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It Takes a Village: The Dratzes by Peter Dratz Middle School TeacherA passion for China drew the Dratzes to HKIS in 1990, leading to years of teaching students across HKIS’s Lower Primary, Middle School, and High School!Mr. Dratz and colleagues in Beijing in 2005.When Cristy and I left Taipei American School in 1979 to return to the USA, we knew we weren’t done with China. I had attended a conference at HKIS in 1978 and was immediately drawn both to the school and to the community. Cristy had family in Hong Kong. So, when I was offered the position of Coordinator of Chinese Studies at HKIS in 1990, we were excited. We both loved our schools in Tulsa, but daughter Katie would start kindergarten in the fall, and we agreed that we would like her to have a more international education.
Our plan was for Cristy to be a stay-home Mom for the first couple of years, but HOS David Rittmann persuaded her to take a high school Spanish teaching position for one year. In 1992, Ana was born, and in 1994 Cristy was asked to return as a part-time Spanish teacher in the Middle School.
Cristy (in green) and friends decorate gingerbread houses with members of the "village"But what Cristy really wanted was to go back to Early Childhood, her true love. In 1995, she joined Allen Link as a paraprofessional and knew right away that this was where she belonged. As a secondary school teacher who has always struggled matching names and faces, I marveled at how much Cristy knew about each and every child she interacted with. And it wasn’t just the kids who were in her classes. She seemed to know all the kids – and their parents and siblings. Even in recent years, when I would talk about my MS students, Cristy would tell me detailed stories about those same kids when they were in R1.
As different as Hong Kong is from where we grew up in the US and in El Salvador, somehow the notion of “village” prevailed. For us, the village that it took to bring up our kids was mostly found in the HKIS community. The teachers and parents were the soccer coaches and the girl scout leaders. We joined family outings where a dozen or more kids would line up with parents and take public buses, trains, and ferries for hikes and picnics all over Hong Kong. Carpet time with Ms. DratzIn 1997, Cristy began teaching R2 and a year later switched to R1 where she taught two half-day classes. When the full-day R1 program was implemented, Cristy remained with the half-day program. And when the LP moved into the new building, Cristy taught the last two half-day R1 classes. Mr. Dratz and his Middle School Pastoral Care Group (PCG)In 1998, I changed hats from that of Mandarin teacher to eighth grade Social Studies and Language Arts and switched to full-time Social Studies in the early 2000s. I coached soccer, was house leader of Lantau House for many years, started the MS MUN program, and helped design and lead PEAK trips and summer adventure programs all over China. For several years during the early 2000’s, Cristy and I co-chaired the S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity in Diversity) program for R-12 teachers.
Over the years as a member of the HKIS community, Cristy has participated as a volunteer in almost every schoolwide celebration. She loved being there for her little ones when they arrived with their parents and siblings outside of the classroom environment. Cristy has supported the Heifer International Read to Feed program by sponsoring and encouraging her little readers. She has also participated in St. Baldrick’s Day for more than ten years and raised funds as a “shavee” in support of children’s cancer research. We’ve both been big supporters of Crossroads International, a local NGO established and run by the Begbies, a former HKIS family.
“For our family, HKIS has always been more than a school. It was a community which we will be forever grateful to have been a part of for more than three decades.Stay in touch with the Dratzes! firstname.lastname@example.org Editor’s Note
A humble Mr. Dratz wrote this piece, so we asked a former long-time Middle School colleague Linda Anderson to share a few memories of Peter! Mr. Dratz leads a student trip to China, including a ride on the Taishan train.“I have so many fond memories of Peter's unquenchable curiosity, his compassion and generosity. Over the years, he has shared his passion for Chinese culture and Hong Kong with many colleagues, to whom he has introduced good food, stunning walking trails and glimpses into Hong Kong history. I have vivid memories of Peter with his guitar, bringing music and good humor to many Middle School gatherings. He wrote skits and poems that made us smile, including an ode to Freddie, the HK Weather Man. "Why" Peter asked in the last line, "is it always misty in Mumbai?" Thank you Peter, for our many years of friendship.” -Linda Anderson