photo by Leo Del Velez
Arab Awakening draws attention of world, Welsh and deputy Mehrbach
By Ash Oberoi In the year before he moved to Singapore, computer teacher Paul Welsh spent a gap year in a small town in a rural, mountainous area of British Columbia. A world traveler, Welsh taught at schools in Vancouver, Venezuela, Japan and next year will settle in Tunis, Tunisia, where the Arab Uprising began in December of 2010. Change is a constant and since Welsh has been at the Singapore American School for almost 12 years now, he felt that it was time to move on to new prospects. Welsh reminisced about his second interim trip to Mount Kinabalu, during which 19 of his 20 students were able to fight altitude sickness, walk in the dark at 4 a.m., scale a flat rock face and make it to the peak of the mountain. Along with interim, Welsh mulled over the distractions students face due to the one-on-one policy. “Good classroom management is still good classroom management. No matter what the distraction is. In the days of chalk easels, a piece of paper and pen would’ve been a distraction. There will always be distractions,” Welsh said. “There will always be things that will divert attention away from the taskat-hand. And so it’s up to the teacher to be a good class manager and it’s also up to the student to believe that classroom-time has value.” Welsh said he will miss the eclectic society that Singapore has to offer. He calls it “the mix.” He’ll miss the elation of being able to go to a Western restaurant for dinner and then wake up the next morning, ride his bicycle to Little India, as the locals are just beginning to set up the market place. “We’ve been here a long time and I think our take on it was to either stay [in Singapore] forever or to make a change and it just became time to [make that change],” Welsh said.
Bywater, sister, last of family with SAS roots By Gretchen Connick Physics teacher Eddie Bywater is the only one of six Bywater children who did not graduate from SAS. His youngest sister, Michelle, graduates this year. Bywater says that as much as he loves SAS, it is time to move on to something else. He and his family are headed for Qatar at the end of the semester. “I felt the prompting that it was time to go, so we said we’re going to go,” Bywater said. “We like it here; it just felt like it’s what we’re supposed to do.” While teaching at SAS, Bywater began a family. He said that learning how to balance his home life with his work life has been a challenge and can be stressful, but that his job is worth the stress. “You always want to do your best for your students,” he said. “I love my job, I love what I’m doing. If there’s no stress then what’s the point? If it’s too easy, why do it?” he said. Despite loving his work, Bywater puts a great deal of importance in spending time at home. “At the end of the day nobody on their death bed said ‘Oh I wish I had spent more time working.’ You know, they always want more time with their family, so I’m trying to do that,” Bywater said. Family is a special part of Bywater’s life, which is what makes sharing
photo by Tan Kabra
SAS with his sister, senior Michelle Bywater, special even though she never took his classes. “She’s just too good for me. She skipped all my math classes, she took the AP classes before I started teaching AP physics, she skipped JV basketball and went straight to varsity, so I never got to have her in a class or anything, but it has been a lot of fun,” he said. Bywater says that he will always remember the people he has worked with and taught. “I enjoy the students in my class and when they get excited about something or when somebody that I wrote a rec for comes in all excited that they got accepted to their school, that’s exciting,” he said. Bywater will teach IB math at The American School of Doha. Five years ago when he began at SAS he taught math, but was able to move on to physics. Bywater has the same hope for Qatar. “I enjoy the application of physics more. As long as I am teaching I am pretty much happy. I guess one of my most memorable things is when my students come back from the weekend and they say they saw something
Mehrbach to assume her first principal’s job at Tunis high school By Gretchen Connick Deputy Principal Lauren Mehrbach is headed to the American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) with her husband and two sons. Mehrbach will take over as the middle and high school principal in her new school of about 700 students leaving behind her high school of over 1100 along with her colleague, Deputy Principal Doug Neihart. Over the past four years of working together, Neihart said that they have gotten to know each other very well and enjoy each other’s company in the office. “I enjoyed finishing her lunches she brought from home if she couldn’t finish her food. That was always a nice treat every now and then,” Neihart said. Every day they share ideas and work at being consistent in how they handle situations. “We pretty much work like a hand in glove. We each have out own responsibilities that we are the point person for, but we also help each other out when needed. We’re often like a tag team,” Neihart said. Mehrbach brought a fresh female perspective to the administration, which is something that will change when she leaves. Neihart is not the only one who will miss Mehrbach’s presence. Many students had positive remarks about Mehrbach ranging from her stylish wrap dresses and nice hair to her interest in students. “She always approaches you and asks how you’re doing. She’s very involved,” junior Isabella Shaulis said. “The American Cooperative School of Tunis is very fortunate to get not only Mrs.Mehrbach but also her husband Paul because they are just such outstanding individuals and outstanding educators and I wish their whole family the best as they go and I know that they are going to be very successful at their next school and they are going to be very appreciated,” Neihart said.
Wischki to stretch, try something new on return home to Brisbane By Emily Nelson It has been 10 years since Australian Karl Wischki walked into his first math classroom at SAS. Wischki says it feels “shorter than that.” But Wischki will join his wife and son in Brisbane in June. Wischki said SAS was a home away from home and that he had many cherished memories from photo by Tan Kabra things that happened in his class and on Interim trips. He recalled being abandoned on
a Malaysian island by students on the Interim trip, Langkawi Sailing Adventure. Wischki said he was lounging on a beautiful white beach waiting for the boat to take him back home, when he realized he was alone.. He then caught a glimpse of two boats carrying 20 students, sailing away. “It wasn’t until I squinted my eyes and looked harder that I saw it was the two boats that were on the Interim, and I wasn’t on either of them,” Wischki said. Wischki said the story had a happy ending as a boat turned around and picked him up. He said that the boat’s skipper, a Captain
May 20, 2011
that we talked about in class and that’s what physics is about,” he said. Bywater has left his mark on SAS by starting an Ultimate Frisbee team that has grown to over 30 students this past year. Apart from his team, Bywater and his family will leave friends and relatives in Singapore, but he said he feels that it is time to leave and they look forward to what is ahead. “We do really like SAS, we like Singapore and if it were left up to us, we would probably stay here, but knowing that the Lord wants us somewhere else is kind of the trump card,” he said. Blake, “christened a postage stampsized island Wischki Island to commemorate the event. While Wischki said he is looking forward to spending quality time with his wife and son when he returns to Brisbane, Australia, he said he will miss Singaporean food, walking around in Little India, and the uniquely Singaporean “lah” and other Singlish phrases. Six hundred kids and 10 years later, Wischki said he has left a good impression on his students, that life is good and caring for your students is important. Through math classes such as Algebra II and Functions, Statistics and Trigonometry, Wischki said that caring for students is the most important step for a good studentteacher relationship. “I think he really cares about his students and he wants them to succeed” junior Katy Thieneman said. “I also think that he is really dedicated to teaching and really likes to help his students learn and will do anything so they can learn the material 100 percent.” To Wischki, caring for students and teaching in fun ways is the best way for kids to learn the material. Wischki said that humor is important and helps get the message across. “Mr. Wischki is one of my favorite teachers because he teaches math in a humorous, relaxed way and loves to help with anything,” junior Megan O’Neal said. Junior Kelly Murphey added, “He is a great teacher who always knows how to motivate us, such as with funny videos at the end of lessons.”
See video interviews with these teachers at www.saseye.com
Published on May 29, 2011