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The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cheers to a great ISSEA tournament!

A BIG Thank You to all the parents, students and teachers who’ve hosted student athletes and to everyone in our community for organizing, volunteering and supporting all the athletes, and for making the ISSEA tournament be a huge success.

And Congratulations to all the ISSEA athletes!

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, April 20, 2017

ISSEA is HERE!

This morning’s “walk of fame” and opening ceremony were raucous, loud fun, and the ISSEA soccer tournament has begun! Be sure to come out with your children to enjoy a few games on Saturday! The enthusiasm and spirit of this ISSEA weekend might just inspire your children to play on a varsity team when they’re older.

Thank you to the 75 families who are hosting our visiting athletes! 150 varsity boys and girls require a lot of beds and food. Staying with host families is part of the ISSEA experience, and we appreciate your care for our visiting players.

Go Eagles!!

Meet the Incoming Head of School Next Week

Our incoming Head of School will be on campus next week, and parents have a special opportunity to meet him. Join Dr. Tim Stuart and his wife Mona Stuart, at the Community Commons on Wednesday 26 April at 8:00 AM for a special Parent Coffee morning. To be sure the Stuarts experience an enthusiastic Ethiopian welcome, some of our families are hosting an Ethiopian breakfast that you won’t want to miss. Put this coffee morning on your calendar and help us welcome Tim and Mona!

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, April 13, 2017

ISSEA Soccer

We are preparing the upper field areas for the International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa (ISSEA) Soccer Tournament next week. It will begin with an opening ceremony in the gym on Thursday morning. The tournament will run from Thursday morning to Saturday night. Be sure to come out with your children to enjoy a few games next week! Your children may want to play on a varsity team someday, inspired by the spirit of this ISSEA weekend.

Thank you to the many families who are hosting our visiting athletes! 150 varsity boys and girls require a lot of spaces and food. Staying with host families is part of the ISSEA experience, and we appreciate your care.

At the same time we will be sending out our own ISSEA teams for STEM and robotics to Mozambique, and tennis and golf to Harare. 25 students will be traveling with their hardworking coaches. I know they will represent ICS very well as they travel and compete. Go Eagles!!

Paul Olson: in Memoriam

December 29, 1948 - April 7, 2017

Paul Olson was the ICS Director from 2000–2005. Under his leadership the school built the MS/HS classroom block with the science labs, the all-weather 300-meter track, and the school’s first-ever cafeteria (which only had the capacity to serve 200 people at a time). All of these projects were completed without loans, and he left the school with healthy reserves.

Paul was a dedicated learner and educator in Africa. He graduated from the American School in Kinshasa in the late 1960s and was a teacher and principal in many schools across the continent. His other directorships included the Harare International School and the International School of Dakar.

Paul loved the African continent and was an avid outdoorsman, birder and fisherman, and many friends and colleagues have stories to tell about him. This story from David Redmond, was typical:

“I have been in Ethiopia since 2011 and have been a regular angler on one of Paul's old haunts, the Webb River in the Bale Mountains. When we fish the river, our guide Taha often tells me stories and points out locations where Paul would spend an entire afternoon working just one pool. I have landed several fish using Paul’s advice via Taha, who claims that Paul is the best fisherman to cast a fly on that water.

‘In the world of fly fishing where I come from (Nova Scotia, Canada) it is a tradition to name pools after people who discovered them or spent a good deal of time on them angling for prospects. These favourite spots eventually become known by the name of the angler to all who fish there. So on the Webb, please let Paul know that we have named a particularly productive, long and steep pool after him. Next season, I will make ‘Paul's pool’ my first stop on the river.”

Since last September, Paul had been suffering with a form of bone marrow cancer. Due to his weakened state after an earlier liver transplant, chemotherapy was unsuccessful. He passed away peacefully at home last week with his family at his side.

Rest in peace, Paul Olson.

(ነፍስ ይማር  አቶ ፖል)

Paul Olson, June 2014 in Giverny, France

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Annual Fund Results!

Friday was the final day for our 2017 Annual Fund campaign but traveling parents asked if they could contribute this week. We are still accepting donations for the Annual Fund this week, and next week as well.  You can fill in a pledge form at the main reception desk, or you can stop at the cashier's office. We want to thank the many families and teachers who contributed to the Annual Fund this year. The results so far are: 

  • Total participants so far: 145
  • Faculty participation is 33.8%
  • Total funds raised so far: over $30,000
  • Percentage of goal: almost 86%

Last year we had 133 donors to the Annual Fund, so we’ve exceeded our target for the total number of participants!

Thanks again to everyone for your support of our special projects.

Busy, Busy, Busy

March and April offers many good learning experiences for our students that are different than normal classroom learning.

  • Grade 12 students took their IB mock exams last week, and they’re revising now for the real exams in May.
  • Thank you to the 29 internship sponsors who hosted our 59 Grade 11 students for a week-long internship in hospitals, offices, hotel kitchens and main reception desks…even in the auto shops! Few of our students can work legally in Ethiopia, so this internship gives them priceless real-world learning experiences. Thanks!
  • Grade 9–10 students had three days of project-based learning last week, with local field trips to Born Free and the Botanical Gardens, First Responder training and other experiences. Student teams also competed in a Science, Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) tourney by building catapults, arbalests, trebuchets and ballistas to compete in a live-action Angry Birds simulation on the final day!
  • Author Andrew Hallam is meeting high school math classes this week to talk about The Philosophy of Money and other interesting financial topics. Mr. Hallam is a former international school teacher and is famous for his book “How to Become a Millionaire Teacher” with self-managed investment strategies.
  • This is National Poetry Month in the USA and poet David Greenberg is visiting ICS next week. His hilarious poems are a hit with anyone who is young at heart, and Mr. Greenberg will be working with students from EC to Grade 8 during the week.
  • Middle and High School parents should plan to join us next week for student-led conferences. Sign-ups can be done on the Internet through Picka-time.
  • Incoming Head of School Dr. Tim Stuart will be on campus 24–27 April for a transition visit to prepare for next year. Parents are invited to meet Dr. Stuart at a special Parent Coffee at 8:00 AM on Wednesday 26 April at the Community Commons.

Board Elections Next Week

Board elections will open on 12 April; packets and voting information will be sent to all association members by email. You can vote by paper ballots in our main office, or by electronic balloting (anonymously) via the internet. Voting will end at the Association’s General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, 19 April.

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Progress on our Building Projects

I am pleased to report that our two major building projects—the New Classroom Block (NCB) and the Sports Pavilion—are within budget. Of course, I am less pleased with the delays we’ve experienced. City bureaucracy, difficulties making orders for imported finishing materials and equipment, and other problems have caused delays.

We will have a “soft opening” and ribbon cutting for the NCB on 12 May. The building should be handed over to us later, so that we can prepare for classes there in August 2017. Grades 5–8 will be in the NCB, as well as MS/HS Modern Languages and some of our student support classes. We also very excited about the Small Theatre that it includes!

The Sports Pavilion will also be ready in May, we believe. Some of the imported items have been received but we’re waiting for the basketball backboards, LED lighting and other systems. It will be a wonderful addition to the school’s PE and afterschool sports programs when it’s handed over for our use. Right now we do not have a date for a ribbon-cutting or the handover.

The Association’s General Meeting

Plan now to attend our Association’s General Meeting (AGM) at 7 PM on Wednesday, 19 April. All parents, teachers and TAs at ICS Addis are de facto members of the Association. All members of the association are invited to attend the AGM. The association “owns” the school and it operates as a non-profit, almost entirely sustained by tuition, capital levies and other fees.

At the April AGM there will be a report by the Board Treasurer regarding our projections for the end-of-year finances and for next year’s budget. The leadership team will provide an update on student learning, school programs, building projects and other initiatives. Of course, a very important agenda item is closing the elections for open Board seats, and announcing next year’s Board.

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions of our Board and the Head of School. I look forward to seeing many Association members at the AGM.

Board Elections Soon

Board elections will open on 12 April. You can vote by paper ballots in our main office, or by electronic balloting (anonymously) via the internet. Voting will end at the Association’s General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, 19 April.

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dear Parents, Friends and Colleagues,

Budgets are always a difficult and complex issue, but they are essential to the life, quality and success of our school. A good budget provides all of us—students, teachers, parents, administrators and other benefactors—the peace of mind that we are planning well, and that we have the resources and the framework to provide the quality education and inclusive, safe and stable environment we want our students to have. We are a learning community, and we need to make the investments necessary to ensure our learning is at the standard we all want and expect.

I am writing today to share with you the approved school fee increases for next year. The Board of Governors and the ICS Administration have approved the budget plan. I want to be as clear and transparent as possible on this, and welcome comments and feedback from parents, friends and colleagues as we move forward.

Due to continued upward pressure on costs, especially from the housing rental market, teacher salaries, and program costs, we are instituting a modest increase in tuition to defray these costs. We are also adding modest fees to partially cover the costs of some of the individualized Learning Support services ICS is proud to provide. We are doing this to ensure we will continue to have the resources to provide the quality education we all want for our students.

First, I have sought to describe the process used by the ICS Administration and the Board of Governors to determine annual budgets, tuition and other fees at the International Community School of Addis Ababa. Second, I have detailed the fee increases for the 2017–2018 school year (SY1718) below.

Budgeting Processes

ICS Addis is a not-for-profit institution. Almost 100% of our expenses are currently covered through tuition, registration, capital levies and other fees that organizations and families pay to send students to ICS. While we may seek to change this through more active fundraising in the future, this is our reality for now.

The Board of Governors approves our operating and capital budgets every year, which includes tuition, capital fees, and operational and capital expenditures. We have a two-year rolling budget plan, and a longer-term capital budget plan. Our budgets are conservative, based on limited growth and limited increases to salaries, benefits and programs. We always look for ways to hold costs steady or even to cut costs. This year, several positions are being trimmed from our programs, and other positions are being changed from overseas-hired teaching positions to local hire positions, which will reduce costs.

Any positive net result at the end of the year goes into our emergency or capital reserve funds for future contingencies and projects.

To assist in our decision-making processes, ICS benchmarks tuition, fees, faculty salaries, demographic data, and other useful indicators with comparable U.S. State Department-sponsored schools in Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia and Africa. The list includes the seven ISSEA schools, and other high quality international schools in Africa. We need to be competitive on the international stage, particularly in hiring and retaining good teachers, and in becoming a world class school per the Board of Governors’ vision.

Tuition and registration fees are the primary sources of funding and they cover all our annual operating costs. They pay for salaries, books and materials, student technology, small renovations and repairs, security and cleaning, and all our school programs.

Capital Levy fees are used only for building projects, major renovations, major equipment purchases, vehicles and any other large capital expenses. These fees are the main source of funds for our long-term infrastructure improvement plans and allow us to maintain our high-quality learning environment.

You can read more detail about our income and expenses in the Annual Reports that are provided online.

Tuition and Fees for SY1718

The Board of Governors has approved changes that reflect the needs and identity of the school, and will ensure we can maintain, and continue to improve on, the quality we have now. This year, the tuition increases are different for the high school as opposed to the early childhood, elementary or middle schools. These distinct parts of the school have different requirements, and we want to ensure our budgeting reflects that as fairly as possible.

You will also note several new fees for individualized Learning Support services. This is a distinct change, and an important one. ICS provides these services to many of our students, and is the only school in Ethiopia to do so. Few schools in Africa are able to provide them. The services ensure we can meet one of our main goals as a school—being inclusive and supporting children from many backgrounds, including some with learning disabilities. This is critical to the identity of our school, and we will not sacrifice it.

We have provided some of these services for about seven years now, and they have been covered by the general budget with small subsidies by some of the students in need of the most resources. However, our support programs are growing and we want to sustain quality and access to services. ICS recognizes that it has an obligation to provide these services, with the support of the entire community. But, we also recognize that some of the cost can and should be borne by the families that benefit directly from them. This is very much consistent with the way comparable schools around the world charge fees for similar services.

Changes for Tuition, Capital Levy and Registration Fees for 2017–2018

  • A 3% increase in tuition for early childhood, elementary and middle school.
  • A 5% increase in tuition for grades 9–12 (the high school).
  • There will no changes in the Capital Levy for new or returning students.
  • The application/registration fee will drop from $500 to $300. It will be non-refundable. Anyone who has already paid the $500 fee will have the extra money credited towards the tuition

Fees for Individual Learning Support Services

Fees for specific, individualized Learning Support services that are provided or required by ICS Addis will be instituted beginning in August 2017:

  • Speech Therapy services will be $1500 annually, billed by the semester.
  • Occupational Therapy services will be $1500 annually, billed by the semester.
  • Educational Psychological testing will be $500 if required by the school, or $2000 if requested by the family.
  • The current fee for Transition A students will rise from $4000 to $4500.
  • The current fee for Transition B students will remain unchanged.

These changes are consistent with our long-term financial planning. They will help us sustain program quality across the school. Our comparison international schools in Africa are making similar increments for tuition. With these increases, ICS will be closer to the median for fees, tuition and levies among our comparison schools.

Detailed information is included in the Tuition and Fee Schedule for the 2017–2018 school year. It is attached to this message and is also available online at www.icsaddis.edu.et/admissions/tuition-fees .

Questions?

The Head of School and Board of Governors will present the headlines of the SY1718 budget during the upcoming Association General Meeting (AGM) on 19 April 2017. If you have specific questions, you are invited to send them to feedback@icsaddis.edu.et before the meeting so that we can be better prepared to answer them. Thank you for your continued support to ICS.

James Laney Jr

Head of School

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, March 9, 2017

Updated Campus Access Policy

Please be sure to read our updated campus access policy this week. We realize that there are few other parks or play spaces for children or families in Addis Ababa, and we do like to accommodate the community’s needs. However, safety, supervision (by parents or other mindful guardians) and our own program’s priorities are critical.

Based on our policy, we will restrict family and student activities. During the school day or in our own supervised activities, school staff are responsible and know what our expectations are. The campus access policy reminds all of us of the care and consideration that are required at other times too, by students and parents alike. Thank you for your cooperation.

Budgeting and Fees at ICS Addis

The Board of Governors has approved our budget for the 2017–18 school year. I will be sending out a special letter to all parents tomorrow (Friday 10 March). The letter describes the processes used by the administration and the Board of Governors to determine annual budgets, tuition and other fees at ICS. School fees for next year will be included in my letter.

Re-enrollment for next school year will begin when we return from the March holiday break.

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Talking Head

Our Community School License

ICS Addis is licensed as a community school by the Federal Ministry of Education. This means we are not required to offer the Ethiopian national curriculum. We are required to be a non-profit organization. Our license also restricts who can enroll in our school.

Our school license is renewed every two years. Required documentation includes information about our employees and the Ethiopian students that are enrolled. After we submit our documentation, Ministry of Education officials visit us to inspect our compliance with labor and other relevant regulations. On their most recent visit, the officials also encouraged the school administration to offer more scholarships and to provide more training workshops for local teachers.

I am pleased to inform everyone that our community school license has been renewed through 28 February 2019.

Donate Today!

Our 2017 Annual Fund started on 1 February and we are making great progress towards funding this year’s four priority projects. I’d like to give a special word of thanks to our Campaign Chair Cathy Xin Ma who helped launch the campaign and is actively involved in its success. A huge thank you to all who have contributed to the Annual Fund so far!

  • The Annual Fund has currently raised $10,993, which is 31.4% of our target
  • 100% of the Board and leadership team has pledged
  • 12.3% of the faculty have participated already
  • Many ICS families have contributed

The campaign continues until 31 March. High participation—whether you are giving $20 or $5,000—is a sign that our community supports and invests in their children’s education and in the mission and vision of ICS. Your participation matters. Every gift counts, every gift makes a difference and every gift brings us closer to our goal.

Last year, 50% of our Chinese families participated in the Annual Fund, and that helped us exceed our funding goal. To say thanks, I hosted a special BBQ for the Chinese community. Who will stand out this year?

To make your donation, please visit our webpage by clicking HERE. You can also make your donation directly at our Cashier’s Office. 

Donate Today!

 

 

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reflecting on Classroom Cultures

Over the past few months I’ve been reading and reflecting about classroom cultures. I remember my own classrooms as a boy, with strict rules, rows of desks, silent students raising hands, teachers front and center delivering their knowledge to us. Perhaps your experiences as a student were similar. I learned well in that environment, and many of you did too. But, many students struggled in those kinds of classrooms, and some failed. “School isn’t for everyone,” some people would say.

We know a lot more about how the brain works now. Our classrooms and learning environments are much more purposefully focused on optimizing conditions so that all students can learn. So many students—boys in particular—can’t sit still for long periods. Girls start strong in school, but need more confidence builders as they grow older. Clear expectations, careful use of language, adult role models (for reading, problem solving, collaborating, etc.), classroom routines that provide a focus on engagement in learning even in busy, noisy spaces, and the interactions between learners and between learners and teachers are all critical conditions in our learning spaces now.

We don’t accept the notion any longer that “school isn’t for everyone.” At ICS we believe that if we’re purposeful and flexible, we can create environments, opportunities and structures that support ALL our learners.

ICS teachers think about all these things, and try to make them a reality in their planning and in the spaces they work in. We don’t always hit the mark for every child, but when I visit classrooms and watch teachers and students interact, I know that we’re getting there.

I know we’re making progress when I watch teachers collaborate and challenge their own practices to try to make purposeful, engaged learning happen in every room, for every child.

I love to watch young students running in the morning to their classrooms. I’m supposed to stop them, tell them that running on our walkways can cause an accident. But, I see the joy in their faces as they run to class. I know they’re excited about the day ahead, and that they’re going to be with caring teachers and TAs, in purposeful learning environments where all students can find success. School can be for everyone, if we want it to be.

Annual Fund Progress

Last year we launched our first Annual Fund campaign for two priority projects. 135 families and individuals contributed, and we built our Robotics lab and Makerspace, and brought in a literacy consultant to work with all elementary teachers and teaching assistants.

Building on that success, we launched our second Annual Fund a few weeks ago. This year our target is $35,000, which will support four priority projects:

  1. High Tech science equipment for the Middle and High School
  2. Sensory Center equipment for the Elementary School
  3. Flexible, portable staging equipment for student performances for all divisions, and
  4. Two large globes for our libraries.

The Annual Fund is supported by the ICS Board and leadership team as well as ICS teachers, teaching assistants and many parents in the community. So far we have raised $9,882, which is 28% of our target. Our thanks go out to the members of the ICS community who have participated already.

I encourage everyone to support the ICS Annual Fund. You can find donation forms at our main Reception or included with this newsletter. Your participation matters!

The Talking Head

Blog Type: 
Date Posted: 
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reflecting on Classroom Cultures

Over the past few months I’ve been reading and reflecting about classroom cultures. I remember my own classrooms as a boy, with strict rules, rows of desks, silent students raising hands, teachers front and center delivering their knowledge to us. Perhaps your experiences as a student were similar. I learned well in that environment, and many of you did too. But, many students struggled in those kinds of classrooms, and some failed. “School isn’t for everyone,” some people would say.

We know a lot more about how the brain works now. Our classrooms and learning environments are much more purposefully focused on optimizing conditions so that all students can learn. So many students—boys in particular—can’t sit still for long periods. Girls start strong in school, but need more confidence builders as they grow older. Clear expectations, careful use of language, adult role models (for reading, problem solving, collaborating, etc.), classroom routines that provide a focus on engagement in learning even in busy, noisy spaces, and the interactions between learners and between learners and teachers are all critical conditions in our learning spaces now.

We don’t accept the notion any longer that “school isn’t for everyone.” At ICS we believe that if we’re purposeful and flexible, we can create environments, opportunities and structures that support ALL our learners.

ICS teachers think about all these things, and try to make them a reality in their planning and in the spaces they work in. We don’t always hit the mark for every child, but when I visit classrooms and watch teachers and students interact, I know that we’re getting there.

I know we’re making progress when I watch teachers collaborate and challenge their own practices to try to make purposeful, engaged learning happen in every room, for every child.

I love to watch young students running in the morning to their classrooms. I’m supposed to stop them, tell them that running on our walkways can cause an accident. But, I see the joy in their faces as they run to class. I know they’re excited about the day ahead, and that they’re going to be with caring teachers and TAs, in purposeful learning environments where all students can find success. School can be for everyone, if we want it to be.

Annual Fund Progress

Last year we launched our first Annual Fund campaign for two priority projects. 135 families and individuals contributed, and we built our Robotics lab and Makerspace, and brought in a literacy consultant to work with all elementary teachers and teaching assistants.

Building on that success, we launched our second Annual Fund a few weeks ago. This year our target is $35,000, which will support four priority projects:

  1. High Tech science equipment for the Middle and High School
  2. Sensory Center equipment for the Elementary School
  3. Flexible, portable staging equipment for student performances for all divisions, and
  4. Two large globes for our libraries.

The Annual Fund is supported by the ICS Board and leadership team as well as ICS teachers, teaching assistants and many parents in the community. So far we have raised $9,882, which is 28% of our target. Our thanks go out to the members of the ICS community who have participated already.

I encourage everyone to support the ICS Annual Fund. You can find donation forms at our main Reception or included with this newsletter. Your participation matters!

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