ISA Launches New Statement of Community

Our fundamental purpose at the International School of Amsterdam (ISA) is to educate for international understanding. To accomplish this purpose, we aim to create a community of lifelong learners who value inquiry, critical and creative thinking, take informed risks, and act with integrity and compassion.

 We recognize the integral role parents, families, volunteers, and service providers, i.e. our ISA community members, play as partners in the education of our students.

Our community upholds and promotes the ISA mission, vision and beliefs as follows:

1.0 Our Internationally-Focused Community

Unequivocally, ISA fosters a culture whose mission is to educate for international understanding. A hallmark of this culture is that the ISA community maintains an open, culturally-sensitive mindset which develops the inclination and confidence to reach out and learn about  others. By developing deep awareness of oneself and others, within the context of our global community and our environment, the ISA community advocates for global awareness, intercultural understanding, and acceptance of perspective(s) that align with the values of the school.

Our community is committed to preparing students for the future they choose, by empowering students to own and explore their learning and develop their  minds, character, and sense of community.

Our community promotes a responsible use of technology to support learning and develops an awareness of the legacy of a digital footprint.

Each ISA community member is an ambassador representing our school, both on and off campus, and a positive force for the growth and development of our internationally-minded Community.

1.1 Our Internationally-minded Administration, Faculty, Staff

Our administrators, faculty and staff (and any approved volunteer, student teacher, and/or service provider) of the ISA community are responsible for the welfare and growth of students. They positively and earnestly participate in school life, both within and outside of school, and positively enhance and safeguard ISA’s reputation throughout our ISA community, the Amsterdam region, the Netherlands, Europe, and the world at large.

Our administrators, faculty and staff are positive and constructive contributing team members that cultivate the dispositions of the learner profile in all they undertake, seeking to fully embody and model the characteristics of an internationally-minded, responsible global citizen.

1.2 Our Internationally-minded Parents

The parents of the ISA community are responsible for partnering with the administration, faculty, and administrative staff of the school to promote the welfare and growth of their children and others. They positively and earnestly  participate in school life, both within and outside of schools, and positively enhance and safeguard ISA’s reputation throughout our ISA community, the Amsterdam region, the Netherlands, Europe, and the world at large.

Our parents are positive and constructive contributing members of the Community that cultivate the dispositions of the learner profile in all they undertake, seeking to fully embody and model the characteristics of an internationally-minded, responsible global citizen.

1.3 Responsible Choices in a Internationally-minded Community

ISA is committed to providing a safe environment for all community members. This includes ensuring that our school remains a drug-free campus.Therefore, while endeavouring to provide information to students about the risks associated with drug use/abuse, the school requires that all students and their parent(s)/guardian(s) recognise that ISA does not tolerate the sending, possession, use or distribution of drugs (defined as any narcotic, stimulant, depressant or hallucinogen taken in any manner, except as prescribed by a physician) on the school campus or any location where a school event is held. The administrators, faculty, staff, volunteers, service providers, and parents of the ISA community are responsible for their use of legal substances (drug, alcohol, other) particularly when on campus and at school functions. ISA has a zero-tolerance of illegal substance use (drug, alcohol, other) on its campus and on school-organised trips and sponsored events.

Any infractions will result in immediate disciplinary action, which may include referrals for treatment and/or removal from all aspects of ISA life (school and community), as well as potential legal prosecution in accordance with the laws of the Netherlands.

Responsible choices should also be reflected within interpersonal relationships by acting with respect and showing integrity in all forms of communication, whether in person or online.  

2.0 Developing Character in Our Community

The ISA community is inclusive and demonstrates an appreciation of common humanity and a commitment to care for and collaborate with others. As such, each member of the ISA community promotes inclusiveness, respect, and dignity, and continuously nurtures integrity and compassion.

Further, each member of the ISA community focuses on continuously cultivating and supporting strong character growth, social and emotional wellness, and personal happiness.

Every decision that the school undertakes is driven by principles of equity with a collective heart for, and focus on, students.

The ISA community expects positive participation from each of its members, and it is our expressed desire and goal to have all members engaged in the life of the school, be it by volunteering, providing feedback, attending meetings and events, sharing unique and individual expertise, and/or additional action(s) that promote involvement and support our mission, vision and beliefs.

As a condition of joining the ISA community, each member (administrators, faculty, staff, volunteers, service providers, parents and students) has agreed to emulate and personify the school beliefs that serve as the foundation for all ISA individual and group relationships. These beliefs ensure a learning environment where all students can develop their minds through engaging in inquiry and reflection, expanding critical and creative thinking, and nurturing curiosity and open-mindedness.  

2.1 Personal Conduct to support Character Development in our Community

Each individual (administrators, faculty, staff, volunteers, service providers, parents and students alike) is a role model to others in the ISA community. In their interactions with others (face-to-face, electronically, in small and/or large groups) they demonstrate integrity and honesty, along with empathy, compassion, and respect. Each individual is expected to refrain from negativity, and rumor spreading. There is no place for aggressive, discriminatory, accusatory, and/or threatening behavior of any kind.

Each Board member, Administrator, Faculty and Staff member, Volunteer, and Service Provider agrees to uphold the highest degree of personal conduct, in line with conduct standards, rules, and regulations set forth by school policies and procedures, and the laws of The Netherlands.

Additionally, each student and parent member of the ISA community agrees to abide by those same standards as an ongoing condition of the student’s enrollment at ISA and parents’ participation as an ISA community member. Any student or parent not conducting him/herself in alignment with the ISA values, standards of behavior, and principles underlying the school and ISA community at large at all times could be directed to the School Director for warning, disciplinary action, and /or removal from the school and the ISA community. Any volunteer, student teacher, or service provider is bound by these same agreements.

2.2 Child Protection in Our Community

The school recognizes its duty to provide the utmost of protection of its most valuable and vulnerable asset, its students. Hence, immediate action will be taken should any student whose welfare (both physical and emotional) is in any way threatened or adversely impacted by the conduct of those responsible for their care and protection (including parents, relatives, guardians, volunteers, service providers, or other adults in the student’s immediate environment).

Each ISA administrator, faculty, volunteer, student teacher, service provider, and staff member is duty-bound to report any incident of suspected child abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional) or neglect, to a member of the school’s Child Protection Committee, or failing that to his or her immediate supervisor, without hesitation. If/when deemed appropriate, a representative from the Child Protection Committee will contact local authorities. They will each also sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement on an annual basis which prohibits any disclosure of sensitive information about a case or student.

2.3 Harassment in Our Community

The school will foster and promote a safe environment for students and adults alike that is free from any forms of harassment. Harassment including, but not limited to, religious beliefs, racial or ethnic background, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ageism, economic status, neurological and physical diversities will not be tolerated. The School prohibits harassment, violence, bullying or cyberbullying against any member of the ISA Community (administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students).

ISA has a rigorous zero-tolerance policy for, and will immediately investigate any reported or witnessed events of harassment, violence, or bullying. This extends to all students, parents, and employees of the ISA community.

Any violation of the ISA ethos will be met with formal disciplinary action, up to, and including removal from the school. ISA will clearly communicate and broadcast related policies to administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students through all formal website channels and portals, and guarantee that students are taught the relevant contents. Legal avenues will also be pursued if the violation rises to the level of explicit law violation.

3.0 Communication in Our Community

Effective communication forms the foundation for developing and maintaining effective partnerships. In order to maintain a connected, and positive ISA community, it is the school’s responsibility to provide frequent and timely communication that is of the highest significance, integrity, relevance, and transparency.

This applies to communication from the Board of Trustees, through the School Director, and/or communication from schoolwide and divisional leaders.

The school implements a number of communication channels that promote safe, respectful, and productive communication. Sometimes communication channels are two-way, in order for our member audiences to absorb and respond to messages, and sometimes one-way as appropriate.

Being a member of the ISA community demands positive collaboration and communication. The overall ethos of positive assumption, mutual respect, and openness is paramount. Each individual member of the ISA community commits to utilizing the school’s defined communication systems, communication standards, and communication channels to provide feedback or input in a manner that is courteous and constructive.

3.1 Our Community of Strong Connections

As with any school, and particularly in an international setting as diverse as Amsterdam, the ISA community is much stronger when it has members unified in diversity contributing to the growth and prosperity of the school.

Though many international schools have strong communities, we truly view the unified, diverse and vibrant school spirit at ISA as unique and one of the school’s strongest assets.

Each member of the ISA community brings a unique perspective as an individual, and we celebrate and embrace the diversity of all members. Each member actively knows, values, and advocates for one another. Individual members are expected to place connections and relationships at the heart of the school, and are called upon to provide their unique skillset, capabilities, and/or connections to positively enhance the standing and strength of the school. We welcome all opportunities to constructively engage with other ISA community members, in pursuit of strong relationships within local, national, and global communities.

 

The Xtreme Librarian and The Chicken Whisperer visit ISA for Book Week 2019!

This week, ISA was lucky enough to be visited by ‘The Xtreme Librarian’ and ‘The Chicken Whisperer’, aka book ambassador John Schu and children’s author Sam Copeland, as part of our highly-anticipated Book Week 2019. This annual celebration of all things book-related, much loved by students and staff members alike, is designed to nurture a love of reading in students that will stick with them for life.

Our wonderful librarians organised a host of activities for students throughout the week, including quizzes and challenges, while tents are set up in the library to give students a quiet space to enjoy their current read. Each morning, a Mystery Reader read to students in the Lower School Library, with over 25 staff members volunteering this year, including ISA Director Dr. Bernadette Carmody.

Schu is a blogger and the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. Library Journal named Schu ‘The Xtreme Librarian’ for the high level of exertion he uses to get students reading! At ISA, Schu presented to students in grades PK-7 throughout the week, held a Librarians’ Workshop after-school and an All-Faculty Book Week Breakfast Workshop. 

Copeland, a literary agent, children’s author and self-professed ‘Chicken Whisperer’ met with our Lower School students to talk about his new chapter book series, Charlie Changes into a Chicken and the sequel Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex.

“Communication Through Art” – Local Artist Visits Lower School

Recently, Kindergarten students have been working on the “Communication Through Art” unit. As part of the unit, they visited the Van Gogh Museum to get inspiration.

On Wednesday, 7 February, local Amstelveen artist Anne Leegstra visited the Lower School to give the students a taste of a real artist’s work. Anne set up a canvas in the centre of the classrooms, which the students gathered around to watch and ask questions as Anne breathed life into his artwork.

Anne Leegstra using sponges on his canvas. Credit: Cathie Ellis

Using sponges and a pallet knife, Anne created a painting using bold colours. The students have also been using these same tools and materials to create their own artwork. Seeing them used in action by a real artist was a wonderful experience for them.

For teacher Cathie Ellis, it was valuable for the students to meet a real, living artist, to add to the students view of art and the artist’s work as a process which compliments wonderfully the artwork they saw hanging in the Van Gogh museum. Cathie believed that the students gained a deeper understanding of the process of creating a piece of art, by seeing the artwork not as instantaneous but as something that is added to over time.

As a culmination of the unit, Kindergarten students will hold a week-long Art Gallery exhibiting their work in the ISA foyer, starting on 12 December.

 

Written by Megan Amelia

Hispanic Community Fundraising

Following the earthquake in Mexico in September, ISA’s Hispanic community came together to raise funds to help those affected by the disaster.

A key aspect of the fundraising efforts was the Hispanic Community Solidarity Breakfast held on November 1st. The breakfast was kindly supported by the Mexican embassy, who loaned the decorations and sent their representative, Mr Jorge Delgado Sumano, to speak at the event. The breakfast was a great success, selling over 220 tickets and attracting a large crowd.

The Hispanic Community Solidarity Breakfast. Credit: Olga Bolhuis.

Both the Upper School and the Lower School held bake sales to raise funds. Staff, parents and students across the school worked tremendously hard to make these sales a success. The Upper School bake sale alone raised €548.35, a fantastic achievement that the students can be proud of.

As a result of the combined efforts of the solidarity breakfast, the upper and lower school bake sales and personal donations, the Hispanic community raised a fantastic total of €3834.65.

The funds will go directly to UNICEF Mexico, an organisation who specialise in relief efforts for children and families in the hardest hit regions of disaster, providing them with life-saving resources. This is a fantastic example of how our ISA community can come together to do something truly amazing.

Some of the ISA community. Credit: Olga Bolhuis.

 

Written by Megan Amelia

Exploring the Value of Intergenerational Connections

Connecting with people from different generations is important for developing compassion, respect and empathy in a child, all of which are key beliefs of the International School of Amsterdam. Exploring and developing these intergenerational relationships is vital to the growth of children as it provides opportunities for empathy and guidance, while fostering respect between people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures. In developing the leaders of tomorrow, the real wisdoms and life experiences of older people is an invaluable tool for teaching students values such as integrity, compassion and reflection.

At ISA students are provided with many opportunities to engage with elderly community members in the Amsterdam region, ultimately resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship of understanding, friendship and admiration.

De Luwte and Middenhoven

These intergenerational connections were on show recently when residents from local care homes, De Luwte and Middenhoven, visited the school to watch, and take part in, the bi-annual ISA music concert, organised by Middle School Music teacher, Judy O’Callaghan.

The presentation featured solo performances from students on the piano, violin and guitar as well as a group ‘tin-whistle’ performance from the Grade 6 music class. The songs ranged from traditional Irish compositions to newer popular songs including When We Were Young by Adele, performed by student Cezere on the piano.

“Through the preparation and then the performance the students are learning really important skills about collaboration, being respectful and working together. Skills such as thinking, social, communication, self-management and research are encouraged and developed through the music programme,” O’Callaghan commented.

The audience was also treated to a special performance from the popular Dutch accordion group TAVENU who performed a range of traditional Dutch songs. O’Callaghan herself was a former member of group, having participated and performed with them at a number of events.

O’Callaghan believes the bi-annual event was a great example of everyone working together really well for the benefit of others. “We want the students to leave having experienced what is to share their time, energy and skills. The students grow together through the semester and they are intimately involved in each part of the presentation – including the event program design, and the preparation and serving of the afternoon tea.”

These relationships are mutually beneficial too – the developing minds of children are open and willing to learn, and their optimism was reflected in the smiles of the senior community during the performance.

Community building

ISA students have also previously connected with local senior community groups through the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) part of the International Baccalaureate Curriculum. Recently, students participated in the Global Issues Network conference in March this year to present projects that connected them to the local community and overcome linguistic barriers. One of the projects included a visit to the local elderly centre, Klaasje Zevenster, where students used art as a tool to connect and integrate with the local Dutch-speaking community.

Another CAS project, ‘The Buddy Project’ will also be hosting a community event at the end of the school year, inviting refugees and the elderly community for a day of fun and activities in Amsterdam Bos. CAS Coordinator Vlad Gogelescu remarked on the positive experiences gained through students interacting with the elderly community.

“I feel that our students have a lot to learn from these experiences, firstly by understanding challenges faced by others and interpreting events from a different perspective, but also by developing and practicing their inter-relational skills with people who have very different backgrounds and cultural expectations.”

The Netherlands is considered a leader in developing innovative ways to connect younger and older generations which includes local initiatives such as the providing accommodation for university students in elderly living facilities to develop lasting relationships between young and older people.

The project, which is currently being undertaken in Deventer, has received worldwide attention for its innovative solutions to the challenges of housing, social isolation and intergenerational connections. Currently, there are six students in accommodation at the facility who are required to offer 30 hours of time to being ‘a good neighbour’ and connecting with the elderly community, in exchange for no cost accommodation. Research has shown that reducing loneliness and social isolation amongst older populations improves wellbeing, which this initiative aims to address.

The initiative also gives young people a greater sense of compassion and connection with older people and build valuable volunteering skills that are continued well after their studies. Providing similar opportunities for volunteering and connection with local elderly care centres in Amstelveen and Amsterdam is key to ensuring that students at ISA develop important life skills including compassion and empathy as well as valuable volunteering experiences that will help them in their careers after school.

Congolese refugee shares story of risk and perseverance with ISA students

Grade 3 students and Upper School French-language students were given an insight into the first-hand experiences of an asylum seeker when Justin, a Congolese refugee, visited ISAthe school to share his story.

Brett Preiss, ISA Lower School English as an Additional Language teacher, invited Justin to come and speak with his grade 3 students as part of their recent unit of inquiry, Believe it or Not. The unit explores students’ understanding of beliefs and belief systems and challenges them to see how this affects their own lives and the broader world in which they live.  

“We wanted to invite Justin to share his experiences and how his similar or different his beliefs and values are to those of the children.” noted Preiss.

Justin left the Republic of the Congo five years ago, and arrived in the Netherlands without a home, his family, or any local knowledge of the Dutch culture or language. In the years that followed, he was able to teach himself English and Dutch, and took advantage of social opportunities opportunities to integrate himself in the community, including joining acting classes where he met  that are also attended by Preiss.

Applying the PYP to Real Life

The PYP curriculum has a strong focus on the 10 IB Learner Profile Attributes—inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. Preiss chose to use these attributes as a tool for guiding the discussion with his young students.

We focused on the IB Learner Profile attributes and asked Justin to share how he has been a risk-taker by leaving his family and country, and moving to a totally new land.” explained Preiss.

Being an international school, this concept of relocation was familiar to the students. However, the circumstances in which Justin had to move gave them new insight into how his journey to Holland differed from theirs and allowed them to reflect on the plight of refugees and the sacrifices they must make to start life over again in a new home.

“Justin also emphasised another attribute by discussing how caring he wants to be by improving himself and his life so that he could one day be in a position to care for his family back in the Republic of the Congo.”

To that end, the school also connected Justin with the ISA IT team, after learning of his interest in video editing and development. He was shown some of the latest editing tools and software used in an ISA student’s daily life to guide him on the technologies that are shaping the future.

Preiss hopes that Justin’s connection with both his students and the Upper School French classes made a lasting impression and that both he and ISA can continue to help Justin and other refugees to get their stories out there to discover new connections in the Netherlands as they build their lives.

Justin also showed a keen interest in video editing and development, so during his visit to ISA, he was able to connect with one of the IT Station staff who showed him some of the editing tools and software used at the school.

Mr Preiss said that he invited Justin to present to students in Grade 3 who have been learning about different beliefs through a unit of inquiry called, ‘Believe It or Not’.

“We wanted to invite Justin to share his experiences and how his similar or different his beliefs and values are to the children. We also focus on the Learner Profile attributes and we wanted Justin to share how he has been a risk-taker by leaving his family and country, and moving to a totally new land. Justin also emphasised how caring he wants to be by improving himself and his life so that he could one day be in a position to care for his family back in the Republic of the Congo.”

Students and staff all relished the opportunity to listen to and learn something new from Justin, and while his story was at times challenging and confronting, there was opportunity to be inspired by his incredible story of perseverance through adversity.

“For Justin, this visit was a really memorable and rewarding experience, because he truly believes his story should be shared and that by doing so he is able to help our students and others appreciate what they have” noted Preiss.

“He wants to inspire others to help each other and I think he has done that. I know I’ve been inspired by the fact that he has been able to remain true to himself and his beliefs and values, despite having everything taken away from him. He’s overcome obstacles  and really taught the children that once you achieve something you really should give back to help make things better in this world.”