By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communications and Marketing
A lot has happened at Taipei American School since January 1, 2021.
365 days have passed, covering half of last academic year and half of this school year, including 179 instructional days and 8 professional development days. Some of those days have been easier than others, especially considering the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In that time, we've had alumni win Emmy awards and international bassoonist awards, serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, go viral on TikTok, host their own art shows, and take part in award-winning TV shows and films. (Yes, Tigers are on Netflix!)
We've had students publish in professional journals, win prestigious YoungArts and Art Olympiad awards, present at medical conferences, win global competitions in scientific research and robotics, raise money for global hunger, and take part in speech and debate competitions at 4am TPE time. We've also had students participate in summer and school-year internships, take part in award-winning films, and learn more about the transition to college. They've celebrated World Kindness Day, translated Taiwanese indigenous picture books, and adjusted to athletics without the traditional IASAS trips. And so much more!
We've had teachers pursue their own professional goals by publishing articles in journals of modern literary criticism, create and host new educational conferences, take part in humanities fellowships, and learn more about the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusivity and how best to support our transgender students. Our teachers have won both marathons and cycling races, lead educational technology seminars for other non-TAS educators, spoken on the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, hosted their own marathon events, and taken part in culturally-responsive professional development. They've also taught and cared for our nearly 2400 students.
And as an organization, we've been just as committed to improvement bringing in renowned psychologists for digital residencies, earning a recognition from Common Sense Education for our lower school technology program, pursuing the Human Rights Council's "Welcoming Schools" program, and leading workshops on cross-cultural identity for parents, students, employees, and alumni. The school has joined an online global learning consortium for both students and employees to pursue online courses. We've been chosen to perform the Taiwan debut of musical pieces, hosted world class robotics events, and even continued our excellent program during Level 3 lockdown for a few weeks in late spring. Not to mention that our campus served as a COVID-19 vaccination center for consenting middle and upper school students. (And have you downloaded our new app, yet?)
Oh yeah, and we introduced a new five-year strategic plan, created a new bond between TAS and AIT, made a formal community commitment to the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and welcomed our fifteenth head of school.
While these are a few of the nearly 100 news stories that we've published online, we know that there are thousands of other stories that didn't make the headlines that count just as much - if not more - in the hearts and minds of our community members. There have been wins and losses, successes and failures. There have been mini-"aha moments" and large revelations. There has been learning over these last 365 days for each and every member of our community - in and out of school, with teams, with friends, with family, and within themselves.
- The KA students who not only learn to read, but demonstrate their mastery of basic literacy skills in our annual Super Reader event.
- The K students who walk through the halls on a daily basis, singing with their teacher to keep the line straight.
- The Grade 1 students who designed trash cans for the community in their combined social studies and design unit.
- The Grade 2 students who wrote original poems on paper airplanes and sent them soaring off into the sky, to be received, read, and treasured by other Grade 2 students.
- The Grade 3 students in Green Club who not only created a community garden, but continue to produce enough fruit and vegetable harvest to literally feed our community in the TAS cafeteria.
- The Grade 4 students who joined Head of School in an impromptu conga line when she visited their morning meeting because they were so thrilled to meet her. (Not to mention their annual Flea Market, in which they collect, sort, organize, and sell donations to benefit the St. Anne's Home as well as animal rescue operations in Taipei.)
- The Grade 5 students who published their own novels and who learned alongside upper school students in both International Relations courses and robotics.
- The Grade 6 students who designed board games using electric circuitry and 3D design to create question, card, and dice-based board games to help other students prepare for an upcoming history test.
- The Grade 7 students who took part in the MUN conference in Hsinchu, who were overjoyed to be pursuing the activity they love and being able to travel off-campus for the first time in a while.
- The Grade 8 students who learned more about the caste system in both Egypt and India through experiential learning, including both sweeping the palace and milking the cow.
- The Grade 9 students who were able to meet and learn from Young Adult novelist Emma Therault as the culminating activity after reading Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
- The Grade 10 students who took part in a self-defense unit including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as part of their physical education program.
- The Grade 11 students who mentored over 200 middle school students to teach them more about molecular biology techniques in the upper school research lab.
- And our seniors in their final year, the class of 2022, who astound us daily with their dreams and their dedication as they plan for - and make major decisions - that will impact their learning journey after they toss their cap and hang up their gown in May. (We know January 1 is a big day for many of you. Sending you positive vibes and hoping you get some sleep after your final application is sent!)
Never forget that each of these acts of learning IS an act of courage.
Suffice to say, it's still a great time to be a Tiger.