The Journey to School

The Journey to School: International School of Brussels

September 22, 2017


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the International School of Brussels (Belgium), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to International School of Brussels…

The International School of Brussels is located in a leafy suburb of Brussels and nestled along the ancient Forêt de Soignes which is filled with towering trees and a variety of paths.  The school began in an old chateau (that is still referred to as “the chateau”) but has since expanded to fill a campus that has separate buildings for each division and a variety of facilities.  Today, the chateau is the main physical symbol of the school and houses administration, human resources, admissions as well as key personnel such as the school’s director and team.

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Arrival at the school takes many different forms.  Some teachers have settled into local life and come by car while others take advantage of the free yearly transport pass and arrive by bus, metro or tram.  The location of your home will determine the best form of transport.  Many of the younger teachers prefer to live in the Ixelles area near the Flagey ponds where they are between the center and the school.  From Flagey, they can catch a 366 TEC bus that takes them in 20 minutes to the doorstep of the school.  Departure times during the school year are at 6:48, 7:30 and 7:50 am and teachers often sit together as they ride into school.  

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Flagey Ponds

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Bus stop next to Ponds

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TEC bus entering Watermael Boitfort

Another option from Ixelles or the other side of town in Woluwe St.  Pierre is the 94 tram which is more convenient for some as it leaves more frequently but it does require a 10 minute walk to school (The 94 tram cars are brand new and feature leather seats, laminate wood flooring and easy accessibility).  In the morning the walk from the tram stop at Delleur is a pleasant downhill stroll but in the afternoon, it can be a bit of a hike up.  The tram can be a bit slower than a bus, but it conveniently leaves at regular intervals.

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Some teachers also enjoy biking to school.  There are marked paths along most major routes and this is a mode of transport that’s becoming more popular.  While paths are marked, cyclists still need to be aware as drivers can sometimes get very close to the bike paths.  Biking along Franklin Roosevelt takes you past some beautiful embassy buildings as well as some architectural gems from the Art Nouveau era in Brussels.  There’s also an option to cycle on the winding roads that pass through the Bois de la Cambre, a serene manicured park on the edge of the city that connects to the more wild Forêt de Soignes.

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An area of growing popularity to live in has been the town where the school is located, Watermael Boitfort.  There is a lovely village and the walk to school is quick and pleasant.  This is a nice option if you’re actively involved in coaching and need to arrive at school early in the AM or if you want the shortest commute possible and a chance to run home if you’ve forgotten something.  Rent can be a bit more expensive in this area but the teachers who have moved there believe it’s worth it for the convenience.

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Parking on campus is getting more tight but there’s generally always space if you come by car.  Brussels is an easy city to own a car in.  Expenses such as taxes and insurance are relatively low and gas is manageable if you’re mostly using the car for commuting.  The school also offers financial assistance for kilometers traveled in lieu of the yearly Brussels transport pass as an option for drivers.

On a good day, I set my alarm for 6:15 so that I can leave my apartment in Ixelles with my car and arrive at school by 7 to get in a morning workout in the school fitness center.  The fitness center has showers so if there aren’t too many teachers working out, I can sneak in a quick shower before walking to my classroom by 8:10 to prepare for the start of the day at 8:40.  On a bad day (or after a late night), I can set my alarm for 7 and leave by 7:50 which gets me to school by 8:10 or 8:15.  Campus security has been beefed up after the terrorist attacks a few years ago so entering by the large double gates sometimes takes a few minutes if there is a line up of cars. Most teachers are on campus relatively early and until the late afternoon so in the darker winter months, everything is well-lit.  Some teachers stay later on campus taking advantage of faculty fitness classes or free language classes but others are just as eager to head out and try one of the many local beers.

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Back entrance to ISB Campus

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Morning sports practice on the upper field

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Western Europe?  Out of a total of 298 international schools we have listed in Western Europe, 137 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Metropolitan School Frankfurt (60 comments)
Bilingual European School of Milan (31 Comments)
American International School of Rotterdam (45 Comments)
Skagerak International School (42 Comments)
AMADEUS International School Vienna (70 Comments)
International School of Paphos (105 Comments)
Copenhagen International School (316 Comments)
International School of Helsinki (41 Comments)
Berlin British School (31 Comments)
International School of Stuttgart (61 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Germany

December 31, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city (in this case, the same country).

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Germany

Currently, we have 43 schools listed in Germany on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Berlin British School (Berlin, Germany)31 Comments
Strothoff International School (Frankfurt, Germany)49 Comments
Metropolitan School Frankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany)36 Comments
Bavarian International School (Haimhausen, Germany)30 Comments
International School of Stuttgart (Stuttgart, Germany)30 Comments
International School of Dusseldorf (Dusseldorf, Germany)22 Comments
Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany)22 Comments

School Building and Campus

“The school building is actually a historic sight. There are a lot of different buildings included in the whole campus. They are connect with stone arches overlooking a lush forest and lakeland. There are running tracks and football pitches that are well taken care of. The campus is also very secure, there is a gate with a guard.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School

“The campus is located in a beautiful little hamlet north of Munich. The school includes a new sport center and a 18th century German Castle (Schloss). There are purpose built trailers located on either side of the middle building. But these are high-end, double story buildings that would rival the any classroom. The primary school is located in a different part of the campus than secondary, but they are connected. There are Promethean boards in every classroom and dedicated wifi.” – Bavarian International School

“2 km from the nearest U-bahn station. It’s in a road with offices and factories. It’s a strange place to put a school. The road is busy and I’m surprised there hasn’t been an accident. Why isn’t there a crossing for the children? The playground is far too small for the student population. It’s very dangerous. When you’re on duty you can guarantee there will be bloodshed every time.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt

“It is not a perfect technical environment. Equipment is outdated; Strothoff IT are idiots and do not help; however, in general, grounds and building are OK.” – Strothoff International School

Expectations of Staff

“Teachers in secondary, have 2 duties per week, and attend at least one meeting per week after school. We are expected to be in school form 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.” – Berlin British School

“Workload is much heavier than other international schools I have taught at. ALL teachers (yes, all!) have 5 preps. Yes-5 preps. You will work more hours here than at any other international school in the Frankfurt region. Extra hours and additional time are not compensated in any way.” – Strothoff International School

“Teachers at ISS are required to cover for other teachers who are sick or absent. Teachers are expected to do extra curricular activities and this duty is classified as a B role on the salary scale. Meetings are held weekly and after school – they are badly organised and usually a waste of time.” – International School of Stuttgart

Flight and Moving-in Allowances

“Moving allowance is approximately 500 (quoted in USD). They pay for your ticket there, but there isn’t a flight allowance after that.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School

“Moving allowance is 2000 for single teachers and 4000 for teaching couples. There is a flight allowance every 2 years. Amount depends on location of point of origin.” – International School of Dusseldorf

“Travel expenses is an area that school needs to improve on. New staff members receive 1000.00 Euros moving allowance but that is taxed, so it is about 700.00 Euros It is not possible to move into such an expensive city on that allowance.” – International School of Stuttgart

“You also can apply for some personal days, but you don’t get paid for them typically.” – Bavarian International School

PD Allowances

“In theory you get to do an IB workshop every second year. In reality it depends on how much people in power like you. If you schmooze with them you get good PD opportunities and if you don’t they relish hurting you.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt

“The school is pretty good at offering PD for all staff.” – Berlin British School

“Professional Development is not a good as it use to be. They have capped it and it is hard to receive PD based on what you need. They provide some in house PD.” – International School of Stuttgart

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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If you work at an international school in Germany, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #30: Kathleen Ralf (A teacher at Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden)

March 2, 2014


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Kathleen Ralf:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

IMG_0401My name is Kathleen Ralf and I work at Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden as a Humanities and English Teacher.

I was born and raised in the Seattle area.  After I received my degree I moved east to the wild desert side of Washington State.  I taught English and History in a public school in Wenatchee, Washington for 12 years before deciding to make my move overseas.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

One day on my way to work I thought to myself… “Is this all there is?  Am I just going to keep driving the same road, teaching the same old stuff to the same community, for the rest of my life?!!!”  This realization really troubled me.  So I started applying directly to schools that were linked to the website of the Association of German International Schools.  My husband’s family is in Germany, his mother tongue is German, so it made sense that this would be the place to go.

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

I started my international career at the International School of Stuttgart.   The school was in its first years of major transition.  They had a head of school that was dynamic and excited about the changes ahead.  I started that year in a cohort of about 12 new to Stuttgart teachers.  The community of teachers in Stuttgart is wonderful and supportive.   Class trips were definitely a highlight to the school year.   These were the moments when I really saw the best in my students and in my colleagues.  Dragging 60 students through the crowded streets of Salzburg is a life skill.

I am in my first year at Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden.  This school is one of the oldest International Schools in Europe and has a great academic and athletic reputation.  The school is much bigger than Stuttgart, but I find this exciting.  The kids are from a greater mix of countries and teachers come here stay.   There are so many projects and activities for kids and teachers to involve themselves in here.  My favorite so far has been in caring for our adopted Roman watchtowers.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

DSCN0102Recently I had some time to kill with my 6th graders.  We had finished up a unit, and I really didn’t want to start the next thing on a Friday before a holiday.  One of my students jumped up and said, “Let’s play hangman!”  Ok, I thought.  I went up to the white board and drew the gallows and began placing the short lines below for my word.    The Europeans in the crowd started yelling at me.  “Mrs. Ralf!  That is not how you play Hangman!”

I stepped back and let them take over.  You see in Western Europe you don’t make a gallows.  You just draw the lines for the letters of your word.  With each guess, you then draw the gallows and eventually hang your man.  I asked the question why, but the 6th graders had no answers.  I figured that German and Dutch words could be quite long; therefore they need more chances for guessing.  Or are these cultures just much more peaceful?  No one wants his or her hangman to die.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made my most recent move to Frankfurt from Stuttgart because of workload.   I had 6 preps in Stuttgart and at one point traveled to 3 different rooms.  My office was nowhere near any of the rooms in which I taught.   It was a harried race for 4 years.  I loved my colleagues and students, but I loved my health, family, and sanity more.

When looking for a new school, I ask a lot of questions.  How many preps will I have?  How many classes a day?  What is the meeting/collaboration schedule like?  Do you meet with teams/departments after school or within the school day?  What are the expectations on teachers for duties beyond the classroom? (i.e. covering classes, hallway duty, clubs, etc.) When do most teachers go home after work? Not when are contracted hours, find out about the work culture of the school.  Do teachers bust out the minute the bell rings?  Or do they hang around to plan, collaborate, and work with students?  What is the change-over rate of the teachers?  Does the school value hiring families?

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Rejuvenating, Creative, Innovative, Culturally Rich

Thanks Kathleen!  You can check our more about Kathleen at her blog.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Germany like Kathleen?  Currently, we have 39 international schools listed in Germany on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• Berlin Brandenburg International School (11 Comments)

• Berlin British School (13 Comments)

Galileo Gymnasium (Germany) (11 Comments)

John F. Kennedy School Berlin (11 Comments)

Bonn International School (17 Comments)

International School Braunschweig (Wolfsburg) (19 Comments)

Dresden International School (15 Comments)

International School of Dusseldorf (22 Comments)

• Franconian International School (Erlangen) (13 Comments)

• Strothoff International School (27 Comments)

• Bavarian International School (30 Comments)

• International School Hamburg (14 Comments)

• International School of Stuttgart (24 Comments)

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1985 (Copenhagen, Tehran, Istanbul & Riyadh)

July 13, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1985

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1238 (13 July, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 10 international schools that were founded in 1985 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

Atlanta International School (4 Comments) (Atlanta, USA)

1985 AIS was founded by a group of parents, international educators and members of the business community whose aim was to provide the Atlanta area with the kind of international educational opportunities found in major cities throughout the world. Support from major corporations and public figures was obtained because of the school’s importance in the development of Atlanta as the premier international city in the southeastern United States.”

Al Hekma International School (9 Comments)  (Sanad, Bahrain)

“Al- Hekma International School (AHIS) is a co-educational international school offering an American curriculum to classes from Preschool through High School (PS-Grade 12). The school was founded in 1985 and is fully accredited by the Bahraini Ministry of Education and the Middle States Association for Accreditation of Colleges & Schools (MSA) in the U.S.A. AHIS is also affiliated with worldwide recognized educational institutions, that provide professional development and support for improvement and growth such as (NESA, NBOA, ASCD, AAIE, PTC, NAIS). Students in high school are also trained and tested to receive ICDL certificates through the schools accreditation with ICDL organization to provide students with the latest computer skills required for the future.”

A’takamul International School (0 Comments)  (Al-Rumaithiya, Kuwait)

“A’Takamul International School (ATIS) was founded in 1995, with our first graduating senior class in 2002. ATIS strives to provide a high quality international education based on the American-curriculum, while maintaining an Islamic ethos and Kuwaiti values. ATIS is a private, independent college preparatory school, and we enroll students from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. Students are encouraged to take part in as many different school activities as possible and to excel in all of their endeavors. ATIS is a member of Kuwait Foreign Schools Activities Conference (K.F.S.A.C.) and participates in sporting events throughout Kuwait.”

International School of Stuttgart (6 Comments)  (Stuttgart, Germany)

“The International School of Stuttgart, founded in 1985, is a co-educational, English-medium day school, serving the needs of the international community of the state capital of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.”

Stafford International School (3 Comments)  (Colombo, Sri Lanka)

“Founded in 1986 as an independent and private educational institute, Stafford is a coeducational, international school. It follows the British curriculum which prepares the students for the London University IGCSE and Advanced (A/S, A/L) Level examinations. High performance in these British exams qualifies students for entry into British and other foreign universities. The curriculum is stringent and comprises a broad and balanced range of subjects.”

Chaing Mai International School (5 Comments)  (Chaing Mai, Thailand)

“Missionaries returning to work with the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) after World War II established a school for their children in Chiang Mai. Classes began on June 1, 1954 with eight students. In 1958, construction was begun on the present campus for “The Chiang Mai Children’s Center.” As more expatriate families moved to Chiang Mai and sought an English-language education for their children they, too, were accepted at the school.

In 1984, representatives of the Thai Foreign Ministry and the CCT agreed that the formal establishment of an international school in Chiang Mai was a necessary step to achieving the school’s legal status. Classes under the new name, “Chiang Mai International School” (CMIS) began in September of 1985 for Kindergarten to Grade 8. High School grades were progressively added from 1992 to 1995.”

The International Philippine School in Riyadh (IPSR) (0 Comments)  (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

“ The school originally started in the mid 1950’s with about a dozen pupils. It was government run, and was housed in a succession of buildings in Central Honiara. By the early 1970’s the need for a new school was recognized, and in the later half of the 1970’s, a new Woodford School project was included in the Solomon Islands National Development Plan. This project recognized “That a primary educational system offering a curriculum meeting international standards is a critical infrastructure requirement necessary to support Solomon Islands objectives of attracting investment and technical expertise.”

ISTEK Schools, Istanbul (8 Comments)  (Istanbul, Turkey)

“The İSTEK Education and Cultur Foundation was established in Istanbul on the 5th April, 1985 by a group of  eminent persons and institutions on the initiative of the former mayor of the municipality of greater  İstanbul, Mr.Bedrettin Dalan. It is an educational trust, aims to develop productive, creative and responsible  attitudes in individuals while adopting the principles and reforms of Atatürk. Working in national and  international contexts, aiming to make positive contributions to both the country and the world’s future,  and giving priority to scientific thought defines İSTEK as a foundation apart.

We currently operate ten K-12 schools and three separate kindergartens. In 1996, the Foundation also  established a university, Yeditepe University, which has now grown to become Turkey’s biggest university.  The Medical Faculty of the University runs one of the top rated hospitals in the region as well as  ophthalmology clinics. The School of Dentistry has a hospital on the Asian side and a clinic on the European  side of the city.”

Amager’s International School (0 Comments)  (Copenhagen, Denmark)

“AIS was founded in 1985 by teachers and parents who where concerned about the decline of educational standards.  It is located on the island of Amager (Copenhagen) which is joined to the mainland of Zealand in Denmark.”


Tehran International School (0 Comments)  (Tehran, Iran)

“T.I.S was established in the year 1985 with the goal to build educational links to other countries and render educational services to foreign students in Iran . Since its establishment, the school has been continuously involved in the educational progress where numerous foreign students are continuing their education in much the same manner as in their previous schools with most satisfactory results.”
Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1238 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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Information for Members

Which Regions of the World Have the Most Comments on ISC?

February 4, 2019


Finding comments and reviews on the schools we want to know about is a top priority for most ISC members.  We have a number of features on our website that help our members do just that!

Using the School Search feature on the ISC website, members can specifically search only for the international schools that have had comments submitted on them. All members need to do is use the filter feature + tick the “schools with comments” box. Here are current results we got (from 4 Feb. 2019) along with five random schools from that region:

Asia: 63 Schools

American International School Dhaka (60 total comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 total comments)
Good Shepherd International School (409 total comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 total comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 total comments)

Caribbean: 23 Schools

The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (70 total comments)
Somersfield Academy (44 total comments)
The Bermuda High School for Girls (41 total comments)
International School St. Lucia (West Indies) (21 total comments)
International School of Havana (20 total comments)

Central American: 31 Schools

International School Panama (49 total comments)
Lincoln School (San Jose) (41 total comments)
Marian Baker School (33 total comments)
The British School of Costa Rica (31 total comments)
The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (75 total comments)

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Central/Eastern Europe: 64 Schools

International School of Belgrade (59 total comments)
Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)
Wroclaw International School (46 total comments)
American School of Warsaw (114 total comments)
International School of Latvia (33 total comments)

East Asia: 208 Schools

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (139 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (175 total comments)
Hong Kong International School (136 total comments)
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan) (81 total comments)
Keystone Academy (94 total comments)

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Middle East: 145 Schools

American International School of Kuwait (74 total comments)
International College Beirut (121 total comments)
Awsaj Academy (43 total comments)
Qatar Academy (Doha) (61 total comments)
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (77 total comments)

North Africa: 39 Schools

Alexandria International Academy (79 total comments)
American International School in Egypt (62 total comments)
Cairo American College (155 total comments)
Misr American College (53 total comments)
George Washington Academy (46 total comments)

North America: 48 Schools

American School Foundation of Guadalajara (111 total comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (72 total comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (93 total comments)
International High School of San Francisco (37 total comments)
Atlanta International School (31 total comments)

Oceania: 6 Schools

Woodford International School (12 total comments)
Port Moresby International School (8 total comments)
Majuro Cooperative School (8 total comments)
Kwajalein Senior High School (24 total comments)
International School Nadi (9 total comments)

most comments

SE Asia: 168 Schools

Ican British International School (74 total comments)
Northbridge International School (58 total comments)
Green School Bali (121 total comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (143 total comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (134 total comments)

South America: 63 Schools

The American Int’l School of Buenos Aires (Lincoln) (27 total comments)
Colegio Nueva Granada (57 total comments)
American School of Asuncion (145 total comments)
Colegio Internacional de Carabobo (95 total comments)
Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)

Sub-Saharan Africa: 68 Schools

The American School of Kinshasa (59 total comments)
International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)
International School of Kenya (46 total comments)
Saint Andrews International High School (41 total comments)
American International School Abuja (58 total comments)

most comments

Western Europe: 156 Schools

American International School Vienna (81 total comments)
International School of Paphos (123 total comments)
Copenhagen International School (345 total comments)
International School of Stuttgart (61 total comments)
Berlin Brandenburg International School (80 total comments)

Well those are all the regions of the world on our website. In total, we now have over 1080 international schools that have had comments and reviews submitted on them! Our goal is to keep that number going up and up. Thanks to our hundreds of Mayors as well for keeping their schools consistently updated with new comments and information every one or two months.

* To access these school links you do need to have premium membership access. Become a paid member today!  Or if you would like to become a Mayor and get free unlimited premium membership, send a request here.

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