Wednesday, August 29, 2007

again...this ain't kansas

The Middle school principal of 27 years is retiring. Here is the announcement of our first candidate. I can not wait to see who he is. Kind of makes you proud to be hired here if this is the level of administrator they feel must be a leader.

And pictures are coming soon...after all it is ghost month!

Dear Colleagues,

As Dr. Hennessy reported in her day one address to faculty, the Middle School Principal Search is well underway. She has been working closely with Carney Sandoe & Associates to narrow the pool of applicants. We are now at the point where the Advisory Working Group can step in to conduct reference checks and plan itineraries for the finalists (and their family members) invited to visit the school.

All MS faculty will have the opportunity to meet finalists when they visit TAS, as well as provide feedback. Candidates will meet with various small groups of Middle School students, faculty and parents during their stay, and all MS teachers will be invited to attend a presentation and Q&A session with the candidate one afternoon after school. (This process will be familiar to you if you recall last year’s superintendent visits.) Your feedback will be collated by the Advisory Working Group and presented to Dr. Hennessy, who will make the final decision.

We are pleased to announce that Mark Tashjian, a candidate for Middle School Principal at TAS, will be visiting our campus in mid October. (Firm dates are not yet available.)

Mr. Tashjian has served as Head of Middle School at Collegiate School (a K-12 boys’ school in New York City) since 2002. Prior to this appointment, he served as Head of School for Harlem’s Children’s Storefront School. After graduating from Yale in 1984 with a degree in political science and international relations, and later earning an MBA from the Wharton School, Mr. Tashjian’s first career in the corporate world included an executive position in a billion dollar chemical company. He gave this up to teach 5th and 6th grade math and science, earning an MEd in Educational Leadership from Columbia’s Teachers College as part of the Klingenstein Center.

Mr. Tashjian was born and raised in Philadelphia and has a young family. He has studied intensive Spanish in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Ecuador while living with local families; he has mountaineered in Nepal, Kenya, Ecuador, France, and the United States; and he has bicycle toured throughout Europe, Japan, and Canada.

The Advisory Working Group members are excited to engage with candidates of this calibre, facilitate their visits, and assist Dr. Hennessy in the processing of your feedback. We look forward to the MS faculty joining us in the task of assessing how well the finalists “fit” our Middle School and, of course, in promoting our school so that Dr. Hennessy may appoint the best of the best to lead our Middle School into the future.

Thank you, in advance, for your support during this process

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Poem about teachers' first days

I have been teaching a very long time. I know what I know and I know that I can teach very well. And yet, every year when school starts I have anxiety attacks out of fear that I have "lost it" as a teacher. Our MS principal addressed this in a really fine poem that could only come out of the thoughts of an excellent teacher. I am posting this and hope that all of your in the trenches might take comfort and hope from this. Teaching is the one of the best professions if the public supports you and the parents with work with you. Otherwise................... Best wishes to my fellow teachers.

The First Day of School

Richard A. Lawson

and what are the important questions anyway?
oh this first day of school after a night of no sleep wondering even fearing how this day will go and all the rest hoping it unfolds neatly as lesson plans promise probably not and in that thought works a hint of unreadiness and a quiet panic that hovers through the black coffee yet later when we gather in first morning expectancy we do manage to breathe though not deeply

my years are useless I am as new here

when the bell rings as all of those now looking at me

but what is this day and all the rest about not of course rules and study habits or even a bag full of knowledge somehow packed in all those books tidy on each desk rather an urge to know that pushes us into wondering about clouds becoming raindrops from another side of the world or why the flower outside the window blooms at this precise moment where the songs in my heart come from and where are they going all those questions not in my curriculum guide but that I now see in a new girl who can’t stay in her seat and dances an interruption around the room negotiates attention in mid sentence and at the end of my wits tells me a story during lunch that is dazzling and profound and in one brief moment I see her soul in love with imagination that must move and wave and try to fly and this is what I must realm on this first day
that in our remembered self is an urge to create I can look for it or not but my choice had better be made with love and reverence for what we all want to express our unique genius no matter what because that is who we are and after all the only question worth considering anyway no wonder the night is full of sleeplessness

this is a question of life nothing else comes close I remember now why I’m here and frightened and so in awe of this moment and these children

Saturday, August 18, 2007

We are Back TAIPEI version

We are back! But his time it is in Taipei, our second home. There is such a conflict of feelings about travel back and forth but a friend of ours suggested that we think of the states as “ back home” and Taipei as “ home.” That seems okay to us.

Thank you to all who met with us, entertained us, came to visit us, and to those who have told us you are watching the blog. We will try to be faithful in posting info if it matters to you. I think the challenge for the second year is to keep our local eyes and ears open to our surroundings now that they are much more familiar. I started taking my camera with me so I can grab the odd shot of the newly painted temple, or the swirling mess from typhoon Sepat, or whatever comes our way.


Do NOT trust Continental Airlines! Without going into detail, Continental had mechanical problems with a flight that used up our cushion between arriving in LA and departing for Taipei. All the service they promised to get us rushed on to the Taipei flight was never delivered and at 1:45 a.m.when asked, a little twerp of a jerk of an ass of a ticket supervisor looks at us and said he was off duty and going home….with three customers standing in front of him. Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe. I did not drop the F word but oh my I am glad there was a counter between us.

We spent part of the night in a hotel near LAX and then started work with counter agents to get us home. Continental was most committed to NOT having to get us a $20,000. ticket home. Our lovely EVA airlines worked so hard to get our seat upgrade back and was able to deliver. EVA is indeed our favorite airline. We watched great movies including Hula Girls(Japanese) and April (French) both of which we would like to own. Any teacher should get Hula Girls as it is an Asian version of Billy Elliott and Mr Holland’s Opus.

We got home at 5:15 am and began to stock up and visit the haunts immediately so as to moderate the jetlag. After about 5-6 days we feel we are back to normal, able to sleep the whole night long. Our home is so comfortable and despite the odd rat on the walkway THERE ARE NO MICE!. Our amah reported all that had occurred in our apartment with an agitation akin only to a wet hen kept out of the coop. She was kept from completing her deep cleaning so boy was she riled. Got to love her. We did get a new bath tub and a new range hood through her “supplications” (NOT!) to her brother our landlord. We really appreciate our 1 year old bed vs. our 30 year old bed in Door County.


There are so many things about being back that felt really good. Not needing to use a car is about topping the list. We like walking and it helps keep me more fit so driving everywhere was not a good thing in US. Access to really fresh fruits and vegetables is another joy. It is mango season so we have half a fresh one for breakfast and/or dinner along with sweet yellow watermelons and pineapples which are now in season. And I am stocking up on fresh passion fruit pulp and juice against winter of doing without.

My evening cocktails are back to gin and guava and tonic aka. G & G & T. It is veritably health coursing through my veins. Carol has got our friends trained to use up their excess duty free allowance on Jim Beam Black when they come through the airport so she is happy too.

We went to Costco and our local equivalent of Home Depot called B n Q and bought a wonderful three burner gas grill. That and a book case were delivered a day later for the tall sum of $10 USD. The propane guy came on his scooter in the rain the next day and, after taking off his Wellingtons, marched to the porch and made sure I would be safe with the grill. Carol constructed a professionally form-fitting oil cloth cover for is so we are ready to let the good times roll. I still feel the need to become one with the ham so I brought two big bags of wood chips with me in the suitcase.

Tien Mou has a tradition of fast turnover of businesses and this season was no exception. We now have a new Dunking Donuts around the corner and a Cold Stone Creamery in the area. The little croquette shop I tried to support as their first customer is now a health drink stand and our favorite Mom and Pop Chinese hole in the wall restaurant is no more. Sic transit Gloria. KFC is now current to the times by offering French Fries (WOW) and their version of cheese fries: they are coated in cheese sauce and rolled in rice crunchies. As always, there is that special Taiwanese twist to life that makes one look or think twice.


School is going to be interesting this year. Our new superintendent is very decisive and strong which stands in sharp contrast to the previous head. The new Upper School principal…..the jury is still out but the words “rule by fiat” slides off one’s tongue. More on this later.

I was incredibly pleased to get the IB Music test scores for my students. The world average for music is 4.62 and my kids scored 5.75 out of 7. I had one lad with a perfect score of 7, two students with 6 and one with 4. I am very pleased. This year’s group is dynamite and ready to take on the musical world with performances and theory. That just means this daddy has got to keep running hard.

I am still so much enamored of the kids. They are truly teenagers and children but they are polite, bright and so cute it is hard to be strict. They are so beautiful and fun! When asked were did you go on your summer break, the response range from South Africa, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, all over the US, France, Germany, Prague and all points in between. Some spent weeks in foreign policy summer camps and others just were here working with their tutors. Most all were sleepless with anticipated joy at returning to school. It is SOOOOO hard to take.

Carol is the choreographer and I am the musical director of the Upper School musical, Once Upon a Mattress. We looked at our old videos of our SBHS kids and had a great sentimental journey. The show goes up in October so we will be very busy with that. Carol’s tap classes will be overflowing and her Tai chi “team” is in full battle cry so she is off and running.


As I write, the super typhoon is just passing off island. It hit well to the south of us so although we got a fair bit of rain and wind, we have not had any of the severe consequences of a category 5 hurricane/typhoon. Folks take all the usual precautions of filling the tubs, pulling everything that can be blown off the porches, putting tape in big X s across the window and keeping the metal security doors down. There is minor limb downage and the streets are filled with debris. Most business stayed closed and there is almost no one on the streets. I walked around this afternoon in my stylish seafoam green scooter parka and rescued another batch of passion fruit from a lingering death. South of here the flooding and outages have been much more severe. The worst thing about SEPAT is that it did not arrive on Friday or Monday morning so we could have a three day weekend.

Well folks sorry for bending you eyes so much. I will try to get pictures and decrease the verbiage. Keep the emails coming and let us know about you


Bill and Carol