HOS Employee Newsletter (Archive)

Head of School Communications Letters (Staff)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As part of the WASC re-accreditation and Strategic Planning process for 2019-2025, we are taking steps to hear from the whole HKIS community. Parents, students, employees, and alumni alike are being asked to spend 15 minutes to tell us what they think about HKIS - where we're succeeding, where we need to grow, and what's really important to you about our school.

Students from Grade 5-12 are being asked to take the survey in class this week, and the Employee Survey is now open for your input. For those traveling on Interim, I encourage you to take the survey at the same time as your students on March 9.

The survey is open online for all employees to complete until March 31 and is anonymous. We have two surveys for employees; please fill out the one that’s relevant to you:

Educators (including relevant administrators and teaching assistants)
Operations Employees (all non-education related employees, including relevant administrators)

This survey is distinct from the Great Places to Work survey, as it focuses on who we are, and the strategic vision for the school. The results will be shared in aggregate with all other community stakeholders. Thank you for taking part in the first and important step in this process that will help shape our future.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Lunar New Year is finally here!  This Chinese New Year marks my first full rotation of celebrating the Zodiac calendar and a proud anniversary of my 12 years of work overseas.  I can't think of a community that I would rather celebrate this milestone with than all of you.  Thank you especially for all your work through this difficult flu season. I hope each of you enjoys time away from school.

As a reminder, tomorrow we will have early dismissal following our PD morning.  Faculty members are encouraged to leave at 2 p.m. and Support Staff and Teaching Assistants are welcome to leave after 12 p.m.  


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year! I have enjoyed sharing stories of your holiday experiences and hope that each of you are renewed and refreshed as we enter 2018.  This year, we will continue our work on our operational plan and begin preparing to update our Strategic Plan. Below, I have outlined some of the work we will be pursuing in our efforts to provide you and the students with optimal learning opportunities. This is a bit longer than my usual letters but please take the time to skim through as there are lots of exciting things on the horizon.

Head of School Search - Come meet the candidates
I would like to announce there are three shortlisted candidates for the Head of School position: Kevin Baker, Alan Freeman and Mychal Thom. The Board of Managers has invited them to HKIS at the end of this month to meet with community members, including two open forums: One for parents, and one for employees. Please look for an email from the Board of Managers later today, which will include all three candidate bios, and a separate invitation to these events in the next week.

Building Projects
With a semester under our belts the new Lower Primary building is up and running with minimal bumps on along the way. The building has been a great addition to our program and the LP faculty and staff have done an excellent job of designing, implementing and now making the spaces operational. 
The Upper Primary project is on track for an August opening, and our students will move back to Repulse Bay as planned. The renovated parts of the building will be complete upon opening with new structures opening in stages later in the school year. We look forward to our Repulse Bay home being a fully operational campus, purpose-built for Reception 1 to Grade 5 students. 

This move will also clear the way for Middle and High School to make use of their full space, currently taken by Upper Primary (Middle School) and Head of School, Advancement and Admissions Offices (High School). Plans for these spaces will take into account the space opening up with the development of Site A and Site B. In November, the Board approved the continued planning for Site A as a Student Activity Center which would include a pool and two gymnasiums. With the MS & HS gyms now in a standalone building by the field, MS and HS can expand into the space the gyms currently occupy. In the coming months, the divisions will be meeting with Pat Hall to discuss the blueprints and further iron out the details for Site A. The development of Site B remains under discussion, but may include professional development and teaching spaces. 
In the second semester, we will continue to work towards our schoolwide goals: To ensure that the taught curriculum is reflected in Atlas; that common assessments are aligned with clearly identified learning targets; and samples of student work at different levels of proficiency are housed on Atlas. 

In April, Dr. Marie Alcock will host a curriculum Boot Camp at HKIS and will facilitate discussions related to planning for the future in education. This will be Dr. Alcock’s last visit to HKIS. Dr. Natalie Bolton will be with us in May, and will continue to help us build our understanding of the curriculum, assessment and perception data that we are gathering.   

We will host our annual literacy conference this week and continue to benefit from lab visits from the presenters on either side of the conference. 

Teacher Leadership & WASC
During January, the leadership team will complete our training with Kendall Zoller and Adaptive Schools. I personally have benefited from these trainings and hope that each of you are seeing the results as you meet with all leaders across our campuses. 
Having such a highly engaged and able faculty has allowed us to also look at our leadership structures and review how we can provide more leadership opportunities as a school. This is a timely process due to the nearing of our WASC re-accreditation and Strategic Planning processes, to be completed by the Fall of 2019.  As I mentioned prior to the break, these processes will provide opportunities for you all to be involved in committees to provide feedback on our progress since our last visit in 2013, and will also allow for many of you to assume additional leadership responsibilities.

World Cafés & Perception Surveys
In March we will be hosting our World Cafés as a critical part updating our Strategic Plan. These small-group workshops are an opportunity for everyone in the HKIS community to come together to understand who we are, and what we should focus our passions, expertise and resources from 2020 to 2026. Over the next few weeks, please reflect on our greatest strengths, what we should hold on to, what we should refine, and what we should develop as a school to remain the best American international school in the world. In addition to participating in these workshops, we will ask you, along with all other members of our community, to complete a perception survey on what you think about our school. 
This is just a quick glance at the major tasks ahead of us over the next few months. Please, if you have questions, do not hesitate to ask.



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dear HKIS Community,

As this festive week wraps up at school, I'd like to share some holiday cheer with this year's Christmas card artwork by Jolie Chow (Class of 2029). Be sure to click on the image above to see it come alive! Before you head off on your holidays, here are a few updates:

2018-19 Schoolwide Calendar

Please find the 2018-19 schoolwide calendar with all the key dates for the next school year:

  • School starts on:
    • Wednesday, August 15, 2018, for Grades 1 - 2 and Grades 6 - 12.
    • Thursday, August 16, 2018, for R1 and R2.
    • Monday, August 20, 2018, for Grades 3 - 5.
  • School ends on:
    • Thursday, June 13, 2019, for students.
    • Friday, June 14, 2019, for faculty.
  • High School graduation will be held on Thursday, June 6, 2019.
  • The Fall break comprises a full week from October 1 to October 5, 2018 followed by a Professional Development day on October 8. Classes resume on October 9, 2018.
  • Friday, November 23, 2018 is a school holiday.
  • The Christmas break begins on Thursday, December 20, 2018. Classes resume on Monday, January 7, 2019.
  • The Chinese New Year break will be from February 4 - 8, 2019 followed by a Professional Development day on February 11. Classes resume on February 12, 2019.
  • The Spring break will be a full week from April 1 - 5, 2019.

Information on Upper Primary Redevelopment

The Upper Primary School is confirmed to move back to the Repulse Bay campus for the 2018-19 school year. In order to allow for adequate time to prepare the new learning spaces, school will begin a few days later than the rest of the divisions on August 20, 2018. A full update on the redevelopment progress will be given at the next Upper Primary parent coffee on January 31, 2018 from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. in the Black Box Theater. Parents from all divisions are welcome to attend. Please RSVP here.  

Best wishes to each of you for a joyous and peaceful Christmas holiday with friends and family. See you in 2018!


Ron Roukema, Ed.D
Interim Head of School

Friday December 1, 2017

Dear Faculty and Staff,

December brings so many opportunities for us all to engage with our students outside of the classroom.  Last weekend’s 48th Annual Holiday Basketball Tournament, next week’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, caroling, concerts, and general Christmas preparations highlight the great opportunities in our community.

Since Convocation, I’ve had the opportunity to see this school continue to flourish as you excel in your respective fields of expertise, spend endless hours supporting student needs and the needs of fellow colleagues, and inspire students each and every day. As the weeks fly by, I am mindful that there are some long-term projects that require updates and I would like to remain intentional about communicating these updates to you regularly.  Please find below information that you may find interesting as we think about HKIS well into the next generation.

Upper Primary progress:  The Upper Primary School construction remains on track for opening in August 2018.  This second phase of the Repulse Bay Campus will house an additional section of students (22 students) per grade level and provide an increase of much needed learning spaces. You can see the facilities plan hereWhile the Repulse Bay campus awaits the fall of 2018 to become fully in use, plans for the Tai Tam campus are already moving forward.  

Site A – Student Activity Center:  In the November Board of Managers meeting, the board approved funding to continue the plans to develop the Student Activity Center.  This center is planned to house flexible spaces for studios, two new gymnasiums, an indoor running track, and a new 25-meter, 8-lane pool.  After this first stage of development, there will also be removal of the existing gym and pool space to make way for new cafeterias, flexible learning spaces, and a performance hall that seats 1,000.  Both the Middle and High School will be asked to meet with our facility team to look at current schematics to provide input on the proposed spaces.  The timeline for completion of these projects should they continue to move forward is the beginning of academic year 2022.

Head of School search:  The Board of Managers has been working with the search firm, Spencer Stuart to identify our next Head of School.  This summer, the Board Search Committee met with candidates to determine their suitability for our community.  From these interviews, the Committee has identified seven candidates and provided the Board of International Missions of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod with these candidates.  Currently our church partner is reviewing the candidate pool and is expected to provide us with an approved list in the New Year.  The Board will then shortlist 2 or 3 of the candidates and have them visit HKIS for community feedback.

Strategic planning update: Each year, our school reviews the five-point strategic plan that was developed in 2015.  From the plan, we create an operational plan which we follow closely and report monthly to the HKIS Board.  The operational plan serves as a guide book for our work.  School wide, our attention to school culture, building understanding of our Mission, Vision, and Expected Student Learning Profiles, articulation of curriculum and assessment, developing systems for success and our leveraging of resources are strategy areas that were outlined by our WASC and Strategic Planning process in 2014. Please see the full Operational Plan for 2018. Please note that, in March 2018, we will begin to run data collection exercises to prepare for the  WASC review in 2019, including student surveys and World Cafés. I hope you all will get involved with the upcoming strategic planning and WASC process to prepare us for our 2020-26 strategic plan.

Before our holidays start in two weeks, I look forward to working together with you on holiday celebrations, and having a festive evening together at our Schoolwide Christmas party. 


Ron Roukema, Ed.D
Interim Head of School

Thursday - November 9, 2017

Dear HKIS Community,

Now with the weather cooling and parent teacher conference season underway, we are well into the second half of our first semester. I trust that these conversations are enlightening and useful to you and your children as they progress on their learning journeys.

On Monday, November 20, 2017, we will hold a Head of School Forum from 7:45 - 8:45 a.m. in Room 504 at the High School Campus. In the first half of the session, I will provide you with an update on a number of topics that impact the school, including:

  • Our Head of School and principals searches.

  • Food services on campus.

  • Facilities.

  • Upcoming World Cafes: Stakeholder involvement in developing HKIS’s strategic plan, 2020-26.

During the second half of the session, I will invite Ms. Hui Xu, our Director of Chinese Studies, to discuss the philosophy behind our Mandarin as a Second Language (MSL) and Mandarin for Near Native (MNN) programs, its changes in recent years, and what to expect for student outcomes from R1 to Grade 12. I encourage you to attend this part of the session to get a deeper understanding of how the two learning streams are helping your child succeed in their Chinese studies.

Please join us to ask questions, provide feedback and engage in dialogue. I look forward to hearing from you. Please RSVP here.


Ron Roukema, Ed.D
Interim Head of School

Monday Aug 14, 2017

Dear HKIS Community,

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year! The next few weeks will be filled with excitement as the school year begins and we welcome our students on campus. Soon, our halls will be graced with the presence and energy of eager learners reconnecting with friends, making new acquaintances, and full of anticipation for the year ahead!

These moments that mark the start of a new year also remind me that we are part of a long history at HKIS, one that is rich in new ideas, growth, changes and celebrations. Over the years, HKIS has strived to create the best learning environment for students through continuous improvement and creative, forward thinking.

This can be seen in perfect form as we open our new Lower Primary campus, a state-of-the-art early childhood educational facility. Three years in the making and many more in the planning and design, the excitement in the air is palpable as we await the arrival of our youngest learners. Regardless of your child’s age, we hope that you will take part in one of the tours that will be offered in the coming weeks. Please come and see the remarkable learning spaces that have been created for our students. From the creative play spaces and community areas to the Wonder Lab and purpose-built classrooms, a shared sense of awe, excitement and pride will be felt by our entire community.

This year, I have the honor of serving as the Interim Head of School and am enthusiastic about leading a community that continually amazes me by its energy, resilience and creativity. Our operational plan guides us in our work on curriculum, communication and school culture while we continue to work with facilities upgrades with the Upper Primary renovations, and settling into the Lower Primary building. I look forward to working with you on all of these projects.

As a dynamic institution, we expect transitions on our leadership team from time to time. One such transition will be in the Middle School Principal position as Paul Passamonte and his wife, Stephanie, have decided to relocate back to the U.S. at the end of this school year. This will allow their son, Malakai, to begin his high school years in Hawaii.

Paul has served excellently as principal for eight years. He was the driving force behind expanding the student-centered programs at the Middle School, such as the Pastoral Care Group and House system, which enable faculty to connect with students holistically and in areas outside of the classroom. Paul’s focus on student welfare has been instrumental in helping students build their confidence and independence. The Middle School admin team has also led the faculty in implementing standards-referenced assessment and reporting practices. Paul’s leadership will be greatly missed, and we wish the Passamonte family blessings as they prepare for their new journey. But this is a long way from today, and we will continue to enjoy their contributions to and leadership in our community over the school year. The search for a new principal will begin this week.

As we enter our 52nd academic year, I hope you share my enthusiasm for all that lies ahead: The incredible opportunities offered by our new Lower Primary building, the continued learning and growth of children and adults, and more. I look forward to seeing you around campus and again, welcome!

Have a great year.


Ron Roukema, Ed.D
Interim Head of School

Monday - July 24, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

It is with regret I announce that after 10 years of service our friend and colleague, Maya Nelson, will be leaving HKIS at the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

Maya has served brilliantly as the Lower Primary principal for the past nine years and has transformed our early childhood programs during her tenure at HKIS. Maya established a strong literacy program for our school and brought best practices such as play-based learning and a constructivist approach to learning. These have been so well established over the years that they seem to be footnotes to the other great accomplishments she has achieved.

Maya was a key driver and visionary for bringing about the construction and launch of our new Lower Primary school that opens this fall. The philosophies and best practices developed over the past nine years have been incorporated into the very design of the building and will continue to benefit generations to come. Maya’s passion for children and dedication to early childhood practices is a great blessing to our youngest learners.

Maya has also been committed to the professional development of her team and the wider HKIS community. She started the Literacy Conference eight years ago and was instrumental to bringing about the first International Schools Women in Leadership conference. She has a built a strong Lower Primary team and supported the growth of future leaders through mentorship, career planning and continuing education. In addition to professionalism and passion, Maya values friendship and loyalty, which were foundational to the shared experience of building a remarkable early childhood program.

Maya will be missed dearly, but we are supportive of her decision to return to Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), where her career in education began as a student and as a teacher. Her move will allow her to be closer to her mother and give her family time to reconnect with their Indonesian roots. She will serve in a schoolwide leadership role, as the principal of both elementary schools at JIS.

As we launch the new Lower Primary School this year, we are grateful to have Maya at the helm for its first year and wish her and her family great blessings as they prepare for their move next year.

Our search for a new Lower Primary principal will begin in the fall and we will keep you updated on the progress.


Ron Roukema, Ed.D
Interim Head of School

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Ron A. Roukema
Interim Head of School