April 24, 2015

posted Apr 24, 2015, 9:57 AM by Suzanne WARDINI   [ updated Apr 24, 2015, 10:05 AM ]
I want to celebrate our success of this year, define the next level in ISD’s development, and take a look at next year.

I would like to start with some thank you's.

Teachers – You are ISD. The parents tell me one of the reasons they come to Dakar is so they can attend this school and they extend their tours so they can stay at ISD. I thank you for your caring, commitment, and willingness to do whatever it takes to help our students be successful. I thank you for the hours you spend with the students outside of the classroom as coaches, directors, leading activities, on WWW.

To our departing teachers, I thank you for the collective 89 years you have devoted to ISD, staying on average 4.5 years. You have helped start the IB program, coached numerous seasons, produced outstanding plays and concerts, helped create the yearbook, and helped build a great reputation for the school. One that allows us to recruit exciting teachers who want to be a part of our community.

I would like to thank our parents for our partnership. You plan an integral role in your child’s education through your participation in parent-teacher conferences, elementary assemblies, student performances, sporting events, volunteering in the classroom. A special thanks to the PTO for their on-going support of the school.

Support staff – We are fortunate to have a dedicated and talented support staff who work hard to keep the campus clean and well maintained, keep the computers systems running, make sure we are paid, and keep us safe. I would like to thank all the support staff for their hard work and dedication to our school.

John Andrews, our Operations Manager, and Aboubacar Ndoye our Maintenance Manager. You are on-call 24/7. You work behind the scenes to make sure the educators can focus on the children.  I thank you for your leadership and problem solving skills.

Murray, our Activities and Athletic Director – you built a strong ASA and athletic program where on any given afternoon you will find literally hundreds of students on campus engaged in sports and activities. You kept WAISAL together to provide our students the opportunity to travel and compete against teams from across West Africa.

Kayla and Pam, our two counselors – You are there for the students, parents, teachers and administrators. Thank you for supporting all of us as we work through life’s challenges. 

Susan Kusiima - She is our secret weapon.  Susan is the one person responsible for bringing in all of our revenue.  It is amazing to see her with the new families and her ability to address the 100 plus new students by their first name.  Thank you Susan for all your hard work.

Ibrahima, Marylene, and finance team for their excellent work in improving the school’s financial systems and internal controls. As you can see, two years ago our auditors had a number of concerns. Under Ibrahima’s leadership, the school has made great progress this year.

Educational Leadership team,
Ian – over the past four years you have been the constant on the leadership team. You have built a strong elementary school and I am grateful we will continue to have your talents.

Brad – thank you for having high expectations and believing in your students. I see your commitment and passion for student success every day.

John W. 
 you are a leader in so many ways. Thank you for taking on whatever task we need you to do while getting the tech team ready for the next big step in technology integration at ISD. I know the school will be as excited as I am to hear your plans for the future.

Barbara – thank you for picking up the pieces in the curriculum office, providing leadership with textbook ordering, curriculum development, and professional growth opportunities. You do all of this while teaching two IB courses.

Wendy – all of your hard work over the past three years will come to fruition in the next few weeks. Thank you for all you have done for the IB students, parents and teachers.

I want to thank to the students, parents, teachers, administrators and board members who served on the Core Planning Team and Strategic Goal Committees. Your hard work and effort will impact ISD for years to come.

My thanks to Suzanne, the best piece of advice Paul Olson gave me was to do what Suzanne told me to do. It is has served me well. She is ISD’s Office Manager extraordinaire and a great advisor.

Board – One of the main reasons I wanted to come to ISD was to work with this board, led by Vesna. They are one of the best in the world, because of their commitment to best practices and desire to continue learning. They are responsible not only for the school today, but for the school’s future. On behalf of the students and staff, I thank you for all of the time and effort you devote to making ISD the best school possible.


99% of our parents told us that their child had a positive school year!

Record enrollment – Over 530 students.

Ebola – it gave us a scare, and cost us some students, but through education and communication we were able to ride it out with minimal impact

Student events
The arts 
 Jaguarts, Alladin, Suessical (4 sold out shows), IB Plays, and we still have a HS and MS play to go. An amazing 42% of HS students participated in a play this year. 75% of our parents say they have attended an art show, music or theater event. 

Sports – by the end of the year our students will have participated in 23 local and international tournaments in volleyball, soccer, basketball, swimming, softball, x-country and track. 

Our Jaguars won three WAISAL championships including MS co-ed volleyball, HS boys soccer and HS girls soccer.

After 11 months of work, we completed a strategic plan. The mission and vision was revised. Six strategic goals were adopted. It was not easy, but we have charted the course for the school’s future.

Next week our students will take the IB exams for the first time. It has been a roller coaster ride for them and the teachers. While we wait to see how they will perform, we know the program has already made a difference. We have seen more acceptances from this class to universities in the UK than any previous class. This is due to the UK universities recognition of the IB Diploma.


When I was offered this position, I was told the board wanted the school to go to the next level, although they were unsure of what the next level would look like as was I. Tonight, I will tell you what I see as the next level for ISD. This is based on the work of the Core Planning Team, student, parent, and teacher surveys, many conversations with the community, and my own observations.

The next step in ISD’s journey will be built off the foundation that was created by the current and past teachers and administrators.

Continue to improve the IB experience for the students, give them and the teachers the time they need for the higher-level classes, better coordination for the core program.  We will build off the work of the IB teachers, Wendy, and Brad.

Continue to improve the vertical curriculum alignment and academic expectations for students in grades 6 through 10, so our students are prepared students for a rigorous academic program, such as IB DP, whether it is at ISD or another high school.

We will explore the middle school and elementary school components of the IB Program to see if these programs are also a good fit for ISD.

We will not confuse rigorous for elitist. The IB program was never intended to only be for the highly talented. It was designed for students of all abilities who were willing and able to put in the time and effort. ISD will continue to support a wide range of students and help them all grow.

In all grades, we will improve our ability to meet the needs of a wide range of student ability in the core classrooms, including students who need learning support, English Language support, LS, as well as the highly capable students, by focusing on the continual improvement of teachers’ instructional and assessment strategies. Our new instructional coach and school-wide professional development plan will be key components of this effort.

Working together we will improve our vertical and horizontal alignment by implementing a set of common teaching agreements, which will lead to better consistency and transparency in our educational programs for both our students and parents.

Arts, Sports
As called for in the strategic plan, we will take a look at our after-school activities, athletic and arts program, similar to a curriculum review, to see how we can make a strong program even better.

We will find ways for students to pursue multiple talents and passions at the same time.

We will increase our service learning opportunities, where our students can learn first hand of the problems other people are facing and learn how they can make a difference now and in the future.

We will develop responsible leaders and embed leadership skills and competencies into our curriculum.


Next year, we will continue to serve a wide range of students not only in terms of culture, race, languages but also academic background. We will find a way to challenge and support the students who come from top international schoolS as well as the students who come from local government schools around the world.

Our job is to figure out where they are and take them as far as we can.

We will have a comprehensive professional development plan for the faculty focusing on differentiation. This theme was selected by the school’s Education Team.

It will include summer reading for all teachers, an expert on differentiation, Cindy Strickland, author on differentiation and experience presenter. Our new Instructional Coach will provide on-site, in-depth PD to teachers and teaching assistants. We will have on-going discussion groups looking at how we can improve our student’s performance.

We will start our next ten-year accreditation with the Council for International Schools in Europe and Middle States Association in the United States.

The reparatory visit will be in October
Self-study January to December 2016
Visiting team, spring of 2017

We will begin the design phase of the performing arts center. So we will have, in the words of a trustee, a performing arts venue equal to the talent our of students.

It will be a busy year, as it always is.

We will do this together. Like we did this year, when over half the teachers have served on a school-side committee including the Director’s Advisory Committee, Education Team, Core Planning Team and Strategic Goal Committees. We will need the same level of commitment and input as we build a performing arts center, continue to improve our academic program for all students and to help students discover their talents and passions.

We have a common vision. We will challenge….create…change….our students….ISD….ourselves. 

Dr. Knobloch