Mid-winter musings

Dear Parents,

First, welcome back from what I hope was a restful ski break.  It’s hard to believe that I am already writing the February Head of School Newsletter. It seems like just yesterday that the container truck was pulling up to our home and unloading boxes. Much has happened since then and I am pleased to update you on a few items.

Faculty Recruitment

Faculty recruitment for the next school year is finished and I am happy to report that all vacancies have been filled. The competition for teachers and principals continues to be strong as schools in Asia and the Middle East are both expanding and driving salaries through the roof. The reputation of FIS, however, allows us to remain a sought-after school for top educators and I am pleased with our recruiting success.

Each year, teachers at FIS must inform us of their plans for the following year by 31 January. We offer an incentive for teachers who inform us before the deadline that they will be leaving, so some vacancies are already known in December.  Teachers leave for many reasons: spouse transfers, a desire to live elsewhere, the mission and direction of the school, relationships with colleagues, new professional challenges, smaller or bigger schools, salaries and weather. All of the reasons that impel FIS families to come and go are factors that also impact teachers.

Our recruiting takes place throughout the year, but gains momentum between December and March. We recruit teachers locally, in Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. FIS has an excellent retention rate and we recruit approximately 20-28 teachers each year.

I would like to thank the principals, who have spent long hours and weekends on the road interviewing and seeking out the very best educators to join FIS.

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50th Anniversary Events Registration is Open

I am pleased to inform you that the registration for our 50th Anniversary Gala is open! I hope that many of you will join me on Saturday, 21 May 2011, at 19:00 for this special occasion. Alumni from all over the world and members of our current community will come together at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Frankfurt to share an evening of great food, music, auctions and dancing, and to celebrate 50 years of Frankfurt International School. Because we are inviting members of the FIS community from around the world, we have set up an easy online registration for you to purchase your tickets.  A formal invitation will be sent to you in March, but I encourage you to book your places now, as seating is limited. For those who are unable to attend the Gala dinner, we hope you will join us at the After-Dinner party starting at 22:00.

For questions and additional help, please contact Tina_Shealy@fis.edu. For those of you interested in viewing the electronic invitation that we recently sent to our alumni community, please click here, sit back and enjoy the show!

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Frank Riemensperger welcomes students to the first session of the FIS Internship Program

Internship Program Gains Momentum
On another note, our new internship program started very successfully on Saturday, 12 February as the Accenture team, led by FIS parent Frank Riemensperger held a four-hour workshop on interviewing and resume writing skills for more than 70 of our interested grade 10 and 11 students. In addition, Accenture hosted a kick-off meeting for companies interested in offering internship places to our students this summer; the turnout was excellent.
While we have commitments from many of our FIS corporate clients, including Accenture, Boehringer Ingelheim, Procter & Gamble, Opel AG, Fresenius, Lufthansa, Morgan Lewis, Radisson Blu, Fidelity, SEB, and Freilinghaus Architecture, we still are short of internship places for our students. I am therefore hoping that more companies from our FIS community will support this important initiative and would sincerely appreciate your help with ensuring the success of this program. Please contact Tina_Shealy@fis.edu with any questions or for further information.

The new PS Principal, John Weaver

A New Principal in the Primary School
I am pleased to announce that Dr. John Weaver has been selected as the new Primary School Principal who will follow Teresa Dupre. Dr. Weaver has been a teacher and principal for many years, and will join FIS from Princeton Day School where he serves as the kindergarten through grade 4 principal. Prior to Princeton Day School, John was an elementary principal in The Hague. John embodies a growth mindset and impressed the faculty, parents and principals with his knowledge of early childhood education and ability to collaborate. John will be joined by his wife Dona, who works for KLM Airlines.
The Primary School attracted 40 applicants for the position and the finalists included Dr. Weaver and Caroline Joslin-Callahan. Caroline is one of the finest and most knowledgeable educators in the world, and choosing between John and Caroline was one of the most difficult administrative selections I have ever had to make. The good news is Caroline will continue in her position as assistant principal at the Elementary School, so the administrative team at FIS remains strong. A special thanks to the parents and faculty who served on the interview panels for all candidates that were interviewed. This is a real commitment of time and energy to prepare and participate in the interview process.

The newest member of our Board of Trustees, Roland Rhyner

New Board Member

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the recent appointment of its newest member, Roland Rhyner. Roland and his family joined the FIS community in 2006, and he has two children here, Severin and Vivianne, who previously attended the International School of Amsterdam. Roland studied Hotel Management in Switzerland and currently works for Worldhotels, where he oversees a portfolio of 250 hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He also heads a team supporting the properties on revenue management and distribution.

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PS teachers act the part for “Now and Long Ago”.

PS Students Peer Into the Past

On Thursday 18 February, students in grade one were greeted by “stern” teachers during the culminating event for the “Now and Long Ago” Unit of Inquiry. Children were involved in every part of the planning for it – they researched and presented what to wear, games to play at recess, lessons to learn, rules and punishment, food for lunch and snacks, and what the classroom should look like. The grade level assembly even included a moral tale from Mr. Marshall-Inns about the importance of telling the truth and PE drills that included toe touches, arm circles and marching.

The focus of the unit was to compare life now to life in the past and come to conclusions about the similarities and differences between the two periods. Students explored artifacts, conducted interviews and hosted experts who shared their knowledge about school and life long ago. A field trip to the Kriftel Schoolhouse Museum allowed students to see documents and photographs that provided a glimpse of what school life was like 100 years ago here in Germany.  During the unit children also made diagrams to compare and contrast school today and long ago, and then created timelines in their technology class to show how things like transportation and communication have changed over time. In all it was an exciting and interesting unit for students – and teachers –  and illustrates just one of the many creative and engaging ways that our students learn here at school.

Facilities Update
Investing in our facilities continues to remain a high priority at FIS and our Board of Trustees has approved the continuation of our planning process, so we can be ready to start the auditorium project this July should it be approved at the next Board meeting on 14 March. This initial approval allows all planning to continue and any questions to be addressed before the Board of Trustees votes on the execution of the project. The Building and Grounds committee is meeting this evening to discuss the project and will make a final recommendation to the full Board of Trustees.
The auditorium project will add capacity, improve seating, upgrade all wiring, lighting and technology, and will also include an overhaul of the foyer and entrance to the Upper School.  I look forward to providing you and update after the 14 March Board of Trustees meeting.

FIS has continued to have discussions with the city of Oberursel about obtaining additional property for our school. There is no question the city is partnering with us to find solutions and we very much appreciate their engagement.

Parent Forums

Please note the ES Parent Forum on 2 March will be held at the Upper School in computer lab 280. The session will focus on MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing. Students in grades 3-5 are assessed twice during the school year in reading and math. Assessment results are used to guide instruction and measure growth. Parents will have the opportunity to learn more about this dynamic assessment and experience taking a sample test. Please plan to attend.

An additional Parent Forum will be scheduled for Upper School parents (grades 6-8) at a later date and a Parent Forum at ISW has already been scheduled for 15 March at 9:00.

Budget Meeting
I would like to remind you that on Wednesday 2 March, there will be a Budget Workshop in the back cafeteria for our parent community. This will start at 19:00, and the Chair of the Finance Committee, Wilfried Kastening, will share information on the budget process and the 2011-2012 budget planning status.

Father Winter
Winter weather seems to have given way for the time being, but I am sure that weather challenges remain on the horizon. Just a reminder that if the roads are not safe in your area, please do not drive or send your children to school. You can always bring them in later in the day and they will be excused if weather is a factor. Because FIS attracts students from such a large region, there are bound to be safety issues in some areas and not others. As such, decisions to call off school can’t be made solely because one or two areas are affected, but rather are based on the conditions in areas where we have the majority of our bus routes. This ensures that our students are spending as much time in the classroom as possible.

Kind regards,

Dr. Paul M. Fochtman

Head of School

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