Annual Report Overview, 2013-2014
Welcome from Brian Vander Haak, Head of School
Thanks be to God for His faithful care for our CAJ community over generations!
Your servant in Him,
Brian Vander Haak
Head of School
2013-14 Schoolwide highlights
- Our Rooted in Tradition, Growing in Grace, Seeking to Serve fundraising campaign continues and has a nice connection to next year's theme: Rooted, Growing, Seeking. We also have used our Love in Action fund to raise funds for the victims of the typhoon disaster in the Philippines. It has been inspiring to see the level of student commitment to this project in all of our divisions!
- One recent minor change is that the board has approved the change of the headmaster job title to head of school. It is absolutely okay to still use the term headmaster if you prefer, and it will take some time for us to replace headmaster with head of school in our documentation. Head of school is a more commonly used term in our setting and is perhaps more descriptive of the job position - which is so much more than head teacher.
- We have recently contracted with a company to provide our cafeteria services from next year on. More information will be distributed as details are negotiated. We are thankful for the many years of dedicated service our cafeteria employees and food services coordinator have provided, and we are looking forward to turning our food service over to a professional company that is committed to nutrition, best practices, and partnering with us. More specifics will be shared with school families before the next school year begins.
- Several years ago we moved the start of our hiring process to earlier in the year. This year we offered our first new staff contract in November. We have low turnover for next year, which is always a blessing. We are pleased to announce the addition of a qualified and experienced speech and language therapist (after a year without one on staff), along with other qualified, experienced, and excellent hires. We have also been blessed with high quality replacements for two long-standing but retiring leaders in our music program, Martie Tarter and Mieke Sasaki. These replacements understand CAJ and are committed to carrying on these women's commitment to excellence.
- We continue to expand our online resources and are now working to make more forms available online for the convenience of our families. Watch for updates as the year progresses. We are continually seeking ways to make the application, re-enrollment, and paperwork process easier and more manageable for both our families and for us.
- Our multi-year plan to install built-in digital projectors and sound systems in all classrooms where they are desired is almost completed. We have been blessed with exceptional technology resources and consider stewardship and proper usage to be a high priority.
- We continue to do major renovation of our facilities in ways that you might not notice but that reflect good stewardship practice. We are currently focusing on replacing our aging air conditioners, upgrading our lighting, and ensuring roofs and external walls are properly maintained.
- We continue to put an emphasis on data-responsive decision making. Please feel welcome to check out our key performance indicators and survey responses in our reports section of this annual report.
Jacquie Willson - Elementary Principal
To this end, a curricular focus for developing emotional literacy was implemented this year in the elementary division. Now every grade has a regular circle time, during which students are learning to understand, recognize, and manage emotions appropriately and how to have healthy relationships with others. Through the use of individual and group activities, discussions, literature, lessons, and teachings from the Bible, students are learning more about how to care for, respect, and be responsible for themselves and others. February was “Empathy Month” where teachers and students focused on developing empathy and being a place where there is unconditional acceptance of others. The Covenant Players, an international drama company, worked with the students over two days, and drama was used in a fun and effective way to teach the students used drama to further help the students develop the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
After 8 years as the elementary school principal, I will be taking a leave of absence for one year. Jean Hino, whose current assignment includes elementary head teacher, will be stepping in as interim principal for the 2014-2015 academic year. I plan to return to the role of principal in August 2015.
Winnie Langelaar - Middle School Principal
Developing relationships is important at the middle school level. Each of the middle school classes had an opportunity this year to develop relationships with students from schools in our neighborhood. Each grade visited a neighboring school and hosted the students here at CAJ. The grade six class interacted with the English Club from the Tokyo Gakugei University-Attached Special Support School, a school for special needs children. The grade seven class was able to get to know some of the grade seven boys class from Jiyu Gakuen. CAJ’s grade eight class spent time with the grade five class at Daini Elementary School, right across the street. All these interactions presented a chance to develop relationships with students in our neighboring schools and impact Higashi Kurume for Christ.
As a middle school we participated in a Yen War to raise money for Love in Action Philippines. Those two weeks saw the middle school students raise enough money to support 42 children to attend an OperationSAFE camp in the Philippines this summer! In addition to the Yen War, the homeroom classes organized their own various fundraising events, such as baked goods and drink sales. Through these events, students demonstrated a compassion for those who experienced loss in the Philippines.
This year the middle school put on the play Princess Who? This play gave our middle school students the opportunity to explore their dramatic talents. Their performances went very well. A number of the actors had multiple roles and were able to switch characters with ease. Students were also given the chance to be a part of the stage crew to work with lighting and props. This production gave students a venue to discover and develop their talents.
During my first year as middle school principal here at CAJ, it has been a joy to see the students grow physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his might power” from Ephesians 6: 10 was our theme verse for the year. I was privileged to witness students trying to apply this theme to their daily walk.
Anda Foxwell - High School Principal
We continue to emphasize and systematize our servant leadership opportunities for high school students. School Without Walls provides them with training, while community groups provide drill and practice in devising, planning for, and executing service projects in the CAJ and Tokyo communities. Service learning at CAJ culminates with the senior trip to Thailand, during which this year the seniors planned worship and activities for children in a local orphanage and mixed and poured cement for the foundation for a nursery school, while also providing activities for the school children there. Seniors also demonstrate their desire to make an impact on the world for Christ by researching, writing, presenting, and engaging in hands-on action to affect change connected to an issue people face in our fallen world.
To prepare students to meet the needs of the world, we continue to help them become well-rounded individuals, prepared academically, socially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We offered 15 Advanced Placement courses this year, as well as a healthy amount of elective classes. Teachers have been participating in growing numbers in attending AP workshops and other professional development opportunities to hone their teaching craft. We also fielded debate and speech teams for the first time in several years. Students participated in sports, drama, music, and student leadership in formal settings, and groups of students met, talked, and relaxed together on campus every day when school was over.
As part of my masters in educational leadership program, I piloted a small-scale program of a mentoring group for interested teachers who all agreed to select a form of feedback they would use to grow professionally. We learned much together, and I hope to expand this new approach to teachers’ professional growth through differentiated feedback and professional conversations in the coming years.
School Support Services
Flossie Epley - Director
Students who graduated from our preschool Stories Plus program last year were eager for something similar for elementary-age kids. In response this school year we added Homeschool Plus where on four occasions we invited local homeschoolers to come experience working in a science lab. Excitement ran high as students picked apart owl pellets, learned about physical and chemical changes, configured circuits which made alarms ring and light turn on, and programmed robots.Our reading incentive program, online reading practice, and library offerings helped students improve and enjoy reading. Having some curriculum for sale and other books available to borrow made teaching easier for parents.
Rick Seely - Business Manager
Annual Audit Report
"In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above, present fairly in all material respects, the financial position of Gakkou Houjin Christian Academy in Japan as of March 31, 2014 and the results of its operations and cash flows for the years then ended in conformity with the accounting standard of an incorporated educational institution."CAJ's boards have reviewed the audit report and have accepted last year's results showing operating revenues of ¥681,562,103 and operating expenses of ¥671,749,655. This results in a net operating surplus of ¥9,812,448.
Both the Board of Directors and the Board of Councilors use a secure online portal to prepare and conduct meetings. This innovation also provides ready access to information and data about the school as well as retains an extensive historical record of reports, minutes, and documents. The boards also have a fixed location on our public website (Life@CAJ > Board) that promotes transparency and easy access to the board manual and meeting minutes.
This year the board convened a special committee to carefully examine and consider revisions for CAJ's Statement of Faith. After many meetings and much prayerful consideration, a revised statement is now being considered by the board. Watch for the updated statement in the coming year.The board also has convened a head of school search committee to replace Brian Vander Haak, who has requested a new role at CAJ in 2015-16. For updates on the process you can visit: Life@CAJ > Head of School Search Announcements. The position profile is at: Interested > Head of School Search. And the announcement from both the head of school and board chair can be found here: Life@CAJ > Headmaster's blog.