Elementary School (K-5)
History and Beginnings
The Elementary School at Nishimachi International School is made up of a community of learners from Kindergarten to Grade 5, along with professionally trained faculty and support staff. 70 years ago, our school was started by Tané Matsukata with just four students. Her vision for a school where children “share, live and learn together” while still maintaining their own special identity continues to be realized, as we now serve more than 350 elementary students from all over the world, who thrive in a vibrant and language-rich environment designed to instill independence, creativity, and initiative.
Building on Ms. Matsukata’s vision, at Nishimachi International School, while we measure and care about our students’ academic achievement, we also focus a lot on their disposition to learning. We believe the right attitudes and approaches prepare children for achievement and lifelong success. The Nishimachi Learner Expectations (NLEs) are new this year and capture the approaches to learning that we believe ensure children’s success in the 21st century, personally and professionally. They are:
1. We make connections. 2. We take ownership. 3. We pursue challenges. 4. We act ethically. 5. We are creative.
These expectations are rooted in our founder’s principles and yet indicate how they have evolved to ensure our students succeed well into the 21st century.
Developmental and Collaborative Approach
A Nishimachi education is founded on the cumulative and social nature of learning, through which children grow and develop into ethical and productive global citizens. Our commitment is to ensure all learners are supported in their academic, social and emotional growth. Your child will be engaged in hands on, developmentally appropriate learning in small classes, where teachers facilitate students’ thinking and inquiry. Beyond the school's daily academic program, there are a variety of outside social and cultural events, trips, and experiences which our students experience as part of the Nishimachi community.
Our academic program is developmentally appropriate and enhanced by our full range of physical and fine arts offerings. Teaching and learning is a collaborative experience, one where teachers work together to design quality learning opportunities for students aligned to the standards, and students work cooperatively to learn interpersonal skills as well as academic ones.
Japanese Language Program
Ms. Matsukata built her original vision for the school with the goal of bilingualism and biculturalism in mind. That goal is central to the academic program to this day, where daily practice of the Japanese language continues across all grade levels. Japanese classes are small and leveled, providing a strong structure for Japanese language learning, regardless if you are a native speaker or new to Japanese. Moreover, our Japanese program includes a strong cultural component that teaches and celebrates the beautiful customs of this country, adding depth and meaning to the linguistic skills developed by all our students.
Learning in Elementary School
The Elementary School provides a safe and nurturing learning environment with high social and academic expectations for all students. All classes are taught by certified, accomplished, and experienced teachers who are committed to ongoing professional development. Each child is assigned to the care of a specific homeroom teacher, who understands their academic and social needs. Teacher to student ratios are intentionally small to facilitate a strong community of learners. Our dedicated faculty, in collaboration with support staff, maintain the high standards and expectations that are the hallmark of a Nishimachi education.
In addition to homeroom teachers, other qualified teachers support the full scope of the elementary learning environment. Specialists teach Music, Art, Drama and Physical Education. Japanese language teachers teach students Japanese at their developmentally appropriate level. In each kindergarten class, bilingual classroom assistants work closely with the teachers and our youngest learners . This ensures a positive and successful transition to schooling. This support is continued through Grades 1 and 2 with grade-level team assistants. Finally, when necessary, the Student Services Team works with our homeroom teachers to further support the social, emotional and intellectual growth of each student.
Nishimachi is a very special place, one that fosters growth, creativity, independence and risk-taking, in the name of creating lifelong learners who are committed, global citizens. I encourage you to arrange a visit to our school to see first-hand the difference a Nishimachi education can make in the life of your child.
Dr. Kalpana Rao
Elementary School Principal
The school year is divided into two semesters, and student progress is reported at the end of each. There are three occasions per year for formal parent conferences. At the first of these, held early in September, parents meet with the child's teachers. This is an opportunity for parents to share with the teacher their perspective on the child, as a person and a learner. A parent-student-teacher conference follows later in the semester at which student progress is jointly discussed. Finally, in the spring, students are provided the opportunity to lead the discussion, presenting a comprehensive portfolio of work to parents while reviewing the progress made over the course of the school year.
Homework is a necessary part of the overall elementary educational program. The amount of time for homework will vary from student to student, but, in general, homework assignments range from 10 to 30 minutes per day for students in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2, and up to one hour for those in grades 3, 4, and 5 for general classroom subjects. In addition, Japanese homework will be assigned each week by the child’s Japanese teacher, the amount and content of which also varies by grade and level.
Under the guidance of the school counselor, elementary students from grades 2 through 5 participate in Nishimachi's student council (StuCo). Members are elected by class and represent the interests of their fellow students at biweekly meetings while working together to develop leadership opportunities and contribute to student life.