Annual Report Overview, 2012-2013

Welcome from Brian Vander Haak, Headmaster[edit]

Our beautiful campus is a reflection of our good stewardship practices.
Welcome to our second annual online report! In this area of our website you will find extensive information about what has been happening at CAJ, the current condition of our school, and our plans for improvement. You can access other parts of this report on our website by moving your mouse over the "About" label at the top of the page and then clicking "Annual Report," or from the navigation bars on many parts of this report, or from these links:

Please feel free to spend as much are as little time as you like with all the attached information, 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 assistance, input and support as we do so!

I was recently giving a tour to a family and they immediately recognized CAJ as someplace special. They noticed how happy the students looked and remarked about how comfortable and relaxed students of all ages seemed while interacting with teachers, staff, and even the headmaster. We often hear this type of comment from first time visitors as well as those that visit regularly including staff and students from other schools. Someone else sent me a copy of a Facebook exchange they were having with a person who graduated many years ago who said, "I can't wait to come back to campus sometime and see all the changes and exciting things happening."
I delight that CAJ is a special place for so many, and we do have an almost dizzying parade of great things happening and student accomplishments to promote. Of course, we are also far from a perfect place. We do have students and families who are struggling in ways as varied and individual as any group of people are. Our school theme this year is Do Hard Things based on 1 Tmothy 4:12. We have challenged our students, staff and families to take on challenges and Do Hard Things. Both individually and as a school we are committed at CAJ to doing the hard thing of constantly seeking to improve. And we willingly accept the exceptionally hard challenge of meeting the needs of our delightfully diverse students and families.
Strong in the Lord
Next year our theme is Strong in the Lord, which is a translation of the Latin from the motto on our logo: In Domino Fortis. We are using Ephesians 6:10 as our primary text: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (NIV). I am delighted our staff has chosen this theme right after focusing on doing hard things. Yes, we take on the hard challenges, but it is only through God's strength that we have any hope of success. I'm looking forward with excited anticipation to discovering what He has in store for us in 2013-14. At the same time I am pausing often to thank Him for the wonderful blessings CAJ experienced this year.

Your servant in Him,
Brian Vander Haak

2012-2013 Schoolwide Highlights:

  • Legal Status: We have successfully achieved our change of legal status with the Japanese government to Gakkou Houjin from Zaidan Hojin. As part of the requirements we needed a significant cash reserve to ensure financial stability and we were able to achieve that goal on schedule.
  • Technology: This year both our 11th and 12th graders participated in our 1-1 laptop program. Next year we will be expanding the program to include 10th graders. As the 1-1 program is implemented in the high school, access to our computer lab and laptop carts increases for the middle and elementary divisions. In the elementary technology resources were expanded and next year we continue to move forward with a specially trained staff person assigned to technology integration. We are also introducing iPads into some elementary classrooms as a pilot project. By next year almost every classroom in all three divisions will be equipped with a built in digital projector and sound system. At the same time we are working diligently to improve our technology curriculum including appropriate use: Parent Technology Guide
  • CAJ is still experiencing substantial demographic change. We remain excited about embracing these changes and welcome the opportunities they offer us. At the same time we are very focused on preserving our history, 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. We are also directly addressing a decrease in biblical literacy in admitted students.
  • We have switched to our re-designed web site with the last phase, a redesigned area for staff to use in order to do their jobs more efficiently, now up and running. One exciting addition for the staff is a place for them to apply online for professional development funding and track their own professional development goals. We invest in ongoing training for our staff and expect all educational staff to regularly work towards refining their knowledge and skills. We have an increasing number of staff who are pursuing, or who have already acquired, masters degrees with CAJ's financial assistance.
  • As part of our constant search for the most appropriate and effective ways to communicate with all our stakeholders, we began this annual report last year and introduced a monthly blog from the headmaster called At CAJ this year.
  • Our business office has implemented extensive changes in our accounting software and processes. Our new systems much better align with Japanese government reporting requirements and allow us to implement improved accounting practices. Two new staff have been hired for our business office to replace retiring staff and staff on leave next year.
  • Our senior comprehensive program continues to evolve in positive ways and provides our seniors an opportunity to interact with a problem of the world in substantive and meaningful ways. Students prepare a research portfolio, a writing portfolio, complete a hands-on project they design and initiate themselves, and finally a public presentation. I encourage any of our families to attend the presentations, this year on June 4.
  • We continued to seek ways to get better input from our families, and have recently added a new way to easily provide feedback using this form. Of course, specific and urgent concerns should be brought to our attention directly but this allows our families an opportunity to be even more actively involved in our school improvement process as we accept the challenge of doing the hard thing of continually seeking to improve.
  • We are making substantial process in becoming a place that relies on data for decision making. Our Key Performance Indicator selection continues to expand and is being used by groups throughout the school for better informed discussions and planning.

Elementary School[edit]

Students celebrate our exciting diversity of cultures.

Jacquie Willson - Elementary Principal

  • This is my 7th year as principal.
  • CAJ's ES is a happy and active place of learning for 134 students and 29 staff.
  • The staff and students continue to use technology for learning on a regular basis and we are looking forward to expanding student learning experiences with iPads next year. Our vision for technology is to create authentic opportunities for students to understand, create, communicate, integrate and apply learning strategies.
  • As a staff group we continued to work on mapping our curriculum and we focused on learning about and using teaching strategies that engaged all students and increased their understanding of the content.
  • Each classroom has used a variety of ways to communicate with parents including using the classroom blogs to post videos, photos, and written accounts of student learning. The blogs are a great way for parents and family members to peer into the elementary classrooms.
  • This is the 5th year of Parent Cafe (interactive sessions with the parents and the principal). Parent Cafe meetings this year included presentations by the elementary resource staff, Esther Tsuji and Marie Schraven, and the elementary guidance counsellor, Junko Takahashi.
  • Elementary Division Webpages

Middle School[edit]

The eighth grade class takes a multi-day field trip to Kyoto and Nara.

Tanya Hall - Principal

The middle school teachers really took to heart our theme for this school year, “Do Hard Things,” as we tackled revising our reporting system. After 4 years of discussing assessments and grades, we began making some policy changes and dove into creating a new report card that is all standards based. This has been a very difficult yet exciting step as we know this is what’s best for the students. Parent meetings were held both in English and Japanese to discuss these changes, presentations were given to the high school and elementary teachers to share understanding, middle school teachers are receiving training as to how they will collect data and report using this system and we will continue to revise as we implement this and receive feedback next fall.
Middle school continues to be an active place with over 80% of our students involved in co-curricular activities. Along with our homeless outreach, relationship with the DainiShougakkou and GakugeidaiYougogakkou, we had our first exchange with Jiyugakuen Middle School. We hope to continue building bridges with our community.
After 12 years as the middle school principal, I will be stepping down and Ms. Winnie Langelaar will be taking over next year. Steps have already been made to ensure smooth transition.

High School[edit]

Our seniors (grade 12) raise money to do a weeklong service project often including construction - in recent years in Thailand.

Anda Foxwell - High School Principal

With our school-wide theme of “Do Hard Things,” one might expect a list of the difficult challenges from this year, but it seems that when students increase their desire to rebel against low expectations, and when staff are willing to do things that challenge them and improve their craft, much joy and satisfaction result. This year has felt energizing rather than overwhelming.
We increased options in our mathematics department this year, encouraging students to go beyond the minimum graduation requirement of 2 years of math by offering an option other than the track to calculus. Applied Mathematics has provided students with an opportunity to wrestle with tough, real-life problems that require practical math skills. We were able to again offer AP biology. There is evidence of more student interest in our broader and deeper science and math departments.
We are working on making our annual School Without Walls part of a unified leadership and service curriculum that includes all students participating in Community Groups and offering opportunities to work towards student leadership positions. For example, all community groups planned service projects for their group that took them to feed homeless, play with younger children, or prepare meals for classmates, while Student Council led the student body in a drive for Operation Christmas Child and other activities to promote unity and positive spirits. The entire leadership curriculum culminates when the seniors make an impact outside of Japan in the Thailand trip with its community service project.
High School teachers collaborated to hone their skills through a guided discussion of the book Classroom Instruction that Works. This has established a common vocabulary of teaching strategies and stimulated lively discussions about how to continue to improve what we do as we seek to increase student learning.

School Support Services[edit]

SSS offers varied activities for its members

Flossie Epley - Director

This school year SSS was overhauled to better meet the needs of our original target audience, missionary families who live outside of commuting distance to CAJ. We found that over time the services we offered were increasingly not accessible to those who live outside of Kanto. We still joyfully serve SSS families who live nearby or are not missionaries. All our families are deeply valued. The changes we made serve all our families better and were enthusiastically received. More services are conveniently available online. The addition of SSS book packs makes it easier to choose appropriate books sight unseen. The fee structure is more equitable and easy to understand.
Our missionary family membership doubled with the changes increasing our overall membership. This year SSS served 8 schools and 75 families representing over 300 children. While increased membership is encouraging, we're especially grateful when families express how SSS has personally helped them. Kids homeschooling far from English libraries are enjoying good books. Homeschooled teenagers are keeping in touch with the friends they made during Spiritual Life Emphasis Week and are begging us to have this event twice a year instead of once. 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 Office[edit]

CAJ partners with other organizations for student and staff service projects. Here our business manager interacts with employees of the Nozomi Project that makes jewelry from pottery damaged by the tsunami of 2011.

Rick Seely - Business Manager

Christian Academy in Japan is blessed with great facilities, steady enrollment, generous volunteers, excellent academics, fine arts, sports and music programs. I am grateful for the significant commitment families make to send their children to CAJ. We are striving to make this a better place for your students, our staff, and the greater CAJ community. May God receive the praise and glory for His many good provisions to CAJ since 1950.
We officially became a Gakko Hojin (School Corporation) on April 1, 2013 at a ceremony at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku. All of the assets of the Zaidan Hojin (Foundation Corporation) were transferred to the new Gakko Hojin.

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 Zaidan Hojin Christian Academy in Japan as of March 31, 2013 and the results of its operations and cash flows for 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 ¥695,703,789 and operating expenses of ¥627,724,076. This results in a net operating surplus of ¥67,979,713 which is directly connected to increased fund raising efforts for tuition assistance and endowment fund, continued staff commitment to work for sacrificial compensation rates and savings to be set aside for long-term building projects.


CAJ's Board of Directors (one auditor not pictured)
CAJ has a board of directors and a board of councilors that govern CAJ using the Policy Governance model. In recent years our boards have done extensive work on their documents and processes related to our legal status shift to Gakko Hojin. They also adopted changes in size and composition of the boards to better accommodate required changes as well as a desire to have broader representation. Both boards now have at-large positions and are not just composed of representatives of the six founding missions, though each of these missions retains a majority presence on both boards. Most of the board of directors members also serve on the larger board of councilors which also now must include a CAJ staff person, a CAJ alumni and an educator. In addition, regulations now require the headmaster to be a voting member of the board of directors.
Both boards now use a secure online portal to prepare and conduct meetings. This innovation also provides ready access to information and data about the school as well as retains an extensive historical record of reports, minutes, and documents. The boards also have a fixed location on our public website (Life@CAJ > Board) that promotes transparency and easy access to the board manual and meeting minutes.