Osaka YMCA
International School

The Choices We Make: Building School Community

Marc Mesich

Marc Mesich

Marc is passionate about school development. He is interested in the connection between culture, education, and organizations. Marc spent the last five years building OYIS and is now transitioning to be the Head of School in Malaysia.

It was my goal that OYIS would be a safe space for young people and would aim to provide a community where they felt safe, supported, and engaged. I wanted to build a space where I would have felt connected to and supported.

The Choices We Make: Building School Community

I believe that this blog post will be a bit more personal than anything else I have written in my time at OYIS. As this will be the final post I make for our school community as the MYP / DP Principal, I felt a strong desire to connect with the past and highlight some of the reasons behind our choices.
For those of you that have been part of the OYIS community for an extended period of time, you know how the school has grown and evolved. OYIS has changed a lot in my five years here and some of this has really been remarkable and beyond expectations. Building our middle and high school was an opportunity to actualize a dream I had for many years.
I should start by saying that school and being a student was a painful experience for me. As a high school student, I was asked to leave one school and had to drop out of another. Over those two years, I experienced periods of depression, anxiety, desperation, and most prominently alienation. I felt unrooted. It was this dark period of time in my life that shaped my views on education and forced me to reflect personally on my life in order to grow, change and improve. Looking back I can see that I always enjoyed learning, I was seeking a connection with a community, digging deep for meaning in a life that did not seem particularly meaningful. It was not until the third school that I experienced what I was looking for.
Being a teenager is hard. There are so many challenges for these young people to face. The world also appears to be so uncertain with so many disasters ahead. It is for this reason that I focused on building a community that values inclusion, support, connection, and care. It was my goal that OYIS would be a safe space for young people and would aim to provide a community where they felt safe, supported, and engaged. I wanted to build a space where I would have felt connected to and supported.
With this vision of a school, the process of developing the middle and high school started. With a lot of hard work, a tremendous team of dedicated staff, and determination we went about our task. Over the course of this journey, we encountered several challenges. Budget and space were always pressing issues. Clashes of culture and a need to build understanding were an ever-present challenge. On top of that, we faced a pandemic that disrupted all of our plans. Still, as time passed the school grew, more students arrived, more staff arrived, and more space was made available.
In my last few days here at OYIS I am happy to report that we will have nearly 150 students in the MYP / DP next year. Our faculty has grown tremendously in that time. Along with our growth in numbers, we have also gotten better at supporting our students and building a community of care. The next chapter of OYIS is sure to be an exciting one. It is my hope that whatever these next steps will involve they remain grounded in the values of student support, international-mindedness, and inquiry. It has been my privilege to support the development of this curious, caring, and diverse community.
Organizations need to use their mission and vision to set their direction. When a school is deeply connected to a purpose, leadership change won’t be a problem. If we are focused on our values of caring for young people, supporting students’ voices, and teaching with authentic inquiry things are going to be ok.
Working to build OYIS has been my honor and privilege. It is hard to say goodbye. As I walk through the building full of people I am proud of so much that has been done. I will miss so much about our community. I want to thank all of you for the support, trust, and engagement over the years. I wish each and every one of you the best in the future.

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