Summer relocation newsletter 2020
In most family relocations, school-aged children can rely on a good deal of support from their new school. The administration and teachers may be...
Summer Relocation Newsletter
Welcome to our Summer newsletter, bringing you articles, news and updates from the world
of international relocation and education.
Making the Best of Staying in place
By Erin Fitzgerald, GMS - Content Manager at Living Abroad LLC
Making the best of staying in place
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact everywhere, and in countless areas of daily life.
For many, public health risks also mean temporary delays in their plans to live and work in new locations. Government border closures, decreased transportation availability and other practical considerations have slowed travel to and from many parts of the world to a halt. Nevertheless, it is critically important to be prepared for the return of globalization.
Here are some things that you can do while you wait for international mobility to resume.
Documentation and certification updates
Now more than ever, rapid change in immigration policies and compliance practices are major areas of concern for the international traveler. Governments, globally-mobile employees and the organizations for which they work all have a great deal at stake. Staying on top of expiry dates, application requirements, and deadlines is critical. It can also be worth performing an inventory on personal, professional, and legal documents to determine what challenges may arise later. For example: Should you procure or renew your driving license now and if so, how and where? Will the expiration date on your passport meet the destination country’s requirements on the day or your arrival? Will you need officially certified translations of any of your legal documents, school records, or letters from your bank or employer in order to obtain a visa, or work permit? Evaluating these needs and planning well in advance can help to smooth many of the other processes when it is, at last, time to move.
Check-ups, prescriptions, and other health considerations
Already, we are beginning to see new health-related requirements for entry into countries - most notably, a physical check-up, proof of negative/antibody status for COVID-19 and, in some cases, mandatory post-entry quarantine.
As borders begin to tentatively open, these requirements are likely to increase in the coming months. COVID-19 test results must generally be within a short time frame prior to travel, and scheduling a checkup and test in alignment with this is a good idea. If you are likely to be subject to quarantine, it is important to make arrangements for this well in advance. Now is also a good time to evaluate your other medical needs. Will the medications you take regularly, or the medical equipment you use regularly, be available in your destination country? Can you bring supplies with you, or ship them? It’s also important to know that in most cases, pharmacists will only fill prescriptions issued by physicians in the same country. Nevertheless, having a prescription on hand from your home country physician can help expedite the process of obtaining one in your destination country. And, as always, it is wise to evaluate the need for vaccinations and emergency medication when you know you will embark on international travel.
Personal and professional organising
Always felt a little at odds with a scheduling tool, productivity app, or project management software? Attracted to a new way of doing things or solving problems, but haven’t had a chance to try it out? Now might be an excellent time to evaluate or review organization methods. What systems are in line with your goals? What actions seem doable? Taking time for thoughtful analysis and evaluation bolsters the next step, building the relevant habits and practices into your daily life.
Even if your destination country speaks English in business and everyday life, familiarity with other local languages can help you navigate daily routine and improve your cultural agility. What’s more, learning at least some words and phrases in a local language is often perceived by locals as a courteous gesture.
There are many ways to pursue language learning even if in-person options aren’t currently feasible, ranging from books and podcasts to mobile phone apps and even teleconference classes or tutoring. Pursuing language learning can also be a great way to...
During the pandemic, many clubs, organizations, neighborhoods and groups around the world have become more reliant on online communication out of sheer necessity. This has meant new community presences online where previously there were none, and it has also meant upticks in participation for previously established Facebook pages, group texts, Twitter DMs, Meetup sites, Slack channels, Weibo groups and more. Identifying and then participating in these may provide you with valuable information, and even help you establish local friendships ahead of your arrival.
While research on COVID-19 is still relatively new, much of it already points to the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health - and to the challenges of doing so. Fortunately, this is another area where current technology meets new needs. Medical professionals can work with patients via teleconferencing or even texting. Providing medical, diet, exercise, lifestyle and mental health support in these environments, eliminating exposure risk.
Consider taking advantage of expanded or enhanced health services and programs, especially those for which you might newly qualify. In addition, familiarizing yourself with up-to-date information and research on COVID-19, via your own government’s resources or the World Health Organization, can empower you to make the appropriate decisions about how best to pursue self-care.
Even during the best of times, waiting can be frustrating and stressful. Looking ahead and planning for your new relocated future can be a great way to combat anxiety, and prepare for a surge in productivity - both now, and later.
ACS International Schools welcoming back some students...
We are Ready to welcome you back!
Health, safety and wellbeing remains our priority
ACS International Schools’ UK campuses re-opened on 1 June 2020 for students in Early Childhood, Pre-K, Kindergarten and Grade 5. Additionally, from 15 June, Grade 11 students are invited to return for in-person learning support before the school year ends.
This follows UK Government guidance and aligns with returning UK school years. All other year groups will continue distance learning until the end of the academic year on 24 June.
We have worked closely with parents, guardians and teachers to complete a comprehensive risk assessment to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community. For all other students, our distance learning plan continues through the end of the school year. Read our guide to distance learning here
The decision to return to school for these grades was made following very careful review, risk assessment and consultation with our community. Our returning families can be assured that we have complied with the Government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. We have put in place the five key steps of safer working together.
We have worked closely with parents, guardians and teachers, facilities staff and experts in the field to complete a comprehensive risk assessment to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community
Dr Robert Harrison, Education Strategy Services Director
Ready to work and learn with confidence
Class sizes and spacing
We have organised our facilities and classrooms in a way that lowers the risk of transmission. Maximum class sizes will be 10 students with appropriate marking to encourage social distancing. Playgrounds with shared toys and equipment, and specialist teaching will be used by only one group, or thoroughly cleaned between their use. Students will be able to enjoy green outdoor spaces on our extensive campuses. Our younger students can still learn in our Forest Schools under appropriate teacher supervision.
Trained health workers and school attendance
At each campus we have trained nurses on hand every day, with access to appropriate PPE, to deal with any health concerns. School nurses are supported by our membership of the Medical Officer of Schools Association, and we have secured advice from health and safety experts in developing our return to school plan. All returning staff have been approved to work, and they monitor their personal health daily.
We have communicated clearly our expectation that families follow UK Government guidelines for staying safe outside their home, international travel, and personal health. For more information on these Government guidelines, click here.
All students on campus with Covid-19 symptoms will be sent home, and will be directed to an available test in cooperation with local health authorities. For more information on this, click here.
Cleaning and protection
ACS facilities teams at each campus have put in place enhanced cleaning procedures that meet British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) standards and recommendations. All students and staff will continue to be reminded to wash their hands properly with the hand wash generously provided in every classroom and study area. Common spaces and high-touch surfaces are disinfected six times per day. Learning spaces are thoroughly cleaned each evening.
Different - but still safe, meaningful and fun
The return to school and the classroom experience will be different for all our community, but there will be much that is still familiar. All three ACS UK campuses are fortunate to benefit from spacious, green environments that provide a wonderful setting for learning and extensive outdoor areas for play and relaxation during breaks. All our schools offer the opportunity for some physical exercise, within social distancing guidelines, to ensure our students maintain both their physical and mental wellbeing. Our curriculum is also designed to take maximum benefit from the wonderful natural settings in which our students learn.
Getting ready for the classroom of the future
Dr Robert Harrison, Education Strategy Services Director and Dr Kim Elms Curriculum and Assessment Strategist
The classroom of the future
Dr Robert Harrison, Education Strategy Services Director,
Dr Kim Elms, Curriculum and Assessment Strategist
The impact of coronavirus has turned the world upside down. For education, it has been undeniably disruptive, but amidst this disruption, the pandemic has also been an accelerator for rapid, positive change.
As we have been catapulted into this sometimes-strange new world, educators around the globe are being forced to consider how the changes that are happening now, in response to current challenges, will transform the way we teach and learn going forward. What will the future of school life look like?
At ACS International Schools we have been articulating and preparing to implement a new education strategy for some time. This strategy focuses on fostering the growth of the individual by promoting personal and academic challenge, recognising personal and workplace skills, prioritising health, safety and wellbeing, and celebrating diversity and a culture of inclusion. Through this approach to education, we aim to effectively encourage learning that goes beyond traditional classroom practice, creating opportunities for children and young people to learn in a way, and at a pace, that is best suited for them. Our strategy places students at the centre of their learning — they are in the driver's seat, and we, as educators, are providing them with a roadmap in which they can achieve their learning goals.
Even before the coronavirus forced our hand, ACS Education Strategy was designed to be flexible and adaptable. An urgent and important adaptation has been a move toward online education delivery inspired by blended learning. This approach is re-shaping how we teach and learn, so that are ready for whatever the future throws at us — and so that our students are equipped with the skills they need to stay ready for their futures, too.
The future of the ‘classroom’
As we explored how best to respond to an emergency pivot to distance learning, we needed quickly to build competencies that could strengthen instructional delivery both now, and sustainably into an uncertain future: the modern classroom. The Modern Classrooms Project is a non-profit organisation that partners with schools all around the world to advance education.
It's a modern approach in that it advocates the use of electronic and digital devices, but it's also modern in that its pedagogy is significantly forward-looking. The three key principles of the Modern Classroom are: blended instruction, self-paced structure, and mastery-based grading. And it is with these principles that we, as a school community, are exploring as we move forward into a new school year that may demand even greater flexibility than lockdown, school closure, and a phased return to on-campus learning.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have already begun to put some of these principles into practice. Pointedly, we have all jumped head-first into a form of blended learning that will likely inform the way education is implemented for the coming months and years. Of course, this new model needs honing, but over time, we hope to develop and establish our own ACS version of a modern classroom that will prepare students to thrive in tomorrow's world, both personally and professionally.
So, you will be asking yourself, what does this all mean for me, and my child studying at ACS? And what does the concept of blended learning actually mean?
Schools have been using variations of blended learning techniques for some time now. These models ‘blend’ where and how learning happens between online at home and in person at school. A “flipped classroom,” for example, is a variation on blended learning in which students are introduced to a concept at home and practice working through it at school with the teacher (that is, home is for ‘teaching’, and school is for ‘homework)’. In a blended model, learning happens both online (at a distance) and at school (in person) together in a unified instructional design.
Online activities do not take the place of face-to-face instruction; instead, the two ways of delivering and interacting with the curriculum complement each another. They truly “blend” to create an enriched and more personalised learning experience — often driven by students’ own choices and changing needs.
Blended learning relies heavily on contemporary educational technologies as well as teaching practices that are rooted in modern cognitive psychology (current understandings about how people learn). It sets us for success in on-campus learning, in hybrid-flexible models of delivery (where students may be learning in class and remotely at the same time), and in situations where groups may need to pivot quickly again to learning exclusively at home.
All learning is likely to become more ‘blended’
Thanks to the coronavirus, blended learning is likely to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future. But it’s not only useful in a pandemic. Blended learning helps develop deeper understanding of core academic content by promoting student agency. Here, teachers thoughtfully facilitate students’ collaboration, communication and critical problem solving. Students are still supported by adults, but instead of instructing them with knowledge (filling their heads with information, or ‘covering content’), teachers are encouraging students to construct their own understandings, uncover for themselves the best ways to learn, discover new ideas, and increase key competencies.
The Modern Classrooms model recognises that students learn in different ways and at different paces, and blended learning offers a prime opportunity to cater for these varying needs. Teachers provide tools and learning assets (for example, instructional videos, tiered assignments and digital applications) - and students use them to advance their skills and understanding. That advance happens in the classroom with their peers, and at home independently.
In this blended model, as students are introduced to new ideas through multi-media tools and activities online, teachers are better able support them on a more individual level, flexibly grouping students based on their pace and interests. This approach reflects the way our students will undoubtedly work and learn throughout their lives. It effectively prepares them to be ready for the future world of work in which they will be increasingly responsible for their own learning.
Blended learning isn’t new, and is only modestly revolutionary in most contemporary educational contexts. Schools have been using this approach (to varying degrees and with a range of outcomes) long before our current crisis. But, schools with deep understanding and effective practices in blended learning were more easily able to pivot in response to the virus, and, as a result, schools around the globe are beginning to pay much more attention and critically evaluate its benefits in the modern world.
So, while we all continue to battle out the unknowns of this pandemic, our teachers and leadership team are busy developing the plans for the next stages of ACS's journey, and rigorous professional development is being undertaken to ensure we, as educators, can effectively lead our school community on this new journey.
ACS Campus News Roundup
Read the latest from across our four schools....
Class of 2020 will be a year to remember...
At the time of publication, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are a little different on campus....
And we have had to think of new and inventive ways to celebrate our success and share our accomplishments. To that end, ACS had virtual graduations this year at all of our four schools - ready to celebrate our Grade 12s.
We wanted to include all of our community and with some students and family members not even in the same country, this was a great way to collectively get together and celebrate all the wonderful things our students have accomplished.
ACS Egham - 29 May
53 students graduated this year from ACS Egham at an online ceremony that was also livestreamed to friends and families around the world.
Care packages of surprises were delivered to each student from both the school and the PSO (Parent School Association) along with their diplomas, caps, gowns, tassels with year charms and International Baccalaureate pins.
When it came time to give the students their diplomas, we switched to the family online and watched the parents hand over the blue folder with many shaken hands and big hugs. We also hid this year's awards in the box and parents were sworn to secrecy - although even they did not know what award was being given until it was announced!
Awards included the Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS) award for Internationalism, Leadership and Community service awards and the coveted Founders' award, this year given to Joe Martin. We even managed to have a hat toss - but did warn the parents to move anything breakable! We even managed to get a picture of the students before lockdown.
I wanted to drop you an email following on from graduation. Although it wasn’t the ceremony we had originally hoped for, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. It must’ve been frustrating to have plans changed at the very last minute, but in true ACS fashion, you all pulled it out the bag! The IB has taught how me to approach learning in a way that I will use for the rest of my life.
ACS Egham Graduate, 2020
ACS Hillingdon - 4 June
55 students graduated online at ACS Hillingdon. This particular Class of 2020 have been resilient, adaptive and challenging!
Graduation started with a less than traditional procession with each student having filmed a short intro with both messages on card and family pets on show!
Guest speaker Lord Jim Knight addressed the students via video. He talked about how this pandemic robbed them of the proper moment they deserved. "Leaving school should be a big group hug - a celebration, a goodbye and a commemoration. However, like so many other things they have had to be postponed or re-invented. We should reflect on the last few months and that we will always remember it - and the new cliche question will be 'tell me, what did you learn from lockdown' ". He finished by saying that this generation is the generation of innovation. Your future is good - if you collectively decide to own that future. Take responsibility together to communicate, to innovate and to act. Good luck!"
A number of awards were given that included the Leadership award, Community Service award, and of course the Founders' award. Also this year for the first time we had two Valedictorians: Eemil Moisio and Yomna Mahmoud. Both achieving the same highest grades.
ACS Doha - 4 June
58 students graduated from ACS Doha, 8pm Doha time. The ceremony was conducted in both English and Arabic for the attending audience.
Head of School, Robert Cody, spoke to the class of 2020 about the fact that things don't always go as planned. How we chose to respond to that disappointment is what defines us, not the disappointment itself.
For the first time ever in ACS history, two Founders' awards were given this year. This award is presented to a High School graduating student who has demonstrated excellent academic achievement, consistent involvement in extra-curricular activities, school life, service to others, and school leadership.
The worthy winners were Michael Meijer and Sanjana Manon. The faculty decided it was too close to call.
ACS Cobham - 5 June
179 students graduated from ACS Cobham. The online event attracted over 700 students, family and friends watching around the world.
The ceremony was presented via Zoom Webinar and streamed live on YouTube for family and friends. Messages of congratulations could be seen on the chat from families across Europe.
Musical contributions included the Marimba Band, a saxophone solo, as well as a solo rendition of a Million Dreams.
MC'd by our very own Cy Iravani, contributions included video speeches from Barny Sandow, Head of School; Kristi Sheard, Acting High School Principal, and a number of students including the student chosen class speaker, graduate speaker and Valedictorian. Special awards at the event included Salutatorian, Valedictorian and the prized Founders' Award, which was given to Sarah Ogundare.
We must do more
Racism and racial discrimination in any form are unacceptable.
ACS International Schools stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We are proud of our culturally-diverse community of students, families, staff and alumni representing over 70 nationalities, and recognise that we have an important role to play in being a positive catalyst for change.
As an organisation of four schools, we have taken the time to reflect. we remain committed to educating ourselves and improving how we address inequality and injustice. Listening to our community has helped us form action plans around a number of themes. Our schools will be engaging with students, parents and staff to hear their voices and join us in developing this action plan. We are committing to:
- Reviewing how any reported incidents of racism and discrimination are managed and acted upon in line with our behaviour policy
- Continuing to review our curriculum and teaching practices to ensure that all cultures are represented
- Reviewing the guidelines for the formation of student bodies and clubs, to ensure that any forum for students from minority groups can be established, and is inclusive of all students who have an interest
- Working with alumni of diverse backgrounds to act as role models to our current students
- Reviewing our online guidance, training and policy, including removal of comments
- Focussing on increasing diversity and training in our staff so that we have the widest possible representation in our staff community
- Inequality and injustice are unacceptable. We will work with our community to build a better future, where everyone is safe, equally valued and able to fulfil their potential.
Inequality and injustice are unacceptable. We will work with our community to build a better future, where everyone is safe, equally valued and able to fulfil their potential.
By Andrew J Kittell
Summer News in Brief
By Andrew J. Kittell
Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, forcing historic economic disruption on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. ACS International Schools certainly aren't immune, closing and shifting to K-12 online learning. But they've also adapted well to the new normal. According to enrolled family surveys, ACS managed this transition better than many schools. But what comes next for global mobility is far less certain. Some in the talent mobility industry suggest a V-shaped recovery, with moves simply delayed. Other see a much-longer road ahead, with mobility stalled until a vaccine's developed and deployed. Unfortunately, a guess is the best anyone can offer.
Mobility events move to the virtual realm
For now, the industry's major events are as close as your computer screen. From June's Forum for Expatriate Management Americas Global Mobility Summit in Dallas to September's Canadian Employee Relocation Council Conference in Vancouver, public health advisories have made large-group gatherings too risky. There's still speculation that the Worldwide ERC will follow suit, moving its end-of-October Global Workforce Symposium online. This will also be a first for the single-largest meeting of global mobility professionals, an event where ACS has been present for more than a quarter century. In all likelihood, these events will renew in person once a coronavirus vaccine's widely available.
ACS launches remote campus visits and events
Responding to the new normal, ACS International Schools have been offering virtual campus tours and open houses, introducing our schools in the UK and Doha, Qatar to families living down the road or continents away.
We're also using Zoom to link our alumni worldwide with some of our inspiring teachers both past and present. These "Tea With A Teacher" meet ups have proven very popular and often moving, with former students acknowledging the impact these educators have had on generations of ACSers.
Engaging alumni, raising awareness and funding summer study scholarships in 2021
In addition to the outreach mentioned above, ACS has specifically engaged its US Alumni and Friends by forming chapters in New York City, Chicago, and Houston. More are planned. Beyond reconnecting our former students and parents socially, these networks are funding all-expenses-paid scholarships for summer study and travel in a two week residential course at ACS Cobham we call the British Studies Summer Programme (British Studies). For now over 20 years, hundreds of highly deserving and academically able high school-age students from across America have sampled an ACS-style education. With the help of our alumni and friends, we hope to double British Studies' enrollment, rising to 40 students in June-July 2021. To learn more and possibly fund a scholarship, please see this YouTube hosted video
ACS North American Office travel suspended
For over 25 years, ACS has remained active in the global mobility industry as a thought leader advising on how to best support families in international transition. Our team members regularly present at industry-leading conferences, contributing significantly to the same.
When safe to do so, ACS International Schools will return to North America's leading talent mobility events. We look forward to seeing you all again then.
More details about these events and other ACS North American Office 2020 travel commitments will be announced via LinkedIn and Twitter.
Profile: Mary Bojarczuk
Senior Manager, RSM LLP
Mary Bojarczuk is a tax specialist managing the US Southeast region for Global Employer Services for RSM, LLP, a tax firm with nearly 10,000 employees and the fifth largest in the country.
She began down this career path after earning her MBA in 2005 and working for local accounting firms in Texas, then moving to Virginia in 2011 where she joined RSM.
In addition to being a global mobility tax expert, Mary skillfully manages and motivates people. For most this presents a challenge, one she describes so, “While there are many challenges with any leadership position, my top priority is my team and making sure I have everyone on track and rowing in the same direction. The energy and attention I spend on each individual person always bears fruit, and it comes together like a well-oiled machine with each member knowing and understanding his or her role and how they fit into the larger team.”
While managing others can be demanding, it also can be very satisfying. Mary explains, “Watching my team members mature and develop out of their current roles and into the next level is extremely satisfying. I love watching people blossom into their full potential and gain confidence in their ability to learn, grow and excel.”
International tax is a dynamic, always-changing discipline. Mary relies on her partners at RSM to help her keep current with a steady stream of research, advice, and tax-related guidance. Her clients’ needs continue to evolve as well. As she opines, “The International tax consulting role has changed in many ways, including how we advise our clients. Historically, companies would have a set assignment package and every expat would follow that arrangement. More and more, we are finding that companies are looking for alternatives to the typical three- to five-year long-term assignment, and that is where we can really bring value to their decision-making process – by advising on benefit options and taxability, host country expat perks and pitfalls, industry trends, income tax treaties, etc. Serving clients is much more gratifying when I can brainstorm with them, understand their objectives as well as the needs of the individual expats, and then take all this feedback and turn it around with a tailored solution.”
Beyond the day-to-day of managing a regional team in these most trying of times, Mary like so many of us is looking to the future, the one after COVID-19. There will inevitably be a return to some form of normal, but it will still demand a forward-looking posture. Here’s what Mary thinks will be part of that future, “Flexibility in our services and understanding our clients are key for global mobility practitioners. Assignments can vary between companies, duration, level of employees, host country perks, etc., and we need to not only adapt to how our clients need us, but also support them with more than just financial data as they determine what assignment package best suits their particular business scope and purpose.”
While looking ahead is a must, it also pays to reflect, to take stock in where we’ve come from and what we’ve accomplished and learned along the way. And to give back, sharing what we’ve learned with others embarking on a similar journey. For those new to our industry, Mary advises, “I would encourage people entering the profession to be prepared to learn something every day, and remember the human touch, along with the financial advice being given.”
Mary’s life and career involve relocation, including one particular assignment she enjoyed outside the United States. In the spirit of full disclosure, that was as a young girl enrolled at the Cobham, Surrey campus of the ACS International Schools.
Mary concludes by recalling that experience, “I attended ACS for three years – kindergarten through second grade. Even at that young age, I remember having so much more exposure to different areas of learning that I did not have in the public schools in the States. I remember learning about music, poetry, different cultures, etc., and it was a great opportunity for me. I wish I could have stayed longer!”
Mary as a second Grader at ACS Cobham