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Director's Dispatch: Growth at ISD

The International School of Dakar has experienced a 45% growth in enrollment over the past five years, including approximately 100 more students this year. The Board and Administration expanded the number of classroom teachers from two per grade level to three per grade level four years ago in anticipation of this growth. As a result, we could accept almost all of the applicants, although we now have waitlists in several grades. While we have enough classroom teachers, we hired additional French, Pre-K 4, English as Another Language, and Learning Support teachers to ensure we keep these class sizes within expected limits.

This year ISD is striving for excellence in all areas. Academically, we will continue to adopt best practices in the Primary Years and Middle Years Program. We were fortunate to have recruited many experienced IB teachers for the PYP, MYP, and IB Diploma. Only one teacher in our high school will be new to the IB Diploma Program. Our experienced faculty will continue to refine our IB Diploma Program to help our students achieve their potential.

To better serve all students, we have expanded our academic support services in all schools. In elementary school, we have added a special education classroom to support students with moderate specialized learning needs and increased the number of staff to support students learning English as another language. In the Secondary School, we built the Teaching and Learning Center to create a hub where any student can get support.

To complement our exceptional band and music program, we have added two new purpose-built art rooms, including one dedicated to IB Diploma Art Students. Our new elementary music teacher will start a choir program in all schools as an after-school activity. Also, dance has now been added to all physical education classes in secondary school and will be taught by an experienced dance teacher.

The new Performing Arts Center and Athletic Complex will open this academic year with a projected opening will be in late January or early February. There are three main reasons for the delay in construction.

  • These are two very complex buildings. We were overly optimistic in terms of the original projections for completion. The construction of the theater is very different than an apartment or office building, and the roof design of the athletic complex is relatively new for the contractors.

  • There were delays in the delivery of the metal for the roofing and the aluminum frames for the glasswork. The construction team worked on other parts of the building as much as possible, but this could not make up for the lost time.

  • The installation of the lights, sound, and gym equipment will take longer than anticipated. We need to wait until all the construction is completed in the theater before we authorize the shipment of the material as the theater has to be dust-free, so we do not damage the equipment. Specialists from South Africa and the United States will install the equipment when the facility is ready.

Our academic goals for the year are focused on becoming an even better IB World School. The elementary school will fully implement the IB Primary Years Program and better align the curriculum between the grades, so there is no overlap or gaps. We will continue the implementation of the IB Middle Years Program as the teachers adapt their unit plans to be more focused on student inquiry. The teachers and administrators in the IB Diploma Program will be looking at how to improve overall student performance in courses where they have historically not performed as well as we expected.

Outside of the classroom, the Administration is looking at ways to expand our after-school activities programs, including adding mother tongue language classes for students. We are also looking to increase the number of activities we offer and invite parents to share the contact information of people in the community who can provide high-quality activities. Our service programs will continue to give our student's experiences working with and learning from our Senegalese partners.

ISD is in the fifth year of our current strategic plan. The Board and Administration will evaluate the plan this year. Also, the Board will establish a process to review and possibly revise the school’s mission, vision, and core values. Next year, the Board will develop the next strategic plan.

Taken together, it is clear that ISD is on an exciting trajectory toward excellence in all facets of the learning experience. We have an increasingly strong group of educators and support staff that will facilitate the successful intake of many new faces in the classroom. Additionally, the final construction of the PAC and Athletic Complex will allow for continued excellence in the arts, athletics, and other programming on campus. It has never been better to be an ISD Jaguar!

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