Dear AST Family and Friends,
We just have a couple of quick updates and then a lengthier message about the AST Parent Association meetings.
The 2018-2019 Year at a Glance calendar has been posted. We do not expect any significant changes. This is very useful for vacation planning around the academic calendar.
The first air filtration machines have been deployed to classrooms. We have about 80% of the machines placed that we think we need. We will be regularly monitoring air quality in the classroom spaces and comparing it to outdoor air quality and reassessing how well our actual need is being met. The first data points are optimistic. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for all of our students and now that includes much of the air within closed classroom areas. We are still researching potential solutions for the larger spaces as well, but the complexity of solving the AQI issues within those spaces is much greater.
Have a great next week,
I have learned a lot about parent associations over the past years. I came to AST with a pretty solid grasp of the purpose and activities of an American parent association. What I have learned more about now is the difference between these and the Taiwanese parent associations. At AST, we continuously walk that line between American and Taiwanese customs and cultures, and we attempt to bring the best of both worlds into our environment. That requires an open conversation about those differences and a look at our specific situation.
An American parent association is focused on service to the school community. Primarily, it organizes fundraising events for school projects and initiatives, and coordinates volunteer efforts that support the daily operation of the school. Being part of the parent association is not so much a place of prestige there, but rather it is a commitment to helping create the best learning environment possible for children.
At AST, when our parent association was formed, we had an additional need. Our parents needed a regular forum for communicating with the Director. They wanted time set aside to share their thoughts and concerns and to ask questions. This is not an uncommon purpose for a Taiwanese parent association and this need still exists today. So, when another avenue wasn't available, this became a secondary objective of the AST Parent Association (PA) and its meetings. The downside of this is that the parent association has developed a bit of a split focus and the primary goals of supporting school initiatives and volunteering have been overshadowed by the need for the forum to communicate with the Director. It has not been uncommon for the ‘Time with Mr. Keen’ on the PA agenda and Q & A to consume all but five minutes of the meeting time.
With the creation of Tea Time with the Directors, parents have been given a clear, new time and place to come in and talk to the Directors. It allows that conversation to be focused on those questions, concerns, and ideas that the parents bring forward. In fact, that is the only agenda item for the Tea Time.
Based upon this, Mr. Keen and Ms. Tung will no longer be regularly attending the parent association meetings. They may be invited in to speak about a specific event or initiative, and they will join in just long enough to help share the needed information related to an event that is necessary. But, for the majority of the meeting time, they will not be in attendance. This is not because we do not value what the parent association is doing. Rather, it is because we very much value it, and we want our wonderfully supportive parents to have the time that they need to plan and organize their own agenda for our school.