What makes ISD unique in Dakar?

posted Aug 18, 2017, 2:11 AM by catherinek@alumni.isd.sn

What makes ISD unique in Dakar?  In educational language, our goal is provide a holistic educational program. In layman’s terms this means that while academics are important, it is not our sole focus.  We also develop the student’s artistic, athletic, social, and emotional skills.  We believe that students need to have strong skills in all these areas in order to be successful and happy in their future schools and later in life.

How do we do this? In elementary school, students take art and music a couple of times a week, taught by specialists in these areas.  As they move into the secondary school, students can also take drama courses.  Recently, we added video production and film to the secondary school. These arts courses develop the students’ creativity, help them build confidence through performances, and help them discover new talents.

The research is clear that students who are physically active do better academically, are able pay attention longer, and work harder to maintain their grades so they are able to remain eligible to play sports.  Additionally, being a part of team teaches life skills of leadership, collaboration, and perseverance. We make a point to incorporate athletics into our school, developing students’ skills through regular physical education classes starting in Pre-K 3.  This is a required course from all students through grade ten.  The students further develop their skills, while gaining the benefit of being physically fit, through after-school activities and sports.  The elementary after-school program includes soccer, basketball, and martial arts.  Volleyball, basketball, and soccer are the major sports in the middle and elementary school, with both local and international competitions.  The swimming and track teams are open to students in all three schools.  

If a student is unhappy, having difficulty with friends, experiencing stress in their lives, or struggling with the adjustment to a new city and school, they will not do their best at school. It is normal for all students to deal with the issues at some time in their lives, particularly students who move frequently and live apart from the support of their extended family, as many of ours do. To help students learn how to handle these emotions and transitions, ISD provides professional guidance counselors who help look after our students’ social and emotional well-being. The counselors serve our community through regular classes, working with small groups, meeting individual students, as well as individual conversations with parents and workshops for parents on child development and parenting. They are a resource to the teachers and administrators, helping us better meet the individual needs of our students. In addition to all of the above, the secondary school counselor guides 12th grade students through the challenging and often confusing process of applying to colleges in the US, Canada, UK, France, Belgium, and Asia. Taking care of the student’s social/emotional needs and supporting our parents are high priorities at ISD!

The best schools in the world have strong arts and sports programs. They care for their students and help them develop the social and emotional skills they need to form strong relationships and navigate through difficult times in their lives. Yes, academics are important at ISD!  But our students also need the artistic, physical, social and emotional skills they will gain by being an ISD student, where we strive to educate the whole person.