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.”


Kindergarten students transform ISA into a modern art gallery

Art serves as a bridge across cultures—communicating the emotions, experiences and perspectives of the artists to the world around them. At ISA, the arts play an integral part in the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programmes, allowing students of all ages to creatively share their own views through various media.

Each year ISA’s Kindergarten students, under the guidance of Lower School Visual Arts teacher Frankie Rees, explore how art can be used to as a form of communication through the study of Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh. Working with their homeroom teachers and in their dedicated art classes, the students create individual art pieces, inspired by Van Gogh, that reflect the learnings in the unit of inquiry (Find out from Frankie what this was).

Gaining inspiration from class discussions and a field trip to the world-renowned Van Gogh Museum, the student extended (name of Unit) to artworks which they displayed for the entire ISA community in a full-scale art gallery set up in the school’s main foyer in March.

Rees was more than impressed. “The Kindergarten artists were able to explore their creative process with all of the students produced a very special painting, on canvas, using acrylic paint and gel medium.”

“They learned how to use palette knives to add shape and texture to their flower forms and experimented with colour mixing and value. To see their own work exhibited in the school foyer was so exciting for the children and their families.”

Parents, staff and students who attended the gallery throughout the week were all extremely impressed by the range of artworks.

“It was really wonderful to see how the kindergarteners have taken such pride in their work and exhibiting each students work showcases  how each of them have grown throughout the process.” noted Rika Maja Duevel, ISA Upper School Visual Arts teacher.

“As a teacher who has taught both kindergarten visual arts in the Primary Years Programme and the Diploma Visual Art programme I have seen just how important the exhibition component is to students. In the final year of the Diploma Programme students are both showcasing their work and also curating their shows. Building links between museum visits, artists, and creating is an invaluable experience for any age and I’m happy our kindergarteners.”

ISA Beach Cleanup a Real Success

via The Lower School News Blog

The ISA Green Team organised a beach clean-up for the first time on Saturday. A group of students, parents and staff participated, bringing together people from across our school. We’d been warned to dress up warm after a windy week and were fully prepared to brace ourselves against the cold.  But we were pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous weather that awaited us on the beach at Zandvoort.  We found a wide variety of objects including a diaper, bottle tops, cans, cartons, plastic bags, straws, socks, string, styrofoam, pieces of glass, buckets, string, an old body-board, a tyre and even a curtain!  

We also visited the Jutters Museum further along the beach which houses a fascinating collection of an even wider range of objects than we’d collected such as pacifiers, slippers, buoys and boat signs. The museum also houses displays of local natural history and creatures from the sea.  

A Spring event will be organised as well. Keep an eye out for more information after the Crocus break.

PTA Festivals of Light

In the lead up to the darkest time of the year, the annual PTA Festivals of Light event took place on 17 November, with parents from our Israeli, Indian, Dutch, Spanish and Italian communities presenting information about their cultural events which celebrate light.

An annual favourite, this event was open to the ISA community as a whole and a number of Lower School classes had scheduled visits to learn more about the different celebrations, which will be especially meaningful for those grades who were  studying ‘Celebrations’ and ‘World Religions’.

As an international community of learners, understanding the meaning behind the celebrations of our friends and families allows us to remain true to our mission to educate for international education.

Introduction to the PYP – Workshop for Parents

The parent workshop ‘Introduction to the Primary Years Programme (PYP)’ was held for Lower School parents on 8 November. The half-day event gave parents who are new to the ISA PYP programme insight into the structure of the curriculum, the various methodologies employed by teachers and the overall holistic approach to learning that the programme provides.  With presentations and hand-on activities, therapists were able to experience how the ISA approach to the IB PYP works and were able to have any lingering questions answered from the heads of the programme.

This programme is held annually and offers the opportunity for translation services in Korean, Japanese or other languages as needed to help ensure that all parents gain a deeper understanding of the PYP.

Parent Information Session on Dutch Traditions and Celebrations

Who is Sint Maarten? What are olliebollen? Why do children leave out a shoe for Sinterklaas? These questions and many more were answered at the Lower School parent information session on “Dutch traditions and celebrations” in November.

Geared towards families new to the Netherlands, the session allowed newcomers to learn more about some of the most important Dutch festival s and traditions that they may wish to take part in while making Holland there home. Additionally parent had the opportunity to find out more about which celebrations are observed at ISA, how the school chooses to participate and how Dutch families at the school celebrate these occasions at home.

World Water Day

Every year the ISA Lower School Student Council organises a fundraising campaign to support East African Care in Kenya to improve access to clean water in their own communities. This can range from providing new wells to building latrines for schools and village communities.

ISA Lower School students collect Euro coins in a reusable bottles over a week. They place a coin in the bottle each time water is used in their home,  helping to raise awareness within their family regarding how lucky they are to have easy access to clean water in the Netherlands.

Last year the students raised over 2700 euros to support access to clean water in Kenya and hope to collect more this year.


Lower School EAL Parent Sessions

On August 31, ISA hosted parent sessions covering the ISA English as an Additional Language programme.

The programme, while open for all parents, was geared towards parents of children who are still acquiring English as an additional language. The sessions were also provided in English, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Russian.

A sincere thank you to all parent volunteers who helped to bring this programme to our community

Early Childhood School Start Date Information

School starts for all ISA students on 20 August 2015.  We would like to remind parents of returning ISA students in Early Childhood and Kindergarten that their children will only attend half-days for the first five days of the new school year. Full-time attendance for these returning students will begin on 27 August.

New children starting in the Nursery programme will have a differently scheduled school starting date.  Nursery families should check their email for more information on the starting date schedule.