think differently from us or have different backgrounds and cultural experiences. We truly aspire to be a reflection of the world within the walls of CI.
Over the summer, my family and I had a wonderful few weeks with friends and family in Northern California. We surfed, played a lot of soccer, read and baked a lot of pizza. All the boys are expert pizza chefs as we had a wonderful pizza oven at the house we watched for friends. We also had a mini CI reunion as the Mercer and Cameron families visited as well as David Maher.
Of course, we read, wrote and played each day. One of the books we read as a family, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders is a book I remember reading in as a student and it was wonderful to share this book with my family and have them love it as much as I loved it as a teen. We then watched the movie and I appreciated that they liked the book better! I hope you took time to play and read with your family as well.
At the end of the school year the administration and the Chadwick International Governing Board (CIGB) had a day long retreat to think about the strategic focus for the next year. We looked at a huge collection of data about the CI community and worked together to talk about the strengths and opportunities as well as weaknesses or threats to our growth and success. Through the course of the day, we defined some strategic school goals connected to our Mission, Inclusion, Community and Sustainability. All of this was focused towards creating a sustainable school in every way to ensure that CI students will continue to learn and thrive here into the future.
Last year, we launched the new Chadwick Mission and worked to live in our daily lives. This statement defines WHY we do the work we do together as a community.
Chadwick Schools develop global citizens
with keen minds, exemplary character, self-knowledge,
and the ability to lead.
This statement applies to all members of our community so you as parents have the opportunity to also develop into global citizens with keen minds, exemplary character, self-knowledge, and the ability to lead. Please join us in embracing this Mission!
Over the course of last school year the faculty and staff at both Chadwick campuses worked collaboratively to further define our purpose and how we live the Mission each day. This Philosophy statement was adopted officially on both campuses to describe the HOW of our daily work together and with students.
Chadwick Schools are deeply committed to self-discovery through experience and reflection. Students develop the joy of learning, self-confidence, well-being, and curiosity through interactive and practical experiences. Our schools share the core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness, and compassion.
Through active participation in an intentionally diverse and inclusive environment, students make a positive impact within and beyond their own communities. By living and learning in a student-centered, collaborative atmosphere of excellence, integrity and trust, we come to expect the best of ourselves and others.
At the last faculty meeting of the year when this statement was shared, there was a resounding “Yes” from the faculty and staff. This statement is an authentic representation of how we work with your children each day. It defines our aspirations for them and together we truly do come to expect the best of ourselves and others. We are privileged to be working with your children each day. We invite you to join us by living this Mission and Philosophy with your family as well.
Today we have 116 alumni of Chadwick International and they have or are about to launch to schools all over the world as confident global citizens. The class of 2017 were our first International Baccalaureate Diploma cohort and they were incredibly successful. They also love to remain connected to CI and have already been coming back to visit as they get ready to leave for college or other adventures. The relationships they have with the teachers, students, and faculty at CI will endure and continue to serve as supports as they further explore independence as young adults.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
- [June 6, 2017] Parent End of Year Letter 2017
- [May 16, 2017] Rites of Passage
- [March 21, 2017] Message from Head of School
- [February 9, 2017] February Updates
- [February 1, 2017] Lunar New Year Letter to Parents
- [September 30, 2016] Head of School Update
- [August 5, 2016] Welcome letter from Head of School
- [August 8, 2017] Welcome Back!
Dear Chadwick Community,
It has been a wonderful few weeks at CI. We have seen the successful graduation of our second class of seniors and welcomed them into our alumni association. One of the most touching things was the number of 2016 Alums who returned to welcome them into this new phase of Chadwick life. We met together and talked about college, relationships, military service, learning to drive and the great adventures from the last year. The connection between the two classes was lovely to see. I mentioned the concept of transitions like this being “bittersweet” the idea that there is a sadness of good-byes and the anticipation of new adventures. As a parent, I always end the year with bittersweetness. I am sad to say goodbye to the particular developmental stage a grade represents and excited to see how my children will grow. I look and can easily reflect upon how they have grown and matured over the year and mourn a little for the little boys I now only see in photos.
Also, it was touching to see the number of former teachers and friends of the school present at graduation. It reminded me that although we say goodbye to a number of our community this year, they will always be ‘Chadwickians’ and our paths will certainly cross again. One of the most special aspects of the graduation for me is the number of students deeply connected to their teachers and administrators. More than a few commented that it was unusual for so many hugs to be given on the stage as diplomas were exchanged and at the reception following. I certainly have the memory of only one teacher I would have considered “hug worthy” from my high school. This is a visible sign that something special happens here.
Over the next few days there will be many celebrations of learning and end of year transition events. As these unfold, remember that each moment is precious and you as a parent will never again experience this particular age of your child. Spend some time this summer celebrating the 5, 7, 10 or 15-year-old in your house. Get to know them and find out their passions. These may change quickly and these special moments are fleeting. Commit to loving your child for who they are today and see what happens when you do offer that unconditional love.
A few weeks ago, a group of parents met to discuss Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly. The conversation was personal, restorative and reaffirming. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book in English or Korean as a summer read. The work we do each day as parents is the most difficult job in the world and having some perspective can help reduce the natural anxiety which comes from not knowing if we are doing it “right”. We plan to do more book clubs and parent conversations into next year and I welcome book suggestions or ideas you have. One of the things I know for sure is that we are in this together and supporting each other makes us stronger as a community. As parents, we will continue to explore what the Core Values and Mission of Chadwick means in our daily lives and how we can better support the development of both in our children.
Another book I strongly recommend reading is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It is an extraordinary story of a young man who is different and how he navigates the world. The message is so powerful that I spent an entire year when I was the Village School Principal reading the book at assemblies to the students. It is one of the most powerful books written for children that I have ever read and is an excellent family read. It is available in Korean and English. Read it this summer as in November, the movie about the book starring blockbuster actors from the United States will come out. Share the experience of the powerful story to get excited for the movie.
Next year offers new opportunities for our community to better live our mission and we know that a theme will be about inclusion of all students and parents more deeply in school life. This includes a focus on language inclusion with some new consequences for not engaging in our language policy and the use of English as an inclusive language. We will be more vigilant with our expectations and will be noting on academic reports when students continue to defy our inclusion policy.
We will also be looking for deeper connections between parents from all parts of our community. How can working mothers, fathers, grandparents and speakers of languages other than Korean and English be more deeply involved? How can we better discuss and set supports in place for you as parents? How can we better support you as parents in understanding our curriculum and extra-curricular programs? What does it mean to be an international school in Korea with a second campus in the United States? How do we value the cultures of our community and the unique Chadwick culture? These and other questions will form the basis of our work together next year and I do hope you are excited to engage with us.
Have a wonderfully restorative summer and please do enjoy the time with your child(ren). We know as educators that unstructured time when children move past boredom into independent play and exploration are some of the most valuable learning opportunities. This time allows children and young adults to consolidate and reflect upon their learning and is an important part of the learning cycle.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Last week, I witnessed clear evidence of student learning in the PYP Exhibition and the Personal Project Sharing. These two events mark the end of two programmes for the IB. These student-centered experiences are culminations of the PYP and the MYP highlighting all that students have learned during the years they are involved in the programme. These are rites of passage marking the movement of students from the PYP to the MYP and the MYP to the last two years of high school. Our students in both grade five and grade ten articulated a passion, sought out further research, structured a plan for taking action and reflected on their learning. These experiences give students and the rest of the community an opportunity to celebrate student learning collectively and individually.
Another rite of passage is happening each week this spring as students embark on outdoor experiences with their classmates. This marks the first time many of our G6 students have been away from home for more than a night or two and they are nervous about all in front of them as they walk up the stairs of the bus for this first “real” OE experience. Grades seven and eight continue with basecamp experiences with longer day hiking and paddling opportunities as the years progress. Grade nine, ten and eleven signals a change, now students are expected to pack their gear and move camps each night. They also cook for themselves and I have heard that the quality of the meals depends upon the skill of students. Finally, after the exams are complete, the grade twelve students will head into the wilds of Australia to conclude the OE curriculum for Chadwick International with a student led, supervised expedition. This truly is a rite of passage when students have the option to spend a night completely on their own and spend time contemplating the end of childhood and start of a very different phase of their lives.
Last week, I also had some conversations with parents and students which stayed with me for a different reason. A group of grade eight girls and I were chatting and I asked about their summer plans. One said she thought she would spend the summer in “academies” I asked why and she said to get ready for high school. I then asked if she thought it would indeed help her get ready and she looked at me a bit confused and then confided that no, it would not help but she had no choice. As the day went on, I thought about this over and over and reflected on what a waste of a summer that sounded like to me. Instead she could be volunteering to support those less fortunate or working or following a passion. These seem to be such better uses of her time. Now, I know that this is a fine line and parents may be looking for a way to ensure that their child does not sit on their computer for the entire summer, but there must be a better option. Maybe summer camp or helping out a neighbor or relative?
Another conversation was with some grade five students. We were discussing some of the projects on academies done for exhibition and we talked about what the students learned. The research shared did not make the case for hakwons or academies being beneficial and the numbers of students in the fifth grade attending them was staggering. Now not all are bad, some for music, sport or even the ones designed to support a student who is struggling have specific value. However, the bulk of the students seemed to be placed on a treadmill by their parents where there was no end in sight. These academies are taking advantage of parental fear and causing otherwise intelligent parents to lose sight of the best interests of their children. In fact, the research shared by the students highlighted the significant negative consequences of hakwons as opposed to the benefits. This is in line with other research we have found.
A third conversation was with a parent who had avoided enrolling her child in hakwons and was feeling peer pressure from other parents to go against what she deeply felt was right. I know she is not the only parent feeling this way, but the voice of the scared and anxious parents blocks out the voice of the confident, independent parents. We want to start a conversation about this and want to provide support to parents who are actively being selective about the hakwons they enroll their children in to support the health and wellbeing of our students. If you are making careful choices about your child’s needs and talking with them about the hakwons they feel they need, please let me know. Together, we can support each other to make choices supporting the well-being of our children.
Experiences such as the exhibition, personal project and outdoor education are the moments when true growth is observed in the students. These opportunities for exploration, failure and recovery mark true learning and progress. This is part of what makes a Chadwick education unique and more relevant than other types of rote learning. Throughout the entire educational experience at Chadwick, students are pushed to deep understanding and construction of knowledge. Teachers guide and nurture learning, providing the scaffolding to ensure students are ready to take the next step in the learning process. This journey looks slightly different for each student as each student is unique and has different passions, talents and natural affinities or struggles.
Yesterday on Teacher Appreciation Day, remember to share a simple story or thank you to let the teachers who spend their days with your children know how much you appreciate the work they do each day with your child. I know I am incredibly thankful that each of my boys gets challenged and supported in unique ways by the adults in our community. They feel confident and unafraid to take risks because they know the teachers are there to support them.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear Chadwick Community,
Spring is certainly in the air as the weather gets warmer and we are all getting restless. Hopefully the warmth continues and the air quality gets better so we can all get out and enjoy this beautiful season. Spring time also means more of our community will be biking and walking to school. Together with other schools in Songdo, we have started a Schools for a Safer Songdo campaign to encourage us all to being more mindful. We are specifically encouraging drivers to obey red lights, check for cyclists and pedestrians in crosswalks and corners before proceeding through intersections and for those of us on bikes, scooters, roller blades, etc. to be always wearing a helmet.
We have been and will continue to be monitoring safe driving on campus and expect parents and drivers to support a safe community by:
●Observing drop off areas. Students should not be dropped off in the street outside our gates or in areas of the garage. Parents are welcome to park and walk students into the school from the garage, but drop offs need to be done at the two designated entrances by the MS/US and the VS.
●Observing the arrows and following traffic patterns in the garage and parking areas
●Observing safe speeds around campus and on our grounds
●Being respectful to our security staff whose primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of our children.
International Parent Family Fun Day
Please join us to continue the friendships and connections started at our meet and greet on Sunday, April 9th, from 4:30-6:30pm. We will meet in the MS / US cafeteria for a potluck dinner and have games on the Bell Tower lawn. This event is parent sponsored and is open to any families identifying as international. More information will be posted on the International Parent Band.
Parent Book Club
I have done lots of different things professionally and have never been more challenged than in my role as a parent. Parenting is a job fraught with complexities and challenges and there is no one right answer. Are we being too tough, too flexible, too involved or not involved enough? Are our expectations too high or too low? Are our children succeeding, happy, fulfilled, challenged, supported, etc...? These questions are very difficult to answer in the moment and it is only through reflection after they are out of the house we will know for sure.
One way we can support each other is to be more vulnerable. Recently, I had the privilege of seeing Brené Brown present at a conference. She has done extensive research on shame, vulnerability and courage. Her Ted Talk called the Power of Vulnerability has been watched over 28 million times. It is subtitled in many languages. Something that stuck with me from her talk is that our goal as parents is to have our children leave us with a high level of hope and deep belief in themselves.
This spring I invite any parents interested in joining me in reading Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. We will have the Korean version and a sign up for ordering the English version at Spring Book Fair. The English version is easily accessible via Kindle from the Amazon store if you prefer an electronic version. We will plan an opportunity to meet and talk about the book later this spring.
If reading a book is not realistic, how about an article - 10 Insights of Remarkable Parents from a Family Therapist. There are some great quick ideas in this article including ideas around limit setting and knowing when to listen and when to talk. An idea is to focus on one of these ten Insights and see how it changes you as a parent. I think we all aspire to be remarkable parents, the journey is just ever changing and complex.
Have a lovely break next week.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear CI Families,
February is a busy month at CI filled with the culmination of faculty recruitment for next year, admissions screenings for next year, and re-enrollment contract signing. February also marks the end of our second sports season. Last week we got the news that our Middle Years Programme had been authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The teachers in G6-10, Connie Kim, Principal of Middle School and Russell McGrath, Principal of Upper School supported Caroline Rennie, Director of Secondary Studies as she led the authorization process. This authorization is a further statement about the strength of our academic program. The report specifically provided the following commendations:
●The school actively promotes responsible action through a range of initiatives within and beyond the school community.
●The school provides an extensive support network for advising and counseling students in both their academic and personal development.
●The school utilizes a wide range of resources and expertise from the community to ensure learning within the programme is authentic and relevant.
●The school has built a stimulating learning environment based on understanding and respect throughout the school community.
●Learning experiences allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways across all year levels and most subject groups.
Last weekend, we had many students eager to see if they would be offered enrollment to CI for next year. This group of G3-11 students included a number of siblings and former CI students hoping to rejoin our community. This coming weekend, we will have the opportunity to meet another PK-G2 students. Students of this age are always fun to have visit our community as they bring all of their enthusiasm and little of the nervousness we see in older students. Overall, we had a 34% increase in applications over last year and we know that this means we will have the opportunity to have some of the best students in Korea join our CI family.
You will be given access to the re-enrollment contracts for the school year 2017-18 tomorrow. It is imperative that you are timely with your re-enrollment contracts and deposits as we will be making our admissions decisions based upon the re-enrollment numbers. No late payments or contracts will be accepted this year due to the incredibly high demand and complex admissions process.
Please encourage your children to use English as much as possible while at CI, Not only is English our language of inclusion, meaning it is our shared language, but also, social practice of language is an excellent way to solidify bilingual communication skills.
Recently, we have updated our policy around the use of Chadwick International by private drivers. If you sometimes use personal drivers, we are unable to accommodate them staying on campus during the day. We expect them to leave CI after dropping off your children and they may return for pick-ups. We simply do not have the space to accommodate the drivers at this time.
As an ongoing effort to provide the safest environment for our students, please make sure that you are always wearing your CI Parent ID when visiting campus. We are constantly evaluating our safety and security procedures and welcome your feedback.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any ideas to support the further development of CI or have any questions. You are welcome to contact me directly or reach out via the CI Box, an online form.
Have a wonderful week and weekend.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear CI Community,
Happy New Year! I wish you much happiness and prosperity in the year of the Rooster.
A new year offers opportunity for reflection and goal setting. Much of our work at CI is driven by clearly defined goals and we often talk about how we can work as a team to achieve these goals. This ambitious goal setting and drive to be successful is part of what makes the CI community one which is inspiring. I have been thinking a lot about intention recently as I make decisions and reflect on our communities growth and progress. Sometimes the goal can get in the way of an intention and sometimes an intention can impact a goal.
Recent events have given me pause for deep reflection about the goals and intentions of my work at CI and the work of our community as we strive to best support students. We have talked a lot about wellness and how to ensure that we are providing our students with the critical life and academic skills to be successful outside of CI. In particular the life skills learned at CI, advocacy, leadership, independence, responsibility, compassion, honesty, fairness and respect provide a foundation for our students as they leave our community and enter into adulthood. These conversations around life skills certainly continue, however there is another conversation we need to be having.
Parenting is a stressful job, full of ambiguous situations and fraught with the potential for wrong decisions. Frankly, few if any get it right most of the time. We make the best decisions we can with the information in front of us and then continue to make different decisions when we get new information.
One of the most stressful aspects of parenting and the one I hope you can all intentionally lean into in the Year of the Rooster is letting go. Let go a bit of our ambitious for our children to be what we imagine for them. Sometimes these ambitious are true to our children’s abilities and passions and sometimes these ambitious are driven by things we wish we could have done. They are put upon our children with the best intentions however one thing we hear from our students across the divisions is that these ambitious also put a lot of pressure on them. I do this to my children, it is an inevitability of being a parent.
My resolution for the Year of the Rooster is to more embrace my children at this moment as the people they are without pressure from me to do more. Sure, I am still going to force them to put the xBox away and read books or do homework. However, I am pledging to be more intentional about the words I use and the goals we set together. My intentions are going to be driven by who they are, not by the things I wish I had done or have done in my past. I want them to lead meaningful lives and meaning can come from many directions. I want them to find a place which makes sense to them, classes which are right for their academic journey at this minute, not what they could become with more work, a university where they feel challenged and supported, where they feel a sense of community and are able to pursue their passions, a team which values them as a member and where they are able to contribute, and a friend who likes them for who they are today as imperfect children.
I encourage us all as parents to pause the pressure and embrace the children in front of us with love and compassion. Together we can work to help them lead truly meaningful lives where they are fully engaged. Letting go allows our children the freedom to be the best version of themselves as opposed to feeling the weight and pressure of our hopes and dreams.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear CI Families,
It is amazing to be about to enter into the month of October. It feels like moments ago when we welcomed our new students and celebrated the start of school with our all school assembly. It has been so rewarding to see the students and the teachers inquiring and working together these first weeks of school. October is filled with experiences rich with student learning. We will have two grades in the upper school away for the G9 Boom trip and the G11 outdoor education experience. At CI, students from all grades are reaping the bounty of the garden's harvest and getting solidly into the routines of school. Students at all grades will be talking about summative and formative assessments and projects for different classes.
It would be hard to miss the press about the recent "Law on Prohibiting Illegal Solicitation and Bribery Acceptance" in Korea. Although CI was not specifically mentioned on the list of schools in Korea being held to the new law, CI is working to ensure that we are following the expectations of the law. As you may be aware, the actual details of the law are being sorted out by lawyers and legislators and we will be keeping up on the discussions and alerting you to any new information.
It has never been a practice to provide any types of presents for services at CI and we do not expect to have issues around the law as we all follow the CI Core Values. However, we know you as parents want to be supportive and generous to the faculty and school. At this point, to make things very clear, please refrain from bringing any treats or gifts to any school employee. The reality is that the best reward for a teacher who has supported your child is a heartfelt note. As a teacher, I received many thank yous and the ones I still have are the particularly thoughtful cards from students and parents. If you wish to make a donation to the school programs, please contact Dr. Unna Huh, as her role supports development and fundraising at CI.
October will mark another important opportunity for the entire community as we launch the Schools for Safer Songdo campaign. Over the month we plan to work with all the schools in Songdo to encourage safer practices, specifically, we are expecting that individuals in cars stop at red lights and check intersections before proceeding into them and that everyone using wheels for transport such as bikes, rollerblades and scooters wear helmets. We expect that ALL members of the CI community including parents, drivers, employees and visitors comply with safe driving practices around CI. It is imperative that we set a specifically positive example for our neighbors to ensure the safety of our children.
As a parent and as a member of the administrative team, I really appreciate the level of sharing happening on BAND from teachers, students and parents. Often there are articles or other items I want to share with you as a community, so I have decided that a Head of School Band would support communication. This is a public band designed to share relevant information and articles with families. If you have any specific issue you want to bring up, please feel free to contact me directly or use the CI Box on the portal. These observations, suggestions and comments come directly to me and are addressed as soon as possible.
This weekend, CI will be busy with athletic events and professional development. We are also hosting a number of visiting teachers from Chadwick School for our professional development weekend. Hopefully, in the midst of your busy weekend, you will have time as a family to play together. I am pleased to be able to celebrate the founding of Korea along with all the residents of Korea on Monday.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear Chadwick Community,
Hopefully you are wrapping up a summer filled with family and relaxation. This break away from school allows our students to consolidate their knowledge and reflect on the concepts and inquiries from the past year.
Although students arrive on August 11th for the first day, there is significant activity around campus already. Over the summer we had 140 students attend a variety of summer camps provided by the CI team. These students explored passions, developed skills and continued their social development with CI teachers and students.
This week we have welcomed 36 new faculty members to our community. These new teachers and interns join us from as far away as Columbia and Germany and as close as Hong Kong and Singapore. We have a few new members of our community joining us from other schools in Korea. A significant number of our new hires are interns and as a school, we are excited to be expanding our intern program into the middle and upper school.
More and more we hear how Chadwick International is leading educational conversations throughout the region. This has allowed us to attract the best teachers and to continually set high expectations for all members of our community.
There are two new exciting things to share with you. The first is that the Roesseler-ChadwickFoundation Board of Trustees has revised the shared mission statement for the two Chadwick schools to include a more global perspective and the vision of leadership for our students. The new mission continues to hold intelligence, character and self-discovery in high esteem, but the words have been refined to more explicitly describe our aspirations for Chadwick students.
The new mission for Chadwick Schools describes the why of the work we do. Answering the question, what is our purpose as an educational institution?
Chadwick Schools develop global citizens with keen minds, exemplary character, self-knowledge, and the ability to lead.
We look forward to exploring how the refinement of the mission will support deeper inquiry and ethical leadership for our community.
This summer as a community, we read the book A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. The book supports and encourages a schema of questioning focused on understanding, testing assumptions and taking action. This framework supports our goals for students to become inquisitive explorers of the world with an approach to seeing situations they can improve and then calling upon their intellectual, ethical and leadership strengths to make the world a better place. The question framing my work this year is - How might we encourage our students to change the world?
Already we have witnessed some of our students take strides in this direction. This weekend a group of CI student scientists will be profiled on SBS news about the work they are doing to raise awareness of the importance of protecting tidal wetlands in order to maintain stopover areas for migratory birds. Korea is in the center of the East Asian - Australasian flyway and supports endangered birds such as the black-faced spoonbill and the spoon-billed sandpiper. Our students have been studying these birds in a variety of grades for six years.
I am looking forward to seeing what all of our students accomplish this year! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or suggestions. My door is open to you and if you are unable to visit, feel free to email or post your ideas in our Suggestion Box.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
- [June 10, 2016] Message from Head of School
- [May 4, 2016] Message from Head of School
- [February 19, 2016] Message from Head of School
- [January 22, 2016] Happy New Year!
- [September 23, 2015] Competition, Teamwork and Compassion
- [September 8, 2015] Message from Head of School
- [Augutst16, 2015] Welcome letter from Head of School
Dear Chadwick Community,
As the year winds down I have only appreciation for all the members of the CI community. Once again, students, parents, teachers, support staff, administrators and community members worked together to make CIa wonderful place to call home. As a young school, it is so important that we work to build culture and our culture is one of connection, innovation, inspiration, collaboration, integrity and appreciation.
Graduation offered a lovely opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a CI student and our recent graduates certainly are poised to make a difference in the world. They have been leaders at CI since they arrived and have lived up to the task of leadership and mentorship in all aspects of our school life – in classrooms, on the fields and courts and in the community. They are ready to move into new adventures in different parts of the world, but are nostalgic about the time spent as dolphins. Rose, the Class of 2016 President assured them the would be “Chadwickians” forever and that includes the parents of these inspiring young men and women. The Chadwick circle only gets bigger with each new member and the relationships created from those connections. As Mr. Ted Hill said in his remarks “you are part of our family – the Chadwick Family – today and for your whole life hereafter.”
Jake, the Chadwick International Student Body President stated “each one of us underwent positive changes with the help of the wonderful community and people in Chadwick.“ As a witness to the growth of all of our students, it is with deep appreciation I thank the families who have trusted us with the development of your children and the faculty who have championed, supported, pushed and encouraged our students each day this past year.
David Snipes, the invited faculty speaker of the class of 2016 graduation, gave the graduates two charges – the first, to spend the next years testing limits, enjoying new experiences and saying yes to opportunities. The second charge requires the courage to take a stand and be ANTI – to stand up for what is right and actively fight injustice in the world. We expect our students to do more than stand by and watch the world go by, we expect students to engage in practices so that basic human rights are upheld. He implored them to be anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-discriminatory.
I encourage you to support your children in having big conversations this summer. Read together to explore different perspectives, play together to celebrate your family connections and talk about the things that are important to you as a family. Even young children can appreciate the needs of others and these types of conversations help build empathy and compassion.
As I finish up my year as Head of School, I am incredibly appreciative of the support and trust you give us each day. Each of your children are precious and it has been an incredible privilege watching them grow while getting to know you this year. Have a safe and joyful summer.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear Chadwick Community,
What an amazing few weeks it has been for our community! We have celebrated artists across the upper school with the AP art exhibition and the unveiling of the new atrium art collaboratively created with visiting artist, Brandan BMike Odums. Upper school musicians shared their love of music and the result of months of practice in the Spring Concert. Students in the middle and upper school have participated in outdoor education programs designed to support deep learning about oneself, building up of resilience and an appreciation for life removed from technology, classrooms and home responsibilities. Parents helped celebrate our amazingly talented and enthusiastic faculty with an appreciation dinner and supported the culmination of CI’s International Week. Our oldest students attended the first CI Prom, sports seasons culminated and classes finished in preparation for exams. Some of our youngest students performed in their first play.
Students in all divisions shared their learning through student-led conferences where they took parents through their individual learning journeys. The depth of knowledge our students possess about their own learning across the grades is a remarkable consciousness unusual to most students. Teachers at CI certainly focus on the students understanding the why of learning each day in classrooms, play spaces, courts and fields. This understanding allows student to be the drivers of the learning, and inspires learning for intrinsic reasons – the feeling of internal success.
The remainder of the year will move at a lightening pace with CI’s first graduation a few weeks away and the final days of school quickly to follow. The Class of 2016 deserves some specific acknowledgement as they have been in the unique position to be leaders since the opening of Ci when they were seventh graders. These students were the firsts in everything – the first middle schoolers, the first freshmen, the first junior and varsity athletes, the first student government leadership, the first to start the clubs, the first to go through exams, college placement and soon graduation. These students and their families are remarkable vanguards of the Chadwick Mission. They demonstrated the three facets of our Mission – academic excellence, self-discovery through experience, and demonstration of exemplary character through it all. The school community is indebted to this first group of risk taking parents and students. They have certainly left a lasting legacy for us all to aspire toward in future years.
By now you all should have seen the email from Trevor Russert, our Director of College Counseling and have been able to celebrate the success of this graduating class. The class of 2016 has been accepted to universities around the world in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. They represent some of the most competitive schools in the world and some of the most sought after programs at these universities as well as very unique and specialized programs. These graduating students know who they are and what they want to do next, they have had excellent coaching from our college counseling team of Trevor, Hannah Yang and Mia Cho, and have been supported by their parents to make choices right for them. Our students are not simply picking name brands, but are looking very specifically with a critical eye at programs and schools in search of individual best fit choices. There is no doubt that this group of students will continue to make their families, CI and Korea proud as they enter into adulthood. I am so looking forward to what is next for these young adults.
Student Safety Reminder
With warmer weather and blue skies, we are seeing even more students and adults on bicycles or on foot around CI. PLEASE be extra cautious about your driving throughout Songdo. There have been recent incidents of poor driving choices such as speeding, running through red lights and turning from the wrong lane. Please be mindful of your driving and alert anyone who supports your children in getting to school to follow posted speed limits and driving directions.
In particular, do not proceed through intersections without looking for pedestrians and cyclists and follow red/green light signals. One of the scariest things for me is imaging one of our students injured or killed by careless driving. PLEASE be safe behind the wheel.
Please remember to take time with your family to enjoy the lovely spring weather – get outside and play together!
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear Chadwick International Families,
Happy New Year! I hope you and your family benefit from a healthy, prosperous and joyful year of the Monkey.
For CI, this time of year marks a time of important work as we focus our efforts on attracting and welcoming in new members of our community. Since before we resumed school after winter break, principals, Craig Williamson and I have been working to attract and hire the best teachers for CI. This year we benefit from a low turnover of teachers leaving CI and a deep pool of excellent applicants for our open positions. The main reason for teachers to move from CI are life transitions such as retirement, changes in relationship status and opportunities to grow professionally. This last group is exciting as it includes a number of interns moving into teaching positions in Korea and other excellent international schools around the world as well as teachers moving into administrative roles. Part of our commitment to our faculty is to develop them professionally, we see the benefits of this development in our classrooms and are proud when our community expands to other schools as we feel the experience our students and teachers have at CI deserves to be shared and expanded.
As faculty contracts are being confirmed, there is another very important process in place. Our admissions numbers this year are at an all time high with a number of applicants going through or regular process and a growing number of international families new to Songdo on our rolling admissions list. One of the most important things we do as a school is to invite the best fit families and students to join our community. This year we have added a parent interview to the process and we expect this to ensure families new to CI align to our Mission and Core Values. Every year the energy of these new families grows our CI family in positive ways. Thank you for welcoming in these new families and participating in the admissions process.
Our re-enrollment process is underway and this year we expect there to be very strong retention rates. It is imperative that you respond to the contracts and pay deposits on time as we will take non-responses as an indication you are leaving the community. The spots will quickly be reassigned to families in our wait pool. We expect to reach our cap for Korean passport holders and spaces will be in high demand. Contracts and deposits are due March 4 and the following week the admissions decisions will be made.
One thing that will remain constant for school year 2016-17, but will change for school year 2017-18 is we will move to collecting tuition in both US dollars and Korean won. The change is necessary due to the large expense the school has in US dollars for faculty salaries and purchase of educational materials. The past three years, the school has taken on the burden of currency hedging to ensure that tuition levels are kept as low as possible for you. Each year, our direct costs go up connected to salary increases and inflation.
We are letting you know our plan now so that you have as much time as possible to prepare for future tuition payments. Currency exchange rates can go up or down, so our goal is to ensure that over the long-term the costs are protected from changes in both Korean won and US dollars by charging a percentage of the tuition in each currency. We expect the percentage to match the actual percentages of our expenses.
Many of you also know that this is an exciting and stressful month for our seniors and their families as they await college acceptances. Already we have seen amazing success with our seniors as students have been accepted into some of the most prestigious universities in Canada, the US and Korea. We look forward to sharing the list of college acceptances once the admission decisions have been finalized later this spring.We have great confidence in not only our students, but also the reputation Chadwick International has begun to establish, the history of Chadwick School and our tremendous college counseling program run by Trevor Russert, Hannah Yang, and Mia Cho.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear CI Community,
Happy New Year – I hope that you all had time to connect as families over the winter break. Over the break, I did a lot of reading, some professional and some just for fun. We also read a number of books as a family about India, the country we traveled through over the break and worked to reflect on what we saw by keeping journals. These are not the favorite activity of the boys, but I do think they will be great memories for them in the future. Too often life passes us by very quickly and we do not take the time to process what we see and experience. Reflection helps us make sense of these experiences.
Of course, we also took as much time as possible to play. Sometimes this was a board game, sometimes in a pool or beach, sometimes with the Legos we brought along with us. One of the things I read over the break described 16 different types of play defined by Bob Hughes.. Alejandra Gomez provides an illustration of the 16 types of play for easy reference. I hope as part of your resolutions for the year, you can incorporate some of these types of play in your families. All our students, from PK to seniors benefit from some moments of play in their lives. As adults we also reap the benefits of these moments of learning, connection and freedom.
Play may be more important now as the year begins to build momentum toward graduation for our first senior class, DP course selection for our G10 students and conversations around outdoor education programs and exhibition begin in earnest throughout the school. All of these elements add to the rich school experience our students are privileged to have each day. Day to day, your children are immersed in a community interested in their voices and these voices lead to amazing ideas, projects and experiences. Students are encouraged to follow their passions for service, sport, debate, MUN, robotics, music and drama to name a few. I am continually amazed at how a spark of interest in a student can lead to meaningful projects which far extends outside the school walls.
You may have already noticed one way we are trying to highlight the rich and innovative programs at CI in a new way. Over the fall and into winter break, a team led by Helen Lee and Chul Park, worked to create a new image for the school through our website. This image is a better reflection of the actually day to day experiences we have as members of the community. The site aspires to share our program with the world aligned to the themes of Innovation, Inspiration, Collaboration and Connection. Explore and give us feedback on how it feels tosee Chadwick International in a new way. The site is really designed for an external audience with the purpose of giving a snapshot of our unique program to those unfamiliar with the CI experience. The second phase of the work will be to enhance our user experience through the CI Portal, newly renamed The Bell Tower. You can still reach the former resources you use on a regular basis by clicking on The Bell Tower link on the upper left hand corner of the site.
Already the site is getting a lot of attention in Best-in-Class design for school websites and will be featured in an upcoming article written by our website provider. The site is also responsive in design for the rapidly growing number of visitors with mobile devices. We look forward to hearing your feedback. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear Chadwick Community,
The last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time cheering and watching sporting competitions around CI. I have watched MS and VS soccer, US Tennis, MS and US Volleyball, US Cross Country, US Dance, US fitness to name a few. In each case, what struck me most was not the scoreboard, but instead the spirit of teamwork and compassion on the fields, courts and trails. In each team I watch play volleyball, there was a series of well orchestrated rituals of support – after a missed serve, after a point scored, at the end with the bow.
During the dance performance at a recent volleyball match, there was an opportunity for the team to come together in this graceful way. A misstep occurred and the student recovered brilliantly – not letting it show, this perseverance is the key to what I am hoping our students learn during their time at Chadwick. Then, as I walked out to tell her this, my comments and support were clearly unnecessary. Her team was around her making sure she felt supported and nurtured. I remembered back to the first game I saw with cheerleaders, dancers, a pep band and the crowd cheering – I got choked up and realized that these things made us feel like a “real” school. I reflected back and got goose bumps thinking that not only were we a “real” school, but also our students were powerfully learning the “real” lessons our mission aspires.
Last week I had the privilege to volunteer for our Cross Country Meet. We hosted 8 schools and had over 221 students on the course. As a former distance runner, I know cross country best as a sport and appreciate the work involved in getting to the course. As I watched, I observed athletes running as they had been born to it – graceful almost as if they were taking flight, their legs and feet a blur of speed and agility. There were also students doing this distance for the first time and their courage and perseverance were clearly on display as they paced each other and kept going through the pain in their eyes. I know they will be back stronger than ever next time, and hopefully they become life-long runners. Seeing the beauty in the trails no matter what place they finish.
One game during the VS tournament this weekend was my favorite. One of our teams was clearly winning the game so Mr. F, the coach, pulled each player aside as he subbed them in and set a new goal – get one younger student on the field the ball and help him score. This forced the boys to look up, talk to each other and pass. It also gave some great opportunities for the older boys to really look out for their teammate. Not only was this fun to watch, but it also was fun for the players. When talking about it at the end of the day, my son said it was his favorite part of the day – they worked as a team, they focused on supporting each other, and the reward was totally intrinsic – to get a friend and teammate to be successful. It was clear from the other faces on the field that the rest of the team thought this was a lot of fun as well.
Across the events there were common themes. These teams all worked together, almost in a dance to not only score points, but also to support losses. These moments are the most important to me. Our students will be faced with competition, challenge and loss throughout their lives – it is in these moments, I think a Chadwick experience is most powerful. How we react to pressures, negativity and defeat are the true signs of our character and in each observation I clearly noticed how our students work together, looked for the lesson and then moved on. With the support and guidance of their coaches, they are becoming not only strong athletes, but also individuals worthy of the label role model.
The last example as well of the others, illustrates why we do what we do here at Chadwick – for the internal motivation and reward of seeing someone become successful. How can we be better friends, teammates, and parents? By helping others to succeed. Ask your child how they helped someone at school. Ask how they looked out for a classmate. Ask your child how they reached out to a person who may not know Korean as well as the others and included them by speaking English. Ask your child how they looked beyond themselves to the larger community. Ask how they taught someone something new. These are the true measures of our character and the important aspects we will all take away after having been a part of this community as a student, parent, teacher or coach.
I know these are the lessons I take away every day and it is the reason I walk the hallways – to catch members of our community going out of their way to champion someone else. I see it everyday all over the school and it reinforces my reasons for being part of this community.
Shelly Luke Wille
Head of School
Dear Chadwick International Families,
Welcome back to school! I have loved seeing your children settle into the new grades and classes. This year, we kicked off our CI year over a month ago when our new faculty arrived for orientation. It was amazing to see all of our new faculty connecting and integrating with our returning educators. As a community we started off the year thinking about why we do the work we do with your children. My big "WHY" is to support students in reaching their potential and inspiring them to make a difference in the world. This “WHY” has driven my career and in all facets has given me a reminder of the importance of the work done by educators every day.
One of our teachers followed up with this "WHY" conversation to ask seniors “Why do you come to school each day?” Their answers were enlightening as they provide us some real data about the aspirations and desires of our first graduating class. Most of them are here to gather knowledge, develop skills and connect with their community in order to make a difference in the world. They are eager to answer the “big questions” facing us in the future and aspire to “literally save the world.” They want to be knowledgeable, contributing citizens and want to truly make a difference. That being said, some of them said they come because they have to or to get into a good college. Hopefully, they will start to understand more deeply the intrinsic reasons we should be searching for knowledge. Learning at CI is not a means to an ends, but valuable in and of itself.
Recently, I watched a video that inspired me as a parent. Hopefully you know the story of Malala, a young Pakistani woman who defied the Taliban to continue her education. She later was shot and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Her father speaks so eloquently about his role in her inspiring story. He ends his talk by responding to a question he gets asked frequently about what he did to inspire his daughter. “Don’t ask me what I did, ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings and that is all.” This response is a reminder to all parents, we need to allow our children the space, love, respect, trust and confidence to develop into the people they are meant to become.
You can watch this moving TEDtalk with Korean subtitles by selecting Korean (or another language) under the Subtitles icon.
The power of Ziauddin Yousafzai’s words are even more important now as we watch the world news and the tragic stories of the Syrian refugees. How can we each inspire our children to look beyond themselves to serve as champions for those with less? We all are incredibly privileged and that privilege comes with the opportunity or in my mind, obligation, to serve others. This service can take many forms and indeed does in our clubs and other service projects. We as parents can be a model for this in our actions and in our words. How are we taking care of others in our daily lives? How can simple things lead to a better world for us all? How can we each work to ensure that we do not clip the wings of our children?
If you joined us for Back to School Nights last week, you would have seen the wonderfully talented and passionate educators working with your children each day. These individuals are driven each day to give students the skills they need to be successful and the perspective to understand the potential of their future. The underpinnings of the Core Values along with this deep skill development will undoubtedly set our students up for success in whatever direction their wings take them.
I look forward to continuing on this journey with you as we watch our students take flight!
Head of School
Dear Chadwick Families,
I hope that you have had a chance to rest and enjoy family time over the summer break. It has been wonderful to get back to Songdo, and to reconnect and welcome our new faculty. Chadwick International is buzzing with activity even though we are ending our summer break. Over the summer, we had camps running both for new and current students and hosted students from local public schools. These camps provided the opportunity for sharing our educational philosophy with a larger audience and gives students the opportunity to continue their learning over the summer in the “Chadwick way”.
Some of the most strategic work we do is in the recruitment and hiring of new faculty. This year, there is a wonderful cohort of new faculty from all over the world and they have demonstrated a high level of engagement and connection to the Chadwick Mission already. I am excited for the new teaching teams to connect next week and for the students to enter their classrooms on August 14 for new student orientation and August 17, the first day of school.
In the spring, I responded to some questions that have been published in the Chadwick School Compass magazine. These responses outline some of my goals as I step into the role of Head of School here at Chadwick International. In the article, I outlined my primary goal as Head of School being to focus on strategic initiatives that benefit the entire community and set the school up for long-term sustainable growth.
Some of these initiatives include:
- Looking for ways to further connect with local and international educational institutions as we build our reputation of being a model school into new environments.
- Supporting our first graduates to find their own individual “best fit” universities.
- Nurturing the growth of the Outdoor Education and Service Learning programs to be more deeply embedded in the life of the school.
- Expanding the design/making and intern programs through the three divisions of CI.
Since I first stepped onto the Chadwick International Campus in November of 2010, I have always thought of the word POTENTIAL when I think of Chadwick International. It was obvious on my first visit that this was a community of passionate educators and students. I continue to see potential in our school, our faculty, our families and most importantly our students. I look at the highly engaged, thoughtful and hard working students and know that the world is in for a great future. I am excited to watch our graduates and our students continue to make a difference in our lives and in the world.
See you soon!
Shelly Luke Will
Head of School