New Director's Welcome

posted Aug 22, 2014, 6:30 AM by Suzanne WARDINI   [ updated Aug 22, 2014, 2:41 PM ]
It is truly a privilege to be the Director of the International School of Dakar. My wife, Eileen, who you will see around campus quite a bit as well as my son, Noah, and daughter, Emma, joins me in Dakar. Both of my children are in high school. My family is excited to join the ISD family. The community has been very welcoming to all of us. If you are on campus, do take a moment to stop by my office to introduce yourself and say hello.

Below is a part of my welcome speech that I gave at the opening ceremony. I wanted to share it with all the parents: 

Last week, I shared with the teachers what they can expect from me and I want to the same with you.

You can expect me to be passionate about doing what is best for students.

You can expect me spend my first months at school listening, learning, and building relationships.

You can expect me to be visible. I will be in the classrooms, at the games, concerts and plays. I will visit the all classrooms on a regular basis and formally observe every teacher in my first year.

You can expect me to have trouble remembering everyone’s names, but know I will learn them as fast as I can.

You can expect me to work hard to improve my French.

You can expect me to be responsive to parents. I will listen to your hopes, dreams and concerns about the school. ISD has a diverse community with diverse ideas on what makes a school great. My job is to make sure I am listening to all parents not just a vocal minority. I will do this by making sure I get out into the community to meet parents and not to simply wait for you to come to my office with your concerns.

One of the fundamental components of my leadership philosophy is to tell people what I expect from them. Then I let them know when they are meeting or exceeding my expectations. It is also critical to let them know in clear language when they are not meeting my expectations.

I am asking you to do the same. Let the teachers know when your child is happy and the teacher is meeting or exceeding your expectations. Teaching can be a lonely profession and a few kind words from parents make a tremendous difference. Also, let the teacher know when they are not meeting your expectations. Discuss your concerns with the teachers. If you are not happy with their response, see the principal. If you are not happy with the principal, come and see me. If you are not happy with me, let the board know. We want to be responsive to you, but we can only help if you let us know your concerns.

First Days of School
There is a great deal of excitement on campus. We literally had children running on to campus they were so happy to be back at school! We have had another increase in enrollment and have hired additional staff to make sure our classes did not become over crowded.

Two important dates to remember are the Secondary School Open House on Thursday, September 11, and the Elementary School Open House on Thursday, September 18. These are excellent opportunities to connect with your child’s teachers and learn more about the curriculum.

Shady Shack
We have significantly expanded our food service area, commonly known as Shady Shack. In addition to a larger kitchen and food preparation area, we have added a number of tables and chairs, many of them shaded. See pictures below. The early reviews from the students are positive. 

Virtually all the middle and high school students have been able to get their food in the first ten minutes of the lunch period, particularly those students who submit their order before school. Shady Shack is open throughout the day as well as after school. We invite parents to stop by for a snack or a meal.

In the annual parent satisfaction survey, traffic and parking has been the number one concern. After seeing it first hand, I now understand why. The problem simply stems from having too many cars trying to access campus and park in too small of an area. The public road outside the school, as well as the Corniche quickly becomes jammed. I can understand the frustration many of you feel.

My early observations are that the heaviest traffic is the 20 to 25 minutes before school starts at 8:30 and after school ends at 3:20. If you drop your children off before 8:10 or collect them after 3:45, you should experience less traffic difficulty. We will continue to do what we can to improve the situation including working with the gendarmes and have begun discussing other potential solutions.

Dr. Alan Knobloch