American International School of Thessaloniki, Greece

February Director's Report


Events of the Month

HCS Trip [February 3]

Grade 9 students culminated their study of 18th century fashion and art with Mrs. Spiliakou with a trip to the Folk Life and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace. 

Honor Roll Awards [February 4]                                                                                       

Secondary students were recognized for their academic achievements in the Quarter 2 / Semester I honor roll ceremony. Secondary report cards were also made available in Sycamore and include grades for Quarter 2, Midterm Exams and Semester I and narrative comments for Semester I.

IB Art Attends Pottery Workshop [Jan 30, Feb 6]  

IB Visual Art students, under the direction of Mrs. Kapanidou, attended a 2-day pottery workshop with Slow Living Greece with Christine Willis in Lakkia as part of their IB syllabus aimed at combining traditional craft and its history with contemporary art. The final products will be exhibited in the IB Art Exhibition in March.

Valentine’s Dance  [February 13]

The Junior Class hosted the annual Valentine’s Day Dance for Secondary students and friends outside of Pinewood. The dance, which is hosted to raise money for the Senior Prom, was a great success. Thank you to the Student Council for your dedication to the event. Also, thank you to all teachers who gave up their Friday night to chaperone the dance!

MUN Team Participates in Anatolia MUN Conference [February 13-15]

The Pinewood MUN team participated in the Anatolia MUN conference. One of our students, Savvas Sfairopoulos ’15, earned the prestigious “Best Delegate” award among hundreds of high school students from around the world who participated in the conference! Thank you to Mr. Harrington for his dedication in leading our MUN team each year.

National Honor Society Induction Ceremony [February 18]

The annual NHS Induction Ceremony took place in formal fashion again this year. We were honored to welcome Mr. Ioannis Vikelidis, Director of the International Relations Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thessaloniki, who joined us to deliver the keynote address. Our newest NHS members are: Andrea Arivella ’16, Nefeli Chryssoula ’15, Fani Diamantopoulou ’16, Foivos Isakoglou ’16, Eleni Omiridou ’17, Niya Kafedzhiyska ’17 and Fotios Psaroulis ’15. Congratulations to all of our new NHS inductees.

Photography Competitions

Pinewood continues its tradition of cultivating the arts through its annual photography competition. This year, both Elementary and Secondary students participated in two separate competitions. Congratulations to Daria Kachalkova ‘24 and Alexandra Stoykova ’16 for taking 1st place in their respective competitions. The 1st Annual Video Competition is in full swing now. Thank you to Mr. Papantoniou, school photographer, for organizing these competitions and for inspiring our students in the creative arts.

Pinewood Students in the European Youth Parliament

I am proud to share that 2 Pinewood students, Maria and Galini Poimenidou, both of the class of 2016, were selected among the top 12 among all students in Greece at the competition. Maria, who placed among the top 7 will represent Greece in the 78th International Session of the European Youth Parliament in Smyrna next month. Galini, who placed just under Maria, will represent Greece in Luxembourg at the National Conference.

Professional Development Activity

Three elementary teachers are currently taking an online course through the British Council aimed at informing teachers about a range of special educational needs and how they affect teaching and learning. Ms. Tziatas, Ms. Johnston, and Ms. Bentioulis (1st, 2nd and 4th grades respectively) and Ms. Dalakas (Secondary E.S.L) are actively engaging in the course and will share some of what they learned after the course ends.

PTFA Open Discussion Series

Our active PTFA has organized and initiated an open discussion series dedicated to topics of interest relevant to parents and teachers of EYP through Grade 12 within the areas of psychology, education and schooling. Our resident school psychologist intern, Nick Benetos, will be leading the discussion series. In the first session, more than 30 participants shared ideas. The next discussion is scheduled for Friday, February 27 at 12:45 in the school Library. The topic is Bringing School Home–Homework Experiences & Related Anxieties. Thank you to the Parent Professions & Lectures Committee for their efforts in organizing the series.

Notable Upcoming Events

Carnival Party  [February 20] 

EYP and Elementary students will enjoy their annual Carnival Party on Friday. A big than you to the PTFA Student-Centered Activities Committee for organizing the entire party for our students!

Clean Monday  [February 23]                                                                                                    

There will be NO SCHOOL on this day in observance of Clean Monday.

Book Week  [February 24-27]

Our Library and English Departments are preparing a wonderful week of reading for students, with emphasis on the importance of books in our children’s lives. EYP children will study the wonderful world of children’s author, Eric Carle. The Elementary students will be keeping a reading log all week to gauge their reading behaviors. In the Secondary Seminar on February 25, students in Dr. Manney’s English class will be presenting their work on the survival story genre, Mr. Harrington’s students will be analyzing multiple poetic tropes/styles/qualities and Mrs. McCarthy’s students will be sharing some work from their novel study of Lord of the Flies.

Kindergarten Fieldtrip to NOESIS Science & Technology Museum [February 25]          

The Kindergarten Comets will zoom off to the planetarium at NOESIS. They have spent a whole month studying the universe in all its glory. So, it's time to see the "bigger picture" and feel the magnificence of the cosmos.  Stay tuned for more news and photographs about their adventure.

K-12 Music Concert  [February 25] 

The Music Department, under the direction of Dr. Smite, will hold its annual winter music concert to celebrate the wonderful musical talent in our school. As one of the events that brings together students from K-12, it is a superb celebration of music. I encourage all to join us to listen to wonderful music created by children and support the music department by making a donation while you are there. The event starts at 18:30 in the gymnasium.

German School Tournament  [February 26-28]                                                                                

Pinewood’s boys basketball team will participate in the German School Tournament as follows:

Thursday (26th): AFS vs. Pinewood--17:30

Friday (27th):      German School vs. Pinewood--18:00

Host Country Studies Trip to Botanical Gardens  [March 3]                                            

Students in Grades 6 & 7 will visit the Stavroupolis Botanical Gardens with Mrs. Spiliakou as part of their host country studies program. The Gardens are made up of 8 different thematic parts, including a 6 m high Green House with tropical plants, a waterfall and 3 ponds. Our students will take a guided tour to learn how the Garden is organized, what each “botanic theme” represents, and how everything is taken care. Back at school, Mrs. Spiliakou will connect the experience with the curriculum by exploring plants’ relationship to Greek mythology.

Grades 1 & 2 Fieldtrip to NOESIS Science & Technology Museum [March 3]               

In the month of March, first and second grade will studying Dinosaurs in Science. To reinforce skills and knowledge, they will visit Noesis  to view " The Giants of Pantagonia" in 3D. As a preview of physical Science themes, they will also visit the museum's Techno-Park, an interactive exhibition where students can actively participate in a variety of activities regarding science topics such as electricity, magnetism and mechanics.

IB Art Exhibition [March 9-18]                                                                                                         

The annual IB Art Exhibition will take place this year at Ilios Exhibition Space in Neapoli. This is an important event wherein IB art students display their final works and conduct critical discussions about their art in an open event. The invitation for the opening will be sent to the community shortly.

Parent-Teacher Conferences  [March 11]                                                                                

The second Parent-Teacher Conference evening will take place from 16:00 – 19:00 for EYP and from 17:00 – 20:00 for Elementary and Secondary. Sign ups will again take place via the Sycamore portal. Look for this to open approximately 2 weeks before the conference date.

Administrative Activity

MSA Re-Accreditation

The re-accreditation self-study is well under way with 12 standards committees completing their work for the Profile of Organizational Capacity (Phase IV) by Friday, February 20. The next phase is to determine the 3-5 objectives that will be the focus for the school’s growth and improvement over the next 7 years. The Planning Team, with the support of the Board of Directors and the community, is charged with defining these objectives. This phase will be developed and implemented by the creation of new committees for each objective. More information will follow as this next phase begins.

Budget & Scheduling 2015-16

Our annual preparations for next year’s budget, school calendar and academic schedule are underway.  Both the proposed budget and proposed school calendar 2015-2016 will be presented in the March Board of Directors meeting.

Policy Committee

The Policy committee continues its work on the School Policy Manual.

Total Students

Dr. Giampapa's News (January 16, 2015)

Accreditation Update

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredits schools across the United States and in more than 85 countries around the world. The requirements for accreditation are strict and involve concentrated self-study years wherein the school reflects upon what it is doing and where it wants to be in the future. At present, Pinewood is in the middle of the self-study, which is guided by a protocol termed “Excellence by Design (EbD).” The EbD protocol leads schools to establish 3–5 measurable objectives for improving student performance and organizational capacity based on its vision of a preferred future for its students.

Pinewood’s self-study process involves 7 PHASES as follows:

    This phase involves the appointment of key committees, preparation of surveys and the organization of the self-study into a manageable timeframe. (complete)

    This phase involves a review, revision and reaffirmation of the school’s foundational documents, including the mission, vision, philosophy, values and profile of graduates. (almost complete)

    In this phase, a committee gathers data on the demographics of the school and its community as well as data related to student performance. Studying this data helps clarify targets for student performance goals. (in progress)

    In this phase, subcommittees composed of various stakeholders focus on the data gathered from the surveys in 12 standard areas of school organization. These subcommittees assess data; identify strengths, areas of improvement and recommendations. (in progress)

    The Planning Team develops 3–5 measurable goals, at least two of which must be focused on improving student performance. Appointed committees develop action plans for each goal and follow their progress in succeeding years. (not started)

    When the self-study is complete, Pinewood hosts a Visiting Team, typically for 3.5 days, who will validate what the school has presented in their self-study. The Visiting Team will make an accreditation recommendation to MSA. (not started)

    Pinewood ensures that their stated goals are implemented, monitored and reviewed each year until complete. (not started)

Welcome to our School Psychologist Intern

We warmly welcome Mr. Nick Benetos to Pinewood, who will complete an internship as a psychologist with us through the end of the school year. Nick earned his Bachelor's from East London University and his Master’s from Middlesex University London in Applied Psychology, which is the field of study that uses psychological principles and theories to overcome problems in real life. He will be at school every Wednesday and Friday where he will work with students, teachers and parents as needed for counseling. He will also organize other activities for the community. Please feel free to contact Nick directly (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to utilize his services as a psychologist for your children.

Welcome to Quinn Anderson, Grade 4 Student Teacher

Quinn Anderson was born and has lived most of her life in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota.  Ms. Anderson earned her B.A. in Communication Studies from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with a minor in Africana Studies.  She is currently working toward her M.A. in Elementary Education at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls where she also serves as Graduate Assistant in the undergraduate social studies, language arts and special education block of classes. Ms. Anderson loves to learn and is excited to share that passion for learning with her students.  In her free time, Ms. Anderson loves to ride horses, ski, sail, hike and read.  She is currently reading her way through the Newbery Medal winning books, which she uses as a source of inspiration in her teaching.  She hopes to share her love of reading with her students and help others to become lifelong learners.  In today’s society an educator is so much more than someone who presents facts for memorization.  A teacher needs to be well versed in all of her subjects, current events, the various cultures of her students and the many needs of every child in her classroom.  As a future teacher, Ms. Anderson strives to make every child feel welcomed, safe, and a part of a community to encourage learning for life. We are delighted to welcome Quinn into our Grade 4 classroom.

Welcome to Haley Stevens, Grade 1 Student Teacher

Haley Stevens grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and is a senior from Auburn University in the United States studying Elementary Education. She is excited for this opportunity to live and study in Greece! She is thrilled to be serving her student teaching practicum with the first grade class at Pinewood. Haley has had experience teaching math, reading, language arts, science, social studies, P.E., and music to Kindergarten through fourth grade. Her favorite subject is reading, although she also particularly enjoys teaching math and science.  Haley plans to graduate with a degree in Elementary Education this coming May, and hopes to teach in Charleston, South Carolina in the Fall. Haley believes that fostering curiosity and a love of learning in each student is the cornerstone of education. She seeks to bring out the best in academic ability and character in each of her students. While staying in Greece, Haley plans to take advantage of close travel opportunities to Italy, Spain, France, and Ireland. In her spare time, Haley enjoys reading different genres of literature, exploring new places, and eating everything at the bakeries in Thessaloniki. We are delighted to welcome Haley into our Grade 1 classroom.

Dr. Robin Giampapa

Dr. Giampapa's Welcome Back Letter to the Community




January 2015


Dear Pinewood Families,

Happy New Year and welcome back from what I hope was a wonderful winter break. 

As we begin the second half of the academic year, I take the opportunity to thank you for your confidence in our mutual partnership in educating your children. As the National Association of Independent Schools points out, good practice for collaboration means embedding the expectation of professionalism into all that we do.

For us, this means recognizing that effective partnerships are characterized by clearly defined responsibilities, a shared commitment to collaboration, open lines of communication, mutual respect and a common vision of goals to be reached.

Indeed, as our teachers continue to teach your children, always with honor and respect, with compassion and understanding, and with the genuine desire to help them succeed, I remind you that your expressions of encouragement to our teachers, as well as your confidence in our teaching approaches, are fundamental factors in our success as a school. I thank you for this partnership of mutual respect and trust in the work that we do every day with your children.

In line with this, the accreditation of Pinewood is another essential component of our success as a school. The self-study that we are conducting this year as part of the requirement for re-accreditation is on target with the Planning Team and the 12 Standards Committees doing very good reflective work with the survey results that you completed earlier this year. Updates will continue throughout the year.

In addition, Pinewood has been selected to participate in an important study entitled, Caring Schools Initiative, organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. By participating in this study, Harvard faculty and graduate students will work with us in promoting a caring, respectful, safe school environment for our students. We look forward to sharing updates with you after surveys have been administered and results have been received.

Finally, on behalf of all of us at Pinewood, may 2015 bring health, happiness and prosperity to each of our families and our friends.

Most sincerely,

Dr. Robin Giampapa