Prime Taekwondo, more than an Afterschool!

Tessa International School has a great relationship with Prime Taekwondo in the Monroe Center. Besides hosting our indoor Yoga and PSPE classes, as well as indoor play on rainy days, on Tuesdays we have an After-School program for Taekwondo for children who are 4 years old and up with Prime. There, each child is taught with care and patience. The instructors scaffold for each child’s individual level. The program offers children a way to let each child know that he or she is special and he or she can achieve his or her maximum potential. Taekwondo students are more respectful at home and more diligent about doing homework and chores around the house. 

Prime Taekwondo proposes different programs such as adult, teen and toddler classes, designed to encourage the development of the child, work on the discipline of the teenagers, relieve stress and tension for adults. Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind. Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an international reputation, and stands among the official games in the Olympics.

They also offer amazing birthday parties and family classes. Your child and up to 15 friends can enjoy a fun party involving Taekwondo training, fun games, physical activities and even board breaking. We encourage you to have a look at their website!

Our Winter Holiday Show

At the end of the 18-19 school year, the Tessa Administration asked us to direct the 1st ever holiday show and I will admit, we were equal parts excited and nervous. Just like you, we value the quality of education that Tessa provides and the unique community that Tessa has created and we really wanted to honor that in our work with the children.  The task of putting together an original show for almost 100 students seemed daunting BUT we were up for the challenge!

We have always loved the portion of the Tessa mission statement that refers to Tessa students as “happy world citizens”. So we brainstormed for several weeks and 2 songs kept coming up for us: “It’s a Small World” and “We are the World”.  We went into rehearsals knowing that we would incorporate both songs into our show somehow. In continuing with the world theme, we thought it would be fun and educational to highlight other winter holidays so we researched: Yalda, Pancha Ganapati, Omisoka and the Longest Night of the Year (a Winter Solstice festival celebrated in Ushuaia, the very bottom of Argentina) and worked with the Grade 1 and Kindergarten students to create short scenes to present on each holiday.  The PreK 3 and PreK 4 classes were assigned winter or holiday songs to present.

It was important to us that we have at least one group number that included every student but we couldn’t decide on which of our world songs to use, ”It’s a Small World” or “We are the World” so…we combined them to create a finale song as unique as the students singing it!  Because music did not exist for this new creation of a song, we took several students to SkyRoom Studios to record a Tessa original track that the entire student body could sing along to during rehearsals and the live show.   

After several months rehearsing with the children every Friday, 30 minutes with each class, we began adding costume pieces in around 2 weeks prior to the performance. On December 20th, our group of “happy world citizens” took to the stage to present the culmination of their hard work

Celebrating La Galette des Rois

At Tessa we celebrated the Galette des Rois on Tuesday, January 7th. Each class shared a cake and the lucky winners became kings and Queens of the day!

Why is it celebrated?                          

               French families conclude the festive season with a rich pastry fit for kings. The Galette des Rois is a cake traditionally shared at Epiphany, on 6 January. The tradition of eating this cake dates back to the 14th century. It commemorates the moment when baby Jesus was presented to the Three Wise Men, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar in Bethlehem. They arrived from and represent the three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe, to give their gifts.

What is the tradition?

               The Galette des Rois isn’t just a cake, it is a ceremonial experience. First, the youngest child (and therefore the most innocent) goes under the table were they direct who should get which slice. If there are no children at the table, the cake is cut by the youngest person in the room.  Whoever has the charm, or féve, in their slice, is crowned and chooses his or her king of queen. They both wear a paper crown usually provided with the cake. Careful when bitting into the cake, don’t break a tooth or swallow the féve! The féve is a porcelain or plastic figurine that represented the nativity and characters from the crib. Nowadays, there are a wide range of figurines, such as one of the three kings, Disney characters, animals, fruits, cars or even shoes. Féves are collectors items and their collectors are known as favophiles. In the 14th century they would use a white or black bean to hide in the cake.

               Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Well, not to that extent! In some regions, the new crowned king or queen is given a choice between two tasks. They should either offer a beverage to everyone around the table, either sparkling wine or champagne, or volunteer to host the next Galette des Rois at their home. That way the festivities of Galette des Rois can be celebrated through all of January.

Is there only one type of Galette?

               Eh, bien, non! The galette des rois taste has been modified in many ways by pastry chefs. For example, La Maison Dalloyau in Paris adds candied orange and Grand Marnier, top patissiers, Pierre Hermé, adds a creamy ganache while Maison Hédiard marries Bourbon Vanilla with the almond cream. Others have used apricots, nuts, spices, figs, honey, raspberry, even rose petals. Thus don’t hesitate to add you own unique touch of your favorite flavors!

               Different regions in France have their own traditional kings cake. The northern half of France and Belgium the cake is the one we all know and love with the golden crust and frangipane, an almond filled paste. In the southern half of France, the cake is called a Gâteau des Rois and is a crown-shaped cake or brioche filled with fruit. Both equally delicious! In Switzerland, or Romandy, both types can be found though the latter is more common.

Some historical and contemporary changes:

  • “In the past, the pastry would be cut into as many portions as there were guests, plus one. The last one, called the “part du pauvre” or poor man’s share, was for the first poor person who stopped by the house.”
  • “They even played “find the king” at the table of Louis XIV. The ladies of the court who found the fève became queens of France for a day and could ask the king to grant them a wish called “grâces et gentillesse”. But the Sun King, Louis XIV, was to abolish this custom.”
  • “Interestingly during the French Revolution the name was changed to “Gâteau de l’egalité” because a king was not quite well regarded during this time.”
  • “Every year, during the traditional reception at the Elysée Palace, an enormous galette (measuring 1.2 m across for 150 people) is made for the President of the French Republic. But the artisan baker and pastry chef responsible for making it is instructed not to put a fève in the cake because “it would not be appropriate to find a king in the presidential palace of the Republic”.”

Hold off on your January dieting and loosen your belts because here are the ingredients of a traditional Galette des Rois:


  • 2 Sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) almond paste
  • 3 tbsp (45g) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp (20g) powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp (5ml) almond extract
  • ¼ tsp (1.25ml) salt
  • 2 tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg beaten for egg wash
  • piece of bittersweet chocolate or “féve”


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the almond paste, butter and powdered sugar until well combined. Then add eggs 1 at a time, beating in between each addition. Then add almond extract and salt and beat again. Lastly add flour and beat until combined. Set aside.
  3. Roll out puff pastry sheet onto a floured surface, making sure you have a flat rectangular with no seams remaining if your pastry came scored in any way.
  4. Cut out 2 10” inch circles with a dinner plate. Place one on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and set the other aside resting on a cutting board.
  5. Spread the almond cream on the circle on the cookie sheet leaving a 2” border. Brush border with egg wash, place “feve” or piece of chocolate anywhere in the cream.
  6. Place 2nd circle on top and press together to seal circles together.
  7. Create a decorative scallop along the edge of the circles by placing your two fingers at the top edge of the circle and pulling a butter knife towards you to pull the pastry towards you and create an indentation in the pastry. Continue all the way around the circle until a scalloped edge is formed.
  8. Brush the center part only of the circle with more egg wash.
  9. To firm up pastry before baking, place tray in fridge for 20 mins or the freezer for 10 mins.
  10. Bake at 400F (200C) for 25-30 mins. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Slice into wedges. The guest that receives the slice of the cake with the “féve” or chocolate is King for the day!


Be sure your puff pastry is extremely cold before you lace it in the oven. In fact, pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. This will prevent the pastry from melting too quickly and the filling seeping out. It will also help it puff up as it bakes.

Make sure your pastry mounds are well sealed with the egg wash, otherwise the filling will seep out.

You can make this cake ahead of time and either serve at room temperature or reheat for 10 minutes at 300F (150C)

Here is the recipe in French!

  •      2 pâtes feuilletées
  •      140 g de poudre d’amande
  •      100 g de sucre fin
  •      2 oeufs
  •      75 g de beurre mou
  •      1 jaune d’oeuf
  •      1 fève

  • Etape 1 Placer une pâte feuilletée dans un moule à tarte, piquer la pâte avec une fourchette.
  • Etape 2 Dans un saladier, mélanger la poudre d’amandes, le sucre, les 2 oeufs et le beurre mou.
  • Etape 3 Placer la pâte obtenue dans le moule à tarte et y cacher la fève.
  • Etape 4 Recouvrir avec la 2ème pâte feuilletée, en collant bien les bords.
  • Etape 5 Faire des dessins sur le couvercle et badigeonner avec le jaune d’oeuf.
  • Etape 6 Enfourner pendant 20 à 30 min à 200°C (thermostat 6-7); vérifier régulièrement la cuisson !

Little Gardeners, a creative after school program

Calling all young creatives!

We are excited to offer a new after school program called Little Gardeners.  Little Gardeners spans over the course of January for four fun-filled classes of exploring and creating nature-inspired artwork.  Tessa’s young gardeners and artists will learn about the life of a plant and have the unique opportunity to create two ceramic pieces.  Here’s what each day will look like:

Week 1: Leaves, Textures, and Clay

Students will use natural objects while learning how to imprint leaves directly onto clay surfaces.  The clay slabs that we imprint onto will then become small plates and trays for each student to take home at the end of the program. 

Week 2:  Pinch Pots

On our second class we will learn a new ceramic technique to make small pots that will later become planters.  After the pots have been constructed students can then use different natural materials to create imprints and designs on the clay surface. 

Week 3: Adding Color

On our third class we will add some color by painting our ceramic projects from the previous classes.  The rest of the class will be spent preparing for what is to come in our final class: growing a plant!

Week 4: Sowing the Seed

On the last day of the program each student will get all of their finished ceramic work and we will plant a seed in the pinch pot.  We will then learn about how to take care of the seed and help it grow into a strong and healthy plant. Students can then bring both projects home that day.

What Else You Should Know

The Little Gardeners program is a very unique opportunity for your child to engage in a new artmaking processes and create quality ceramic pieces that will be fired at an off-site ceramic studio.  All materials are included in the fee and all pieces created are made with non-toxic glazes and are food safe.    

Register here.

Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is a global movement with students participating in 180 different
countries.  The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education
Week. The 2019 Computer Science Education Week will be, but you can host an Hour of
Code all year-round. The purpose of the ‘hour of code’ is to get students to learn about
computer science for one hour.
This week Tessa students participated in the “Hour of Code” it was a great time where all our
students in each classroom were introduced to this new beginning concept of coding
through games, a new “window of learning” in which they can explore (movement, direction,
and location) with fun interactive (and hands-on) age appropriate activities.
What is coding? Coding (or programming) is the basic language of the digital age. It involves
the process of creating step-by-step the instructions a computer understands and needs in
order for its programs to work. Coding gives children the ability to understand how to “tinker”
and shape their digital world.

Early coding or precoding, offers children experiences that integrate communication,
thinking, problem solving and opportunities for interaction and collaborative learning are 21st
century skills that are valuable for children’s future and success in our digital world. Also, they
are aligned with our school’s mission.

Communication: through the precoding activities children are involved in directional
language, such as up and down, backward and forward, left and right.
Thinking: Coding helps children develop new ways of thinking and takes the fear of
making mistakes or failing. 
Problem Solving: Students can consider multiple paths to get to a solution and
choose the most efficient strategy. It teaches persistency in finding a way to solve
your problems. In these activities, planning ahead is the key to success.
Collaborative learning: children understand the value of working with others and the
importance to contribute with their thoughts and bring support to others and learn

Children became confident with early coding and each classroom used it in different ways to
complement other learning opportunities in the preschool classroom.
Coding games through the stories: Teacher used children’s favorite story and read-
aloud in the class as the base for coding games. This helps children develop
vocabulary and a greater comprehension of texts.
Robot Mouse: The mouse comes with different attachments that move it in different
directions.  Children can attach the different segments together to create a unique
path for the mouse to move and find the cheese.
Unplugged coding activities: Teachers introduced coding without using a computer.
They created a fun printable game that used the same concept of directional cards,
one per space on the grid, to move the pirate to his treasure; the fish to the lake; the
boy to his house and the octopus to his friend the dolphin.
Apps: Children were exposed with a limit of time to “Code Kart” and “Coding Safari”

“Hour of Coding” was a great experience for teachers and students and not only helps
improve their mathematics but also gives them valuable skills in life.

In this link you can find a variety of fun activities to do at home.

Lights on Our After-School Program

After-School Program at Tessa 

Tessa strongly believes that providing an effective after-school program to our students is to give them the chance to develop new skills and confidence. Fortunately, Tessa parents have a wide range of creative activities when it comes to choosing high-quality after-school activities for their children. As of today, more than twelve after-school activities, ranging in age from Pre-K through Grade 8, are available in various areas including language, music, art, theater and sports. Out of all of them, after-school language classes in French, Mandarin and Spanish are the pioneer programs at Tessa. The goal is to give all children a meaningful foundation in the language through games, songs, art and more. This entire program is led by dedicated teachers who understand the necessity to teach from an early age and strive to provide the best education. 

Here are some highlights for the January – April term:

Woodworking – Tuesdays, 4:00 – 5:00

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The Woodshop afterschool program will focus on learning the use of manual woodworking tools such as sanding blocks, clamps, hammers, screw drivers, small saws, manual drills to build projects out of wood. Students will plan, measure and build their projects while learning concepts in math, geometry, engineering and physics. Each student will learn the safe use of hand tools, measuring and level aids, woodworking techniques as well as wood protection and the use of natural finishes. Handling real tools increase fine and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination and spacial reasoning.

This year we will concentrate on a curriculum of engineering projects such as pulleys, levers, cranes, wheels and axles and other projects with moving functional parts. Students will build each project during a course of a few weeks and take them home when finished. Each semester students will bring home 4 to 5 finished projects.

Little Gardeners and Artists – Wednesdays, 3:30 – 4:30 pm – January only

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Join us for 4 fun weeks of STEAM activities where we will learn about the life of a plant while using our creativity to make nature-inspired artwork. Activities involve artwork with leaf impressions and making our own ceramic pinch pots that we will grow our own plants from. Fee includes materials and firings.

TessaPrep – Russian – Thursdays (registration will be available soon)

If you have already enrolled your child in Tessa after-school program then you made the right decision, if not we are waiting for you! Enroll now. 

What Are the Origins of After-School?

To understand where the after-school program comes from, it is necessary to go back to several social and economic events throughout history.  First of all, the presence of more and more women in the workforce, especially during the World War II had a considerable impact. Indeed, as women became the main source of labor, they had no other choice than leaving their children unsupervised after school hours. Then when the child labor law was enacted, forbiting child hiring for all factories, children got more free time without parents. With the economic development of the United States, more and more urban areas were built, so children had to play often out in the streets which led to health and safety concerns. Therefore, after-school programs were presented as a way to minimize exposure to such negatives influences and start receiving many sources of funding. Nowadays, after-school program has evolved and is no more a matter of safety but a booster of academic performance for the children of working parents.

Today more than 10 million children in the US so nearly 1 in 4 families currently has a child enrolled in an after-school program.

The Benefits of After-School Programs

Parents across the United States agree: after-school programs are vital to a child’s success. 

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Effective after-school programs can bring a wide range of benefits to youth, families and communities. They can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe, structured environment for the children of working parents.

Thanks to these programs, children can develop strong social skills, they get the chance to know different kids than those they see at school so the program can give them a chance to connect with familiar kids in a different environment and so avoid social issues.

These programs can also improve classroom behavior, school attendance, and can lead to higher graduation rates thanks to teamwork, leadership and critical thinking skills learned during the program.

After-school programs can also play an important role in encouraging physical activity and good dietary habits. After-school sports will additionally help your kid to develop their competitive spirit as well as their focus, stress management, and mindfulness. 

Source of infographie :

Thanksgiving at Tessa

At Tessa International School, we love celebrating holidays! Thanksgiving is one of our favorites. Every class is doing this differently, but basically the idea is to give thanks to those who have helped us throughout the year.  This can be clearly seen in Ms. Pooja’s and Ms. Patricia’s class:

What does Thanksgiving Day celebrate?

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are legends and there are realities. Though the truth of the original meeting is far from what we idealize, today, Thanksgiving is all about putting aside our differences and giving thanks. Though not a religious holiday, some families choose to commemorate thanking God for the harvest. It is often a day to celebrate the family.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated?

In the United States Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada it occurs on the second Monday of October.

What do people do to celebrate?

The day is a national federal holiday in the United States. Most people have the day off as well as the Friday following, making a long weekend for travel and holiday.

The way most people celebrate this day is by getting together with their families and having a large meal. Many people travel all over the country for large family gatherings on this day.

Many cities have large parades on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps the largest and most famous parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. 

Another popular way to spend the day is watching NFL football. There are generally a number of football games on even though it is Thursday. The Detroit Lions are a traditional team that plays a game nearly every Thanksgiving.

Traditional Food

The traditional food for the Thanksgiving meal includes a turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, vegetables, and pumpkin pie.

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

  • Each year a live turkey is presented to the President of the United States who then “pardons” the turkey and it gets to live out its life on a farm.
  • Around 46 million turkeys were eaten in the US on Thanksgiving in 2010. That’s around one fifth of all the turkeys eaten for the entire year.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird instead of the bald eagle.
  • Around 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • The Pilgrims sailed to America from Great Britain on a ship called the Mayflower.
  • The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. It is the biggest shopping day of the year.
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What does an International Education truly mean?

From November 18th to November 22nd, schools across the United States will celebrate the International Education Week. This upcoming event had us reflect upon our connection to this and how we try to promote cultural and language exchange.

What is the International Education Week?

Let’s start with a bit of background. The International Education Week is an initiative from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, created to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. It is an annual celebration of cultural diversity and international opportunities.

International Education at Tessa

A truly international education is a combination of various factors. Here at Tessa we focus on three main criteria to prepare our students to become bilingual, adaptable and active citizens: Bilingualism, Interculturalism and Diversity.


Bilingualism is maybe the first element educating our students towards a better understanding of our globalized world. Several studies and researches indicate that bilingualism has many benefits on the brain and opens unique life opportunities.


The importance of intercultural communication and understanding is often underestimated. We tend to assume human beings behave similarly in given situations. The reality is that depending on our social background, family and country, we all have different customs, standards, social mores, and even thought patterns.

At Tessa, Interculturalism is at the heart of our curriculum, and we believe immersing our students in not only one but several different cultures is a key factor in their development. At Tessa, children are introduced to other languages and cultures as soon as 2 years old. Such an exposure enhances their cultural awareness; they quickly become bilingual and culturally adaptable.


What makes a cultural immersion possible at Tessa, is the amazing diversity among our team and families. It is a big part of our identity as a school, as well as a community and we take much pride in it.

Teachers get to share their country of origin traditions during celebrations or before holidays. We also love to welcome parents at school; they explain their own traditions to the students, how they celebrate it at home and what it means to their family. With its parade and various booths, our United Nations Day celebration was as well a mean to learn from each other.

We recently started mapping that diversity among our community and it simply looks amazing!

We believe that giving your children the gift of an international education will benefit all of us as they will have a lot to offer growing up.

Learning and Teaching at Tessa is a celebration

Learning and Teaching at Tessa is a celebration.

At Tessa, we celebrate each of our transdisciplinary themes.  It is a celebration to the Learning and Teaching of approaches to learning, inquiry, concepts, language and the learner. 

The transdisciplinary model inherently promotes student agency. It encourages the integration of many ways of knowing, and perspectives from all members of the learning community, to make sense of a world that has become “too big to know.”

Our transdisciplinary themes or units last for 8 to 9 weeks. Last Friday, November 1, we had our first End of Unit Celebration on “Who We Are” unit. Parents are invited to come and see the final projects of their child. The celebration is in respective classrooms and could be presented in a performance or documentation of what the student learned throughout the exploration of the central idea, lines of inquiries and key concepts. 

In each unit, teachers at Tessa incorporate the importance of approaches to learning skills. These are a set of skills that we use when we are involved in learning. They come grouped into five sets: Thinking, Social, Self-Management, Research and Communication skills. They naturally have growth mindset occurring within them, since they cover many different behaviors, self-control as well as thinking and communication strategies. 

In other words, the Learning and Teaching celebration invites the learning community and the learner to present a summative assessment of the essential skills, concepts of inquiry to show the progression of sub-skills. Some examples of sub-skills such as critical, creative thinking, listening, speaking, emotional intelligence and mindfulness. In each transdisciplinary theme, the learner gets to improve in all these skills in the wholeness of Learning and Teaching.  

PSPE at Tessa, a “Whole Child” education

Greetings from the land of PSPE & Yoga. I first want to state that this year has unfolded as a challenging yet fulfilling constant state of engagement.  Students are working in tandem with me to create consistent routines while building their hand/eye coordination, explore capabilities in knowing their bodies and what they are capable of, learning new content each class, threading consistent movement with the new and more difficult body exploration, connecting, and evolving daily. 
As an educator, the IB/PYP approach to movement and strengthening for students at every grade level is both a breath of fresh air and fascinating. Personal, Social & Physical Education (PSPE) spans the scope of what I have personally described as  “Whole Child” education. The breadth, scope & connection in terms of academic enrichment, the emotional child, the social environment provides both the educator (myslef) as well as the student (your precious child) a safe space to reach beyond limitation.

Though I work in movement with the students, there is a commitment to folding academic inquiry and grade level curriculum into our weekly practice. This perspective (from a physical education standpoint) is cutting edge, supportive, challenging and rewarding for creative minds.  It feels like a perfect fit for me here at Tessa as it is both conducive to my passion and wildly exciting for me personally.  
I am always willing to speak with parents about student challenges, gifts and growth throughout the year.  I wholeheartedly belive in this approach to teaching and learning.  Thank you for the opportunity to teach, learn and adapt to the needs of the “whole child” as the PSPE/Yoga teacher.