Directors Dispatch: November 30

posted Nov 30, 2012, 1:28 AM by Marylene, MICHELET   [ updated Nov 30, 2012, 3:11 AM by Unknown user ]

Changes at ISD

As we approach the opening ceremony of our new upper school building, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the many changes that ISD has undergone and continues to experience. The past calendar year has seen very many changes.  From Wayne Rutherford’s departure to my arrival, to the departure of many beloved teachers and a principal, to the arrival of new teachers and a new principal, to the construction of the new MS-HS building and the reclaiming of the swimming pool and recreation area; it has been a year of great change for all of us in the school community.

For many people, change can present great difficulties and yet for others – well, they relish it.  But either way, things are different.  Some people might say “different-bad” and others might say “different-good”.  Yet it is all change - something that our children adapt to daily.

For those who are new to the school, this is the only way that they know it; some others may experience a sense of loss at these changes.  The small L-shaped school where everyone crossed paths multiple times daily is now gone and we have a very tall and very big new building. It is taking some time for some of us to get used to the changes of not seeing each other as often and even, to the constant ups and downs of the stairs! 

Four months ago when I arrived, it actually looked as though the school might not open for a considerable length of time because of the problems surrounding the construction. The rains had taken their toll on the site it just looked very bleak. Some amazing people -Ian Hogg and ISD’s incredible maintenance staff- “lit a fire” and brought in some day workers to supplement the staff and eventually the school was deemed ready to open, safe for students, not perfect, but school could start.  And so the learning began amidst the changes.

With students on campus all day, many of the other construction projects and detail work have had to halt - otherwise the student learning could not continue.  It has been very difficult to continue the big work and yet it has gone on, commencing at the end of after school activities when student safety is no longer a factor.

Changes have also taken place at the school board level. A number of trustees, including the Board chair for the last two years, have moved on. Though it is supposed to consist of 9 members, the Board started the year with 8.  Since then, we have appointed another member, but unfortunately lost another member for personal reasons.  Since January 2012, the school has also experienced changes in the PTO Presidency and two changes in the U.S. Ambassadors Representative to the board.  And through it all the school day for the children continues, not better not worse-just different! The Board Members experienced great training in September and kudos go out to all members for continuing to represent parents in their decisions.

While there was almost a 30% turnover in school staff, something that some people perceive to be a huge change, this is not different from previous years, nor is it different from many other international schools. All teachers continue to be approachable and they continue to deliver a curriculum of excellence. Our teachers continue to attend conferences for professional development and we continue as a school to invite guests to work with our students and staff.

There has also been a large turnover among the administrative leadership and we are all learning how to function together as a team in a new setting with new people. I am very proud to be the team leader and to work with such a talented and committed group of educational leaders.

In the midst of these many changes, and with the hard work of our new communications officer, we continue to strive to improve our communications with families, consolidating the growing amount of information we have to share and sending it out via our weekly school newsletter, the Jaguar Journal. A whiteboard has been placed at the student drop-off area so that parents can have quick access to important notices. It is hoped that eventually the whiteboard will be replaced with a large display screen for ease of reading.

Our goal is to continue to work towards making ISD the best it can be-in fact the best in the West!  Any challenges we face are far outweighed by the opportunities and advantages: our beautiful and peaceful host country, our excellent faculty, our dedicated maintenance staff, our great facilities and our ongoing projects for the future – not the least of which is the launch of the IB Diploma program in the coming year.

I look forward to celebrating with you next Saturday, December 8th, as we officially open the new upper School building. Go Jaguars!

Barb Gage

ISD Director