The Four Expectations

The new school year is running smoothly and we would like to take this opportunity to help our students keep their experiences as smooth and positive as possible. St. John’s School promotes, reinforces and encourages the growth of student self-discipline, respect and responsible behavior in order to foster a safe and caring learning environment and enhance student achievement.

We believe in the Four Expectations at St. John’s, which are the core values of our school.  These expectations, which all students must meet, are:

1. Respect for ourselves
2. Respect for others
3. Respect for our and others’ property
4. Responsible for work and behavior

At SJS, we also believe that the following practices contribute to the development of each student’s responsibility for their own behavior:

The positive recognition of students who make good choices about their own behavior,

The use of positive interventions which reaffirm a belief in the student’s ability to make the correct choice,

The teamwork, including advocacy and mentorship, which results from student, parent and staff cooperation and mutual support,

An emphasis on respect, responsibility and the rights of every student,

The clear, consistent explanation and implementation of rules and logical consequences,

The emphasis on appropriate academic and behavior programs for each student,

The involvement of our school within the SJS community,

The use of positive and timely communication, and

The use of counseling intervention as required.

Because of these practices are so important in the development of the students at SJS, we have published a behavior code on page 15 in the student handbook. The code is broad enough to be applied to the entire school population.  It is applicable whether students are on campus or on any school-sponsored activity (e.g., field trips, sports events, cultural exchanges, etc.).

We also recognize that appropriate behavior is the respective and collective responsibility of students, staff and parents. Students have the responsibility to respect the rights and dignity of others and to become actively and productively involved in learning.  Students are expected to follow the behavior code.

Staff is also responsible for establishing a positive school climate which encourages and supports students in developing self-discipline and in growing as caring citizens.  Staff is expected to model the behavior code and implement the code fairly and consistently.

Parents also have the responsibility to ensure that their children are ready to learn and to help them make good academic and social decisions.  Parents are expected to help their children follow the code and are encouraged to work with the school in promoting self-discipline in their children.

We ask for your understanding of, and commitment to, our Four Expectations as well as reinforcing the responsibilities from students, staff and parents. Thanking you in advance for your continued support at SJS.

First Middle School Chapel – Making the Middle School a sanctuary

Welcome to the first Middle School chapel of school year 2006/2007. We are very pleased to see so many Middle School students attending St. John’s School. Do you know why? Middle School students at St. John’s are very special students. You folks have very good ideas, tons of energy and a true need to share in fellowship with your friends and classmates at St. John’s.

You also have many challenges facing you as you pass through some of the most difficult times you will face during your school career. Why are these years – the Middle School years – some of the most difficult? The root cause of this reality is that you are going through some of the most radical changes you will ever experience in your life. These are real changes that will continue to affect you physically, emotionally, and arguably the most important way you are changing – socially. These social changes are reflected in how your relationships change between you and your family members, you and your friends and classmates and you and your teachers.

For those reasons we built a Middle School for you at St. John’s last year. We created a place – your space – to grow into the unique, special individuals that you are becoming. We are also pleased to continue to improve this experience – your space – for you so the changes you will go through will be as gentle, gradual and appropriate as possible – giving you time to learn how to grow with the changes.

Sometimes when you grow there are growing pains. My dad used to tell me when I was growing up that my aches and pains were due to growing pains. I didn’t understand him at the time, but now I know what he meant. He meant that my body was growing so fast that I couldn’t keep up with all the new changes happening to me. Students your age are growing so fast it sometimes it even hurts. We need to remember that sometimes we need to give you time to just simply grow. Why do some teenagers seem to be falling asleep during school? Sometimes it’s that they are growing so fast they are just worn out by staying awake.

What should your space be for you – the Middle School at St. John’s School?

It should be a highly motivating space where you want to learn and learn the most that you can.

It should be a fun space that makes time go by fast and days are shorter than longer for you.

It should be a safe space – a space where everyone can and will work together towards getting the best from all of the teachers, who have so much to offer and have so many talents to share with you as your mentors for success.

What should your space NOT be?

A space where students pick on and tease one another.

A space where bullying is allowed to happen.

A space where students do not tell their teachers when teasing and bullying happen.

A space where students experiment with tobacco, betel nut, drugs, alcohol, inhalants, and other harmful substances

A space where students identify each other by the clothes they wear or the cars their parents drive.

A space where students send nasty emails, sms and myspace messages and other forms of cyberbullying

A space where students don’t want to come to school

That is NOT what the St. John’s Middle School is all about and we are determined to keep it that way. If a student wants to make your space something other than what we want for you, come and tell me, tell Mrs. Santos, tell your teacher, tell Chaplain Moore, tell Mrs. Edwards, tell someone – anyone about this and we’ll make sure that your place is the place we designed it to be – a safe sanctuary for living and learning at St. John’s.

I want to leave you with a quote from Plato:

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. – Plato

Great beginnings… and please pardon our mess

To listen the podcast version, click here

As we are still in the renovation stages in the Front Office, please pardon our progress. Soon to come – a brand new Health Room designed to better serve the needs of students who get the occasional cuts and scrapes. Our Business Office entrance has been moved to the red double doors in the main hallway. Though our voicemail is still problematic we are researching a move to a more robust service in the near future. Our school-wide Ethernet Cat-6 wiring “backbone” is now 95% complete and will prove to help improve both internal and external communications via the Internet. We also are now using MyGradeBook.com school-wide to report student progress directly to administration and parents in a secure, online format – much like the online banking revolution now in place everywhere.

Our all-school professional development workshops were very well received by everyone on campus. We spent an entire day together – working on building the team spirit – and we have come together like never before. Ask teachers, maintenance and staff about the “Iron Knight Challenge” they all participated in. Results from the collegial competition will be shared at the PTA Red, White and “Blues” BBQ on August 18th.

As we have been listening to faculty needs, our new Master’s Degree program on campus is now going to come to fruition. Thirteen SJS faculty have signed up to take methodology classes in Educational Technology. The culminating Master’s Degree will be awarded by the University of Guam at the end of the year-long program to those who successfully complete the course of studies.

Our military community outreach got off to a great start with seven faculty representing our school to the new military families on island at the Outrigger Hotel on Saturday. Thanks to all who took time on a busy weekend to represent our school to the greater Guam community for the benefit to all.

We have designed our orientation for this coming Tuesday, August 8th, to help new and returning families to come together and learn more about our programs and growing options for success at SJS. We now have the ability to award not only the International Baccalaureate Diploma (arguably the highest level of rigor in the world) but we also can award the Advanced Placement International Diploma. Students can even receive the Advanced Placement Honors International Diploma as well, if they have the scores needed to make the grade.

We hope to see all parents and students on August 8th at 9:00 am until noon in the gym for a back-to-school orientation. See you then!

Hope springs eternal in the human breast*

To listen to this blog in podcast format, click here

Another year is about to begin. Parents are buying the myriad supplies and uniforms, maintenance folks are busy putting on the last minute touches around the campus, staff are taking payments and distributing textbooks and other didactic materials and faculty are in their rooms – preparing for the first day of school.

This year we have designed the employee orientation to be all inclusive, therefore August 2nd will be a day when all offices are closed. Everyone – all 77 faculty, staff and maintenance employees – will be together for the entire day. We will be working in cross-functional teams to:

1). enhance school-wide communications,

2). build camaraderie with folks who may never have had the opportunity to work together in the past, and

3). get to know and discuss how we will be implementing our annual continuous improvement theme – “St. John’s brings out the best!”.

We will be sharing our successes from this productive day with the entire school community at the PTA’s Red, White and Blues BBQ on August 18. Please mark your calendar and come and enjoy fellowship with all of us then.

* – Pope, A. 1732-4, Essay on man, Epistle 1, line 95.

Candidates sought for future Secondary School Principal position

The St. John’s School community is thriving with the new Middle School addition, expanded student support services (including additional counseling, advocacy and follow-through), increased enrollment, increases in fund raising and grant writing initiatives, renewed commitment and curriculum alignment for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, the addition of the Advanced Placement International Diploma, the Princeton Review SAT Preparation franchise, the expansion of the boarding program to more off island students, increases in faculty professional development (now including an on-campus Master’s Program in Educational Technology) and more.

With the expansion of offerings and programs there will come a time to expand leadership to ensure that parents, students and faculty are always best served. St. John’s School now seeks candidates interested in Secondary School Principal position to complement the current leadership team in the future. Hence, the school is conducting a global search for the right candidate who will be working closely with Dr. Nelson and Mrs. Santos when needed to keep St. John’s School at the forefront of college preparation education in the Western Pacific region.

Qualified candidates are recommended to post their resumes at www.tieonline.com or we will also accept a fax version sent to the school at 671-649-1055.

My Graduation Class of 2006 Welcome Remarks

Good evening and welcome to the Graduation of the St. John’s School Class of 2006.

I know that our Bishop, the Right Reverend George E. Packard, had hoped to be here tonight yet he had other pressing commitments that he is attending to as he is also the bishop for all Episcopal federal chaplains serving in the military, federal prisons, and Veteran’s Affairs facilities. He also supports the care for all other chaplains by coordinating the training and advocacy for diocesan health care, prison, emergency responder, and maritime chaplains in the life of the Church so you can imagine his very busy schedule.

However he has a very soft spot in his heart for you graduates as well as our school and the Episcopal Church in Micronesia. Make sure you read his message in the program as you can feel the warmth and caring in his heartfelt congratulations to you.

At this time I would like to take this opportunity to recognize our very special guests:

We are very honored to have two speakers for our graduation tonight – kind of a international mix that reflects our diversity of multicultural-transnational makeup at St. John’s School.

Please join me in welcoming Guam’s own representative in our Nation’s capital, the Honorable Congresswoman Madelene Z. Bordallo who was able to arrange her busy schedule to be with us tonight.

Due to the continued generosity of the Morita Educational Foundation under the care of Mr. Joe Morita, St. John’s has developed strong ties to the Republic of Palau and her  people. Therefore, it is truly an pleasure to have the Honorable Mr. Kuniwo Nakamura, former president of Palau, join us here this evening.

It is also a great privilege and honor to recognize the Board of Trustees who are present here with us tonight. Thank you, Trustees, for all that you do in the name of service for the long term future of our school community.

Mrs. Mel Santos, our Dean of Students Mrs. Becky Hernandez, our Business Manager, Chaplain James Moore, our spiritual guide at St. John’s — we recognize your place on our stage as part of our school team for the sake of the students. This night would not have come to fruition without your most integral work needed to complete the mission of our school in the area of spirituality, wellness, supervision, instruction, and financial health — thank you.

I truly respect and appreciate the honor of recognizing our most talented faculty in attendance tonight. Thank you for your dedication, integrity and passion. You are St. John’s School.

Parents, you who entrust us with your most precious children — now young adults passing through the most important transition towards maturity — I salute you for your faith in the school — your commitment to support our mission — your interest in improving for the future — and your love for your family. Thank you for allowing us to serve you and your children.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Mr. & Mrs. George Lai for their generous donation to the headmaster dinner last night. We are very appreciative of the kind gesture.

Finally, with great respect, I heartily recognize 36 very talented individuals who have met the challenge and earned tonight the recognition due them as graduates of St. John’s School. You have earned so many accolades that it would take too long tonight to describe all of your successes — what with:
your earning over 1.2 million dollars in merit-based financial aid for next year,
your acceptance in more than 66 of the finest universities and colleges,
50% of the class currently on the Headmaster and Honors list for grades of 87% and above,
38% of the entire class in the National Honor Society, and on and on and on.

In addition to academic excellence you make us all proud because you are people of great character. You will leave this place as global citizens prepared to shape the world in your character. If I may give you one small suggestion — remember that all of us: the Board of Trustees, the faculty, office staff, maintenance, your parents and the school community members feel the same as how Bishop Packard felt when he wrote to you in his congratulatory message recorded in your program. He states, “I continue to be extremely proud of each of you and sing your praises at every opportunity” — As we sing your praises remember that the men and women who hold high places must be the ones who start to mold a new reality – closer to the heart.

My Headmaster Dinner remarks

Good evening and welcome to the Headmaster’s Dinner for the Class of 2006.

Tonight is a night to remember as a class, along with your parents, the maintenance and office staff as well as the faculty, some of the highlights of your life and times at St. John’s School.

Traditionally the graduating seniors were interviewed by the Headmaster and then a speech was crafted from the anecdotal evidence taken at the time of each individual interview. I have tried a new form for collecting data for these remarks. The seniors were asked today to complete a survey instrument after the Baccalaureate Service practice to give me a better idea of what we need to do to improve the school. I took the opportunity today to read every survey and I made a few notes from your comments. I am going to collate and publish the findings from this survey to the school community so that we can use their candid and honest thoughts to continuously improve for the betterment of all.

Let me share some of those with you now:

I think the best things about SJS are:

  • the variety of cultures and ideas
  • being able to leave your bag somewhere and not worry about it
  • teachers take a personal interest in you
  • classes and course options
  • extracurricular actives
  • academics
  • the sheltered environment (the security feeling)
  • the programs provide for future excellence (i.e., IB & AP)
  • the “home” atmosphere in classrooms
  • private attention/low student-teacher ratio
  • variety of sports
  • free intellectual atmosphere
  • respect
  • freedom
  • the good teachers make life enjoyable
  • cleanliness
  • traditions – ring ceremony, freshmen initiation, senior prank
  • education – from Lit to Math to manners to learning about others and yourself
  • intimacy
  • the quality teachers demonstrate as people
  • educational opportunities not available on Guam
  • individual attention from teachers (we are not only a name and grade)
  • lunch privilege
  • multicultural
  • growing up with people
  • the open environment about religions and cultures

I hear the echoing words of Jacques Yves-Cousteau’s dream of world peace through the student exchange idea coming to life in your comments – the diversity and the caring and the respect – things that many other graduates will have to search to find and experience and yet, you have lived it at St. John’s on a daily basis.

There were many good challenges for me and the rest of us here who work at St. John’s that you have identified in the survey – (for example: too much homework, slow computers, inconsistencies in air conditioners, etc.) – and those will be looked at quite carefully with the appropriate members of our school community to plan for more improvements.

Now, along with Cousteau vision, comes yet another set of ideas that I would like you to take with you on your journey. Music is a passion of mine and I enjoy listening to music and thinking about the message that musician’s create. One song written by the rock power trio RUSH has played in my mind for over many decades now and I would like to share this with you now:

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heartPhilosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
You can be the captain
I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart

In closing, last night I asked my 7 year old daughter, Aracelita, about any advice she might have for the graduating class of 2006 and she readily offered this:

“Make the world proud because we have the freedom to do everything”
– Aracelita Nelson, Class of 2016
(babysitter of Elias Nelson, Class of 2011 and Adan Rodriguez, Class of 2004)

I know that you have the ability to take on your new roles as leaders in our community, whether on island or our extended community throughout the world – the community of humanity. I challenge you to keep your visions closer to the heart because you have the freedom to do everything. And some things need heart. Make the world proud…

My Baccalaureate Service 2006 Welcoming Remarks

Welcome to Baccalaureate Service 2006.

It is my honor to give a special heartfelt and cordial welcome to our graduating seniors and their parents on this most memorable chapel service. From this day forward you will return to this house of the Lord as an alumni and an adult. This is the last time you will worship with us as students of St. John’s School. The myriad memories in this sacred sanctuary will follow you through your days as you tenderly recall Chaplain Moore’s humble homilies as well as Mrs. Skanse’s hand bells and hand motions.

The very special times you have experienced here are one of the most profound and unique qualities of a St. John’s education. This chapel is where we all have learned how to celebrate Christ’s teachings along with respecting diversity of everyone’s religious perspective in a non-threatening ambiance of love and understanding. As you go out of this chapel and move away from home – into the world – you will come to find that what you take away with you is what the entire world needs so much, and that is how you already know to embrace your neighbor – no matter what they look like, what language they speak or what they believe.

Jacques Yves-Cousteau, the inventor of the scuba tank and a world renowned environmentalist, was once asked about how we could achieve world peace. He replied that with 1% of the U.S. Military budget we could send all young adolescents at the age of fourteen to live in another country for one year – kind of a global student exchange – and in one generation there would be a global understanding that difference was ok and peace would ensue. Graduates from St. John have experienced exactly what Cousteau was getting at and twenty of you have for your  entire educational career been coming to this chapel and celebrating the word of the Lord and his message of love and peace. That joyful message will take you far in your journeys of the heart, here on Guam or anywhere else you may travel.

Welcome and let us now hear the invocation from Chaplain Moore.

Transitional chapel for 5th graders…

I was asked by Chaplain Moore to prepare a homily for today’s LS Chapel – the last Chapel for the current 5th graders who are going into Middle School next year. Here is the message:

Good morning, this will be the last time that you will attend a lower school Chapel.

And as Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy giving him instructions on how to conduct his life as he matures I would like to talk to you today about some instructions because you are also maturing in your life.

If I were to write an instruction manual for the middle school there would be three chapters that would address the challenges as well as opportunities for all of you to mature:

Chapter one). Academic expectations,

Chapter two). Social life and

Chapter three). Physical changes.

Each of these three chapters would describe in detail the special things to be aware of as you move from the lower school into the middle school at St. John’s.

The middle school, though not a new concept in American public schools, is a new concept at St. John’s as we have added this only last year, and it has already proven to be a good solution to help in the transition from elementary school to high school.

As you grow and develop – from a baby to a toddler to an elementary student to preadolescence through the teenage years and finally into a young adult – there are different developmental phases that you go through that happened that normally to you academically, socially and physically.

During the middle school years, academically, you start to begin to be able to understand abstract concepts. Something as invisible yet important as both gravity and electricity are both taught in middle school and understood by middle school students because they can grasp the idea of an abstract concept. We teach the academic courses in middle school with appropriate levels out instruction so that you begin to understand abstract concepts in ways that help you to make connections between the concrete world and the things that you cannot experience, see, taste, smell or feel.

Socially, you start to begin to gather in groups with your peers — students your age — and try to identify with your peer group more then younger students or adult’s. This group activity becomes the focus of many middle school students and it can be a very exciting time as well as very challenging when a group that you think you want to get into doesn’t seem to welcome you. We at St. John’s have developed the middle school to help with this new social activity and are offering extra counseling and support for students so they can feel more welcome and more successful in their peer group transition process.

Physically, your body goes through very many changes — you will begin to hear about hormones and you will begin to feel different in many ways: tired, isolated, misunderstood, and full of energy and excitement, wondering about dances and telephone calls, and sometimes driving your teachers and parents crazy. We offer special classes to educate students about these changes so they come to understand their body better and know what that what they are going through is normal and OK.

These three chapters in your instruction manual have been experienced by all the students that have gone before you. They all went through this big transition from lower school into middle school and they all know that it is a challenging time which holds many opportunities for you to succeed.

Success can be considered the acquisition of true wisdom, which can be described as someone who is “…wise, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”. Today’s reading from the Epistle of James gives us all instruction about how to be successful as peacemakers. He writes, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness”.

My hope is for each of you to find peace during this transition time as you become part of our middle school, helping others to find peace in their academic, social, and physical challenges and opportunities they are going to face at St. John’s school next year. Peace to all of you and get ready for the middle school!

Thank you for listening.