Here we go:
Welcome back to school! We usually find the first week of school the hardest. By the time we get to Friday, everyone is tired as if they have not just finished a long, nice holiday a few short days ago. It’s understandable. Everyone is very excited, the adrenaline is pumping, and we are all adjusting to a change of routine.
Nevertheless, excitement adds to the positive start we are having, and I am confident it may also have to do with our new cafeteria service. This past week, I spent every lunch break with the students checking on the quality of the food and service, and I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the students. You can already tell a difference by simply smelling the wonderful aromas coming out of the kitchen. Welcome Pedevilla.
As we do every year, we publish our IB results on the website. First of all, I want to congratulate our students on their results and hard work. Having said that, we are also aware that this year we over-predicted some of our results, particularly at the top end. Our students’ (now graduates’) university acceptances were not affected. 100% of our graduates will be attending university, and many have already started at their new academic year and are enjoying their first semester of independence.
Over the course of the next couple of months, I will be addressing through this forum some the developments and changes that we are implementing in our academic program. We are in the process of reviewing our English language program with the goal of improving the curriculum across the whole school; we are also working with consultants and trainers to continue to improve the learning and teaching practices at the school. In my next messages I will go into details of the changes that are taking place.
After School Activities and Sports Program
This is the 7th year of our after school activities program and the 2nd year of the sports program. We are working to create more opportunities for our students to participate in tournaments, and our long view goal is to create a league of schools with similar values and philosophies that will allow all our students more sporting opportunities.
Events this year
As every year, we have a very busy schedule; we are by far one of the busiest schools of our size.. I would like to highlight two major events that ISG will be hosting:
Thinking Collaborative Workshop:
This will be held in March of this academic year and we expect to host between 60-80 educators from all over the world. This is the first time that Thinking Collaborative holds a workshop in Europe.
Education Across Frontiers:
This past June, 119 educators from around the world attended the teacher training workshops, and in June 2019 we look forward to another round of workshops. In particular it is with great pleasure that next June we will welcome Professor Robert Garmston, Professor Emeritus from the School of Education at California State University Sacramento, who will be leading a workshop within the program.
This year we will write a self-study in preparation for the CIS visit in October 2019. This is an excellent process that will help us look carefully at our systems and structure while continuing to plan and develop for the future. ISG has now been fully accredited for the last 8 years, and we plan to continue with this process.
On a final note: As with every year we have a lot to do. We look forward to working with you and your children for what we hope will be a wonderful and exciting year.
Samer N. Khoury
Wishing you all a wonderful and a very happy 2019.
One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to re-visit the director’s message. I plan to start again with writing a message to the parent community on regular basis. During my first year, I used to write on weekly basis, which proved to be too many times for the readers. At some point we tracked how many actually read the message and it was around 60% at best.
So as of today and for the rest of the year, I plan to have a communication sent out to the parent community at least once and at most twice a month under the title of “Letter from the Director”. The letter will mainly be in two parts: part one will be related to any and all academic school issues, and the second part will be addressing any issues that may come up that are of a concern to the community.
One area I have been wondering about is how to be successful in Genoa as a student, a teacher, an administrator or as an institution, and I have decided to start the year with, What are the criteria for success in Genoa?
When we came to Genoa in 2011 from Milan, it was the first time, for myself and my family, to set foot in Genoa, even though we had been in Italy for at least 10 years. We were not aware that the city of Genoa holds some of the most beautiful piazzas, churches, monuments and history, not to mention the historical centre. (In most tourist guidebooks Genoa holds half a page only, which is not fair or correct.) Since then I have always referred to Genoa as the “Hidden Treasure.” After 8 years here we still feel fortunate to be walking around and enjoying living in this beautiful city.
Life in general is not easy and one needs a lot of optimism and encouragement to continue to move forward. Over the last eight years it has been very difficult for me to understand why is it difficult to celebrate success, or, more importantly, if a student is successful, why some find it necessary to justify the success as if it were due to reasons other than the student’s own merit. Many times we come across situations when a student was successful and was accepted at a very prestigious university, then there were views that the student only achieved this because the exams where easy. Sometimes, when a student joins a sports team, it is accredited to the fact that the team was weak. Why is it so difficult to attribute success to the individuals’ hard work and merit?
It does not stop there; over the years sometimes the response I hear to “Good Morning!” is, “Let’s not push our luck!” or, “Are you sure it is good?” This year at various points when I said “Happy New Year” to individuals inside or outside the school, I was no longer surprised by some of the responses where “Let’s wait and see,” or, “Are you sure it is happy?” are some of the responses that I get. Sometimes in jest, but many are not.
I fail to see why is it so difficult to be positive or why sometimes positivity has to be measured. So now whenever we have a successful situation, I learnt to tone it down a little and not boast too much.
Being positive and celebrating success are two of many areas that we use to work with our students in order to support them, through academics in particular and in life in general, when we are allowed. I see too many examples on the individual level and on the collective level where success is put down and not celebrated.
The same applies to our school: our students are being successful in many areas, including sports, academics and music, just to mention a few. Our graduates are attending some of the top universities in the world, including Cambridge, NYU, Boston University, Brown , Tufts, and King’s College, among many others. All of our graduates attend college or university. At least in the last 8 years, 100% of our graduates went to college. However, we do not aim only towards the most prestigious universities, we aim to ensure our students are successful, and therefore we strive to meet the individual needs of students and ensure they attend the right university for them. Some of our students struggle academically and that makes it even harder to be successful, but that is why the success in theses cases should be even more celebrated.
Our children and students are being successful on their own merit with the support of the parents and the support of the school. We have many new initiatives and we see the school moving forward in an almost impossible financial situation. When we are unable to recognize success, it reaches a point where it does not matter what feedback one gets because no matter how successful one is, it is never enough. ISG is being successful on many levels and our students are happy to be at the school. A third grader told me the other day that he prefers to be in school rather than on vacation.
Over the past few weeks, I was informed that one of our graduated who is attending Cambridge (the second one to attend Cambridge in the last 8 years) has also received a research scholarship from MIT. One of our students who did not receive the IB diploma last year, re-took the exams, received the full IB diploma, and was equally successful. Our children are all different but we believe that they all can be successful.
We live in a great city, which has its struggles but is still a beautiful city. Yet, the smiles are very limited and it seems important not to show signs of happiness or success for fear of envy. We will not accept that: I fully reject the pessimism and I fully embrace optimism. It is the only way we will move forward.
January 11, 2019