August 12, 2016

posted Aug 12, 2016, 8:48 AM by Suzanne WARDINI
Dear Parents,

After the students had moved to the classrooms for the first day of school, over 200 parents attended the traditional ISD Opening Ceremony. I gave a brief history of the school, reviewed the changes for this year, highlighted priorities for the 2016-2017 school year, and shared how parents can be involved in the school.

ISD is a private, non-profit school started in 1983. The school operates under an agreement between the U.S. Department of State and the Senegalese Government. Over 98% of the school’s revenue comes from tuition and fees. The school is very diverse, we have students from over 55 different nationalities. The school enrollment has grown 25% over the past five years. We expect to have about 565 students this year.

The school is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees. The trustees are elected by ISD parents and teachers and must have children at the school. In addition, there are five additional members of the board who are non-voting. These members include a representative from the U.S. Ambassador, a teacher representative, both principals, and the school director. The Board is responsible for the long-term strategic direction of the school. They oversee the school finances, plan for major construction, develop school policies, and hire and evaluate the school director.

The school created a strategic plan in 2014, which established a series of ambitious goals designed to bring the school to the next level. Implementation of the goals began last year and will take five to seven years to accomplish. The school’s vision is to challenge, create, and change. The core values are creativity, open-mindedness, responsibility, and excellence.

The goals are organized into three areas.
1. Students should be well rounded in all aspects of education: academics, arts, sports, service, and social/emotional.
2. Students should be able to discover their talents and passions.
3. Students should learn responsible leadership skills and apply these skills to issues in a complex and changing world.

The priorities for the school year are set based on the school’s strategic plan as well as Board/Director goals. The priorities for 2016-2017 are as follows.
  • Complete the Council of International Schools/Middle States Association Self-Study and earn our accreditation from both organizations
  • Improve student behavior
  • Design and begin construction on the new Performing Arts Center (PAC) and Gym.
  • Determine optimal school enrollment and design school facilities and programs to fit.
  • Continue to improve the IB Diploma Program and determine the viability of introducing the IB Middle Years Program and Primary Years Program.
I will explain more about these priorities in next week’s JAG Journal.

By September, we expect to have 565 students in attendance. This represents a five percent increase from last year. As many grades were close to capacity last year, the school administration and board were faced with a decision. Do we cap enrollment at 40 students per grade resulting in some families not being able to enroll their children or do we add teachers and increase the capacity to 60 students per grade and allow all qualified students to attend? The administration decided to open more classrooms with the full support of the board. Teachers were added in grades 1, 3, 5, 6, and 9. As a result, we have been able to reduce the class size to between 13 to 15 students in most grades. We were not able to reach this class size in some grades due to the lack of classrooms in our facility and the lack of high quality teachers at this time of the year. We have hired additional teacher assistants for these grades to increase services to the students.
What is new for 2016? In addition to the 130 plus new students and 13 new teachers, we are pleased to now have an indoor, air-conditioned eating area for the elementary and middle school students. The student laptop program will now be extended through middle school. Last year, all high school students received a Chromebook for use during the school year. This year, all students in grades six through twelve will receive a Chromebook. This low cost computer will expand the students’ learning opportunities both in school and at home, even when there is no or poor internet.

At the end of the Opening Ceremony, I invited all parents to take my business card so they have my cell phone number (776-44-6028) and email address ( I want parents to contact me with questions, compliments, or suggestions for improvement. At ISD parents are our partners in educating the students. We want you to be involved and help us build the best possible educational program for your children.

See you on campus!

Alan Knobloch
International School of Dakar