Head of School 01-18-2018


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 Head of School's Newsletter - January 18, 2018

Happy New Year!

Welcome back! It was great to see so many smiling faces on Sunday morning, back for the start of the second half of our year. I hope all families had a restful and rejuvenating winter break. We welcomed four new families and eight new students to our CAC community this week, and we are so pleased to have them joining us. We are in for a busy and full winter and spring. I hope you’ll take full advantage of what CAC and our community has to offer. Take a look at PTO trips, come to a game or meet, attend a play or a concert...much to offer, almost every weekend at CAC!

Social Media and CAC Core Values

Last night, I was ‘joined’ to a What’sApp group created by CAC’s Contractor on the HS building project. He wanted to show the progress going on on the site in the evening after a tough conversation we’d had about pace and progress. He proceeded to inundate me with photos into the night, to demonstrate the work happening. I hadn’t realized that I could be involuntarily joined to a group. So I learned something there. I also experienced the bother of someone ‘infiltrating’ my phone...and therefore my life...with ‘pings’ and a bunch of data I hadn’t asked for arriving through the night. So I’ve got things to learn and contemplate in the ever-evolving digital landscape of our lives.

Social media has changed so much about the way we communicate, and has changed rapidly and radically even in the last two years. What’sApp is undeniably convenient, and I’ve taken advantage of it in a family group to get quick messages to the whole fam, and in a basketball group that lets this 50 year old run with them occasionally...I get all the game announcements...and more. But it has also furthered some of the negative evolution that came with email. We used to worry about ‘flaming’ emails that would arrive with insults, slander, accusations...all sorts of things that someone wouldn’t say to your face (and certainly not SCREAM to your face). But social media’s new platforms and features allows for much more: larger broadcasts to larger audiences, surveys about group members’ popularity or looks, and as we’ve discussed recently, ‘sexting’ by teenagers.

A CAC navigates this new technological landscape, it is predictable that we would run into problems: kids making impulsive decisions, people publishing things they wouldn’t say face-to-face, individuals using the mass-broadcast feature to blindside unexpecting targets of their unhappiness. The news media is covering several of these developments, gathering data and examples, and helping alert us to some of the unfortunate behaviors that are becoming all too common in our world (eating laundry detergent?? Who decided that was a good idea???).


At CAC, we hope everyone will use CAC’s Core Values as guidance for their participation in social media groups, and also refer to the CAC Communications Guidelines when addressing problems. Communication on WhatsApp or in a google group should be Respectful of people’s feelings, and of the truth. It is all too common to hear that ‘everyone’ thinks something, or that ‘all the X grade parents’ are concerned about something. Belonging to a digital communication group raises the interesting question: “does silence mean consent?” Responsible membership in a group would entail the sometimes uncomfortable responsibility of pointing out when a group member is relaying inaccuracies or has skipped a step in the Communications Guidelines or is being outright cruel. Compassion also, hopefully, guides submissions to a group chat: everyone is human. We all have bad days and make mistakes. Take the time to walk a mile in another person’s shoes before castigating them in a public forum for an action or statement that might concern you.

We’ve talked in many meetings in recent years about the grey lines created by social media: things are written on iPhones at home, but the results surface in the school environment...who, then, is responsible for follow up? At CAC, we continue to develop our belief that students’ actions on their digital devices are a shared responsibility: parents buy the hardware (in most cases) and provide the internet connections at home. We need parents to partner with us in talking about appropriate online behavior….and to model it in their communications. Finally, Integrity always a Core Value to guide our actions: are we 100% certain that the story we heard in a social media group is accurate and true? To be responsible and act with integrity, we should certainly confirm the facts with the individuals involved before spreading rumors, gossip, or inaccuracies.


Students and teachers (and parents) are human, of course, and a hurtful post can do real damage to any individual’s confidence, comfort in the community, and reputation. It should give each of us pause to remember that whatever we put on line can be capture and reproduced endlessly and completely out of our control. When we have a problem with someone, or have heard something from our children that concerns us, talking face to face with the teacher or coach involved is almost always the best first step and the course of action most likely to lead to a better understanding of what really happened, and also to a quick resolution of the issue.

A couple of recent articles that I feel present some good data and case-studies that might help guide our community thinking are referenced below. The Administration will be working in the coming weeks with the PTO to help develop some community social media use guidelines based on our Core Values, and we look forward to parent (and student) input.  







Alumnus Visit...from 1953!!!

CAC had a very special visitor on Jan 13th, just before school reopened. Dr. Sally Mussetter, a member of CAC’s 10th grade in 1953-54 came back to Cairo for a visit, and spent some time on campus. Dr. Mussetter is the oldest alumnus that I have met in my time at CAC. She attended CAC on its FIRST campus (not its second nor our current Degla location) and told us some wonderful stories. She remembers being in classrooms so cold that the ink in the inkwells would freeze! And a teacher keeping an open flame in the classroom to warm up the ink. She fondly remembered studying Geometry taught to her in Greek by the math teacher, for whom English was not a language of instruction! She was in Cairo due to her father’s work for Point 4, which later developed into USAID. She came to CAC from Ohio, and after her one year here, she and her sister returned to finish high school in Ohio. She attended The Ohio State University, where she studied Literature and went on to become a professor of Medieval Literature at Oklahoma State University and then the University of Washington, where she ended her career. She now lives in Seattle.


Energy Efficiency at CAC..A Work in Progress

A significant number of maintenance projects were executed during the winter break, but one I’m particularly pleased with is the conversion of our hot water supply for the Gym building from electric to solar. A new solar water heating array, storage tank, and heat-exchange system were installed on the gym roof--you can see the red-insulated tank from many locations on campus. This will provide low cost hot water to the gym, and the necessary equipment was installed at a fraction of the cost that would have been required to replace the electrical heating system. The solar system produces, in current sunlight, water at 65 degrees C. A small but important step forward.

Over the recent years, we have taken several steps to replace high-consuming electrical appliances and older models with newer and more efficient electrical items. CAC has reduced its KW/month consumption by an incredible 50% over the past five years! While we are down in student numbers and have a building that is mostly ‘off-line’ (the HS), to reduce consumption so dramatically is quite an accomplishment. Remarkably, this was done without any campaign or effort to change human behavior (ie: turning off lights when people leave a room) so we can certainly reduce further...if we try.


Recruiting Update

The CAC Principals and I have been spending a good deal of time in recent months recruiting teachers to come to CAC in August. Each year, due to moves, retirement, or teachers choosing to take some time off, we need to recruit new faculty to come and join the CAC team. Our turnover has averaged around 20 teachers per year. This year, due to several circumstances, we needed to recruit only 10 teachers. We believe this low turnover is indicative of teachers feeling positive about their situation at CAC. While several teachers were hired from a distance via skype during October and November, CAC admin have annually attended teacher hiring fairs where, in head-to-head competition with over 100 other quality international schools, we vie for talent. I am extremely pleased to report that Dr. Harris and I were able to hire three outstanding educators at the recent Bangkok recruitment fair (Jan 8-11). We hired a new IB Art Teacher, HS Science teacher, and ES teacher. The ES and Science teachers are a teaching in Korea currently, finishing seven years in Incheon at Chadwick Academy. The Art teacher is joining us, with her 6th grade daughter, from an IB School in Doha. Thanks to our early successes, for the first time in my years at CAC, we will not be recruiting at the upcoming US-based recruitment fairs.


Booster Club

The Booster Cafe will be open this Thursday after school. Come welcome this New Year with our usual offerings of hot dogs, Taco In A Bag, homemade brownies and more.

Open Thursday 3-4:30


Campus Access Requests online

Parents wishing to bring friends and family to campus will request access through an online form  from now on. This form is available on the parent dashboard. This form will capture the needed information and send it to the appropriate administrator for approval and communicate the decision to the user and the security team. A tutorial is also available on the dashboard in case you need help with filling out the form.

Board Meeting, Board/HOS Parent Coffee

The CAC Board of Trustees will meet on Wednesday, Jan 31 at 6pm in MS 115. As always, the Board meeting is open to the parents, teachers, and staff of CAC.

The Board and Head of School will hold an Informational session for parents, teachers and staff the following morning, February 1st, at 8am, also in MS Room 115.


Library News: Genrefication

The MHS Library is in the process of genrefying.  This means that we are classifying all the fiction books by their main genre, such as historical fiction, science fiction, romance, etc..  This process allows us to touch every book, examine past circulation statistics, consider its physical condition and get an idea of the storyline.  

This will take all semester to complete and will help us discover wonderful books that have been hiding in plain sight and allow students to follow their reading interests more easily.  

Here’s an example of the new labels we are attaching.



New display of narrative nonfiction in the library
Narrative non-fiction, also known as creative non-fiction or literary nonfiction, are factually accurate stories written  in the style of fiction.

The display is to the right when you walk in the front door.   Here are a few of the titles.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer*

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot

Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester *

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick*

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Culturesby Anne Fadiman


* Amy has read if you want more information


From the PTO:

We would like to welcome everyone back!

We hope that your holidays were filled with good cheer and you are back well-rested and refreshed! We are looking forward to an exciting second semester with you all!



The next monthly PTO meeting will be on Tuesday January 23rd at 1:30 pm at the PTO Room (#626A) which is located on the second floor of the admin building near the front entrance. All parents are always welcome! Please try to attend a meeting at least once to see what we do!



The next Parent Trip will be an Arts and Crafts Walking Tour of Zamalek on Monday, February 19.

please register using the link below:

Arts & Crafts Walking Tour of Zamalek.


Planning is underway for the Cairo American College’s 2018 International Festival on Friday March 16.

If you are interested in organizing a booth for your country or volunteering in any other capacity, please contact the International Festival Coordinator, Kourtney LaGesse, at cacinternationalfestival@gmail.com.



Friday May 4, 2018

The CAC Gala is one of our major fundraising events for all our activities throughout the year.


This year’s Gala theme will be ANCIENT EGYPT! Ladies, channel your inner Cleopatra and get ready to step back in time in all your (Egyptian inspired) glamour!

Gentlemen, don’t worry! We don’t expect you to dress up as a Pharaoh, (unless you really want to!) but we promise you will have a fantastic time!​​

The gala committee will have its first meeting on Sunday January 21 at 10 am.

If you would like to get involved or if you can support/sponsor this important PTO fundraiser in any way, please contact Hengameh Murphy, the CAC Gala Coordinator at murphysaroundtheworld@yahoo.com




This private group is a good way to keep informed of all the PTO activities, see pictures of our events and communicate with fellow PTO members.

You can join the CAC PTO group on Facebook using the following link.