La Gazette

La Gazette highlights the variety of stories happening in our FAIS community every day—from moments in the classroom and around campus to service projects and off-campus activities.

Usually published monthly during the school year, La Gazette is shared via email with current families and staff. It can also be found here, in our website archive. 


2020-2021 FAIS Magazine Is Now Live!

FAIS Magazine celebrates our community by offering a look back on the experiences we've shared during the year -- and what a year it's been! 


In this issue:

  • A Look Back on Distance Learning
  • Mission Review for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Profile of our first-ever alumni board member, and more!

We're also excited to shift the magazine to a digital-first publication... hopefully providing a more dynamic experience, making it easier to share with family and friends, and reducing our impact on the environment. To help ease this transition, limited print copies are available through a request form. 

Read it today!

Phased Return to Campus Complete!


April 26 marked our first full day back for 4th-8th graders—completing our phased return that began on February 8! It feels so great having our community whole again and back on campus...all grades...all day...all week.


It has been a long road to get here, but we did it together. Thank you to our facilities team, Nurse Amanda, and all of our teachers, aides, and support staff for being such amazing stewards of our community’s safety and well being... and for helping to provide our students with a steady sense of “normal” during a time that has been anything but normal.


Finally, thank you to our families for their patience, partnership, and resilience. It truly is a privilege to care for your children and see them develop into global citizens who will help make a better, more peaceful world.

Sixth Graders Reflect on the Importance of Learning Languages

From FAIS Middle School French Track teachers Angélique Cansse & Marion Rosier (French) and Spanish Track teacher Gloria Widdows


Sixth graders in the French, and Spanish tracks recently reflected on their own language learning, and on how communities of various backgrounds can be brought together by languages. 


Students in the French track studied the francophone world and the rising of the French language in the upcoming years, especially in Africa. They learned how the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) coordinates cooperation and actions within its 88 participating countries. Students also focused on one specific country where French is spoken, in order to put together a short study. They could appreciate how languages enrich a culture, and they also understood that learning and speaking one or more languages encourage not only communication and connections, but also tolerance.  


Students in the Spanish track studied how Spanish can be different in different countries, including the use of words, and pronunciation. Especially how there is a way to talk in Spain and how different it is in Latinoamerica. They learned to understand why and how one language can change in different countries and cultures. They also learned to appreciate being able to learn different languages and that would give them more opportunities in the future.  


Their common summative assessment  addressed these inquiries:

  • How is a language connected to a culture?
  • How does the study of your language of immersion help in creating international consciousness?
  • What role does this language play in your personal life
  • What languages does Gilkey offer, and if we could add another language, which one would you recommend and why? 
  • What does it mean to you to be a student in an international school and how will it help you in your future?


Teachers were impressed by the level of maturity that students expressed in their assessments. Many languages were considered as a possible addition to the Gilkey programme. Every suggestion was supported by thought out and powerful arguments. Students' suggestions were diverse and ranged from Latin to Farsi, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, or Japanese.


Teachers selected the articles that they thought represented the best the spirit and the overall goal of the unit.

French track articles

Spanish track articles

Praised Portland author presents 4 virtual workshops for FAIS!

From Elizabeth Serreau, FAIS Library Director


In April, FAIS had a wonderful (virtual) visit from Rosanne Parry, well praised Portland resident author. Her visit was an exciting change from our COVID isolation and a welcome ushering of spring and creativity. Thank you to the technical help and wizardry of all the staff in, and outside the classrooms, for 4 (almost) hitch free Zoom sessions!


It was a very special visit for other reasons. First, she came to us via the Internet, and second, she talked to us from the tree house in her yard, where she usually writes (in summer or in fair weather). We could hear birds and the wind in the trees as she spoke.  


During her 4 different workshop-style interventions with the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, she presented at length her writing process and philosophy. It was inspiring both for students and teachers! 


She explained her research process when she prepares materials to write a novel. It might take up to a year to find and read all of the information she needs. It was a great pedagogical reminder to illustrate the importance of seeking out different types of resources, and to verify the authenticity of facts. Rosanne Parry explained the importance of acknowledging, and analyzing the biases present in any type of information. But she also stressed the importance of empathy. She tries to get into the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations of the characters she depicts, including animals before writing about them.


“Research is one of my favorite things about writing. Sometimes I research in the library but sometimes I research while camping in the mountains or canoeing on rivers and lakes. I go to museums. I go looking for whales in a kayak. I take pictures of plants and animals and listen to birds and the sound of the wind.”


The students were well prepared and asked many good questions after she spoke about her work. We all got to know Rosanne better as a human being, not just a name on a book: a person, warm, full of creativity, and very inspiring. What a treat to have such a talented author in our midst, even virtually.


Rosanne Parry has been on the Oregon Battle of the Books list several years. Many of her titles (full bibliography) are on best books of the year lists and/or have starred reviews. She has also won several awards:

  • Heart of a Shepherd, 2009 (Oregon Spirit Award)
  • Second Fiddle, 2012 (Oregon Spirit Award)
  • Written in Stone, 2014 (Oregon Spirit Award, WILLA award for Women Writing the West for a children’s novel)
  • Turn of the Tide, 2016 (Oregon Spirit Award) 
  • Last of the Name, 2019 (Oregon Spirit Award, New York Historical Society History Book Award)


Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week


Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week! FAIS teachers and staff -- thank you so much for all that you've done for our families and school this past year, and all of the hard work you put in behind the scenes to provide a safe, fulfilling learning environment for our students.


As a token of appreciation, our families (led by the Parent Liaison Committee coordinators, Kirsten Kyllingstad and Stephanie Fernandes) put together gift bags, including: a note of thanks for "springing" into action, a packet of spring seeds, a lavender bath bomb or shower steamer, and a Lindor truffle (check out this cool time lapse video of the gift bag assembly!).


Special shout out and thank you to the Gong family (K), the Grahek family (PS), and the Miller & LaTourette family (1st) for going above and beyond and making notes for all 50 teachers. Thank you to everyone who also included notes for not only your teachers, but several staff members too.


This week, and every week, THANK YOU!

Minda McCandless Recognized by K103 Portland's Most Valuable Teacher Contest


FAIS community members who listen to K103 Portland during their morning commute heard a familiar name on Mornings with Stacey & Mike last Friday, April 30. Minda McCandless, Middle School Social Studies, English, and Public Speaking/Communications teacher, was announced as a winner in the station’s Most Valuable Teacher contest!


Congratulations to Minda for her achievement (and thank you to her colleague, Lauren Yamasaki, for nominating her)! She and all of our amazing teachers make FAIS a special place.


Read more and hear on-air clip!

French Consulate Visits FAIS!


(Translation: Frederic Jung's first visit to the French American International School this morning. A beautiful setting in the heights of Portland to learn French. Congratulations to the management and teachers for their work and warm welcome)


On May 14, we were honored to host the Consulate General of France in San Francisco (which includes Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Northern California, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). The consul visits these states from time to time to meet the French community, as well as help people renew their French passport and ID. Thankfully, the Oregon weather cooperated!

First-Ever FAIS “Trackers” Days

From Jeff Luther, FAIS Middle School teacher (Language & Literature, Individuals & Societies, Digital Design) and Outdoor School Coordinator


Middle school students this week shot arrows, started fires, and built shelters in the forest as part of the first-ever FAIS “Trackers” days. Centered around the FAIS forest, each grade spent an entire day outside with a team of instructors from Portland’s “Trackers” organization. The main purpose of the day was to build community within the grades as well as to practice communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.


When it became clear that outdoor school wouldn’t happen for our sixth graders due to the Covid pandemic, it was decided that we’d try to bring a little bit of outdoor school to them. The idea was eventually expanded to include the seventh and eighth grade students as well. Beth Clifton (FAIS Forest Manager) was instrumental in putting the program together, with the support of Emmanuelle Burk (Middle School Division Head) and Scott Hardister (Head of School). A team of 12 instructors from Trackers came to the FAIS campus to work with the students on a range of community-building activities as well as some wilderness survival skills. Through it all, students were able to get a full immersive experience here in our forest. 


After spending the last year in some form of online learning, the students seemed to appreciate the opportunity to put down the chromebooks and have some fun outdoors with each other. Middle school teachers observed lots of smiles, waving, and showing off what they were doing. “I liked the fire making station and the archery the best. I accidently went to my baseball game with charcoal still on my face,” said sixth-grader Grady. 


Students were organized into cohort groups to maintain standard COVID protocol. Even a little rain on Wednesday and Thursday didn’t seem to dampen spirits. “That Trackers day was so fun,” exclaimed Max H, who also enjoyed the carving activity. 


The Trackers instructors also seemed to enjoy the time with our students, and they were also impressed with the students’ knowledge of the forest and the native plants. 


Students were able to debrief and reflect on their activities later in the week in Language & Literature and Advisory. The following are some sample comments from the students: 


“For me, the purpose of trackers was a group community-building exercise. It was fun and groups form bonds in times like that. We learned things and played games and made memories of each other outside of a classroom. This was an important day.” 


“This was important for me because I got to do stuff I had never done before in my life. It was very fun and we got to meet people we didn’t know before. I learned stuff that might help me one day in the wild.” 


“The experience was important to me because I feel like we needed to get outside and have fun and learn about the outside after doing school inside and online for six months. I learned more about archery and it was fun to be able to play dodge-arrow.” (Note: This was done in a completely safe way!) 


One student was overheard summing it up like this: “We should do this everyday!” 

Welcome to Diego Zaragoza Tejas -- New Assistant Head of School


Please join us in welcoming Diego Zaragoza Tejas as the new FAIS Assistant Head of School. He is originally from California and is moving to Portland with his partner, Jason, after living 16 years in Mexico City.


Diego earned a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a M.S. in Education from the State University of New York. He is an active teacher trainer, school evaluator and content developer for the IB Educator Network and accredits schools through the Southern Association of Independent Schools. He enjoys working with teams to improve student learning and helping others to become confident teachers and leaders. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, running, and cooking Mexican food accompanied by spicy salsas!


"I'm so excited to join the FAIS team and to be part of a community where languages are valued and where intercultural sensitivity is upheld."


Diego speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, so don't be shy to challenge him with French, which he wishes to learn quickly in our community. He officially joins us in July!


By Dave Yeager, Teacher and Extracurricular Aide


As an aide, one of our top priorities at recess is to make sure the kids are safe. It only takes a split-second for something to happen, but it also only takes a split-second for our instincts to kick in and for us to react! Here (watch with sound on!), we see Brianna building a mega block tower with students at recess. But as we all know...what comes up must come down, and that’s when Brianna‘s instincts kicked in--shielding the student from several bonks on the head and a trip to Nurse Amanda!

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