Wednesday, April 28
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
326 Hongfeng Road
Topic: Reflective Spiritual Beings Curriculum
Attendees: Dr. Christopher Mizel, Family Life Counselor
Each week on Wednesday morning Concordia parents will be able to attend an off-campus, in-person meeting with members of Concordia's leadership and other parents. Based on parent participation, interest, and availability, we will continue to host these gatherings throughout the school year. We will not host this meeting on the weeks that our PSO hosts their Monthly PSO Community Meetings.
At each meeting you can expect to hear an informal talk from school leadership about a particular topic, brief time for questions and answers, and followed up with intentional time for parents and school leaders to connect and get to know each other while sipping on tea or coffee.
Summary of Parents Connect with Interim-Head of School, Doug Grove
April 14, 2021
Dr. Grove began by thanking the PSO and our parent community for your contibutions to building the Concordia community this year. It has been a challenging year to grow community wihout parent access to campus, but our community has risen to the challenge and helped carry our school through the year. We are especially thankful for the PSO monthly events and social events, and their passion for our school and benefiting our parent community. Our parent community is truly one of the reasons that Concordia is such a special place.
Dr. Grove then discussed the Head of School transition process that is currently underway. He is working with our incoming Head of School, Steve Winkelman, weekly to onboard him and make the transition as smooth as possible. Mr. Winkelman is a veteran Head of School in Asia as the founding Head of School at Concordia International School Hanoi. He is already very familiar with Concordia Shanghai and is committed to a long career in Asia. He will arrive in Shanghai this summer and is ready to lead Concordia Shanghai into the future.
Dr. Grove thanked our parents for their part in making this year be our highest student retention year ever! We have more students returning than normal and are expecting next year's enrollment to be the same as this year, which is higher than our original preditions.
He also thanked our parents for their participation in our parent survey and focus groups this Winter and Spring. We are finishing up the last of the focus groups now and will evaluate the results in the following weeks. This information will directly influence our new Head of School and his decisions making for Concordia Shanghai's next steps.
We are excited to begin finding opportunities for parents to enter campus for special events, and encourage our parent community to look for these opportunities and understand that we must transition into this change with respect for our relationships with government officials and pandemic control measures. We may not have opportunities for everyone right away, but we are moving in the right direction that we all want!
The 2021-22 school year is still scheduled to start on September 1, and we will continue to update the community if there are any changes.
Dr. Grove concluded with a statement about travel restrictions and summer break. We are all hopeful that international travel restrictions will lighten in the following months. We know this is challenging for your family, and for our employees. We have many people in our community who haven't been able to see family and loved ones in over 2 years, and they are eager to see their families. We are hoping that the vaccines will help with travel restrictions and that the relationship with the USA and China will improve soon. As soon as we know of any changes that directly impact our community, we will let you know.
What can you tell us about teacher retention this year?
We have a higher percentage of teachers who are moving on this year than usual, but we want to remind you that this was expected. We brought all of our employees back for this year, when most schools lost employees last year. Many people have also been affected by the pandemic and want to be close to family. We will be appropriately staffed for our enrollment next year. We only have 8 new hires who are outside China and need to gain access. Of those 8, only 4 in USA and the rest are already in Asia. We are also hiring above enrollment with flex teachers who can help if needed in special situations.
What can you tell us about the experience level of the new teachers for next year?
We have maintained our high standards for hiring quality and experienced educators that we have always had. Incoming teacher data will be updated here next week.
Should we be back in Shanghai 2 weeks before September 1 to start the new school year?
According to what we know today, that is correct. Travel is easing some within China and allowing low risk areas only, so that should be fine. This is subject to change if regulations change between now and September.
How was the calendar planned for next year?
The goal every year is to maintain 180 teaching days. Since we will start on September 1, we will also end in mid-June. Last year Shanghai schools were mandated to start on September 1 during the summer, so this year we committed to a September 1 start date again to be safe in case it is required again. Starting on September 1 also gives us more time to get our few new hires from outside China into Shanghai. Over the course of the next couple years we will move the start date and end date one week at a time so we can return to our normal schedule.
Will the parent community have an opportunity to meet the new HOS before he starts?
We will arrange a Zoom meeting with Mr. Winkelman before the end of the semester for parents to hear from our new Head of School. You can read more about Steve by clicking this link.
As a parent who has been a Concordia for years, I have noticed that communications has been improving, will the new communications continue with new leadership?
We are working to institutionalize the current communications plan and continue to improve divisional and teacher communications. We believe it is important to connect parents with divisional leaders more. We are also working on division specific communications plans for next year.
Will substitute teachers next year be parents or teachers?
In the past when we have hired parents as substitutes, we try to hire parents with a teaching background. This year we intentionally hired experienced teachers as flexible teachers and substitutes. Next year we will continue to have experienced teachers as flexible teachers and substitutes.
How will the school report the survey and focus group results to parents?
The survey results were published in The Focus over a few weeks and were presented at a PSO Community Meeting. The focus group results will also be published in The Focus. Both current and new members of leadership are already studying and engaging with the results so they can plan and implement necessary changes next year.
As a parent community, we believe that having an open campus and community is important for our school expereince. Has the administration heard this feedback from other parents and will it remain a priority moving forward?
Our community is and always has been a top priority, along with keeping our students and campus safe. Our employees and students have also felt the loss of not having our parents on campus this year. When we are following the regulations set by the government for campus access, we maintain 1) an abundance of caution to avoid risk and 2) a deep study of the policies so we can better understand the regulations. Please know that schools interpret regulations differently and don’t all follow appropriately.
Our administative team has been in active conversation about this constantly since September and always pushing for opportunities to engage with our parents and re-open campus. Through the months when we couldn't open campus, we have asked what events adn opportunities we can host off-campus. We have been able to create many opportunities over the past few months, even weekly, for parents to still connect with the community. We can't wait for campus to be open again for our parents!
How is our government relations compared with other schools?
Our government relations office is seen as a leader in the international school community amongst her peers and we have great relationship with the local and city government offices. We are perceived as a quality and respected school who respects the rules and rulings of the government offices. Some other Shanghai schools look to us for advice and guidance, knowing we are more conservative in our decision making.
What more can we do with social/emotional care in the high school beyond college counseling? Are we doing enough or should we do more?
We should always do more. The social/emotional needs of students are always a priority and always changing. This past year has been even more difficult than usual, and there was already a lot of pressure and stress on students in the high school. We are working on a new counseling restructure plan to better support individual social/emotional needs. We re also looking to add dedicated staffing for social/emotional in the high school.
Will there be a plan to replace the October trips experience?
As of right now we are planning to hold the trips again for the 2021-22 school year. The specific timing of the trips may change due to the start date of the school year, but we want to resume these experiences. These trips are also subject to changes based on government regulations and pandemic developments.
Will the school help facilitate vaccine appointments for the parent and student community? How many teachers are vaccinated?
We are limited with what we can do, like many other companies, so we are leveraging our relationships with AmCham and other partnerships to help where we can. We already had 2 rounds of voluntary employee vaccination windows with about 1/3 employees opting to take the vaccine. We encourage parents to ask if their employers can arrange for their family.
What is our student retention percentage this year?
Most international schools see 15-20% student loss every year. We are currently at around 8% student loss and expect to end with a 10-12% student loss.
What other internatioal schools does Concordia Shanghai compare itself to?
Based on size, quality, and curriculum, we mostly associate ourselved aligned with Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) and International School Bangkok (ISB), as well as Shanghai American School (SAS) within Shanghai. We have good relationships with these schools and ofter share ideas and comparisons back-and-forth.
How do you compare yourself to SAS?
Compared to SAS, we have a lower student-to-teacher ratio that allows for more individualized education and care, there is little-to-no difference on our testing results and academic outcomes, our students attend the same quality colleges and universities (due to SAS' larger size, you see a larger pool of colleges in an individual year because of quantity), and we are a lower price point than SAS.