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Director's Dispatch: Director's Coffee Summary

Last week, 49 parents attended the second Director’s Coffee of the year. Below was agenda for the session.

  • Board of Trustees

  • Educational Progress

  • New and Expanded Programs for 2019-2018

  • Construction Update

  • Diamniadio

  • Questions

Board of Trustees

The coffee started with a video from the Board of Trustees explaining why they like serving on the Board. Thiaba Camara Sy, the Board Treasurer, then shared more information about the Board of Trustees.  The Board is governing body of ISD. It is comprised of nine members, who are elected by the parents and the teachers.  The Board focuses on strategic issues working closely with the ISD Administration to further the mission and vision of the school. The Trustees must be a parent or legal guardian of a current ISD student and serve a two-year term. There will be at least four positions up for election this year.  An email will be sent soon to all parents providing more information on how to run for a seat on the Board.

Educational Progress

Our academic programs have made significant progress in a number of areas.  The International Baccalaureate Organization recently approved our IB Diploma Five-Year Accreditation report with no significant issues of concern.  This is a significant achievement for the program that just started six years ago. They did provide a list of commendations and some areas for us to continue to address.

We are six months into a two and a half year implementation of the IB Middle Years Program. All the teachers have been trained in the basics of the program and we have made a number of initial changes including the new assessment and reporting system.

Our IB Primary Years Authorization Visit is in two weeks. The visitors will visit classrooms, meet with students, teachers, parents, administrators, and Trustees. We are optimistic we will receive our authorization. We will formally hear back by the summer.  Receiving authorization means the school has made significant progress towards offering the program, while the full transition from an American curriculum to the International Baccalaureate can take up to five to seven years.

New and Expanded Programs

Next year, we will have a number of new and expanded programs. Based on parent feedback, we will now offer Spanish in the middle school and middle and high school students will be allowed to take French and Spanish if they want. We will be adding the IB MYP Design Technology course where students will be able to ponder problems, develop solutions, create prototypes, and test their theories. Given the increased enrollment in grades 11 and 12, we have added a College Admission Counselor to collaborate our High School Counselor. We anticipate having over 100 students in grades 11 and 12. To provide the students and their parents with more personalized attention, it was important we add staff so each counselor has around 25 senior students to advise.

We have filled all of our current vacancies for the 2019-2020 school year. Our preferred qualifications are five or more years of teaching experience, a graduate degree, and experience working internationally.  This year, 88% of our new hires have all three qualifications as compared to 54% last year.  In addition, 72% of our new hires have experience in IB Programs. Last year, 38% of the new hires had IB experience before coming to ISD.

Construction Update

The Performing Arts Center and Athletic Complex are largely on schedule. The company anticipates being done in April. Then, our technical contractors will install light, sound, and acoustic equipment.

Diamniadio Town Hall

Many parents have asked if ISD will open a campus in Diamniadio sometime in the future. The Administration and the Board have been gathering information about the project and our options.  As part of our information gathering process, the Board will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting for all interested parents on Saturday, April 13 from 10:00 am to 12 noon. Childcare will be provided free of charge.  The Board would like to hear from parents about whether we should open a second campus and what the parents know about the project.

Parent Questions

Parents were then invited to ask questions. Below are some of the questions that were asked and the answers.

Q:  Meetings and communications, in general, are all in English which makes it hard for French parents to fully comprehend. Can an effort be made toward more communication in French?

A: This concern has been raised by a number of parents. We will continue to do as much translation as possible. The Town Hall meeting will be conducted in English and French. We will continue to look at ways to provide more information in French.

Q: The rate of replenishment of books in the library seems insufficient as some students seem to not be able to find newer releases. Can this be improved?  Can access be provided to digital books for those that are not available in hard copy?

A:  The school spends $20,000 annually on new books for students. We will continue to look for other digital resources, but sometimes our options are limited due to copyright issues outside the United States.

Q:  Can we have college fairs for our graduating students and parents so they can have access to a wider range of available universities and colleges?

A:  Some colleges send representatives to Dakar and we will host informational sessions at school. Only a limited number of colleges come to Senegal. Our new College Admission Counselor will be asked to see if there are other ways to connect colleges to our families.

Q:  As we improve our Special Ed program, what steps are being taken for the Enrichment program?

A:  We are incorporating enrichment into our transition into the PYP. The curriculum will allow for highly capable students to direct more of their own learning Our PYP Coordinator has been working with a number of these students this year.

Q:  As we are an IB school, for those families moving on, can we give them support in terms of other IB schools in the cities where they would be moving to?

A:  There are a couple of resources to help parents find schools of similar quality to ISD.  Parents can find information about other IB schools through this link. Schools that have Council of International Schools accreditation can be found here.  I am always happy to meet with parents to share what I know about international schools around the world.

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