/Parent Newsletter

Parent Update: April

Kindergarteners enjoy watching Field Day!

Kindergarteners enjoy watching Field Day!

Good things continue to happen at OCSI:

  • This year’s student-led conferences were exciting! Why? Because students and parents had good conversations about learning. To prepare for these student-led conferences, students selected samples of their work, assessed what they had learned, reflected on what made a piece of work satisfying or challenging, and set goals. Students then presented their findings to their parents.
  • First and 2nd graders participated in Kid City, a simulation that helped them understand how a community works, some of the services that a community needs, and some beginning economics lessons. The students ran a variety of services including a bank, a doctor’s office, a grocery store, and a park.
  • Students are collaborating to learn and to demonstrate their learning. Sixth grade scientists worked in groups to study heat. An Algebra II student used his learning to help another student. High schoolers collaborated in many ways (including a hula dance) to entertain their audience and raise money for the seniors at Cafe Dolce.
  • Students demonstrated their public speaking skills in Japanese in the annual high school Japanese speech contest on April 22 in the OCSI’s cafeteria. Students from all 6 levels of Japanese participated.
  • Today was Elementary Field Day (see photo). Students, parents, and teachers enjoyed being outside doing a range of activities.

Another good thing that is happening at OCSI is the refinement of our school improvement plan. We are doing this because we want OCSI to be an even better school, and we are doing this as part of being an accredited school. Our improvement plan now focuses on 5 areas—culture, communication, key performance indicators, curriculum, and financial planning:

  1. Culture: Further develop an organizational culture that reflects operational values (Christ-centered community, focus on mission, empowerment, best practice, and growth).
  2. Communication: Increase effective communication with current and potential stakeholders, resulting in improved recruitment and retention of both students and staff, and in increased donations.
  3. Key Performance Indicators: Systematically use key performance indicators to improve decision-making, drive achievement of mission and vision (which includes the expected student outcomes), and demonstrate the degree of compliance with accreditation standards and board policy.
  4. Curriculum: Further developing a standard-based, Bible-based curriculum with appropriate standards-based assessment and culminating events for each division; implementing it with engaging, differentiated, backward-designed instruction and with increased student use of technology for learning; and resulting in increased student English language proficiency.
  5. Financial Planning: Increase financial stability and sustainability by implementing a 5-year financial plan designed to carry out the board’s approach to finances.

To learn about more good things that are happening at OCSI, please visit our blog and our Facebook page.

Sincerely,

Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him

April 29th, 2016|

Parent Update: March

Good things continue to happen at OCSI:

  • Eleventh grade debaters discussed a range of topics including “Should students be graded on their handwriting?” to “Should governments ever restrict free speech?” 
  • High school scientists presented their research at the Science Fair on March 4th.  The winners are 1st place: Justin Emmel and Erika Bargamotov, 2nd place: Koumi Manazaki and Kayano Okubo, and 3rd place: Asahi Shioma and Toransuke Misumi. The students went to OIST on March 24th for a tour and to perform science experiments.
  • At the March 11 Culture Fair, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders worked in groups to effectively and creatively communicate their learning to kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders. 
  • Secondary students were involved in service projects during Missions Week:

Another good thing that is happening at OCSI is that we are reviewing our expected student outcomes. The proposed outcomes are research based and help us answer the question, “What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do students need to have?” Here are the proposed expected student outcomes:

  • Understand God, His world, and their place in it.
  • Think critically and Biblically.
  • Collaborate with others, respecting them as God’s image bearers.
  • Communicate truthfully and effectively.
  • Create ideas, products, and solutions.

If you have input you’d like to share about the proposed expected student outcomes, please send it to ruthjerome@ocsi.org.

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him
P.S. It is re-registration time for next school year, and soon you will be receiving re-registration materials. We want to thank you for choosing OCSI for your child’s educational needs, and we hope that you will re-register with us again. We count it a privilege to partner with you.

March 24th, 2016|

Parent Update: February

Good things continue to happen at OCSI:

  • Kindergarten: K4 is receiving a new document camera for projecting books and showing student work in the front of the room. K5 is working on making predictions during their reading times. This is a critical skill for making meaning of text.
  • Elementary: 2nd graders went to the aquarium and learned about many marine mammals and the coral ecosystem. 3rd through 5th graders are working hard on their group country displays to prepare for the Culture Fair on March 11th.
  • Middle: Students are having a blast and learning about science through hands on learning. 6th graders experimented with heat, insulators, and convection. 7th graders dissected crayfish.
  • High: Congratulations to the boy’s basketball team for their 4th place finish in Far East.

Another good thing that is happening at OCSI is our March 5 Bazaar. At this year’s Bazaar you can…

  1. Have fun with family and friends.
  2. Play outdoor games and in bouncy houses.
  3. Purchase toys, books, clothes, household goods, CDs, and DVDs.
  4. Enjoy hot dogs, lumpia, Okinawa soba, ice cream, baked goods, curry rice, popcorn, and nachos.

Funds raised by the Bazaar will be used for non-fiction library books, technology, science tables, and more! So, come have some fun while supporting OCSI!

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him
P.S. To learn more about OCSI, check out our blog.

February 24th, 2016|

Parent Update: January

Good things continue to happen at OCSI:

  • Many elementary families came together for Kite Day to fly kites on our field.
  • Elementary and middle school students have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming Spelling Bee. Middle school students showed school spirit and wore school colors for Spirit Week.
  • High students played and cheered well at the homecoming basketball games. Students in Advanced Placement Statistics went on a field trip to Ginoza Town to perform a statistical analyses on a strawberry farm.
  • K5 teachers are currently studying a book to help students develop stronger reading strategies. In addition, they are piloting new grammar and phonics materials. Mrs. Rubero has been working hard to improve literacy skills in our literacy support program. Secondary teachers refined student learning goals, discussed how to help students gain deeper understanding, and discussed how to more effectively design assessments (like projects, presentations, and essays).

I’m glad these good things are happening, and I’m glad to be part of the OCSI community. I’m glad to be part of a community that cares (Luke 10:25-37) and encourages (I Thessalonians 5:11). I’m glad to be part of a community that focuses on equipping students and that works together—thanks to all those who attended the January 22 OCSI Bazaar meeting (see photo).

I want our community to continue growing. So, I’ve been reflecting on ways we can keep building community. Possibilities include:

  • Speaking the truth in love.
  • Respecting each other.
  • Talking about what’s on our hearts.
  • Staying centered on Christ.
  • Being culturally sensitive.
  • Spending time together.
  • Listening to each other.

What about you? What are you grateful for regarding our school community? What do you think we can do to keep building community?

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him
P.S. To learn more, check us out on Facebook.

January 29th, 2016|

Parent Update: December

I’m grateful to be a part of the OCSI community. One of the many things I’m grateful for is the respectful attitude of our students.

Let’s think a little bit about respect. What comes to mind when you hear the word respect? What comes to mind for me includes:

  • Focusing on others first.
  • Listening.
  • Thinking about myself with sober judgment.
  • Honoring the customs of other cultures.
  • Greeting people.
  • Being polite and kind.
  • Speaking the truth in love.

As God’s image bearers, people are worthy of respect. After all, God created us just a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5)! No wonder God commands us to respect each other by loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:39), by honoring our parents (Exodus 20:12), and by submitting to those in authority (Romans 13:1).

Good news! When we obey God by respecting each other, we build stronger relationships, stronger homes, and stronger communities. Aren’t those things we all want? I know I do. I want to see Okinawa Christian School International become an even stronger community.

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him

December 14th, 2015|

Parent Update: November

Like you, I want to build community. One place to start is by doing things together—I’m glad we could do both the Walkathon (see photo) and the Holiday Market together. Another place to start building community is identifying and then addressing things that hinder community.

So, I asked my Facebook friends, “What hinders community?” Here are some of their responses:

  • Self-absorption
  • Pride, self-confidence, independence
  • Indifference
  • Busyness
  • Not caring about people in general
  • Gossip
  • Sin
  • Fear of rejection, lack of transparency
  • Lack of communication

An experienced Christian school leader reviewed these responses and provided a helpful overview: As someone on Facebook noted, it’s sin that keeps us from community. It’s selfishness, self-centeredness, looking out for ourselves, wanting to be first. We abuse our power (bullying, judgmentalism), we complain about what doesn’t suit us, we become cynical and critical. Selfishness leads to conflicts of all kinds, and lack of trust.

Bottom line: Build Christ-centered community.

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him

November 24th, 2015|

Parent Update: October

What do you like? Here are some things I like, and I think you like them, too: I like it when people around me know my name, my family, and my likes and dislikes. I like it when people around me pray for me, ask me how I’m doing, and offer to help me. I like it when people around me respect me, want to work with me, and work in teams. And I like it when people around me have some values and priorities that are similar to mine.

I like community. So does everyone I know. And apparently, so do people around the world—if you do a Google search on community, you’ll get about 3.6 billion results.

Question: How would you define community? Here’s my working definition: a community is a connected, caring, collaborative, like-minded group of people:

  • Connected (I Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 4:16)
  • Caring (Luke 10:25-37, I Thessalonians 5:11, Matthew 22:39, Ephesians 4:15)
  • Collaborative (Deuteronomy 6:6-10, Ecclesiastes 4:12, I Thessalonians 5:11, James 1:19, Hebrews 10:24)
  • Like-minded (Romans 12:2, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 4:12)
  • Group of people (Genesis 1:27, I Peter 2:5, I Peter 2:9).

Let’s continue building community. Let’s continue connecting, caring, collaborating, and becoming like-minded.

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him

October 30th, 2015|

Parent Update: September

“Where are you from?” That’s what people ask me when I’m in the US. They just want to get to know me better, and I say my parents are from Chicago. (What I don’t say is that I was born and grew up in Japan, think of Higashi Kurume as my hometown, think of the US as the place where my family lives and where I’ll retire, and feel most at home in the US in Lookout Mountain, Georgia—where none of my family lives.)

But really what people are asking me is, “Who are you?” That’s a good question. When my daughters (both born and raised in Japan) were little, I talked with them about this question, emphasizing they were God’s image bearers, Christians, and members of the Essenburg and Warren families.

It’s important for people to know who they are. It’s important for Christian schools to know who they are. And when Christian schools reflect on who they are, they build community.

What would I say if someone asked me, “As a Christian school, who are you?” I’d say, “We are a focused, Christ-centered community.”

This year, let’s continue to build community by reflecting on who we are.

Sincerely,
Michael B. Essenburg, superintendent
Equipping students to walk with God and impact the world for Him

September 28th, 2015|

Parent Update: August

What is OCSI? That’s a good question. I asked staff to give me a one-word answer to “OCSI is ___.” Here are some of their responses: family, caring, Christian, community, diverse, friendly, and welcoming. Those responses fit with my experience. I’ve been part of the OCSI community for two months, and I’ve appreciated the warm welcome by students, parents, and staff. This year, let’s continue to build Christ-centered community together.

Good things continue to happen at OCSI:

  • Last Friday, students and parents attended open house and learned more about how OCSI equips students to walk with God and impact the world for Him.
  • Elementary students increased their reading stamina by practicing independent reading.
  • In world history class, each 6th grader created a life map (a pictorial history that included future goals and dreams) and followed up in English class with a written autobiography.
  • In computer applications, high school students took apart a computer to learn how it works.
August 28th, 2015|