Weekly Community Update: December 14, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Semester exams begin on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, and continue through end of the week. Below is a list of the exams that will be given on each day this week:

  • Tuesday, December 16: 2nd and 5th Period Exams
  • Wednesday, December 17: 4th and 6th Period Exams
  • Thursday, December 18: 3rd and 8th Period Exams
  • Friday, December 19: 1st and 7th Period Exams

Although students take one or two exams per day, other class periods will be meeting each day on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, December 18 and Friday, December 19 are early release days on high school campuses, with school dismissing at 1:30 p.m. The buses, including ISA shuttles to NEISD home campuses, will run immediately following the end of the school day at 1:30 p.m. Students are welcome to stay after school until 5:00p.m. on Thursday, December 18 to study and/or to use our computer lab to prepare for their last two finals on Friday.

At last Thursday’s German travel interest meeting we shared this overview of our travel to our partner school in Frankfurt. The German Trip Application is due no later than Friday, December 19th.

Thank you to all the families who are hosting students from our partner school inTakayama, Japanwhen we return from the winter break. As a reminder, we will hold an hour-long  Japanese Hosting Orientation meeting on Monday, January 5 at 6:00p.m. in the Sergiovanni Room. We have a few final Japanese students to place in ISA homes. Interested families may express interest by completing this Japanese Hosting Application.

This will be the last weekly community update until Sunday, January 4, 2015, the day before we return from winter break.  I wish you and your family a peaceful holiday season.


Kathy Bieser


Weekly Community Update: December 7, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

As our first semester comes to a close and we begin to look ahead to the second semester, I would like to highlight an event that will take place on January 22, 2015.  Through the successful collaboration of the ISA Amigos and the Lee High School Theater Department,Pasta & A Playhas become an ISA tradition. This event is the final and one of the most important fundraisers for the Amigos, featuring a pasta dinner and silent auction followed by an evening of theater presented by our students.  As the event approaches, the ISA Amigos asked me to share the silent auction donation form and donation letter for use by individuals and businesses who may want to give services and/or items for the auction.

The Amigos will hold their monthly meeting this Thursday, December 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the ISA Sergiovanni Room. Immediately following the ISA Amigos meeting, we will hold an interest meeting for summer travel to our partner school in Frankfurt, Germany. The interest meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last no more than an hour as we explore the possibility of ISA travel to Germany during the summer of 2015.

We are seeking several additional host brothers and sisters for our Japanese exchange students visiting January 6-16, 2015.  If your family is considering hosting but needs additional information regarding responsibilities, you may contact me via phone or email. Because their visit overlaps with MUNSA, we are planning to have the exchange students shadow their ISA host brother or sister as much as possible.  Although the Japanese do not arrive until after winter break, we need to finalize host families prior to the break. If you are interested in hosting, please complete the Japanese Hosting Application by Friday, December 12th.

Finally, we will end the week with a Sophomore Saturday School at ISA from 9:00-noon. All sophomores are invited to attend.


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: November 30, 2104

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Before we return to school to wind out the last few weeks of the semester and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving Break, I want to share a few thoughts of appreciation. I am thankful for another successful year of fall travel experiences, for all the parents and guardians who shared the gift of time or financial support to make these trips possible,  for the hardworking parent chaperones who accompanied us,  for the teachers who spent months organizing the travel and adapted and problem-solved when faced with weather or bus challenges, and, most importantly, for our students whose curiosity, empathy, and desire to make meaningful change in their world continually inspire hope among us. If you have not had the opportunity to see the students in action, we encourage you to view our Twitter hashtag #isatravel2014 from our fall travel experiences. The Tweets offer a window into students’ experiences and a possible springboard for conversations about your son’s or daughter’s learning.

I am also thankful for our faculty and staff’s generous giving to the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, who were recognized before the break by the North East Educational Foundation (NEEF). As the NEISD high school  with the highest per capita giving for the second year in a row, ISA was awarded a $1500 grant that we will use to support field trips and our exchange programs.

Our final hosting opportunity of the year is right around the corner. We recently received an email from our partners in Takayama, Japan, to confirm their visit from January 6-16, 2014. It isn’t necessary for our guests to have their own bedroom, only that they have their own bed. If you are interested in hosting, please complete this application ASAP.

Finally, on Monday, December 1st, semester exam exemption forms will be distributed to students in their English classes. Students who meet the criteria described in the exam exemption guidelines will be exempt from taking up to three of their semester exams. The exemption form must have a student, teacher and parent signature and are due in the ISA office by 4:30 pm on Friday, December 5th. Because attendance is an important part of having an exemption granted, it is important that all doctor’s notes or college visit verification forms are brought to Mrs. Tamez by December 5th. Any questions about exam exemptions may be sent to Mr. Garcia.


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: November 9, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

By this time next week, six charter buses packed full of luggage, trip binders, snacks and excited sophomore and juniors students will be on the road, and our freshmen students will be full of anticipation for their departure the following day. As teachers and families complete final preparations for our biggest field trips of the year, we want to share a few medication reminders:

  • All medications, prescription and over the counter medications (OTC), must be checked-in to teachers.
  • Only FDA approved OTC medications and prescription drugs will be administered. Students may not carry and teachers cannot distribute non-FDA approved items (vitamins, homeopathic remedies). If this presents a serious medical issue, please contact me at ebiese@neisd.net no later than November 12th to discuss possible options.
  • If paperwork, including a doctor’s order, is on file with our school nurse Rebecca Joplin, students may self-carry these three medications: asthma inhalers, Epipens, and hormonal treatments. We can still accept these medications without the paperwork on file; however, students will not be able to self-carry.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to review the October 30th Report Card Night trip presentations, please take a few moments to review the most up-to-date information from your student’s teachers: Freshman Team Travel PresentationSophomore Team Travel Presentation & Junior Team Travel Presentation. These presentations, along with additional trip information, are posted on the team Travel Websites for your reference.

If your student has traveled in the past with ISA, you know that we use the ISA science building as the check-in site. Due to construction, we ask that you park in the student parking lot, allowing space for the charter buses behind the science building. When you arrive, students traveling out of state will be able to purchase make-your-own snack bags from the Project Graduation committee for $5 or $8 at the departure times listed below.

Saturday, November 15

  • Junior Check-In & Bag Drop-Off: 11:00-12:30 pm (30 minute intervals based on bus assignment)
  • Sophomore Check-In:
    • 7:45 p.m. (medication to check-in)
    • 8:30 p.m. (no medication to check-in)

Sunday, November 16

  • Junior Check-In: 5:00 a.m. (goody bags sold only during bag drop off on Saturday!)

Monday, November 17

  • Freshman Check-In:
    • 7:00 p.m. – last name A-G
    • 7:10 p.m. –  last name H-O
    • 7:20 p.m. – last name P-Z

Before three quarters of our school hits the road next week, we will continue the ISA 2014-2015 recruiting season tomorrow Monday, November 10 at Bradley Middle School as we present at the second of three NEISD Magnet Informational Sessions, which are special events for 8th grade students and their families.  We will also be hosting our additional shadowing dates for prospective freshmen (current 8th graders) and their families after returning from Thanksgiving Break. Families are encouraged to register early by completing the ISA Shadowing Form.  Our 2014-2015 Freshman Application is also now posted on our website.

Good luck to our freshman and sophomore students who will be participating in simulations on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Working in teams, our freshmen will advocate for a set of environmental policies during their presentations and speeches while our sophomores will participate in an international debate set at the turn of the 20th century about the future of the Congo Free State. These simulations, as well as others that students will encounter during their four years at ISA, are designed to provide opportunities to interpret situations, events, and issues from many perspectives; to defend personal perspectives; and to understand the influences on these perspectives. If you are on Twitter, we will be tweeting out photos of our students in action during these simulations and while on the road next week @ISA_globies.

Finally, the Amigos will meet on Thursday, November 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Sergiovanni Room.  All parents are welcome to attend!

Have a great week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: November 2, 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Classes will be shortened on Tuesday and Wednesday, both early release days, to provide professional development time for teachers and staff. The buses, including the ISA shuttle to NEISD home campuses, will run immediately following the end of the school day at 2:05 p.m. ISA teachers will use Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to examine students’ portfolio posts from the first nine-weeks and to complete final preparations for the upcoming travel experiences.  We ask that you return any outstanding paperwork to a team teacher as soon as possible to help them prepare for departure day.

You are invited to two special events this week organized to help students of all ages and their families understand and prepare for college.

First, you are invited to attend the annual NEISD College Fair at Blossom Athletic Center and Piper Bass on Wednesday, November 5 from 6:00-8:00p.m.  More than 100 colleges and universities will be in attendance to speak with students and their families.  Students may attend the event with their families, or students may ride the “ISA College Fair Spirit Bus” to the fair. Permission slips for the spirit bus may be picked up in the ISA counseling office, and pizza will be provided after school (at 2:05 due to early release) in the peer tutoring center for students riding the ISA spirit bus. The bus departs at 5:00p.m. and returns to ISA at 7:30 p.m. Students may also be picked up at Blossom if it is more convenient as long as they are checked by a parent/guardian no later than 7:15pm, allowing the bus to return to ISA on time.

Second, all families are invited to a Financial Aid Seminar at 6:00p.m. on Thursday, November 6 in the ISA Sergiovanni Room (upstairs in the ISA building). A representative from the office of Financial Aid at Trinity University will present information about applying for financial aid.  Although the presentation is geared towards senior families, we strongly encourage all families to attend to build their understanding of the financial aid process.

We will end the week with a Freshman Saturday School at ISA from 9:00-noon ahead of their Global Environmental Problems simulation and presentations the following Wednesday.

Finally, if you were unable to attend Report Card Pick-Up last Thursday, students may bring a note to the ISA office at lunch to pick up their report cards. Below are the links to the travel presentations presented by the freshman, sophomore, and junior teams. Please read through the presentations if you were unable to attend, paying special attention to the medication procedures and policies.

Freshman Team Travel Presentation

Sophomore Team Travel Presentation

Junior Team Travel Presentation

 Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: October 25, 2014

October 26, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

ISA received exciting news last Tuesday when we were named one of twenty Spurs Team Up Challenge grant winners and were presented with a $2500 check at a special pep rally at the At&T Center.  The grant application, submitted by a group of ISA students in one our new electives, Social Entrepreneurship, outlined the students’ plan to build a school garden down the street at Jackson Keller Elementary. Over the next several months, they will submit grant benchmarks and reports; they hope to be named as one of the five winners who will each receive an additional $20,000 to further expand their projects. These students are also responsible for planning and publicizing Global Youth Service Day initiatives for San Antonio after ISA was named lead agency for the city a few weeks ago. Returning families may remember that we started the Global Youth Service Day tradition last year in honor of ISA’s 20th anniversary when we took our first whole school service field trip to a variety of locations across the city. We are looking forward to seeing what year two brings when we celebrate service during the April 17th event!

Along with pursuing collaborative grants like the two above, we also encourage students to apply for individual grants, which are available to high school students One such grant with an upcoming deadline is the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program. Interested students are invited to join Mrs. Woodard for a work session on Monday, October 27th during 5th lunch in the Sergiovanni Room.  Having coached several grant awardees through the process, Mrs. Woodard has valuable tips and suggestions to share along with the eyes of  an expert editor!

As I mentioned in last week’s update, we will host our first ISA Report Card Pick-Up Night of the year on Thursday, October 30th beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Teams will be reviewing final details regarding the upcoming travel experiences and collecting any last minute paperwork. Representatives from the ISA Amigos will also be selling ISA spirit items in the cafeteria to families who want to purchase a few extra items before the trips depart.  Below are the meeting locations:

  • Freshmen: Lee Library Multi-Purpose Room #1 (You met in this space at Hot Diggity)

  • Sophomores: Multi-Purpose Room #2 (Building across from the cafeteria)

  • Juniors: Sergiovanni Room (Upstairs ISA main building)

  • Seniors: Lee Library

After attending the grade-level meetings and picking up your student’s report card, you are invited to enjoy a pancake dinner in the cafeteria. Tickets for the event, benefitting MUNSA XIX’s humanitarian cause Opportunity International, are $5 and will be served until 8 p.m.

We will finish the week on Friday by cheering on our freshmen as they depart to our feeder elementary schools and present their Storytelling projects. Best of luck to our freshmen as they present their first major ISA project!

Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Bieser


Weekly Community Update: October 19, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Tomorrow night, Monday, October 29, we begin our recruiting season at Bush Middle School as we present at the first of three NEISD Magnet Informational Sessions.  The Magnet Informational Sessions are special events for 8th grade students and their families who are interested in learning more about the various NEISD magnet programs.  The evening, outlined in this flyer, allows families to visit informally with students and educators at magnet tables from 5-6:30 p.m. before attending up to three breakout sessions based on interest.  NEISD has also arranged for several food trucks at the site, knowing that it can be a busy evening for families.

We will also be hosting our first ISA Shadowing date for prospective freshmen (current 8th graders) and their families on Wednesday, October 29.  Families are encouraged to register early by completing the ISA Shadowing Form.  Our 2015-2016 Freshman Application is also now posted on our website.  Although participation in a Shadowing Program is not required in order for a student to apply to ISA, we encourage all interested students to participate.

As our fall travel experiences approach, the Freshman Team is seeking one more parent chaperone for their trip to Arkansas, and the Sophomore Team is in need of four additional parents for their travel to New Mexico. Freshman families may email Stacy Brooks (sbrook@neisd.net) and sophomore families may email Bonnie Brawner (bbrawn@neisd.net) for additional information.

Looking ahead, our first Report Card Pick-Up Night of the year is Thursday, October 30 beginning at 6:00p.m. The Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Teams will be reviewing final details regarding travel experiences and collecting any last minute paperwork. Families are also invited to stop by the Lee cafeteria before or after Report Card Pick-Up Night meetings to enjoy a Pancake Dinner. Look for more details, including meeting locations, in next week’s Sunday update.

Finally, a reminder that the Freshman Team will be hosting a Saturday School from 9:00am to noon on Saturday, October 25th.

Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: October 12, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

It was great to see so many students and Globie enjoying the cooler weather during ISA Night at the Football Game last night as we were treated at a great game and were able to celebrate our 2014 twelve National Merit Scholars.

On Wednesday, October 15, ISA sophomores and juniors will be taking a Preliminary SAT (PSAT).  Although the sophomores will be taking the PSAT as practice, the test will be scored and students will receive individual testing results later in the year.

Junior year PSAT scores are used by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to select next year’s National Merit Scholars. Please help by encouraging sophomores and juniors to come well rested and to eat breakfast in the morning before this important test. While our sophomores and juniors take the PSAT, our freshmen will be taking a district benchmark, which will provide additional data regarding student strengths in reading and writing. Meanwhile, our seniors have a late arrival day, and do not need to report to campus until 12 noon. If this poses transportation problems, seniors may arrive early and report to the ISA main office.

We are looking forward to Saturday and the 2nd Annual MUNSA Fun Run, a non-competitive fun run and walk. Registration remains open and families may register online or pick up a registration form from the front office!

Finally as a reminder, Monday is a student holiday and we look forward to welcoming students back on Tuesday.


Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: October 5, 2014

Sunday, October 4, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

On Thursday evening we welcomed our very first delegation of German students from our partner school in Frankfurt with signs and fanfare at the airport. With twenty exchange students visiting, most of our students will have the opportunity to interact and learn from and with our guests during their two-week stay.  We are planning to travel to Frankfurt this summer to experience German school and family life. We are hoping to have more details to share soon!

Along with welcoming our German students, we are also preparing to host one student from our Swedish partner school and are currently are seeking an ISA host sister and family for a 17-year-old young woman during her month-long stay from November 14-December 12. Once a host family is found, a decision will be made about which, if any, fall travel experience (Heifer, New Mexico, Alabama) she will attend. While in San Antonio, the exchange student will attend classes at ISA with the intent of immersing her in American family and schooling life.  If you are interested in hosting this student, you may contact me at ebiese@neisd.net.

Yesterday, many of our ISA juniors were hard at work inside the school building preparing for the upcoming PSAT on October 15, 2014.  Junior year PSAT scores are used by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT).  Nationally, roughly 1.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT annually, and some of the 50,000 students with the highest scores become eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program. The results of last year’s National Merit Scholarship Competition were released at the end of September and include several ISA seniors including:

  • 1 National Merit Semi-Finalist

  • 7 National Merit Commended Scholars

  • 5 National Merit Hispanic Scholars

We are looking forward to celebrating and supporting our national merit students, football players, band members, and spirit students at our Third Annual ISA Night at the Football Game on Saturday, October 11 beginning at 7 p.m. at Comalander Stadium.  At halftime, there will be a special recognition of the ISA, Lee, STEM and NESA national merit students along with a special, first of the year appearance from Globie, our very lovable ISA mascot!

On Tuesday, October 7th, ISA freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will be taking yearbook photos through one of their ISA core classes. After picture day, families my visit mylifetouch.com for portrait ordering information. ISA’s picture day identification number is XY814490Q0 should you be prompted.

Looking ahead, the Model United Nations students asked to announce the second annual MUNSA Fun Run. The 2014 MUNSA Vision Run, a non-competitive fun run and walk, will take place at Walker Ranch Park on October 18th from 9-11:30 a.m. Registration costs $20 and includes a race t-shirt. Families may register online or pick up a registration form from the front office.

Finally, the ISA Amigos will hold their monthly meeting this week on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Sergiovanni Room.

Have a great week!

Kathy Bieser

Weekly Community Update: September 28, 2014

September 28, 2014

Dear ISA Families,

Dozens of ISA students, teachers, and parents began their day very early yesterday morning at the Freshman Garage Sale volunteering their time to support the fundraising effort for the upcoming Heifer travel experience.  In a little more than seven weeks, our freshmen students will depart for Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas to experience life in a developing country.  Our partnership with Heifer International is more than a decade old, and it is through our community’s commitment to every student at ISA, both their own and others, that these learning experiences continue.   We would like to thank all of the volunteers who worked Friday afternoon organizing items and Saturday morning at the garage sale along with all who donated items for the sale.  Thanks to your generosity, over $2,400 was raised!

The Heifer travel experience remains one of several experiences that students continually identify as a seminal moment in their development as a globally competent student. Our definition for global competence, developed and refined through work with our partner organization International Studies Schools Network (ISSN), includes four domains: the ability to Investigate the World, Recognize Perspectives, Communicate Ideas, and Take Action. On Tuesday, we will welcome twenty-five new ISSN leaders from across the United States who are visiting ISA to better understand how we teach global competence through our daily classroom instruction and project-based learning.  Considered the flagship school in the ISSN, we often host network events for administrators, teachers, and students and we look forward to continued partnership and collaboration among network members.


As the fifth week of school comes to close, we know that parents may be checking the NEISD Parent Portal more frequently.  Students’ most up to date grades can be found by looking on the parent portal.  Based on parent feedback, we have created a school-wide system to record grades to better help you and your students understand the grades and assignments in the parent portal.  When you look at an assignment, please be sure to note the due date.  Teachers enter assignments at least 24 hours before they are due; however, sometimes a week or more in advance to help students plan and to communicate to families.  If the due date has not passed, you will see a BLANK in the column where the grade would usually be displayed.  Twenty-four hours after the due date, one of five possible symbols will be displayed.  Our goal is to communicate whether or not assignments have been submitted. Here are the symbols:

Numerical Grade= Submitted

The assignment was turned in and it has already been graded.

BLANK(24 hours after due date)= Submitted

The assignment was turned in; however, it has not been graded yet.  Please be sure to make sure that 24 hours have passed since the due date.  Because many ISA assignments are not easy to grade multiple choice items, teachers may need a several days to grade and give feedback to students on their projects and papers. If you have questions about an assignment grade that is not posted, you may email the teacher at any time.


The assignment was not turned in.  The assignment can still be turned in with a late penalty assessed; however, the student has a limited time number of days to submit the work before the MSG turns to a zero.  This means the student was in  class but did not turn in his/her assignment. The MSG will be removed when a student submits the work, and  it has been graded.  When an MSG is entered into Gradespeed, it averages as a “zero” in the student’s grade until the assignment is submitted.

1= Absence

The assignment was not turned in because the student was absent from school. The assignment can still be turned for full credit; however, the student does have a limited number of days to submit the work before the 1 turns to a zero.  When an “1” is entered into Gradespeed it averages as a “1” in the student’s grade until the assignment is submitted.

0: Zero

The assignment was not turned in, and it can no longer be turned in for credit.

Finally, sophomore ISA teacher Mrs. Ashley Taplin, formerly Ashley Davis, asked me to share that her email has changed. Her new email address is: atapli@neisd.net, and we have made the change on our webpage.

Have a great week!


Kathy Bieser

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