Browsing Category:

School & Teaching

    Library Tour!

    Welcome to the library! It’s the coolest (and during the warm months, the hottest) place to be in the school. I got a couple of upgrades this year and finished updating the signage.

    When you walk into the library, the book return bin is on your left and the reference and periodical sections are to your right:


    Reference and periodicals


    The main room has a large carpet for story time, a cozy reading area, pillows for the kids to use, and the nonfiction shelves:




    I added an extra table to the work area. Behind the tables is my desk and the circulation computer:


    Library tour


    And now for the upgrades… tada! Check out the fiction room! Brand new carpet and another set of shelving! I’m so excited. You can also see the student catalog computer on the right:


    Fiction room


    Last year, the picture book shelves were so cramped it was difficult for the elementary students to look through and take out the books. No more! The picture books can breathe now! I tried to keep as many off of the very bottom shelf as possible. It’s a pain to get down there. But also, it leaves room to grow in the future.


    Picture books


    Picture books


    One column of these shelves is dedicated to featuring the new and recommended juvenile books. Another houses the step readers:


    Featured books and step books


    I added these two fiction series shelves last year. Geronimo Stilton, Bailey School Kids, Magic Tree House, Flat Stanley, Series of Unfortunate Events, and The 39 Clues are student favorites:


    Fiction series books


    By the end of this year, we’ll have 10,000 items available for checkout. As you can see, the juvenile fiction section is loaded!


    Juvenile Fiction shelves


    I’m slowly renovating and expanding the secondary fiction section:


    Secondary fiction section


    It’s rewarding to see how much the library has grown. I’m hoping there will be a lot more circulation with the new shelving!


    » See what’s changed by checking out last year’s tour here.



    First Day of School: Year Three

    After an amazing staff retreat and a few days of in-service and preparation, before we knew it the first day of school arrived! We were so excited to see the returning students and to meet the new students.

    Each year on the first day, everyone gathers outside for an assembly. I love seeing the sea of students:


    Students on the first day


    Our director gave a few words and introductions. Then everyone walked around the building to kick off the year with a moment of silent reflection and thankfulness.


    Thankful walk with school and Turkish flag


    We’re glad to be here and are ready for another wonderful year!


    David and Leah on the first day of school



    Back in Turkey

    We made it back for year three!

    We landed around noon (Turkey time) yesterday. We had easy, uneventful flights and traveled with one of the teachers and his son on two of the legs. We’ve kept busy with unpacking, church, meeting the new teachers, and starting in on our classrooms.


    View from airplane of Turkey


    Overall, I felt pretty good today other than a slight headache. The weather here is HOT HOT HOT. We had a high of 101 today… so I’m not sure whether the tiredness and headache is from the heat or jet lag.

    There’s lots of preparing to do in the week ahead! Countdown till the first day of school: 8 days!



    Expat Life: June & Goodbyes

    As expats in Turkey, we live our life cyclically, mostly based around the school calendar. Lest it appear like it’s all cool students and travel and fun, before we know it June arrives. And June is hard. June is when we say a lot of goodbyes.

    Part of me feels like I don’t have a right to claim a piece of the June-is-hard-goodbye pie; this is only our second year as expats. There are people and families who have been doing this for decades. One mom told me that while she looks forward to the no pain and no sorrow in heaven, she most looks forward to the fact there will be no goodbyes. There are kids in our community who have been saying goodbyes every year for most of their lives. And these are kids who might actually never see their friends again in this lifetime. But when I think about it, just as I shouldn’t discount the feelings of anyone else, I also shouldn’t disregard my own.


    Ankara orange sunset


    We love this international community. Since we’re all in a different culture together, we struggle together. We depend on each other for understanding and support. We’ve created our own little world. I like how The Culture Blend explains the relationship between expats:

    We like these people. We connect on a level that is deeper than the surface. We help each other. We laugh with each other. When something horrible happens to one of us we all understand the pain of going through it away from home so we all try to fill in the gaps.  –Jerry Jones, The Culture Blend

    Whether it’s because of embassy contracts or other commitments, we spend the last few weeks of school figuring out who is leaving and who is returning. We were told on the last day of school that several students found out that day they won’t be returning.

    Aside from the student body constantly changing, so does our school staff. (Note: All of this is not to discount our friends that are returning next year and the new friendships that will come.) Last year, it was very sad to say goodbye to friends. This year, some of our closest friends are returning to the States. And as much as we are excited for them and understand, it’s still hard. They’ve been such a big part of our life in Turkey, and approaching goodbyes was a grieving process.

    The reason why it was so hard is because they’ve been such wonderful friends. I’m thankful we’ve had friends that understood us, laughed with us, joked with us, shared meals with us, traveled with us, celebrated with us. Bo told us his dad said, “It sounds like you’ve found your Christmas card friends.” These are people we will keep up with for the rest of our lives.

    So Brittany, Kendall, Bo – we love you guys. Thanks for being on this journey with us and for being our family. Our goodbyes are only goodbyes for now. We’ll see you all soon. 🙂


    The Yearbook: Perspective

    With one year of advising the yearbook class under my belt, I felt a little less overwhelmed this time around. I had ten students and we had about 18 weeks to finish our files.


    The yearbook staff


    I kept the same class structure as last year. We discussed publication design and I taught them the basics of the computer programs during the first four weeks of class. Since we had less than a semester, I set the graphic styles and created a design template. Students then made mock ups, wrote and edited articles, and edited and placed photos. We used Gmail and Google Docs throughout the entire process. I constantly referred students to my Spread Assignment Sheet for page numbers and due dates. We used a very specific file structure on the school server, and I graded everything up until the end on the computer.

    Our yearbook is a full-color, 125 page hardcover publication. We used Scribus to layout spreads and Gimp to edit photographs. Some students worked in Inkscape and Blender to create vector artwork. We use a local print company. I can’t believe their turn around – just one week!


    Yearbook delivery piles


    This book was extra special because this year is the tenth anniversary of our school. The students decided on the theme “Perspective.” I had all of the kids create a cover option and they voted for their favorite. A senior designed this year’s cover. Our school is built around an atrium. This is a view of the ceiling and the flags we display for each home country.


    Yearbook cover


    The full cover:


    Full cover


    Title page:


    Title page


    Table of contents:


    Table of Contents


    Letter from the director:


    Letter from the Director


    Every grade had a mugshot page and a feature page:


    Class mugshot page

    Class feature spread


    The seniors were highlighted in their spreads:


    Senior spreads


    Most extra curricular activities had one-page spreads:


    ECA spread


    Sports teams had two-page spreads:


    Soccer spread


    A couple of students were creative with cutouts:


    Spirit Weeks spread


    Two students wrote a fantastic article about the beginning of our school. Our director provided information for a timeline:


    Decade spread


    Year favorites spread:


    Year Favorites Spread


    I have all but one yearbook in the library. It’s exciting to see Volume 10 join the shelf!


    Oasis yearbooks


    The kids did a great job and I’m so proud of them and their finished product. We’ll distribute them on Monday. I can’t believe there’s only two half days of school left!


    » Read about last year’s yearbook here.
    » Download my Spread Assignment Sheet resource here.



    International Days

    Some of my favorite days at our school are the International Days. Every spring our elementary students celebrate their diversity by dressing up in the traditional garb of their home country. They each bring a dish of food and they play games from around the world.

    David was Michigan-ed out with his Detroit Tiger’s hat and his Michigan Awesome shirt and mug (thanks, Mom!).


    David in his Michigan Awesome gear


    Our students represent 42 different countries this year including Egypt:




    And Ecuador:




    Nigeria, America, Gambia:


    International students






    Korea and America:


    Korea and America


    Italy and the UAE:


    Italy and UAE


    Here’s David and his sixth grade class:


    David's sixth grade class


    And the entire upper elementary:


    Upper elementary


    In the afternoon, the students enjoyed the international cafe!


    International Cafe


    We teachers indulged too, of course. 🙂


    International foods


    The lower elementary students had their International Day a week later. I adore the traditional dress from Korea. It’s so beautiful! These pint sized girls looked like perfect little dolls!


    Romania and Korea


    The lower elementary kiddos are just too cute! I love our school!


    Lower elementary


    » Read about last year’s International Day here.