ISA Connections Issue 12

Page 1

Connections The International School of Amsterdam Magazine

Our Mission To educate for international understanding.

Our Vision To create a community of lifelong learners who value inquiry, critical and creative thinking, take informed risks, and act with integrity and compassion.

Our Beliefs At ISA, we believe in developing minds, character and communities.



Director’s Welcome After a couple of years hiatus, we are excited to release our first magazine for the 2021-2022 school year.


ISA and Accreditation With over two years of concerted efforts across the whole school community, ISA received two positive accreditation reports.


Strategic Plan Read details about ISA’s new Strategic Plan, a collaboration that will ensure that ISA remains a leader in international education.


Looking Out, Looking In: A Digital Gallery Channelling their creativity, members of the ISA community came together to explore their experiences during the pandemic.

16 18 20 22

Equity and Inclusion in STEM - Dr. Samaya Nissanke Samaya Nissanke, astrophysicist, theoretical physicist, ISA parent and Board Trustee, was honoured as a 2021 Suffragette Scientist. ISA and IB - Stronger Together In August 2019, ISA celebrated 40 years of being an IB school – a milestone we treasure. Class of 2021 - IB Results and Graduation Congratulations to the Class of 2021 on their excellent IB results. ISA’s First Maker Faire 2020 brought ISA’s first Maker Faire. The ‘Maker’ movement is a global movement that celebrates creativity and innovation.


Professional Development in 2020-2021 ISA’s CDLT took its first foray into the world of online professional development workshops.


Child Safeguarding – Everyone’s Business Child safeguarding includes everything we do to provide a safe, caring environment for children at ISA.


ISA Wins the E-Waste Race! After 5 years of participation in the Amstelveen E-Waste Race, ISA won the competition for the first time this year.

30 32 1

Outdoor Learning at ISA Outdoor experiences have always been woven into the fabric of learning at ISA and are a part of the daily routine for Lower School students. 2 year Highlights Catch up on events that happened in previous school years, and learn more about new programmes that began this year.

Director’s Welcome Welcome to the International School of Amsterdam’s Connections magazine. After a couple of years hiatus, I am so thrilled to release our first magazine for the 2021-2022 school year. Our last issue was released in 2019 and to say so much has happened since then would truly be an understatement. This is the first time that I am writing a welcome message for this magazine, and I am happy to have this opportunity to celebrate our community and provide highlights on what has been happening at ISA over the past two school years. I am so proud that we have been able to continue with grace and dignity during these difficult times and that we were able to provide some consistency for the people that matter to us most, our students. We have successfully guided our students, from Nursery to Grade 12, through an especially difficult and bewildering period for young people. Our shared purpose of facilitating student learning fueled our dedication and allowed us to always remain open and flexible.


There is no doubt that these last years were an incredibly challenging time for all of us, but the dedication that our entire ISA community has shown is remarkable. Students, parents, faculty and staff have had to adjust to going in and out of distance learning multiple times and navigate the many challenges of learning from home, all while keeping up with the next iteration of the various rules and regulations that guided our reality. Even while expending additional energy on distance and hybrid learning, our faculty and staff continued to make ongoing efforts to achieve the annual goals of our strategic plan, strengthen and refine programme offerings, and create new programme opportunities. I commend our faculty and staff’s perseverance and commitment to ISA’s mission, “to educate for international understanding.”

At ISA, we believe in developing minds, character and community. These beliefs will help guide us as we achieve the goals in our strategic plan; and in doing so provide the very best education we can for ISA students. Over the past couple of years, our

focus has been on strengthening our community and remaining connected during the pandemic while some of us were unable to be physically present on campus. We will continue to focus on building connections within our community this school year, but now is a good opportunity to turn towards also focusing on character. To this end, throughout the school year we will highlight how our students choose to act with respect and compassion, take on new challenges with confidence and creativity, and maintain balanced lives.

In this magazine, along with the summary of all the community events and happenings over the last couple of years at ISA I trust you’ll find of much interest, there are details of our strategic plan, which was created after the accreditation renewal process that was completed in 2020. Our strategic plan includes information on our goals for the next five years. We also celebrate the 40 year anniversary of ISA’s continued collaboration with the International Baccalaureate, “catch up” on some events that happened in past school years, and highlight some new programmes that are happening this year. I hope that you enjoy this issue and our return to Connections.

Dr. Bernadette P. Carmody Director 3

The International Baccalaureate (The IB) is an international education foundation dedicated to creating a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. 4

ISA and the Accreditation Process From humble beginnings of just a single student on opening day in 1964, ISA has become a globally recognised leader in international education and one of the most influential International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in the world. ISA has the longest history with IB programmes of any school in the Netherlands, being the first school authorised to offer the Diploma Programme in 1979. In 1992, ISA became the first school in the Netherlands authorised to offer the Middle Years Programme and, subsequently in 1997, the first in the world authorised to offer the Primary Years Programme. ISA’s graduating classes consistently exceed global averages in terms of their IB Diploma academic results, and withdrawal surveys completed by departing families return highly positive feedback about their experiences at the school. ISA is a long-established and highly reputable independent school which, along with its proud history with the IB, has been jointly-accredited since 1983 by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS). This short history lesson isn’t just an exercise in selfflattery. Rather, it is the setting of a scene. It takes us to the beginning of the year 2020, when over two years of concerted efforts across the whole school community culminated in the reception of the latest two positive re-accreditation reports from NEASC and CIS, and a successful evaluation by the IB. Evaluation and accreditation by these organisations takes place every 5 years, and takes hundreds of hours of reporting, reflection, hosting of teams of experts, and logistical coordination. Accreditation processes are rigorous, and are considered major milestones for completion at international schools all across the world. ISA handles accreditation periods with serious commitment and diligence. But, taking into account ISA’s long-standing experience in the realm of international education, and the strong reputation that the school has amongst educators and the international schooling community, does the end product of accreditation justify the means? International schools

are wedded to processes of external evaluation, but from the outside one could be forgiven for wondering about where the value from the months of output lies for a school as established as ISA, a school that has been meeting its accreditation agencies’ standards for nearly 40 years. Is the intensive process of accreditation and re-accreditation in international schools just a repeating formality - continuously reassuring universities, governments and other external parties of the calibre of the learning experiences being provided to students - or is there gold to be found in the pages of these reports that are years in the making? Let’s take closer look at how accreditation can be more than meets the eye.

How Does it Work? ISA from 2018 to 2020 Preparations The accreditation process for NEASC and CIS begins with the submission of a preparatory report by the subject school, to give an outline of the school, its structure and current state. The production of ISA’s latest preparatory reports began way back in January 2018. ISA then hosted a preparatory visit by representatives from both NEASC and CIS. This occurred over three days in April 2018, and involved meetings with many different departments, staff members and students. The preparatory visit, combined with the initial report, is an opportunity for members of the accreditation organisations to see schools in action, and begin to understand for the first time how the NEASC ACE Learning Principles and the CIS domains are being met (or not). Although quite a lot of work had been completed at ISA by this stage, it was still only the beginning of the latest accreditation journey. The next big step in the process was the self-study period.


Self-Study The self-study period is generally considered to be the most important part of any school’s accreditation process. It is, as the name suggests, a time for self-reflection across the entire organisation, from administrative and teaching staff through to school directors and board trustees. ISA is a large and complex educational ecosystem, and to organise our self-study period adequately, and to address each of the areas of school performance monitored by NEASC, CIS and the IB, staff and some student and parent representatives were divided into 46 different committees at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. From November 2018 through to March 2019, these 46 committees met a minimum of six times each, including two full days. The committees focussed on areas of ISA’s performance across a range of topics, including culture and community, organisation and leadership, student welfare and wellbeing, and curriculum performance across all subject areas. To collate the huge amount of work and deliberation that was completed by each committee, an intra school website was developed, and a total of nearly 300 pages of reports on this work were delivered to CIS, NEASC and the IB. The three self-study reports were submitted in July 2019, just over 18 months after the accreditation process first began at ISA. Team Visits After schools complete their self-study period and reflect upon their submitted reports, teams from the evaluating agencies return for a second visit to meet with staff, sit in on classes, meet with parent and student groups, and share their feedback with the school leadership and wider community. Visitors from NEASC also shadow students for a day in order to learn more about the daily student experience. The team of visitors do not attempt to give feedback or performance reviews on individual teachers or staff members, but rather aim to give objective feedback on the conclusions they received in the self-study reports and the overall learning experience at the school. As ISA is accredited by two agencies and also evaluated by the IB, the visits are synchronised for the three delegations to arrive together. This saves some time, in that all three team visits for this accreditation cycle happened between October 12 and October 18 2019, but does also mean that organising the visitors’ schedules for the week is quite an undertaking!


Final Accreditation Reports The last step in each accreditation process is when the school under review receives their final report from the accreditation agencies. Each agency evaluates the self study reports, taking into account experiences on the ground from the team visits. For example, as part of the self-study process, ISA staff considered for the CIS report how well ‘the Guiding Statements [mission statement] endorse the school’s commitment to developing intercultural learning’, and provided a narrative statement with evidence to support their belief that this standard was ‘Met’ by ISA. In their final report, subsequent to their visit, the accreditation team found that the school was objectively moving beyond the expectations of a CIS school in this area, and rated ISA as ‘Exceeding’ this standard.

ISA received the three final reports in December 2019 and January 2020. Some extracts from the reports: ‘Through this report the IB would like to acknowledge the considerable development that has taken place by the school as a whole and by each individual programme since the last evaluation. The International School of Amsterdam is an outstanding IB World School, implementing and developing the continuum of an IB education with a high degree of fidelity, integrity and sustainability.’ IB report, January 2020

‘Building upon many mission-driven initiatives, the school continues to take impressive steps to ensure a culture of care exists and supports students learning, creating a palpable, positive atmosphere across the school community’ CIS report, December 2019

‘It is clear to the Visitors that all in the ISA community are extremely proud of their school, and right so. A very palpable culture of care and empathy emanates throughout the ISA campus and from all those who learn there. The diverse range of nationalities represented in the ISA community reflects the characteristics of a true international school. There is a respect for this diversity which has created a school community built on trust and positive relationships… ISA is well poised to take the next step in their journey by prioritising and narrowing the focus of their efforts’

that some of the greatest value in the process lies in this opportunity to embrace growth. When ISA’s school leadership receives the final accreditation and authorisation reports, a period of further self-reflection and self-appraisal begins. Reviewing the final reports in conjunction with the self-study documents helps highlight areas for improvement, and also gives pause for appreciation of the areas the school is noted as excelling in. Sarah Grace, ISA’s Associate Director for Teaching and Learning, and spearhead of the school’s accreditation efforts, notes: ‘I have found over the years that as we engage deeply in the self-study process and take time to reflect deeply on our own practice, that there are rarely aspects of our practice raised by the external visitors as an area for development which we didn’t first raise ourselves’. However, as with everything in life, context is so important. A school might consider itself to be doing a wonderful job in certain areas relative to how things were in the school in the past, or even relative to similar local schools, but having independent agencies externally review operations at a school can provide an assessment against the highest of international standards that are difficult for

NEASC report, December 2019

ISA duly received re-accreditation from CIS and NEASC, and a positive outcome from the IB on their evaluation process. Re-accreditation and re-evaluation will be undertaken again, beginning with a Preparatory study in 2023.

Beyond the Accreditation Process… ‘We want our students to be reflective learners, to understand their strengths and areas for development and develop plans for improvement. This process is just as important for the school as a learning organisation.’ Sarah Grace, Associate Director for Teaching and Learning








understanding and self-discovery over a pure exam result orientation, it is incumbent upon ISA to learn from our experiences as an institution, and display the growth mindset we seek to instil in our students. As one researches the long and detailed journey involved in international school accreditation, it becomes clear


a lone school to act upon, and be certain of, alone. The final reports provide validation for the self-study process, especially when the school staff have noted themselves that there are areas for improvement. As Ms. Grace puts it - ‘over time the quality of a school and its programmes can decline without continued focus on standards’. By examining the final reports for areas of improvement ISA didn’t note itself in the self-study period, and then combining these with the areas in which both the selfstudy reports and the final reports were aligned, our leadership team develops an action plan for school development. This has taken shape as ISA’s current Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. Ms. Grace gives some insight into the challenges involved in reducing down hundreds of pages of reflection into a clear strategic plan, as she stresses that ISA is always striving for continuous improvement and is strongly committed to addressing all the areas identified as opportunities for growth, as well as taking on board the recommendations from the external agencies. However, she warns that ‘we sometimes forget when developing the subsequent action plans that we also need to run the school on a day to day basis. There are finite resources, especially time, available to work on improvement projects. We need to be careful not to overreach with too many priorities and identify those most important ones to address first, which will have the greatest impact on student learning’.

Gradually, Then Suddenly

In Ernest Hemingway’s debut novel, ‘The Sun Also Rises’, one character famously asks another ‘How did you go bankrupt?’. The answer: ‘Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly’. It’s a warning against complacency that rings as true now as when it was committed to text in the 1920s. Its relevance is clear for a highly respected educational institution like ISA, with a wealth of experience and expertise in the staff and a rich history of academic excellence, that might wonder whether it is worth the endeavour of an rigorous jointaccreditation process to validate what many might feel is self-evident?

team recognizes the tremendous amount of work, dedication and effort by all stakeholders invested in a sophisticated self-study process’. The true credit of this genuine approach to the accreditation process at ISA is in a refusal to accept complacency. It is easy to feel proud and comfortable with the status of being a leader in any field. But without continuously seeking to analyse, learn and develop in a world that is constantly changing, a school in that position can become stagnant and, ever so gradually over time as Ms. Grace opined, begin to decline in quality. And what is gradual can quickly, with complacency, become sudden. Each accreditation period plays a key role in ensuring that the excellence that ISA is renowned for remains a characteristic of our school. Accreditation and re-authorisation is crucial, not in spite of, but as direct contributors towards, our enduring status as an excellent, mission-driven school and an inspiring community. A member of the school leadership once said that at ISA ‘good questioning leads to great learning’. Accreditation in international schools isn’t just about stamps of approval, or plaques on a wall. It is about encouraging introspection, innovation, and a collective inspiration to look in the mirror and pose the good question: ‘how can we keep doing better?’. After nearly 58 years of history, ISA remains a flagship institution for international education, and it is by continuing to strive for improvement, with guidance from our accrediting bodies and the strategic plans that arise from their in-depth findings, that we can look forward with confidence to the next 58 and beyond.

Accreditation at ISA goes beyond a box-ticking exercise. CIS actually noted in their report that the school showed a true commitment to the process, stating that ‘as a testament to the dedication to the process, the school was well prepared as the visit was handled with aplomb and the evaluation



Strategic Plan 2020-2025 ISA’s new Strategic Plan plan was developed from the accreditation process that included a year-long selfstudy and an accreditation team visit in October 2019. It is the result of a collaborative and representative process that included all of our stakeholders within our school community —students, parents, faculty, staff and our board. The Strategic Plan is a truly unique community collaboration that will ensure that ISA remains a leader in international education. These pages include the 3 main goals and 9 priorities of the plans. While much work has been done to achieve these goals, some recent highlights are also included.

Priorities 1 & 2 Highlights During the 2021-2022 school year, ISA’s Curriculum Council revised the Learning at ISA document, which provides information about our approach to learning at ISA in order to guide us in support of our mission ‘to educate for international understanding’. Our IT team supported this collaborative revision, aligning elements of the DQ framework with the IB Learner Profile. The document contains new elements to more effectively articulate ISA’s approach to learning in the digital age including a revised graphic showing important concepts when creating a culture of thinking, reflection and international-mindedness. This document is now available to the community and has been used during orientation and induction sessions with ISA faculty.

Developing Minds, Character and Community Goal 1 Ensure ongoing high-quality citizenship and collaboration within a culture of internationalmindedness. Priorities 1-3 Develop a coherent, well-articulated written curriculum which shows progression of learning within and across IB programmes.


Develop a shared understanding of inquirybased, concept-driven, collaborative teaching and learning approaches consistent with IB philosophy.


Rethink the use of time and space to more effectively support the intended learning impacts of the programmes.

3 10

Our Beliefs

Choices and Risks Balanced Lives Uniting in Diversity Sustainable Futures Strong Connections Empathy

Inquiry and Reflection Critical and Creative Thinking Curiosity and Open-mindedness Professional Development Respect and Collaboration Integrity and Compassion

Financial Stability Compliance with Regulations

ISA aims to provide professional learning opportunities in inquiry, pedagogy, and concept-driven instruction for faculty. In order to continue to develop a shared understanding and common language around these approaches to teaching and learning across the IB programmes, ISA engaged Kate Beatty, an independent educational consultant. Kate Beatty facilitated an introductory asynchronous session followed by a live online workshop with all faculty during September and October 2021. This training helped support curriculum review work planned with faculty during an Inservice day on 15 November 2021. Priority 3 Highlights To reevaluate ISA’s use of time and space, ISA consulted with Bryan Smyth from Independent School Management (ISM). After a review of ISA’s schedule design and student survey results, Bryan Smyth conducted interviews of students, parents, teachers and administrators to provide ISA with commentary on our current schedule, suggesting areas for improvement and development. Taking these recommendations into consideration, a Schedule Review Committee established priorities, seeking to address concerns that had been shared with faculty. Specifically the Committee aimed to achieve: • •

• •

equality of time for classes in the Upper School

additional unscheduled time for Upper School students (i.e. to match the 90 minutes recommended recess/lunch time that Lower School students have) consistency of provision for regular breaks and relaxation in the Lower School

a schedule which better supports the wellbeing of students and faculty including increased opportunities for student agency and greater faculty collaboration


Developing Minds, Character and Community Goal 2 Develop a common understanding of learning at ISA for the digital age. Priorities 4-6 Cultivate a community of empathy and wellness where learners and community partners can thrive and interact with one another with dignity and respect.


Implement the school’s inclusion policy and ensure that support services at the school meet the needs of the enrolled student body.


Continue development of community partnerships and alumni network.


The proposals from the Schedule Review Committee were presented to, and approved by, the Curriculum Council in May 2021. The schedule that was implemented in August 2021 includes a retained five period day, but with standard period lengths, including on Fridays. The schedule change was only possible as the Lower School no longer needed access to the main cafeteria at lunch, which also provides a calmer, quieter environment for Lower School students and allows for the accommodation of increased numbers of Upper School students in the main cafeteria. Priority 4 Highlights A new Child Safeguarding structure has been implemented during the 2021-2022 academic year. In order to more effectively record, track and monitor child protection cases, a child safeguarding software, CPOMS, is being implemented. This system integrates with the school’s Management Information System:

Veracross. Certain staff members are designated as administrators in the system and have received training to support implementation. Training has also been conducted with faculty on how to report a student concern using the new CPOMS system. ISA has appointed an Adult Learning Coordinator, merging the responsibilities previously held by the Thought-Full Schools Coordinator and The Centre for Development, Learning and Technology (CDLT) Manager into a broader position responsible for the ongoing learning and development of faculty and staff while still coordinating Thought-Full Schools and the CDLT. The Adult Learning Coordinator will take a leading role in furthering collaborative teaching and learning practices, supporting teacher leaders and organising parent education programmes.


Developing School Goal 3 Ensure the sustainability and perpetuation of the school to achieve its purpose. Priorities 7-9


Ensure the financial stability and longterm viability of the school, through the development and refinement of robust, interconnected processes and procedures.


Ensure the school has effective systems for the management of school operations and the sharing of expectations with staff/ community.


Ensure optimal recruitment and retention (including salary and benefit benchmarking).

Priority 5 Highlights

Priority 8 Highlights

At the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, the English as an Additional Language (EAL) framework review was completed. The Curriculum Council decided to adopt the WIDA ELD Standards Framework 2020. This framework supports an inclusive functional approach to language development within a co-teaching model, integrating content and language teaching across the curriculum for the benefit of all learners, not just EAL students.

There have been no major recent building projects, however the regular programme of maintenance and improvement to campus facilities has continued. A major re-carpeting project was completed and ventilation systems were serviced and upgraded where necessary. For security awareness, fire safety has been optimised and accredited by an external agency and intercom systems have been optimised and replaced where necessary. Additional health, safety and security measures have been implemented in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in accordance with government and local authority guidelines and requirements. ISA developed protocols for mitigating risk and to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible.

To continue the development of practices that support ISA’s philosophy and policies on inclusion, EAL teachers are learning how to implement the WIDA standards framework to develop coherence of EAL teaching approaches across the school and improve support of our EAL learners.



Looking Out, Looking In: A Digital Gallery When ISA transitioned to a Distance Learning model during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and campus closed for some weeks, much of the ISA community had to make adjustments and suddenly get used to a new way of learning and working. Cut off from fellow students and colleagues, it was easy to feel isolated. To help ISA maintain a sense of community and togetherness, ISA IBMYP and DP Visual Art teacher Sian Lysaght came up with the idea of a community-wide collaboration on a digital art gallery. Channelling their creativity, members of ISA came together to explore their shared experiences of potential isolation and loneliness, aiming to capture and preserve their experiences of that unique and challenging time. Lysaght challenged the community to create an artwork that reflects the theme of either Looking Out or Looking In.

Looking Out

Looking Out included utilising the visual metaphor of windows or doors as a visual vehicle for looking out at the world from our domestic vantage point. Looking Out aimed to maintain a connection to the world while in a state of confinement.

Looking In

Looking In involved taking a look inward at our homes, lives, family and domestic space and included themes of a safe and peaceful space, but often this up-close focus on a snapshot of a home can tell us a lot about the bigger picture. Looking In also alluded to introspection and a more personal investigation. The final result is a collection of work from some Upper School Visual Art classes together with contributions made by many faculty and staff of ISA. The artwork is a wonderful document of a very special period in social history.


Equity and Inclusion in STEM Dr. Samaya Nissanke ‘In my career I’ve noticed that having different backgrounds and different origins brings different viewpoints and creativity to the table, and that’s when you see real progress’ Chaos is unsettling. The unpredictability of life and the feeling that we are not in control of our own destinies can often be difficult to process and to cope with. Humans want to feel safe, but the world doesn’t bend to human whims. There are very many things beyond our influence, beyond our understanding, and this is something we have all had to collectively process, abruptly, since the first quarter of 2020. And still, from very early in the pandemic, mankind turned its gaze and its hopes towards the saviour we rely upon on time and again when chaos seems untamable: Science. Where chaos is unsettling, science can be reassuring. It is frequently our hope for being able to control, in some ways, the world, both seen and unseen, around us. We see proof of the power of science all around: from the towers we live in, to the computers we rely on, to the canals and dams that keep us above water, to the vaccines that may set us free. To an outsider of the scientific community, science feels both rarified and complex; an example of humans dabbling in proof and facts, in spaces beyond the trivialities of our day-to-day normality and chaos. And this is comforting. And yet, though we might prefer not to peel back the curtain to see the levers behind, our scientific community is made up of ordinary people too. Scientists don’t live in a vacuum, and our social challenges are their challenges too. In 2011, on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a cohort of eleven female scientists were honoured in London for their achievements in areas of scientific work traditionally dominated by men. At that time, women made up less than 13% of all workers in core science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations in the UK. The Suffragette Science

awards sought to recognise women in science who not just produced excellent scientific output, but through their communication skills and activism could be empowering industry leaders for other female scientists, and scientists-to-be. The inaugural Suffragette Scientists had the honour of nominating the next recipients, and then actually bequeathed their physical awards themselves the following year, creating a connected line of inspiring women role models. In the past decade the total number of Sufragette Science awardees has grown from eleven to 148, and the 13% of women in STEM occupations in the UK rose to almost 25%. As part of the 2021 cohort of Suffragette Scientists, Samaya Nissanke, astrophysicist, theoretical physicist, ISA parent and ISA Board Trustee, became one of the 148-person strong line of honourees. Samaya’s work is focussed on the study of black holes, neutron stars and gravitational waves. Gravitational waves is a rapidly exploding new field in astronomy

and physics. It involves black holes and neutron stars slamming together to form new black holes through the direct detection of gravitational waves. At least 90 of these events have been observed since their first discovery in 2015.


As well as being directly involved in some of the most cutting-edge and groundbreaking areas of astrophysics, Samaya also places a central importance on being an advocate for equity, diversity and inclusivity in science, and she has devoted a huge amount of time to supporting students and her female peers. This isn’t done alongside her work; it is a key part of it. She reflects that some situations she has aided with, and some of the things she has seen women scientists go through, have been quite intense, and it has often been exhausting and pressurising to embrace this dual nature of her vocation. Nonetheless, this advocacy role is critically important, and there are harsh realities of inequity that she considers vital to confront. ‘It is an important part, unfortunately, of being a woman physicist, because we are in such a minority, especially at senior levels. You can put your blinkers on, or can realise that there are a lot of reasons why women drop off’ Looking in from outside of the scientific community and the world of that branch of academia, it feels almost incongruous that gender issues should play a role in career longevity, success and recognition, but that is a feeling borne out of naivete, or perhaps even a willful ignorance. How can it be that science, the human bastion of control and factual understanding, is as troubled as any industry by biases and preconceived expectations and stereotypes? Science, of all areas of humanity, should surely be a true meritocracy, where results and output speak for themselves, where chaos does not reign. ‘There are reasons why representation is an issue, and you have to address those. This award is special as recognition that these are things we face, and a lot time and energy goes into it. I wish it was just my research, but there’s a lot of dealing with trying to improve things, break down unconscious biases’. In a school community, parents are parents. Their role in life becomes, while on campus, naturally strongly defined to others by their relationship to their children. However, for many parents this perception of their role stretches beyond the schoolyard and cafeteria, and this is especially true for women. Samaya has experienced how the expectations of women to be homemakers can make being a scientist difficult.

‘Academia is built around a male model of what success is’ Samaya’s husband is also an academic, with whom she shares parental responsibilities, but she is very aware of how many male colleagues in her field

sleep in separate rooms to their partners after having children, so they can get more rest and devote themselves more wholly to their research. While this isn’t always the case, the roles are, in her experience, almost never reversed. And, in many cases, the sexism women scientists experience is far more direct and malignant. Samaya has assisted directly with women facing harassment at university research centres around the world, and she sees part of the importance of receiving a Suffragette Award in its power to demonstrate that there truly is a significant and valued space for female scientists in the field. ‘I see this award as something that will enable me to do more. These awards are really nice in terms of recognition and, of course, one appreciates it, but I see them much more in what they enable you to do. I want to use this award to continue the work that I’ve already started and increase representation’ These shared experiences play into why Samaya and the other members of the Suffragette Scientist family feel so passionate about their award being not just based on scientific merit and achievement, but also with explicit consideration for effective communication and support of other women. Samaya understands that many see her as a role model, but she reflects upon ‘how much more she has to learn’ as a scientist recognised as brilliant in her field, while also being a visible communicator and vocal supporter of her female peers. Samaya does represent social progression in a community the ‘normal’ world looks to for answers as it seeks to better itself. She states simply that scientific excellence can only be enhanced by being more equitable and inclusive - be that through increased participation in the space by women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, or otherwise, and as an international school community founded on the belief that international understanding is the path towards a better world, she is indeed a role-model for each of us at ISA too. As we are always looking to make sense of the world around us, it is comforting that amidst all the chaos, science is still looking too.

Samaya was also awarded the 2020 New Horizon Prize in Physics by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, on an individual level. As part of large collaborations, Samaya has been awarded the Gruber Prize in Cosmology and the main Breakthrough Prize in 2016.


ISA and IB: Stronger Together

Lennon and McCartney. Salt and pepper. Laurel and Hardy. Jelly and ice cream. Some double acts are so perfectly matched that it’s hard to imagine one without the other. They are timeless associations - permanent fixtures together for the simple reason that sometimes the combination of two great ingredients creates some magic beyond their sum.

ISA and the International Baccalaureate

At the tail end of the 1960s, an entity called the IB Organisation was registered in Geneva, Switzerland. The IBO was dedicated to creating an international passport to higher education, and developing standardised courses and assessments for internationally mobile families and internationally minded children between the ages of 16 and 19. The first official IB Diploma exams were sat in 1970, by students at 12 schools across 10 countries. This was the culmination of what the director of the International School of Geneva, Marie-Thérèse Maurette, had advocated for as early as the late 1940s – what she called ‘Educational Techniques for Peace’. The IB Organisation sought, through education, to help build connections across national boundaries, and grow an international understanding and acceptance of different viewpoints, perspectives and cultures. As these historic developments were happening, international education in Amsterdam was in its infancy. ISA was the first international school in the city, opened in January 1964 in a couple of classrooms in an existing, traditional Dutch school on Winterdijkstraat - in between President Kennedylaan (renamed from Rivierenlaan just a few days prior to ISA’s opening, a couple of months after JFK’s assassination) and Rooseveltlaan, in Amsterdam Zuid.

The 70s were a time of great transformation for ISA, and the school began to look at offering grade 11 and grade 12 education for the first time, to complete the high school programme. ISA also moved to a purposebuilt facility for the first time in 1977, near the Vrij Universiteit. Having ambitions for international high school graduates meant that ISA needed to offer an international high school qualification, and so in 1979 our own historical double-act began, as ISA became the first school in the Netherlands authorized to offer the IB Diploma. The IB philosophy, as inspired by Maurette’s vision of education for building peace, is the perfect complement to ISA’s own mission ‘To Educate for International Understanding’. Knowing and experiencing ISA today, it is difficult to imagine how our advocacy of global citizenship and the value of diverse perspectives could be achieved at its authentic best without curricula that intentionally avoids placing any one national viewpoint or outlook above another. The IB is the vehicle through which our school’s mission can reach the fullness of its potential, and it has grown and developed symbiotically with ISA over the course of the past four decades. In August 2019, ISA celebrated 40 years of being an IB school – a milestone we should treasure. ISA adopted the newly created Middle Years Programme (MYP) in the early nineties, and then played a leading role in the development of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) soon after. In 1997, ISA became the first school in the world to offer the PYP, and so the first school to offer an IB education from Pre-School through to the end of grade 12.


ISA’s class of 2020-2021 recently became the 42nd group of ISA graduates to be awarded IB Diplomas, and they have arguably had the most extraordinary journey through their 2 diploma years of all cohorts. Only 6 months of their final two years of study were uninterrupted by the Covid19 pandemic, and yet they have continued our school’s proud IB tradition with great distinction. And so here, we can remark upon another wonderful double-act:

ISA and Its Graduates

To Educate for International Understanding is only a lofty dream without the open-minded and resilient characters that make up our student body. Our students today are part of a long and proud legacy of IB learning in our corner of Europe, and by continuing that legacy together both the students and the school are made stronger.


Celebrating the Class of 2021 IB Results for 2021

Graduation Ceremony

ISA commemorated the achievements of the Class of 2021 with a unique two-part graduation; first, an inperson diploma awarding ceremony culminating in a virtual Livestream celebration. Graduates returned to “the pink castle” one last time for the first part of the ceremony. Greeted by the “Graduation Welcome Committee”, our incredible Security Team, graduates were escorted from their cars and guided to the ISA World Theatre to ensure that the experience was special and memorable. With the theatre as their backdrop and their fellow graduates cheering them on, each student walked across the stage to receive their ISA diploma from Dr. Carmody.

We would like to celebrate our Class of 2021 and share their excellent IB results. These results are the culmination of two years of hard work and dedication and our students have once again performed exceptionally, with ISA once again placing well above the world average of IB results. That the class of 2021 have undertaken their Diploma during a global pandemic, with switching back-and-forth from Distance Learning to on-campus learning several times, makes their achievements even more admirable. For only the ninth time in our school’s history, an ISA student has received a perfect score of 45. A huge congratulations to Kami Schult for this achievement! Below are some of the highlights of the class of 2021’s collective success.

For the second part, an official Livestream celebration was hosted for friends and families of the graduates worldwide on a dedicated website. The celebration included footage from the awarding ceremony and student performances and ended with a closing toast. As a surprise for the students, each family sent in video messages, allowing each graduate to look back on how far they have come and look forward to starting the next chapter of their lives with the love and pride of their families to guide them. There were many people, including the Parent Graduation Committee, the Graduation Team, Security Team and all of the other faculty and staff who were instrumental in pulling off this event, ensuring that graduates will remember their special day with pride for years to come.

To our exceptional graduates, congratulations! We are all so proud of everything you have accomplished and the resilience you have shown during the pandemic. Good luck with the next steps of your journey.


Award Winners 2021 Leadership Award Leilani Hancock

Simon Schilp Athletic Award Victor Dorner

ECIS Award for International Understanding Zözi István Áron Lencz

Peggy Brannigan Award for Environmental Services Trinabh Banerjee

ISA Award Claire Munting

CAS Award Karly Kadilar

Duncan Bernath

Cole Ransom



Everyone is a Maker! What do sewing, lego and R2D2 have in common? All of these were at ISA’s first-ever Maker Faire! Organised on the principle that everyone is a “Maker”, the whole ISA community came together to make the event a reality, which united staff and faculty members, parents and Upper School students with a common goal: to celebrate creativity in all of its forms.

The Maker Movement

The ‘Maker’ movement is a global and cultural movement that celebrates creativity and innovation sparked by Make: Magazine. The spirit of the movement is on doing and values an individuals’ capacity to create, build and make things. The movement holds that everybody has the ability to be a ‘Maker’ and makers come from all backgrounds, bringing with them their own unique skills, capabilities and interests. The spark of creativity is what unites all Makers. In celebration of this spirit, Make: Magazine held the first-ever Maker Faire in 2006, in San Mateo, California. Makers gather at a Maker Faire to showcase their invention, creativity and innovation. Since the first Faire, it has grown to become a worldwide movement, with over 200 licensed Maker Faires taking place in more than 40 countries. A Maker Faire is a celebration of invention and creativity and aimed to allow students to explore and experience new things in design, technology and crafts for themselves. Taking place in January of 2020 in the Lower School gym, ISA’s first Maker Faire was organised by Grade 5 teacher Angela Strunks and aimed to introduce students to new ideas in design, technology and crafts in fun and interactive ways, enabling them to explore new concepts and experience learning moments for themselves outside of a traditional classroom environment. From Virtual Reality (VR) to Augmented Reality (AR), robotics to sewing projects, woodwork to coding, there was a wide variety of stalls at the event, run by constituents from across the community, including the IT department, Lower School Counsellors, Upper School Robotics club, the PTA and a wide variety of parents, to name but a few, reflecting the diverse range of creative talent we are lucky enough to have within our community. There were even two surprise guests at the event; Star Wars’ most recognisable characters R2D2 and BB8 were available for attendees to interact with.


Learning to Adapt:

Redefining Professional Development Finland’s education has gained international attention for the ability to produce excellent learning outcomes even though the students start school older and spend fewer hours a year in the classroom than their counterparts in most other European countries. Throughout the sessions, the attendees were involved in a critical reflection of the Finnish practices in relation to their own educational context. The participants learned from each other through sharing their ideas and experiences in a range of active learning exercises. Each session included breakout discussions and activities so that attendees could gain insights from their fellow educators and connect with them on a deeper level.

ISA believes in developing minds and provides our staff and other global educators with hands-on training opportunities, giving them a forum to share ideas and network. Despite 2020 being the year of the pandemic, we didn’t let that stop us from delivering our mission of professional development. Like many organisations around the world, 2020 brought about a huge adaptation in technology, leading the ISA Centre for Development, Learning & Technology (CDLT) into its first foray into the world of online professional development workshops. The CDLT hosted two workshops series during the year. The first was the highly anticipated ‘Education in Finland - Learning for Life’ event, hosted by

Olli-Pekka Malinen and Minna Repo, both leading educational experts at EduCluster Finland, which had been scheduled to take place in March 2020. Quickly adapted to take place online, four virtual afternoon workshops were held in October and November of 2020.


The second series, ‘Enriching Content Teaching for Secondary EAL Students’ focused on giving participants practical, easy-to-implement strategies, supports, and scaffolds to ensure that students can better comprehend their lessons and share their understanding in one of a series of six content-specific workshops, including Math, Science, Humanities, English Language, Arts & Design and World Language. Led by renowned educational coach and consultant Beth Skelton, somewhat of a regular at the CDLT, who has previously given workshops such as ‘Differentiation Strategies for Language Learners’. The last year provided a vital learning opportunity, for the CDLT to grow and adapt towards contemporary demands for online and virtual professional development opportunities, allowing us to further our commitment to bring professional development to global educators. We look forward to the opportunities this will bring to our community and beyond and host more online and virtual events in the future. For more information on upcoming events, please visit the CDLT website at

For more information on upcoming events, please visit the CDLT website.


Child Safeguarding: Everyone’s Business Up until the beginning of the 20th century, children were not explicitly afforded specific human rights, and there were no internationally agreed upon, inalienable, responsibilities owed by adults towards children. In late 1924, the League of Nations, founded in the aftermath of World War 1, endorsed the ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’, and in doing so rubber-stamped the first ever international agreement on the rights and welfare of children. The first draft of this declaration was written by Eglantyne Jebb, a major figure in early 20th century social reform, campaigner for children’s rights, and the founder of Save The Children. It was a commitment to children everywhere having the right to be free from exploitation, to be given adequate means to properly grow and develop, and be provided for with food, shelter, and care when sick. After the United Nations replaced the League of Nations, they, in 1959, adopted and expanded upon the 1924 declaration, and subsequently passed the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Every member state of the United Nations, apart from the United States, has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is now almost universally accepted that we all have

a role to play in ensuring that children grow up in a culture of care and consideration, and in protecting children around us from harm and abuse. In an international school community, this role can take on an even greater weight and importance than most other places. One of the ways children are protected from abuse, and that society ensures children are cared for adequately, is through community consciousness. For example, noticeable changes in a child’s mood or behaviour can be a sign to adults that they should keep a keen eye out for a particular child’s safety and welfare. These types of changes can be difficult to recognise in transient communities, and especially when children are out of, or changing, schools. Schools are, of course, massively influential community settings for children all around the world. Children spend most of their time away from home at school,

and the school community will often know a child better than anyone apart from close family. To demonstrate just how important a role schools play in safeguarding the rights of children, it is worth noting that concerns reported of child abuse and mistreatment tend to plummet during school holidays, and in the United States there have been recent study findings that up to 200 thousand potential child mistreatment situations likely went unreported in March and April 2020 alone, while schools were closed due to COVID restrictions (‘Suffering in silence: How COVID-19 school closures inhibit the reporting of child maltreatment’, Journal of Public Economics, (October 2020)). Apply these concepts to the international school community, and the frequency of movement of families in the international schooling system, and you can see how crucial it is that all community members at ISA are aware of the importance of their role in keeping all the children in our school safe. To this end, ISA places a big focus on emphasizing the critical importance of Child Safeguarding. Child safeguarding goes beyond just protecting and supporting children identified as being at risk, as it includes everything we do to provide a safe, caring environment for children including educational programmes to help our students learn how to keep themselves safe. Staff receive regular training about ISA’s approach to child safeguarding and protection which includes the Dutch reporting code, how to report a concern and signs and symptoms of abuse to look for, included in a child safeguarding handbook. In 2019 ISA launched an additional comprehensive programme of annual online child safeguarding training for all staff. All staff have completed two courses: Child Protection for International Schools and Staying Safe Online for International Schools; new hires take these courses at the time they join ISA. All staff are also required to complete an annual refresher course containing up to date information and additional developments in child safeguarding. For example, additional considerations of child protection have arisen during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. 26

ISA has a comprehensive system for reporting concerns across the school. Once a concern has been reported, following the Dutch reporting code, an internal consultation takes place involving the divisional safeguarding leads and deciding on the course of action. This may include monitoring of the student or consultation with the family or an external agency and/or organisation of support.

Child safeguarding goes beyond just child protection, in that it doesn’t focus only on protecting children who have been identified as being at risk, but also encourages proactivity in providing safe and happy environments for children, and being vigilant about any warning signs that may require action or close attention.

Child safeguarding policies at ISA are always being monitored and developed under the stewardship of the ISA Safeguarding Committee. This committee, formed by the Heads of School, HR manager, Head of Upper School Counselling, School Nurse and Safeguarding Lead (currently Sarah Grace, Associate Director for Teaching and Learning) meet at least three times a year, and collaborate with child protection teams in the Upper and Lower School to ensure policies and protocols are up to date, and all the legal and accreditation requirements of ISA for safeguarding are fully met. Remember, child safeguarding is everyone’s business!


ISA Declared Winner of E-Waste Race! This year, one of our main focuses as an organisation has been deepening our connection to our local community through taking part in environmental initiatives. From planting more trees on campus to participating in Gemeente Amstelveen’s ‘Grow Your Own Tree’ Initiative, this year more than ever, ISA has worked to make Amstelveen a greener place. Just one of the ways we do this on an annual basis is by taking part in the E-Waste Race, a competition between schools in a local area that aims to collect as much electronic waste as possible from residents. This year, after taking part for the past five years, we are pleased to announce that ISA has been declared the winner of the E-Waste Race in Amstelveen!

What is E-Waste?

E-waste is electronic waste and includes all electronic devices, from mobile phones to laptops. The proper and safe disposal of e-waste is a growing environmental concern; currently, electronic waste is the largest growing waste stream, yet the E-Waste Race estimates that more than half of electronic waste in the Netherlands is not recycled. Not only does this have a profound impact on the environment, but it also affects human health, as many electronics contain toxic and harmful materials which, if not appropriately recycled, can end up in our soil, water and air. Through the spirit of competition, the E-Waste Race aims to encourage safe electronic waste recycling practices and raise awareness among students and their families about the impact of e-waste and what they can do to help. Families gather and drop off their e-waste at school to be sorted by student volunteers. Pictures are then uploaded to the E-Waste Race platform, where each device is assigned a certain number of points, with some devices scoring more points than others. The school with the most e-waste points is declared the winner! Every year, the E-Waste Race kicks off the competition with an educational workshop to raise awareness of e-waste, its impact on the environment, and the importance of safe recycling practices. This year, the workshop took place online.

The Positive Impact

Since the first E-Waste Race in 2014, over 93 E-Waste Races have taken place, collecting over 1655459 devices that may not have been recycled otherwise. The E-Waste Race estimates that, on average, 14kg of e-waste is collected during each race, and 20.185kg of CO2 emissions are saved. Working closely with local municipalities and waste companies, once the e-waste has been collected, the E-Waste Race ensures that it is appropriately and safely recycled. In addition, the E-Waste Race has a positive impact on students, with research by the Eindhoven University of Technology finding that the E-Waste Race brings about a positive behavioural change and raises greater awareness about recycling electronic waste among students and their families.

The E-Waste Race at ISA

ISA has been taking part in the local Amstelveen E-Waste Race for the past five years, and while there have been some very close calls, this is the first time that we have managed to win the competition. This year, around 24 schools were participating in the local Amstelveen area. Taking part in a virtual award ceremony with representatives from the E-Waste Race organisation, Dr. Carmody and members of our IT team, who were heavily involved in the competition, along with the ISA Green Team, accepted the award on ISA’s behalf. As this year’s winners of the race, ISA has won a poster of our achievement and a workshop to build robots. Dr. Carmody was quick to express her pride for everything the students managed to accomplish together: “I’m so proud of what you have all achieved!” This achievement is even more remarkable because we had to make many accommodations to the usual collection process this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years, parents were able to drop off their e-waste at any time in collection bins placed throughout campus. However, this year, the e-waste collection had to be much more restricted; only one drop-off bin was placed in the Main Foyer. Sorting the e-waste was also a challenge due to the separation of the different grade levels, so each class was assigned a different time slot to sort the e-waste to ensure that everyone was safe. 28

Louke, the E-Waste Race representative who virtually awarded ISA this year’s win, asked an important question: will ISA and the Green Team join the race next year to defend ISA’s winning title? The answer was a resounding yes! Well done to everyone in our community who took part in this important event to help make Amstelveen a greener and more eco-friendly place, and a special thank you to the Green Team and IT Team for all of your hard work to make this win happen during the pandemic.

Photo by on Unsplash


Beyond the Classroom: Outdoor Learning at ISA “Everything that can be learned inside a classroom, can also be learned outside.” Many of us experienced a reconnection with nature during the pandemic. From taking more walks outside to discovering the beauty of nature in the Netherlands when we were unable to travel abroad, many of us turned to the great outdoors as a safe and healthy way to cope with the rapid changes in our daily lives. Not only did we feel the physical health benefits, but we all also discovered that spending more time in nature impacted our stress levels in a positive way and allowed us to process our emotions. In the field of educational psychology, these numerous benefits are all already well-known and researched. Educators and counsellors know that connecting with nature is essential for a child’s physical, mental and emotional development and wellbeing. As such, ISA students have been experiencing the benefits of spending time outdoors long before the pandemic, as outdoor learning has always been woven into the fabric of learning at ISA.

Benefits of Outdoor Learning

An outdoor learning environment is a child-centred approach to learning that provides students with opportunities to practice the attributes intrinsic to the PYP values and the IB Learner Profile in a unique way. Outdoor learning often has no structured activities but instead uses provocations that give each child agency over their own learning process, allowing their confidence and self-belief to grow and flourish. Spending time outdoors enhances a child’s engagement with learning. Rather than being restricted by the four walls of the traditional classroom environment,

students are given the space they need to ‘learn with their whole bodies.’ Many materials which are found in nature, such as sticks, leaves and stones are ‘loose parts’ with no specific learning objective ascribed to them, unlike traditional classroom materials. These loose parts allow students to be creative and use their

imagination, bridging their inner world and giving them ownership over the learning process by allowing them to execute the ideas they have. Not only does this give students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the environment and the world around them, but also allows them to develop key skills for life, such as problem-solving, independence and self-reliance.

What Does Outdoor Learning Look Like?

ISA has been taking part in ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’ for several years. Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement that celebrates the benefits of outdoor education for students, taking place twice a year, in May and November. On Outdoor Classroom Day itself, educators around the world take their students outside for a special day of outdoor learning, while the rest of the year the movement campaigns for more outdoor learning time for students. Aside from these two days, outdoor learning is a regular part of the daily routine for Lower School students. Students in Early Childhood benefit from ‘free-flow’ mornings, in which doors are left open

and students are free to move around in and outside of the classroom, allowing the arena of learning to be transposed and the benefits of outdoor learning to be brought indoors.


A typical day of outdoor learning will begin with a ‘gathering place’ which acts as a base for students to leave from and return to when asked, allowing them to feel independent and learn boundaries. Outdoor learning activities include storytime outside, using iPads to take photos of the seasonal changes in trees, observing insects and using natural materials to create something, such as a kite or a magic wand. Lower School Counsellor Eli Arenas Thomas is passionate about the benefits of outdoor learning for children: “I see every day how outdoor learning is a powerful way of reconnecting children with the natural world, it benefits the whole child, their state of wellbeing and their connections to others. Outdoor learning is more than just education about nature, all learning that happens indoors can happen outdoors as well, from all areas of the curriculum. Taking advantage of varied, rich outdoor experiences

gives space for creativity, imagination and cooperative learning to flourish. It provides opportunities for agency and for real-life problem-solving in a rich context and this leads to increased resilience to the many changes that children will navigate throughout their lives. A stick is not a stick, it can be a magic wand, a fishing rod, a

counting stick, a drawing tool in the mud, a spoon to make cake in the mud kitchen or if we find enough sticks we can build a den! Children feel a strong connection to the natural environment, we know this because as adults some of our most powerful play memories happened outdoors. Young children are experts at being in the moment and we do well to offer them many outdoor opportunities and to remind ourselves as adults to join them to watch the clouds floating by or look at the spider spinning or jump in a puddle (with boots!)” At ISA, we believe in Developing Character, through encouraging students to live a healthy, balanced life. Outdoor learning is an integral part of our learning community and we celebrate the positive impact it has on the well-being of our students and teachers. The time that students spend outdoors is time that will make children happier and healthier and equip them with the skills they need for life.


2 ts

g i h H ligh r a Ye


Concert for De Luwte For many years, the ISA Music Department has organised a concert for De Luwte nursing home that is looked forward to by students, staff and senior citizens alike. While residents typically gather at ISA to watch live performances, in 2020, both students and senior citizens had to adapt to a new kind of concert: the digital variety. Some highlights of the digital concert included the Grade 6 music class performance and several student singing and instrumental solos. The pop band and music academy also gave standout performances. In the spirit of the holiday season, the Upper School Dutch Department sang the popular Sinterklaas song O kom maar eens kijken. The senior citizens’ concert represents an essential way ISA builds lasting connections with our local community. While we were unable to gather in person, the concert allowed us to come together through the power of music.

Grade 10 Personal Project The final step of the Middle Years Programme for grade 10 is the Personal Project, where students explore an area of personal interest or passion to create a product or outcome. The project offers students opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve learned during the five-year programme. Most students began their Personal Project journey in the Spring of 2020. For nine months, students researched, designed, built, reflected and wrote about various topics as diverse as the students themselves. The project typically culminates in a Personal Project Exhibition, where students give presentations about their project journey. Last year, the exhibition took place online. Students recorded video presentations and took photos of their products, and each received a dedicated page for their project on the Veracross portal. Congratulations to Grade 10 for taking this step in your learning journey!

Painting by Arya Kurup

Exposed: DP Visual Art Exhibition Grade 12 DP Visual Arts students didn’t let the challenges of the pandemic stop them from making the most of their culminating project. While the DP Visual Arts Exhibition installation was physically displayed in the corridors, as usual, there was no formal opening of the exhibition to comply with COVID-19 protocols. Alongside physical work, additional work was shared digitally via iPads in each space, giving students more opportunities to experiment with digital artworks. To further involve the community, a Google Doc was shared so the ISA community could give students feedback on their work.


Global Village Day Global Village Day is a much-loved annual celebration at ISA, allowing our community to share their home culture and develop an appreciation for the diversity of other cultures. 2019 was Dr. Carmody’s first experience of the Global Village Day spirit at ISA. Opening the event with a “G’Day Mate” and proudly sporting her kangaroo socks representing her native Australia, Dr. Carmody was followed onto the stage by fantastic performances by the Egyptian, Russian and Chinese communities. Leilani Hancock, a then Grade-11 student, gave a powerful speech on equality and discrimination. Students represented their country in the Parade of Nations, while parents provided Lower School classrooms with cultural experiences that immersed students in various traditions, including music, art and food. While we could not hold our Global Village Day Event in 2020, we are looking forward to hosting many more.

Book Week Book Week at ISA is not just a celebration of books; it is the cultivation of a lifelong love of reading, learning and discovery, a way for students to explore new thoughts and ideas, discover new passions and be inspired. The theme of Book Week 2020 was ‘Reading Makes Us Stronger’, with our visiting authors Mylo Freeman, Hollis Kurman, Matt Smith and Kelly Yang joining classes virtually. Lower School students engaged in a host of reading activities and had the opportunity to listen to a reading from a masked reader each day. The week culminated with the annual Character Dress Up Parade, where students had the chance to dress up as their favourite book characters, and the masked readers revealed themselves. This year, the ISA Lower School libraries teamed up with the Dutch and PE departments to organise a weeklong celebration for Kinderboekenweek, an annual celebration of children’s literature throughout the Netherlands.

Mayor Poppens Visit Tjapko Poppens, the Mayor of Amstelveen, visited Melanie Smith’s Grade 2 class to preside over the grand opening of their model city, 2MSville. While learning how to code a small robot, an ‘Ozobot’, and after learning about cities during their ‘Systems of the Community’ unit of inquiry, students created a model city for their Ozobots to navigate between buildings. And so 2MSville was born. Keen to share their learning with the community, students invited special guests, including the Mayor, Dr Carmody, and their parents, to a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Before he cut the ribbon, Mayor Poppens gave a speech emphasising the importance of friendship between communities for them to thrive. Then, extending the hand of friendship to the class, the Mayor offered to twin Amstelveen with 2MSville, so that the cities would be symbolically linked, ensuring another lasting link between ISA and our local community. Mayor Poppens also recently visited ISA in September 2021 to have a discussion with all Grade 2 students about the role of being Mayor. 34

Global Online Academy ISA joined the Global Online Academy (GOA) this year, an international consortium of independent schools with a common mission: to empower students and educators to thrive in a globally networked society. With a diverse range of online courses, ISA has expanded the subject offerings available to our students, providing them with increased opportunities to pursue their passions and broaden their academic horizons. Douglas Beam, ISA’s GOA Site Director, is enthusiastic about the benefits for ISA students: “joining GOA is an important development because it promotes student voice and choice and recognises that learning doesn’t only happen within the confines of a school building. To be lifelong learners, students need to develop skills to reach outside of ISA and collaborate with others around the world. GOA offers our students the opportunity to do that in an exciting way.”

Pamoja: Online Learning This year, ISA also partnered with Pamoja, an online learning platform that allows our Grade 11 students to take various IB Diploma Programme courses alongside their regular in-classroom courses. The only IB-approved provider to provide online courses, Pamoja allows ISA to provide students with more personalised learning opportunities, fostering an increased sense of student agency. Students will benefit from contact with a teacher specifically trained in digital learning strategies and from learning alongside other students from all around the world. This partnership with Pamoja enables ISA to further support our students on their individual journeys to self-discovery during their final years at school, helping them map out their future and their next steps after ISA with increased opportunity, confidence and agency.

After School and Vacation Care Programme Another exciting development at ISA this year was the launch of our After School and Vacation Care Programme for students from Pre-School to Grade 5. Back in May 2021, we surveyed then-current Nursery-Grade 4 parents and future families with students enrolled for Pre-School-Grade 5 for the 2021-22 academic year to gauge interest in an After School care provision at ISA and to understand the needs of families. These insights played a crucial role in ensuring that parents’ voices and student wellbeing were at the forefront of the programme’s structure. As a result, the programme offers families greater flexibility in their day and students a complete programme of activities that aims to ensure that they are active, make connections, develop curiosity and creativity, and caters to their cognitive, physical, emotional, and social wellbeing.


Climate Demonstration In 2019, in solidarity with students across Amsterdam, the ISA Upper and Middle School Green Teams took to the corridors to highlight the impact of the Climate Crisis. The demonstration began with a march through the cafeteria, ending at a podium in the Main Foyer. Students gave profound, thought-provoking and impactful speeches on the seriousness of climate change and its detrimental effects on younger generations, urging the ISA community to reflect on their own choices and take action. Lower School students also joined their peers at the demonstration, taking action by sharing their thoughts, listening to the speeches and joining the march. The solution, and resounding theme of the demonstration, for ISA students was clear: “We are the future!” Photograph by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Little Green Shop: Little Choices, Big Changes The Grade 3 Green Team launched ISA’s first-ever eco-shop, The Little Green Shop, with a grand opening ceremony in 2019. Students presented their shop’s journey, from idea to reality, to an audience of their parents and ISA staff, before declaring their shop open for business. First, students set out a clear purpose: to make ecofriendly products available to the ISA community and educate them on alternatives to single-use plastics. Throughout the journey, students took the lead on creating the shop, developing their own branding, name and tagline, conducting product research, downloading an inventory app, setting up an email and a bank account and purchasing a scanner and pin machine. The creativity and dedication that students put into their Little Green Shop is an asset to the sustainable future of ISA.

Waste Management Trip Four members of the ISA Green Team visited Van Happen Containers, the waste management company that collects ISA’s waste, in 2020 to learn more about waste and recycling processes in the Netherlands. Armed with questions gathered from the ISA community, students spoke to two representatives from Van Happen, discovering that 49-50% of ISA’s waste currently gets recycled, and plastic and paper are recycled in almost 100% of cases as we already separate those items

from general waste. During their fact-finding mission, the students learned that the best way for ISA to manage waste is to continue separating paper and plastic from general waste and focus on producing even less waste. Preventing food waste, or using a reusable water bottle or lunch box, are just some of the ways our community can produce less waste. Photograph by Possessed Photography on Unsplash


PYP Voices: IB Podcast A huge congratulations to Grade 2 teacher Melanie Smith, who the IB invited to participate in an IB initiative called PYP voices. In celebration of her 15 years at ISA, Melanie was interviewed about her thoughts on and experiences with conceptbased learning and inquiry, drawing on her range of roles across the Lower School, from Kindergarten educator to PYP Coordinator. Melanie explained how she enables students to make connections between existing knowledge and new concepts throughout the year and how concepts are transferable across units of inquiry and into students’ everyday lives. The podcast is now available on the IB website. Melanie’s passion for concept-based learning, as well as her commitment to student learning, really shines through!

PTA Speaker: Anxiety and Fear of Failure In February 2020, renowned Dutch anxiety coach Pia Crul visited ISA to present her ‘Daredevils’ method of overcoming a fear of failure. Pia gave families concrete tips, strategies, and solutions as she shared the method she has been developing over her 20 years of experience and featured in her book Daredevils. Pia’s approach is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a treatment used to manage anxiety symptoms by encouraging patients to address and challenge their thought patterns. Most importantly, families took away the hope that it is possible for children suffering from anxiety and fear of failure to recover.

Stories That Move: Global Leadership Summit Since ISA became a partner for the Stories that Move project in 2015, four ISA students acted as ambassadors for the Toolbox, helping to test the online materials and leading a successful social media launch campaign. Those students were invited to lead a workshop at the Global Leadership Summit in Davos, Switzerland. The then-grade 10 students, who graduated ISA with the class of 2021, each submitted a proposal regarding their leadership skills to the conference and attended on full

scholarships. Students from around the world participated in the globally-focused conference, visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the UN office in Geneva, culminating in a twoday leadership summit in Davos. At the summit, students attended workshops and collaborated to propose solutions to global issues.


Photograph by Jan von Holleben

Friendship Bench ISA recently unveiled a new addition to the Lower School playground: a friendship bench for Kindergarten-Grade 2, giving students who may not have anyone to play with the opportunity to make friends. Designer Leonie Janssen’s STREETFUrNiture project inspired the bench. On a quest to make a unique piece, Facilities Coordinator Job Roggeveen was struck by Janssen’s project and invited her to collaborate. Janssen held workshops with students to create a unique, student-led design. With its rainbow colours and twisting arms, Janssen hopes that the tactile nature of the bench will help students feel less alone, as though they are receiving a hug from a friend. In addition, Roggeveen hopes that the bench reminds students of the power of community: “my hope is that everyone looking at the bench or sitting with friends believes in a better world based on inclusion. Together, we are powerful.”

Food Volcano and Food Rainbow Every autumn, ISA holds a food drive to help those in need. In previous years, the drive has taken the form of a ‘Food Volcano’, placed in the centre of the Main Foyer. However, in 2020, the ‘Food Volcano’ became a ‘Food Rainbow’. The new theme ‘Rainbows for Hungry Homes’ was chosen by Lower School Student Council, with the help of Lower School counsellor Anders Granberg and aimed to get the most donations ever in the year of the pandemic. The food drive ran for two weeks in November, with families donating many food items, which students collected and gathered in front of a rainbow in the Main Foyer. The food drive was a success, with many food items being delivered to local food banks to help families in need. The annual food drive is an important way for ISA to connect with and serve our local community, with the pandemic strengthening our resolve to do that.

Coding Competition ISA Grade 5 teacher Angela Strunks organised an ‘International Coding Competition’ in collaboration with educators from Zurich International School, The Harbour School in Hong Kong and the International School of Prague. The competition had no fixed rules: each teacher determined the coding exercises based on students’ previous knowledge. Angela wanted students to experience a variety of coding methods, so she set up seven different ‘coding stations’ in her classroom, allowing students to

explore and discover each type of coding for themselves. After completing each exercise, students uploaded their learning onto a shared Padlet so their fellow students could learn from their insights. The scope of the competition has forged lasting connections with other international schools, allowing students to gain a deeper understanding of coding and be inspired by peers from around the world. Photograph by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash



The International School of Amsterdam Magazine Winter 2022

Editor-in-chief Matt Jasinski


Megan Amelia Colm Brennan

Design and layout Emma Wendt


ISA in collaboration with XPat Media, The Hague, the Netherlands


Damen Drukkers Werkendam The Netherlands ISA alumni, families, faculty and friends receive Connections. We welcome your comments and encourage you to submit ideas and articles for consideration. Letters and inquiries may be addressed to: Connections Sportlaan 45 1062HE Amsterdam +31 20347 1111

Photography Kerry Reinking


The International School of Amsterdam

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.