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The Talking Head

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, February 2, 2017

Being Inclusive and Welcoming

Last weekend many of us at ICS were challenged to think about the new US president’s restrictions and limitations on refugees, immigrants and visitors from specific countries. His decree certainly seems to herald a troubling change to US policy and practice. We wonder where it may lead in the future.

I am writing this message to declare that ICS Addis remains an inclusive school community. We welcome children, families and employees of different spiritual beliefs, with differing ethnicities, cultures and orientations. We are proud to be educating children from more than 70 countries—including a few on the new president’s list. We affirm our belief that the best way to create a peaceful, ethical world is when people from many cultures are learning, playing and working together. We believe that international schools like ICS can be models for how the world should behave.

One heartening note in all this is the courageous response of millions of people in the USA and in other countries. Many people found their voice, or took action. Writing or calling US government representatives, standing at airports, providing free legal assistance, writing dissent letters, donating money for refugees or stranded travelers, and many other actions are important.

We can all think of examples in history when terrible things happened, and good people remained silent. “It won’t happen to me,” is an unacceptable response to discrimination.

The words, decisions and actions of a few people in power in the USA are not always indicative of the spirit of the American people. We want our children to learn to be courageous. Perhaps this is a time for the adults in the ICS community to model their courage. Don’t be afraid to ask your children about what is happening, or to let them know your own thoughts and feelings. Don’t be silent. And, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions on this topic in the coming days and weeks.

Saying Goodbye

Nurse Renate Tejiwe began working at ICS Addis in June 1994. She helped us establish many good health services over the years, such as training students, teachers and other staff to be certified First Responders, or hiring nurses and doctors to accompany our WWW trips in Ethiopia.

Renate is retiring early, on 9 February 2017. I know that many people in our community will want to stop in and say “thank you” before she leaves us.

How’s the School Doing?

The 2015–2016 school year marked many important milestones for ICS Addis. We launched our first Annual Fund campaign and established an investment account for our Scholarship Endowment. The community collaborated on the Master Plan and the new Sports Pavilion is rising out of that process. Our reauthorization study for the IB Diploma Programme (DP) in the high school was successful. We completed our self-study for the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) in the elementary.

Our Annual Report for 2015–2016 is published now, and is being sent home to all families this week. It is a colorful testament to the hard work of our teachers and support staff, and to the accomplishments of our school programs. It includes many indicators of our school’s quality regarding learning, participation and finances. This year we are also sending home a healthy variety of brochures about some of our programs at ICS.

I hope you will enjoy reading and learning more about what ICS is doing. I also welcome feedback about other school indicators or reports that you feel may be valuable for us to consider in future annual reports. This Annual Report—and previous reports—are also available on our website’s Parent Downloads page.

Community Breakfasts!

On the last Thursday of every month, ICS teachers and support staff gather for a “Thankful Thursday” breakfast. Eating together is a great way to celebrate regularly and to say thanks to people who work hard behind the scenes to make ICS a safe, welcoming school.

On the first Wednesday of every month we also invite parents for a Community Breakfast. In January and February our Latin American and South African groups fed many parents (and a few administrators!) amazing cultural breakfasts. Wow! Who will outdo them in March or April? Administrators will be to say hello to parents and answer questions you may have.

Our next two Community Breakfasts are on 1 March and 5 April. Put them on your calendar now!

 

 

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Welcome to the Second Semester

We welcomed 26 new students and their families to the ICS community in January. Our enrollment is steady at about 950 students. 34% of our students are new this year.

I hope you’ll join us at our “Welcome Back” social event (for parents and teachers only) tomorrow evening at 5 PM in the upper commons. There will be wine, soft drinks and snacks. Hundreds of paintings by local artists will be on display for purchase. Makush Gallery is a strong supporter of our scholarship program and makes a generous donation to our program with every painting purchased. I’ve sent a special invitation to our new families, and it will be a good chance to catch up with friends and meet new parents.

A BIG Shout Out…

Our maintenance teams completed a whopping 83 repair, cleaning or renovation projects during the Christmas holiday. The campus looked great when we returned too, in spite of all that had to be done. Thank you to Ato Tadesse Woudneh and all of his crews for their hard work, long hours and attention to safety and quality.

Building Project Updates

Our Sports Pavilion is growing larger, daily! It will be used for PE classes during the school day, after school for student sports, and on the weekends as well. We expect to be using the facility in the final quarter of the school year, for basketball, volleyball, tennis and other sports. We had delays at the start of this project with city approvals, but since the commencement permit was issued, we’ve moved forward on schedule.

The structure of the New Classroom Block is almost complete, and soon it will be joined to the existing middle/high school block. The interior work of plastering, wiring, plumbing, lighting, tiling, and framing doors and windows began in December. Site works for the new perimeter walls, the guard house, parking and roadways, and exterior patio spaces will start soon. We expect to be cutting a ribbon to open the facility in mid-May, and we’ll be ready to use it when the new school year begins, as planned.

Happy New Year to our Chinese Community!

“Sshin-nyen kwhy-ler!”

One of the changes I’ve been pleased to see in my years at ICS is the growth of our Chinese community. It wasn’t too many years ago that there were NO Chinese families in our school, and now they’re almost 3% of our student body. ICS is an international community, and we bring many languages and customs with us. Please join me in wishing our Chinese families Happy New Year this Sunday, and a prosperous Year of the Rooster!

“Gong-sshee faa-tseye!”

 

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, December 15, 2016

‘Tis the Season to Reflect

The end of a season or a semester is always a good time to pause, to assess and to reflect. To think about next steps.

At ICS Addis we enjoy many performances at the end of the semester. Judging from the sizes of these concerts and shows, almost all ICS students were on stage at least once. And, judging from the sizes of the audiences, most of our parent community enjoyed them too. The band and choir ensembles, the elementary concerts (including one tonight), the Coffee House, the drama performances by middle and high school thespians have all been well attended and greatly enjoyed. The musicality, the enthusiasm, the choices of songs, the set ups, the quality of the sound production have all been top notch.

These performances really help us build community. I watched our grade 11 boys clap and cheer enthusiastically for a grade six girl singing karaoke-style at the Coffee House and I thought "Wow! We really ARE a community!" 

We have much to be thankful for in this community. Students are learning and growing, as measured by the standardized tests we use. They are taking chances and shining on stage. They are building team spirit and skill on our fields and courts. They are coding and making with creative, collaborative tools that we as parents never had the chance to learn with. They are serving others in the school or beyond the walls of the school, in ways too numerous to list, from early childhood to grade 12.

Enjoy your holiday break, and recharge your batteries for the New Year, the next semester. Travel safely, enjoy a much-needed break, and join us on 9 January (Monday) for the first day of school in the New Year!

Campus Access During the Holiday

We always take care of important maintenance during the holiday breaks. You will need your ICS ID card to enter the campus as usual. Thank you for your flexibility and cooperation.

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Say THANK YOU…

“…to the great teachers who are never satisfied, always expecting more of themselves and more of their students.”

Ron Ritchhart, Creating Cultures of Thinking

ICS Addis MAP Scores Above Average

The average student scores at ICS Addis in mathematics and reading are above all comparison groups this year.

The worldwide scores for student proficiency on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Mathematics and Reading tests were released this week. We can compare our results with four groups: all schools that take MAP assessments, all international schools, all schools in Africa, and all schools in Africa that are supported by the US State Department.

At all but one grade (in reading), our students’ averages are above all these other groups. In many cases—in both mathematics and reading—our students’ averages are significantly above the comparison group averages.

These outstanding results are a tribute to the hard work of all of our teachers and teaching assistants! I hope that parents appreciate the attention that our teachers give to every student. Before you go on holiday, be sure to thank a few teachers who are “always expecting more of their students!”

Mathematics Proficiency

 

All Schools (2015)

ALL Int’l Schools

AISA Region Schools

AISA A/OS Supported Schools

ICS Addis

G2

176.9

179.20

183.47

183.41

184.2

G3

190.4

190.22

195.29

195.26

196.2

G4

201.9

201.50

207.27

207.60

210.6

G5

211.4

211.31

216.92

217.09

220.9

G6

217.6

218.04

222.86

223.07

223.3

G7

222.6

225.63

228.48

228.72

229.6

G8

226.3

233.13

235.37

235.45

238.6

G9

230.3

238.37

240.24

240.40

245.2

G10

230.1

242.71

244.69

244.69

252.3

Reading Proficiency

 

All Schools (2015)

All Int’l Schools

AISA Region Schools

AISA A/OS Supported Schools

ICS Addis

G2

174.7

173.33

182.44

182.20

183.9

G3

188.3

184.96

192.71

192.89

196.2

G4

198.2

194.82

204.08

204.69

206.1

G5

205.7

202.50

210.65

210.78

214.5

G6

211.0

208.84

215.94

216.16

216.0

G7

214.4

214.12

220.52

220.85

222.6

G8

217.2

219.36

225.49

225.70

226.1

G9

220.2

221.75

227.61

227.93

232.7

G10

220.4

223.98

231.33

231.33

236.3

Need More MAP Information?

The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests are given two times per year to ICS students in grades 2–10. In September, we measure students’ proficiency, compared to their grade-level peers around the world. This answers an important question that parents always want to know, “Is my child at the expected level?” Parents who want their child’s proficiency information in September can call or write one of our school offices, and request the report.

In May we give the MAP tests to the same students. Again, we can compare them to their grade level peers around the world. In May, we can also assess and compare their growth for the school year. This answers a second important question that parents always ask, “Is my child learning at the expected rate?” At the end of May 2017 we will provide MAP reports to all parents because that document shows parents the answers to both questions.

In the meantime, you are welcome to ask at a school office or meet someone from our Office of Teaching and Learning to learn more about MAP assessments and your child’s results.

 

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, December 1, 2016

Giving Thanks…

Last week was the US holiday of Thanksgiving, and we at ICS Addis certainly have a lot to be thankful for. On Thursday, while ICS students and families enjoyed a long weekend, our professional staff kept very busy with curriculum work and other tasks that require time together to complete.

For lunch, to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, the leadership team and I said thank you to our teachers and teaching assistants with a BBQ. In the USA, we make jokes about the choice between “going to college or learning to flip burgers.” On Thursday it was a privilege to be able to tell so many thanks for all their hard work in the first four months of the school year, and flip a burger onto their plate.

It doesn’t take much time to say “thank you” to a teacher or a staff member. Our program at ICS Addis has grown in quality and size every year, and it’s because our staff members across the organization are committed to helping us become a great school. Tell someone at ICS thanks for their hard work on behalf of our students. Those simple words of appreciation encourage all of us to keep the standard high, and to keep working to make ICS Addis a better and better place to learn and grow.

Here are some of things our ICS teachers and assistants have done in the past four months:

  • Welcomed 299 new students and 23 new teachers
  • Assessed students and developed differentiated plans
  • Collaborated to ensure that all students are learning and growing
  • Ensured a strong focus on inquiry and our learner profile in student learning
  • Completed the first progress reports and report cards in PowerSchool
  • Conferenced with parents and students
  • Took 56 students to French language, Model UN, volleyball and track & field teams to conferences and tournaments in France, Uganda and South Africa
  • Offered 80+ student activities and coached 25 sports teams after school
  • Hosted a Model UN Conference involving 200+students from local schools
  • Directed plays, concerts and other student performances

Our support staff has:

  • Supervised renovations and projects in classrooms and across our campus
  • Coordinated with our contractor for major building projects such as the Community Commons, the New Classroom Block or the Sports Pavilion
  • Directed more traffic and cars on a daily basis
  • Maintained more classrooms and more offices for more students and more teachers
  • Provided quick, competent and friendly maintenance to many teachers in their homes
  • Set up dozens of assemblies, meetings and other events each week for students and teachers, with tents, tables, chairs, PA and projector systems, and much more

That’s a lot of activity!

Thank you!

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reporting to ICS Parents

The Board of Governor’s AGM is not always convenient for parents but we want to share our reports to the wider parent community. On Friday, 2 December, the ICS Leadership team will offer two chances for parents to learn more about ICS programs and the initiatives we’re working on. Our report will be brief, and then parents will have the chance to ask the principals and other leaders their own questions.

  1. 8:00 AM Coffee Morning at the Community Commons
  2. 2:30 PM in the Upper Commons

Please join us at one of these sessions, and learn more about the work we are doing to achieve our ICS vision and mission.

SHARE the HEALTH this Year for MO-vember!

We all struggle with finding ways to make a significant difference in other people’s lives. There is so much need in this city.

MO-vember was begun to raise awareness of men’s health issues and to encourage men to have an annual checkup. This year for MO-vember, we encourage parents and teachers to “Share the Health.”

Most expatriates have good insurance and opportunities for regular checkups. I can visit a good doctor every year. But what about our Ethiopian friends who work for us in our homes? This year we’ve arranged for inexpensive health checks with a local, foreign-trained doctor. For 1,100 birr you can sponsor your guard, driver, housekeeper or nanny to have a thorough checkup. The health check is available for men and women.

I hope you will consider this as one way you can do something significant and positive for the people who work in your homes. Please contact one of the nurses in our Health Office if you want to learn more, or if you are ready to schedule a checkup for one or more of your household members. You can contact our Health Office by calling the school or by writing to nurses@icsaddis.edu.et.

 

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Parent Association’s General Meeting (AGM)

Please join our Board of Governors at our Association’s General Meeting at 7:00 PM on Wednesday 16 November. We will be in the Upper Commons, and snacks and soft drinks will be provided. Our agenda for the AGM includes a report on our financial audit from 2015–2016 and an update from the ICS Leadership Team on student learning, student safety, building projects and other initiatives. You will also have the opportunity to bring questions to the Board of Governors and the leadership team.

Distress in the Community

The negativity of the recent US presidential campaign has affected all of us. The speeches, the videos, the attacks, the Facebook memes, and other images and words have polarized the US. They have worried many of us living here. Thanks to modern media, even our youngest students are deeply aware of these words and images. Students easily internalize their parents’ opinions. This season, the relentlessly negative publicity and social media have made the election even bigger in everyone’s minds.

Some students are worried about the US election result and what it means for them, for their families or for the world. Others may feel excited and proud, and might not be sensitive to the concerns of their classmates. I remember some of the bullying (from both sides of the aisle) that happened on the ICS campus when President Obama was first elected eight years ago.

Rumors can cause fear. The best way to address rumors or worries is open and transparent dialogue. The counselors and I have given guidance our teachers and TAs on how to talk with students about the rumors and their concerns. If your child seems distraught or excessively worried, we have excellent counselors who can help—please let a teacher, administrator or a counselor know.

MO-vember at ICS Addis!

Many ICS teachers are growing moustaches and beards this month, for “MO-vember.” This international event raises awareness of men’s health issues, and honors our friends, colleagues and family members who have been affected by prostate cancer and other men’s diseases.

This year I am growing my moustache again in remembrance of former ICS counselor Michael Archbold. Mike worked at ICS Addis for twelve years. He was the driving force for starting our Week Without Walls program almost 25 years ago. He was also a huge advocate for our scholarship program and helped many ICS students attend selective universities in the US, Canada and the UK. His wife was a high school math teacher, and their two daughters attended ICS. Sadly, Mike passed away of cancer in June 2012.

Dads, put a ‘stache on, take care of yourselves…and make your health checks a regular event!

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Parent Association’s General Meeting (AGM)

Please join our Board of Governors at our Association’s General Meeting at 7:00 PM on Wednesday 16 November. We will be in the Upper Commons, and snacks and soft drinks will be provided. Our agenda for the AGM includes a report on our financial audit from 2015–2016 and an update on student learning, student safety, building projects and other initiatives. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions of our Board and the Head of School.

Monitoring the State of Emergency

ICS Addis maintains regular contact with the Federal Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and other security offices with embassies and other international organizations. Currently we are pushing MOFA and EthioTelecom to open up our access to the Internet, and the mission-critical educational websites that our students and teachers use on a regular basis. We have opened up a channel for a limited number of students and teachers at this time, and we are investigating several different ways we can provide better access for the whole community to these vital resources at our campus. We appreciate your patience.

We continue to take trips within the city and to Gulele Botanical Gardens with our students. All trips include an ICS Security Guard for additional communication and safety (our guards are also trained as first responders if there’s an injury).

We will share relevant information with parents as we learn anything new. Please be sure we have your updated mobile phone numbers for SMS notification in an emergency.

MO-vember at ICS Addis!

From Mike Archbold’s obituary…

“Travelers, it is late.

Life’s sun is going to set.

During these brief days that you have strength,

be quick and spare no effort of your wings.”

Rumi

Many ICS teachers are growing moustaches and beards this month, for “MO-vember.” This international event raises awareness of men’s health issues, and honors our friends, colleagues and family members who have been affected by prostate cancer and other men’s diseases.

This year I am growing my moustache again in remembrance of former ICS counselor Michael Archbold. Mike worked at ICS Addis for twelve years. He was the driving force for starting our Week Without Walls program almost 25 years ago. He was also a huge advocate for our scholarship program and helped many ICS students attend selective universities in the US, Canada and the UK. His wife was a high school math teacher, and their two daughters attended ICS. Sadly, Mike passed away of cancer in June 2012.

Dads, put a ‘stache on, take care of yourselves…and make your health checks a regular event!

Community Brings Us Together

Many thanks to the dozens of parent and teacher volunteers who made Friday night such a frightful, fun-filled event for all our students. Diana Mattanovich, the Boy Scouts, the parents, the ICS staff made it possible in our elementary school. Then, our teachers and Student Councils put on two great social events for our middle and high school students. The campus was busy!

This week we cut the ribbon on our newly rebuilt Community Commons. Just up field from the snack bar (and macchiato machine), this space was a cooperative brain-child of the PTA and ICS Administration about four years ago. With the building of our new cistern and fire-suppression systems for the campus, the Community Commons was rebuilt and improved for the future… and all within the existing budget for the new classroom block! I want to thank the ICS Maintenance Office, the architect Rahel Shawl, and the contractor, Pier Paolo Elmi, for collaborating together to create this space dedicated to the ICS community. 

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our Renovated Community Commons!

Please join us on Wednesday morning at 8:00 AM to cut the ribbon (and some cake!) on our new Community Commons! ICS administrators will be on hand to greet parents and answer questions regarding safety, school planning and other topics of your interest. Parent volunteers will be hosting our breakfast that morning, so it’s sure to be good.

Emergency Preparations at ICS

Today we are holding an earthquake “duck and cover” drill on campus. We want everyone to know how to be as safe as possible if an earthquake does happen, and then know what to do after the shaking stops.

In an earthquake or other general city-wide emergency, ICS staff will keep student safety as our number one priority. Students will be gathered immediately after the event in one safe place for attendance. Then, we’ll keep students safely until they can be dismissed to the care of parents or other parent-approved contacts.

A Special Recognition Today

Many parents know “Ato Kebede” as one of our friendliest and most helpful staff members. Ato Kebede helps us keep on top of safety and usability for our grounds and sports facilities, and his smiling face can be seen all over the campus during the day and on the weekend.

40 years ago today, a young Kebede Daniel was given his first official ICS ID card! That’s right, on 27 October 1976, Kebede Daniel began serving the ICS community as a ball boy at our tennis courts. If you see Kebede in the coming days, please be sure to tell him thanks for his commitment and loyalty to ICS students, faculty and parents.

ISSEA Teams Represent ICS Addis this Weekend

17 varsity volleyball players and four coaches are out this weekend to Johannesburg for the ISSEA Volleyball tournament. 28 athletes and six coaches are also in Kampala for the ISSEA Track & Field and Cross Country Meet. I hope you can follow the action online. Go Eagles!

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