What everyone is really talking about

I suppose it’s human nature for us to focus our attention on what’s new and noteworthy. After all, the word “news” is simply the plural form of the word “new.”

It is no surprise that the big news at our school has been the construction of the new Sports and Learning Center and its current and future impact on FIS. However, while this is clearly one of the most important projects in our school’s history, I am reminded that behind the bulldozers and diggers is a school that continues to thrive. When alumni and families talk about FIS around the world, they are not referring to our buildings but to the learning that takes place within them. Although bricks and mortar are important, they pale in comparison to the quality of a school’s teaching staff.

While I was excited by the highly successful recruiting season we completed last February, I am even more enthused now that I have been able to see our new teachers and administrators interact with students. Nothing I do in a given year is more important than hiring the best educators possible to work with our students and, if I do say so, our new teaching colleagues are exceeding my already-high expectations.

Speaking of challenges...I'm accepting one here for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Speaking of challenges…I’m accepting one here for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Part of my daily routine is to visit classes in session, allowing me to witness first hand how our new and returning teachers continue to make learning both challenging and engaging. This year we will continue to move forward with our goals to differentiate instruction to match individual student learning needs and abilities. We have introduced new classes in the Upper School and continue to give particular attention to our science and math programs at the Elementary School. I am particularly pleased with the added curricular choices at our Wiesbaden Campus as it expands new offerings in Grade 6 as well as in its lower grade levels, such as the swimming program introduced this year.

However, it’s not enough to have the best teachers and most updated curriculum – we also need to accurately measure student progress and give helpful feedback to both students and parents. We have established an annual spring parent survey to help us gather feedback on areas in which we can improve, and our most-recent results show that we are heading in the right direction. In the coming year our community will continue to see the school use a mixture of assessment tools to track student progress and to use and share this information in person and online to help students reach higher levels of success.

There is an enormous amount of good work that is taking place at FIS, and I am glad to report that the construction taking place outside the school is not interfering with our focus on what’s taking place inside our classrooms. While we wait and watch as the Sports and Learning Center takes shape, we will continue doing what we always do: providing our students with a world of opportunities.