Weekly Community Update: April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

In early February, we conducted our annual lottery to select our rising freshmen. The class of 2018 is as diverse as always, drawing students from every NEISD home high school and from areas as far away as Floresville.  The class includes a total of 56 siblings, and the 120 students are evenly split between males and females. It our pleasure to welcome the class of 2018, both returning families and our new-to-ISA families!

 As we begin looking forward to next year, the ISA Amigos, our parent booster organization, asked me to remind families that nominations are now being accepted for 2014-2015 board and committee positions. If you would like to read more about the positions and/or to be considered, you may sign-up on the ISA Amigos Board Nominations Form any time before May 1, 2014.

With May quickly approaching, we want to remind you of several afternoon and evening events from mid-May through the end of the month to make sure they are on your calendar. All of the events are on the ISA Community Calendar, and we will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.

Sunday, May 18: Senior Awards

Monday, May 19: Freshman and Sophomore Student-Led Conferences

Thursday, May 22: Junior Student-Led Conferences

Tuesday, May 27: Junior Rite of Passage Ceremony

Wednesday, May 28: Senior Portfolio Presentations

Thursday, May 29: Senior Portfolio Presentations

It is another short week with Friday’s holiday. Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: April 6, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

A few hours ago a bus full of ISA astronomy club members pulled back into school after spending the last few days hiking the local hill country during the day and exploring the sky at night. Congratulations to club sponsor Nick Polito and many thanks to science teachers Kristen Payne and Bonnie Brawner as well as the parents who helped us chaperone the trip.

Over the last few weeks, students have been making plans in their advisories to participate in Global Youth Service Day this Friday, April 11, 2014.  On Friday, every ISA advisory will perform service in the local San Antonio area including visits to school, parks, and non-profit organizations. The event, coined “Globie” Youth Service Day by our freshmen, is a new tradition this year to celebrate our 20th year.  After spending most of day in the community, students will return to school around 2:00 p.m. to debrief with their advisory.  With Advanced Placement (AP) testing coming soon in May, we will also use the last hour of the day to complete pre-registration for our sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Best of luck to all students and their advisors on our very first Globie Day of Service!

While our sophomores, juniors, and seniors complete AP pre-registration during 8th period on Friday, our freshman students will be in the cafeteria setting up for a special freshman and sophomore dance. The dance, organized by a freshman Make A Difference group, costs $5 and runs from 6-8 p.m. in the cafeteria.  If you are available to help chaperone the dance, please email Mitzi Moore at mmooor@neisd.net.  The following day, Saturday, April 12 the Freshman Team will run a Saturday School from 9 a.m. to noon for any students in need of additional help from their teachers or a space to work. Mrs. Moore also asked me to remind families that freshman Make A Difference presentations will take place after school on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at Trinity University, and there will be more details to come!

The ISA Junior & Senior prom is the following night, Saturday, April 12 from 7:30-11:30 p.m. at the Northern Hills Golf Club. Tickets are on sale for one more day this week at lunch in Betsy Landry’s room for $35 per person; however, the price will go up at the door on Saturday.  Please remind your son or daughter that non-ISA students attending as guests are required to bring a photo ID (driver’s license or school ID) with them to the prom.  Also, once students enter the prom they will not be allowed to leave and return later in the evening. When students arrive, there will be two NEISD police officers on duty to help with parking and to direct students.

Finally, we just confirmed a new partner school in Germany! They are planning to visit October 2-17, 2014, for a two-week immersion experience in American homes and schools. If your family may be interested in hosting, please complete this short German Hosting Interest Form (only 3 questions). The level of hosting interest will help us decide how many students to invite for next year’s visit.


Kathy Bieser


Weekly Community Update: March 30, 2014

Dear ISA Families,
The STAAR English end-of-course exam will be given this week to our freshmen on Monday, March 31 and to our sophomores on Tuesday, April 1.  Please help by making sure your son or daughter gets a good night’s sleep and eats breakfast, so all are ready to put forth best efforts each morning.   Our teachers have been working hard with students to prepare them well, and we know they will do their best!

These testing sessions will take up almost the entire day, with a lunch break mid-way through the exam. Testing regulations require us to collect all electronic devices (cell phones, iPods and other personal media devices) from students prior to testing. Students will not be able to use them during or after they finish testing in their testing room.  However, they do have access to a landline in the ISA office.

During testing, our number one priority is supporting the students who are testing.  Therefore our ability to deliver items, check-out students, and process other paperwork is more limited than on a regular school day so please expect longer delays on Monday and Tuesday should you need assistance from an ISA faculty member or our support staff.

While our freshmen and sophomores will be testing, our junior and senior students will follow the regular bell schedule, attend their normal elective and core ISA and Lee classes, and will not be dismissed early.

The end of our week picks up with lots of activity. On Friday, forty-five student ISA astronomy club members, sponsor and physics teacher Nick Polito, and several faculty members and I will depart for Leakey, Texas, for a three-day field trip to the Foundation Free Camps to study the night’s sky in darkness of the Texas hill country. While these astronomy students are participating in astronomy acitivies on Saturday afternoon, our new Model United Nations XIX rising junior and senior co-chairs will be at ISA with sponsors Cassie Allen and Melanie Anderson for a day-long training, which begins the nine month process to prepare for next year’s simulation.

Have a great week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: March 23, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

The auditorium was standing room only last Thursday evening as we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the International School of the Americas with family, friends, current and former ISA educators, and our alumni.  It was a special evening as we heard from members of the ISA design team and alumni, followed by the largest student exhibition of work in ISA’s 20-year history.  The students’ energy and passion was on full display as they shared their projects with community members.  Thank you to the ISA committee of teachers for their work over the last few months to plan the event and to all who were able to join us and make the evening memorable. We are looking forward to another great twenty years!

With so much to celebrate, we did not have time to share one of ISA’s most recent accomplishments.  In the summer of 2013, ISA was nominated for consideration as a Deeper Learning School, an initiative funded by the Hewlitt Foundation to define and unpack deeper learning, which is explained by the foundation as the “umbrella term for the skills and knowledge that students must possess to succeed in 21st century jobs and civic life,” in successful schools across the country. We are pleased to announce that ISA was selected as one of the twenty schools nationwide and highlighted in this Infographic, Deeper Learning Executive Summary, and ISA School Profile.

Along with the publications above, we have once again been invited to participate in theDeeper Learning Conference and to present the work of our school, specifically several of our interdisciplinary projects and how student motivation is fostered. Several teachers and I will travel to San Diego mid-week to attend the conference. Along with other schools in our International Studies Schools Network (ISSN), we will have the opportunity to learn from several other well known national school reform networks brought together with funding from the Hewlett Foundation. We look forward to sharing new ideas with the faculty when we return.

Due to last week’s celebration, the ISA Amigos’ monthly meeting was moved to Thursday, March 27, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Sergiovanni Room. All are welcome to attend as the Amigos finalize a few end of the year projects and begin planning for next year.


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: March 16, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

We are anticipating a wonderful afternoon and evening on Thursday, March 20, 2014, as ISA celebrates 20 years in education promoting local and global citizenship. Our 20th Year Celebration formally begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Lee campus auditorium as we welcome and honor alumni, former teachers, and the three previous ISA principals in an hour-long program.  Along with guests from ISA’s past, we invite current students and families to join us in the auditorium at 5:30p.m. prior to viewing students’ exhibitions of work beginning at 6:30p.m.  Below is an overview of the afternoon and evening:

5:30-6:30 p.m.: 20th Year Celebration in the Lee Auditorium

6:30-8:00 p.m.: Student Exhibitions of Work & Report Card Distribution

·         Freshmen: Make A Difference Fair  (Multi-Purpose Room II/old library)

·         Sophomores: Advocacy Fair (Cafeteria)

·         Juniors: Social Justice Products  (Multi-Purpose Room II/old library)

·         Seniors: SA2020 Presentations (Cafeteria)

Freshman and sophomore students will remain at school and attend the 5:30 p.m. program in the auditorium before being released to exhibit their work. We will be providing pizza for all freshmen and sophomores and any juniors and seniors who remain on campus. 

The public exhibition of student work is one of the more unique features of an ISA education. Not only do we encourage parents and families to view their own child’s work, we invite you to visit and give feedback to students across the four grade levels. Our students benefit from diverse audiences and multiple eyes on their work. Many of the students are mid-process in their projects and are seeking ideas and guidance from our community.

In addition to Thursday’s events, we will host school tours for alumni at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 20.  We are also holding a Back to the Doo Dah community lunch and Sophomore Battle of the Bands at Beto’s on Broadway from noon to 5:00p.m. on Saturday, March 22 for past and present community members.

Unrelated to the 20th Year event, we also have another big reminder for families this week about the upcoming deadline to register for Advanced Placement (AP) tests.  Online registration for AP tests must be completed no later than 1:30p.m. on March 21, 2014.  The on-line registration accepts Visa and MasterCard; students may also bring cash, a money order, or a cashier’s check to the ISA counseling office to register.  If you have any questions, you may email Mary Reihner at mreihn@neisd.net. The complete AP testing schedule can be found HERE and on the ISA Community Calendar.

Have a great week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: March 2, 2014

Sunday, March 3, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Thank you to the ISA Amigos and all of the families that contributed to last Wednesday’s faculty and staff potato luncheon. It was a wonderful way to warm up on a cold afternoon, and we appreciate your generosity.

Yesterday, several ISA students participated in the Girl’s Global Summit, after having spent the last few weeks preparing presentations to share with middle school and high school students. The event, highlighted in this Texas Public Radio (TPR) story, aims to empower young girls and develop global empathy and citizenship. Congratulations to our students for your involvement and for the recognition of your work and the school on TPR!

Mary Reihner, ISA counselor, asked me to share that registration for Advanced Placement (AP) exams is now open for ISA sophomore, junior, and senior students who will be taking AP exams in early May.  In order to take an AP exam, students must register through the NEISD Parent & Student Portal. Although the actual cost of an AP exam is $89, students attending an NEISD school will pay only $20 per test because of district and state support.  Additionally, if a student qualifies for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, the fee is lowered to $10 per test.  The online registration runs through 1:30 on March 21, 2014; however, we highly recommend and ask students to register before they leave for spring break on Friday, March 7, because once the deadline passes, we will be unable to add additional students.  The on-line registration accepts Visa and MasterCard; students may also bring cash, a money order, or a cashier’s check to the ISA counseling office to register.  If you have any questions, you may email Mary Reihner at mreihn@neisd.net. The complete AP testing schedule can be found HERE and on the ISA Community Calendar.

On Thursday morning, seventeen students and three teachers depart for Seoul and Gwandju, South Korea to visit our sister school and learn about Korean culture. The eight day trip includes a home stay with families in Gwandju, visits to religious and cultural sites, and a day exploring Seoul before returning to San Antonio. We want to thank ISA teachers Luke Freeman and Mare Stewart, along with Trinity intern Tino Hong, for leading and chaperoning the group on our inagural visit to South Korea.

Looking ahead, I want to remind families and students about our 20th Year Celebration on Thursday, March 20, 2014, the week after we return from spring break. The event falls on our regular 3rd nine-weeks Report Card Pick-Up Night.  The evening will include a formal program in the Lee Campus auditorium from 5:30-6:30 p.m. followed by student exhibitions of work. Below is a brief overview of the afternoon & evening:

  • 5:30-6:30 p.m.: 20th Year Celebration in the Lee Auditorium
  • 6:30-8:00 p.m.: Student Exhibitions of Work & Report Card Distribution

Students are welcome to remain at school until the event begins, and we will be providing pizza for those who stay on campus. Donations in honor of past or present ISA educators will continue to be accepted through our 20th Year website.  Please look for final details in the next Sunday email.

We wish all of our students a restful and wonderful spring break.  Look for my next message on Sunday, March 16, 2014.


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: February 23, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Thursday, February 27, 2014 is a scheduled early release day for all NEISD high students to provide professional development time for teachers.  The buses, including ISA shuttles to NEISD home campuses, will run immediately following the end of the school day at 2:05 p.m.

After the students depart Thursday, the ISA faculty will be preparing to welcome 120 new students on Thursday night during Freshman Orientation & Choice Slip Night at 6 p.m. in the Lee Campus cafeteria.  The new freshmen, the class of 2018, will meet the ISA faculty, learn about the work of the ISA Amigos, complete course selection cards,  hear about the travel experience to Heifer International, and have the opportunity to sign up for Summer PE Camp.  We congratulate and welcome all of the new students and their families, which were drawn from a record number of more than 300 applications.

Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to participate in Summer PE Camp as well, and registrationis now open. Students are asked to complete the registration, linked above and posted in the ISA Bulletin, by Friday, March 7.  Space is limited for this very popular summer program, so we encourage students to register as soon as possible and to drop off payment in the ISA office to guarantee themselves a seat.

This Saturday, the Freshman Team will hold a Saturday School from 9 a.m. to noon for students who are asked to attend by one or more of their teachers. The Sophomore Team will also host a Saturday School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for any sophomore students in need of additional support.

Looking ahead, the Senior Summa Celebration will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at ISA. All NEISD high schools honor those senior students earning a cumulative GPA over 100 during the Summa Celebration.  On Tuesday, February 23, ISA seniors who have earned this distinction will be notified about the event and asked to select an educator or mentor to honor during the ceremony.

Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: February 16, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Our Chinese and Japanese exchange students had a wonderful week at ISA and in San Antonio this week including a welcome ceremony on Tuesday, field trips to the San Antonio Museum of Art, a visit to the rodeo, and time spent experiencing American family life.  We waved goodbye to our Chinese visitors on Thursday morning, and the Japanese depart early Monday morning after a farewell party this afternoon.  Thank you to all the ISA host brothers, sisters, and families and to Christian Stafford, my school leadership intern and exchange coordinator, for making our guests’ visit so memorable.

In late May, we will welcome a final group Central American students through the CAYA program in partnership with ACCD and Georgetown University.  In addition to the opportunity to host, ISA sophomores and juniors may apply to be part of the American delegation traveling to Nicaragua and Panama in July of 2014. Students’ travel is fully funded by the United States Department of State and Bureau of Education and Cultural Affair. Applications may be submitted to Mitzi Moore any time before Wednesday, February 26 at 1:00 pm. Representatives from ACCD will review the applications and conduct interviews to select the ISA student ambassadors.

After traveling to Alabama in November to study the United Civil Rights Movement, our juniors completed a project asking them to identify and to raise awareness about social injustices, past and present. On Wednesday, February 19, we will host our Eighth Annual Social Injustice Product Presentations at ISA from 6:00-8:00 p.m.  A schedule of room assignments and presentation order will be available throughout the 1st floor for guests. Parents, friends, and younger students are invited to attend as we celebrate and learn from our junior students.

Finally, good luck to the ISA Science Bowl team who will be competing Saturday, February 22. Go Globies!

Have a wonderful week.


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update:February 9, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

In celebration of ISA’s 20th year (1994-2014), we are pleased to announce our upcoming 20th Year Celebration on Thursday, March 20, 2014. We invite your family to save the date and join us as we celebrate 20 years in education promoting local and global citizenship. While a committee of teachers and students are still designing the details, we do know that we will gather in the auditorium from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for an hour-long program honoring our past and present leaders’, teachers’, and students’ contributions to our award-winning school. Immediately after the formal program in the auditorium, ISA students will be exhibiting their current work for ISA alumni, former teachers, district guests, fellow students, and, most importantly, families to view.  This event will mark our largest public exhibition of student work to date: the Freshman Make A Difference Fair, Sophomore Advocacy Fair, Junior Portfolio Sessions, and Senior SA2020 Projects. The exhibition of student work embodies the core of what we believe about teaching and learning because students are asked to use their minds well as they publicly explain, persuade, and defend their work to an audience beyond the school.

A 20th Year Celebration website has been set up for the larger ISA community to house details about the evening such as the schedule, ways to participate, and how to donate in honor of past or present ISA educators.  If you are friends with us on Facebook, we invite you to like our posts about the celebration as the pop up over the next few weeks on the ISA Facebook page.

As you read this, the ISA Senior Team and our Senior Class are likely preparing for their week-long travel experience to Washington D.C. and tomorrow’s early morning departure.  After the seniors arrive in D.C., they will likely be on the Washington mall, seeing their first glimpse of our capitol’s landmarks, and possibly playing in some light snow by late afternoon. I am excited to be traveling with the seniors the first three days this week, and I am looking forward to accompanying the groups on several of their embassy visits and meetings with the non-profits that students scheduled.

On Tuesday, we will host a short welcome ceremony for our Chinese and Japanese exchange students from 10:30-11:00 a.m. in the auditorium. Our guests, along with their host brothers and sisters, will be recognized as we share greetings. Families are welcome to attend this event which will be attended by the entire ISA student body during advisory period. Thank you again to all the ISA families who have opened their homes and hearts to host our 36 exchange students this week.

Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: February 2, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014
Dear ISA Families,
Tomorrow night, the Freshman Team and Leadership Team will host our final recruiting event of the year, ISA Information Night at 6:00 p.m. in the Lee campus library. This event is for parents and families of current 8th grade students interested in joining ISA in the fall of 2014. If you have friends or family who are interested in ISA and were unable to attend a Shadowing date, or who want to learn more about the school, please encourage them to attend this informational meeting. Also, remember that the Freshman Application (Class of 2018) is due Wednesday, February 5, 2014, by 5:00 p.m. Although siblings of current students are granted automatic admission, they must submit an application by the deadline as well. On Friday afternoon and evening, we will call 120 rising freshmen whose names are drawn in the lottery to congratulate and to welcome them to ISA.
Mary Reihner, ISA counselor, visited sophomore and junior classrooms last week to help students begin selecting their courses for next year. While in the classrooms she also shared information about the 2014-2015 ISA Dual Credit program.  Dual credit allows students to earn high school credit and college credit concurrently through NEISD’s partnership with San Antonio College.  During the 2014-2015 school-year ISA will offer two dual credit courses (AP United States History and AP English IV) to all junior and senior students who qualify and complete the application process.  Applying for dual credit is a four step process outlined in this Dual Credit Overview for students and their families. Families are encouraged to review this document because deadlines are quickly approaching.
While Mrs. Reihner will be busy with course selection, dual credit, and much more, we will take time this week to celebrate her, and all counselors, in honor of National School Counseling Week for their unique and valuable contributions to schools. On behalf of the ISA community, we send our thanks and appreciation to Mrs. Reihner for the dedication, compassion, and expertise that she brings to our school.  
Looking ahead, we will welcome Japanese and Chinese exchange students to ISA over the next week. On Tuesday, February 11, our Chinese exchange students, Chinese language learners, and ISA host brothers and sisters will take a field trip to the San Antonio Museum of Art. We are looking for a few parent chaperones to accompany our guests and students. If you are interested in joining us, please email James Ku, Chinese teacher, at jku@neisd.net
Finally, we have a special announcement for our senior families. The Lee campus will host Student Aid San Antonio on Saturday, February 15th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.Student Aid San Antonio is a city-wide effort to provide free assistance with the financial aid filing process. Help will be available for both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA), forms used to determine the amount of money given to families to help pay for their student’s college education. Student Aid San Antonio will take place at various locations over the coming months to allow families as many opportunities as possible to complete their financial aid applications with confidence. If you cannot attend the session on the Lee campus, you may click HERE to access the map to find other dates and locations in San Antonio.
Have a great week!
Kathy Bieser
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