Headmaster Annual Report, 2011-12

Welcome from Brian Vander Haak, Headmaster[edit]

Mr. Vander Haak explains to the second graders why our building is built to be safe

Welcome to our new format for our school annual report! In this area of our website you will find extensive information about what has been happening at CAJ, the condition of our school, and our plans for improvement. We have been working hard in recent years to improve our dialogue with our families and community including consistently offered surveys for parents, staff and students, web site upgrades, and divisional level informational gatherings (Elementary Cafe's, High School Conversations, and Middle School Hallways). We are looking for even better ways to have a richer dialogue with all our stakeholders. We also are working to be better at collecting data and using it to effectively direct our school improvement efforts. We hope to continue to expand these opportunities and this "Annual Report" section will be a place for us to share that information.
Other areas of this report can be accessed from the buttons at Annual Report Home or here via

Last year, 2010-11, was a difficult one in so many ways. We had a parent die in a pedestrian accident early in the year, we lost a senior to a tragic motorcycle accident just a few days before graduation, and we unexpectedly lost the teenage son of one of our staff members over the summer to a medical emergency. As a community we endured the destruction, heartbreak and aftermath of the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami. We weathered the disconcerting unknown of the nuclear plant meltdown. But we also experienced many triumphs. We did more than merely endure these tragedies and trials, with God's help we grew and learned how to bless and support each other. Our entire community has been involved in our Love in Action fund raising and ongoing efforts for disaster relief. Love in Action is our school theme for 2011-12 using 1 John 3:18 and 1 Corinthians 16:14 as theme verses. Our theme for 2010-11 was Many Parts, One Body using the lessons from 1 Corinthians 12.

We stand here now at the end of the 2011-12 school year feeling exceptionally blessed, and excitedly looking forward to a long, rewarding and challenging future of Equipping Students to Impact the World for Christ and supporting the spread of Christianity in Japan. A huge part of that feeling of blessing and reason for excitement is the wonderful community that is CAJ! I am humbled to be able to serve at such an exceptional place. Please feel free to spend as much are as little time as you like with all the attached reports, but if you can invest some time you'll discover a place that is openly seeking to improve on many fronts. We desire and welcome your help, input and support as we do so!

Your servant in Him,
Brian Vander Haak

2011-2012 Schoolwide Highlights:

  • We have undertaken an exciting fundraising campaign called Rooted in Tradition, Growing in Grace, Seeking to Serve This campaign helps us ensure that we have adequate tuition assistance for current families and a strong endowment to ensure a good financial base for the future of CAJ.
  • Legal Status: We are in the process of changing our legal status with the Japanese government to Jun Gakko Hojin from Zaidon Hojin. There are a number of benefits to the school with this status change, but our academic program will remain the same. We hope to have the status change completed by March, 2013. As part of the requirements we need a significant cash reserve and the endowment fund we are growing with our Rooted; Growing; Seeking campaign is an important part of our plan to achieve this.
  • Technology: This year our seniors (grade 12) piloted a 1-1 laptop program. Next year we will be offering it to both the Juniors and Seniors. Teachers and students have found that having ready access to computers has improved student learning. In the elementary technology resources were expanded, a staff person was assigned as a technology integration specialist, and 3 staff are undergoing special training to be technology leaders in the elementary program.
  • CAJ is in the middle of a period of substantial change. We are excited about embracing the changes and opportunities God is bringing to our campus as a result of our demographic shift and other factors. At the same time we are very focused on preserving our heritage, core mission and core values. One of the major areas of shift we are monitoring and responding to is how to preserve our unique heritage as a Missionary School.
  • After a number of delays, we were finally able to finish our transition to the new online family directory. This not only helps us be in better compliance with Japanese privacy laws than the no longer used paper Who's Who, it also allows us to keep contact information up to date and accessible. Please be sure to keep your information up to date so we can contact you as needed!
  • This summer we will be switching to a re-designed web site. This site will have all the information you had access to before, and more. It will also be using the latest technology ensuring smooth use and access for years to come. Watch for the change to go live over the summer.

Elementary School[edit]

Jacquie Willson - Elementary Principal

  • This was my 6th year as principal.
  • CAJ's ES is a welcoming and active place of learning for 143 students (39 new students) and 25 staff.
  • Our ES students are eager to learn, taking ownership of their own learning and for the most part are well-adjusted and responsive.
  • This year we have integrated technology into the classrooms. Our vision for technology is to create authentic opportunities for students to understand, create, communicate, integrate and apply learning strategies.
  • The joys of this year include:
    • No staff turnover.
    • As a staff group we are growing as a "flourishing learning community" (which is part of our ES staff vision).
    • We have made progress on our curriculum mapping.
    • We have explored learning strategies for integrating technology into classrooms.
    • We have partnered with parents in the education of their children in a variety of ways:
      • The creation of classroom blogs.
      • This is the 4th year of Parent Cafe (interactive sessions with the parents and the principal).
      • We have great turnout and parent support at classroom, divisional and school wide events. (The ES has the highest parent attendance at most school wide events!)

Middle School[edit]

The Aladdin actors and crew - many students participate in our MS musicals

Tanya Hall - Principal
“There’s never a dull moment” is a phrase we often use in the Middle School, and for good reason! We truly do not have an unexciting moment here! We kicked off the year talking about our theme: Love in Action and have invited Mr. McDaniel to talk about this theme for a special MS chapel once a month. We have enjoyed listening to his funny stories, but more importantly to his challenges for our students in many ways to show God’s love through their actions towards others and God.

We offered 9 afterschool sports activities and 222 students were a part of that. This year 30 of our students were a part of the performance of “Aladdin.” You will often see Middle School students here hanging out with their friends even on days off because of the safe campus atmosphere we have at CAJ.

I have joined the ES and HS principals and now offer a “parent conversation” time called “Hallway Talk” for the MS parents. This year there were 5 meetings covering topics such as: “How to raise a teenager,” “21st century learning,” ”Transitioning into MS or HS,” and “What it means to have a child go to a Christian International School.” The attendance for each varied, but averaged about 15-20 parents. I received positive feedback each time and look forward to continuing this next year.

High School[edit]

Anda Foxwell - High School Principal

Ninth graders work on a team building challenge during SWOW (School Without Walls)

In many ways, our high school year began last spring with the triple disaster. The events of March 11, 2011 prompted many of our students to want to make a difference, to put their love into action, even before it became this year’s theme. The first work/relief trip was for seniors only, with a group of about 10 seniors volunteering in the Shichigahama Volunteer Center for a weekend trip. We expanded this to a soccer/work camp for nearly a week open to any high school students, and ended up with 30 students volunteering in a variety of ways: clearing debris, cleaning gutters, rescuing stranded boats, preparing Takayama for use as a volunteer base, and teaching English and sports to local children. This volunteer spirit continued into the Fall of 2011 School Without Walls, as both the 10th grade and 12th grade divided their week between leadership training and active volunteering through Samaritan’s Purse in Ishinomaki. Many students have now been able to both process their feelings about the disaster through actively making a difference, and also have used these real-life opportunity to solve problems, collaborate, and lead through serving. A student-initiated photo washing day is an example of how students continue to seek ways to be involved.

Though the school year had its roots in the previous year, it got a new kind of kick-start in August of 2011. For the first time, we initiated a whole high school orientation, where students came to school the afternoon before the official start and got through much of the “busy work” of the start of any school year. They checked out their textbooks, agendas, and IDs. Each grade practiced emergency drills. They also welcomed new students and reacquainted themselves through active games and activities, culminating in an entire high school barbecue. Administration and Student Council collaborated in the planning and execution of the day, and attendance indicated an overwhelmingly positive response. Once school began, this orientation entered a second phase for 9th grade, with training in study skills, time use, and high school specific traits, as well as team building and collaboration training. We have seen positive results as it seems like 9th grade was able to get up to high school speed quickly and effectively.

The year has gone well, with many sports, music, academic, and social opportunities. I am grateful to be able to work with such a capable staff and eager group of students.

School Support Services[edit]

Flossie Epley - Director

SSS homeschoolers at SLEW (Spiritual Life Emphasis Week)

Membership dropped for School Support Services during the 2011-2012 school year due to a large number of families transitioning to becoming CAJ students, financial difficulties, and families leaving Japan. Homeschooling families continue to feel supported with our events and programs all well received. The highlight of the year was when a dozen teenagers came from Hiroshima, Tochigi, Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Saitama to spend a week at CAJ during Spiritual Life Emphasis Week. One hour after meeting each other this group of kids said they felt like family. The bonds they formed continue with conference Skype calls and their own Facebook group.
The drop of enrollment caused us to look deeper into what we offer and how we do things. We are finishing the year restructuring our program to make it more accessible to missionary families who lives afar. The response by everyone (near and far) to the changes we are implementing are being met with great enthusiasm. We look forward to many more years of effectively supporting SSS families--those that homeschool, those that send their children to Japanese schools while working on English studies at home, and affiliated schools.

Business Manager[edit]

Mr. Seely helps students prepare for the 10th and 1st grade combined field trip to the zoo

Rick Seely, Business Manager:

Christian Academy in Japan is blessed with great facilities, steady enrollment, wonderful volunteers, excellent academics, fine arts, sports and music programs. I am grateful for the significant commitment each of you make as you send your children to CAJ. We are working hard every day to make this a better place for your students, our staff, and the greater CAJ community. We pray that God will richly bless you through CAJ.

We are in the process of changing our legal status from Zaidon (Foundation) Hojin to Gakko (School) Hojin. We hope to officially switch to Gakko Hojin on April 1, 2013. For accounting purposes, this year we aligned our records with the standard Japanese school year, meaning the financial results shown below represent a 9-month fiscal year.

Annual Audit Report[edit]

Each year we are required by board policy to report the results of an external audit to the CAJ community. CAJ's Board of Directors and Board of Councilors have approved last school year's audit in which our auditor states: "In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above, present fairly in all material respects, the financial position of Zaidon Hojin Christian Academy in Japan as of March 31, 2012 and the results of its operations and cash flows for the the years then ended in conformity with the accounting standard of an incorporated educational institution (ministerial ordinance in year 1971 by the Ministry of Education, Japan)."

CAJ's Boards have reviewed the audit report and have accepted last year's results showing operating revenues of ¥548,104,350 and operating expenses of ¥464,547,920. This results in a net operating surplus of ¥83,556,430 which is directly connected to the retiring of long term debt, increased fund raising efforts for tuition assistance and our endowment, continued staff commitment to work for sacrificial compensation rates, and steps taken to acquire a legally mandated 25% operating reserve for emergencies.


CAJ's Board of Directors

Pauline Carlson, board chair and Eline DeBoo, vice-chair:
According to board policy, the job of the Board of Directors is to determine and demand appropriate organizational performance. As the CAJ board stands before the government as the official body of the school, the board holds the property, and is responsible for the operation and financial integrity of the school. In order to fulfill these responsibilities, the Board works according to a Policy Governance model. It writes and evaluates governing policies in harmony with its constitution so that CAJ's Ends will be met. The board has appointed a headmaster who is qualified to carry out the program and policies of the school. With the policies providing a framework of expectations and boundaries, power is delegated to the headmaster with school-wide compliance to policies monitored by the Board. The headmaster is accountable to the board for his administrative leadership of CAJ.

Even though refining and evaluating policies and monitoring CAJ's financial operations is considered the Board's primary job, these last few years have been challenging with preparing for a legal status change from zaidan hojin (foundation) to gakko (school) status. As CAJ is in the middle of this complex process of a legal status change, many official documents such as the Constitution and Act of Endowment were evaluated and revised. These revisions were done in consultation with the Board of Councilors and the six founding missions of the school. During these revisions, many hours of discussion were held about the big vision for the school. In order to qualify for gakko hojin legal status, policies and procedures were evaluated to make sure that they were compliant with gakko hojin status such as aligning the fiscal year from April 1 to March 31. A budget was also approved that will meet the financial responsibilities required under gakko hojin status. All of this work is being done so that CAJ can receive gakko hojin legal status during the 2012-2013 school year.