Even as darkness engulfs us far too early now, I aim to send you warm and sunny greetings from the ASW Board of Trustees!
Now in my third year at ASW and second as BoT Chair, I have to gush about what a breath of fresh air the start of this school year has been! As we continue emerging from the COVID-19 endemic and embracing a “new normal,” the excitement, energy, and positivity throughout the ASW campus are palpable. It has been refreshing to see so many parents back in the building again in a variety of capacities. They are clearly eager to be engaged, involved, and partnered with their children’s learning, both in and out of the classroom. It really is such contagious energy!
From our hugely successful September community BBQ and athletic teams getting to travel again to our first full in-school United Nations Day since 2019, Les Miserables musical, countless after-school activities, and many other community events and initiatives, it is obvious our ASW community is thriving. We see veteran families helping newcomers, parents assisting teachers with school initiatives, and an overall feeling that we are, in fact, united in a similar purpose: cultivating a school community where our children can blossom, be challenged, and learn from one another. I would like to particularly recognize the incredible work of the PTO and its Executive Board in creating many opportunities for community building and our teachers, coaches, and activities coordinators for working tirelessly for our children as we continue to embrace this new chapter together. Our strength lies in our unity as a supportive community and embodiment of a Culture of Giving through our words and actions. We are truly all in this together, and without us all, none of it would be possible.
Let us not forget just how challenging – and excruciating – these past two years have been for so many of our families. In addition to three unexpected community losses and careful navigation of a pathway out of COVID-19, Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in late February completely turned our world upside down. Since then, ASW has paved the way in what it means to serve and model compassion, generosity, and ingenuity to those in need in a time of unpredictable tumult and tragedy. As the eyes of the whole world focused on Ukraine, our community fully responded with swift action and enormous heart, transforming our immediate priorities and shifting our service learning program to see tangible results. Our #ASWforUkraine Center was established to provide immediate relief to Ukrainian refugees, dozens of ASW families began hosting refugees, and a volunteer leadership group seamlessly developed long-term plans to provide our refugees with resources and relief. Honestly, I am still in awe of all we have accomplished – and continue to do. It is certainly not surprising that we quickly became a global case study and model for other CEESA schools. Bravo! Let’s keep this important momentum going.
As the needs continue to grow and evolve over the course of the Ukrainian crisis, ASW remains committed to helping see this through, standing side by side until our support is no longer needed. Please know that the Board fully supports these ongoing efforts. In fact, I am challenging all Trustees to continue giving their time, talent, and/or treasure to our Ukrainian relief efforts. As a small example, my family has “adopted” a Ukrainian family weekly at only $25 per week. My young sons are beyond pleased with all ASW is doing for Ukraine and love learning all the ways we can give back as a family. The Board and I were most proud of approving the presence of Pechersk School International (PSI) on campus, a relationship that has been incredibly positive and mutually beneficial for both schools. We will continue to support this wonderful collaboration and partnership moving forward.
In the midst of such a busy and incredibly productive beginning of the school year, the Board is also hard at work on our many strategic priorities for the year. We begin each school year with a Fall Retreat, during which tangible and measurable goals are set for the year ahead. The Board Committees (Advancement, Executive, Finance, Governance, and Monitoring & Risk Management [MRM]) include a number of participants from the ASW staff and community and remain focused on this year’s goals, as adopted at our September Board meeting and listed below:
Improve Board community engagement by leveraging the strengths and talents of our diverse community to involve all stakeholders in currently adopted strategic areas. (Advancement & Governance)
Review and optimize where feasible the governance and operational framework of the school. (MRM & Governance)
Accelerate the implementation of initiatives to address sustainability through the Master Facility Plan. (Finance)
In developing a more comprehensive alumni engagement strategy, expand our systematic analysis of how we achieve aspects of our core values and mission through the annual collection of data from recently departed stakeholders. (Advancement)
Review aspects of human resources to enhance retention and recruitment. (MRM)
I want to highlight Goal #1 for a moment. Last year, in my first year as Chair, one of my personal goals was to make the Board more approachable and visible in the wider ASW community. As a Board, it is impossible for us to further the vision and mission of the school without effective community engagement and involvement. We laid the groundwork for this work then and are looking to be even more intentional and strategic in getting to know our constituents – you all! – this year. For the first time in three years, our monthly action meetings are open to the public to attend in person. We are also making meeting recordings widely available afterwards. As aforementioned, we have welcomed several community members into our Committee meetings and are always looking for more participation! We have also formed an ad-hoc Social Committee with the purpose of better engaging Trustees with all community stakeholders, from Culture of Giving Coffee Mornings to upcoming Monthly Family Dinners and conversations at PTO and other school and community events. Stay tuned for more information. We want to be able to get to know you and help you better understand what we do for the school and community. It’s all about trusting and respectful relationships, right?
Along those lines, the Board always welcomes dialogue and feedback from community members to help us achieve our goals. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any of our Board members for further information and opportunities to connect with these efforts. You can find more information on the Board and all Trustee profiles at Board of Trustees - American School of Warsaw (aswarsaw.org) - click on each picture to learn more.
You’ll find me (and occasionally my young sons, William [Grade 3] and Daniel [Grade 1]) greeting the community in Jon’s virtual Town Halls, co-leading the PTO English Conversation Group on Thursday mornings, reading to Daniel’s class weekly, and attending as many PTO meetings and other school events as possible. I’ve also encouraged the Board to continue expanding our work with the fabulous PTO Executive Board, who continue to amaze us with their creativity and commitment to our entire school. It truly is an awesome partnership. Like the other Trustees, I believe in “service above self” and look forward to engaging and giving back to our community however possible. Mark your calendars for our next action meeting on Monday, November 22 in the Multipurpose Room at 6:00 pm. We hope to see you there!
On behalf of the ASW Board of Trustees, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the important role you continue to play in our community. As the holidays approach, starting with Friday’s Polish Independence Day and the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on November 24, may we continue to be thankful for the diverse and supportive community we share, and may your holidays be times of meaningful celebration with loved ones. I look forward to our continued dialogue and collaboration to help make ASW the absolute best place for our children to learn, grow, and thrive. Together, anything is possible.