Hola ISLA families:
Welcome to the 2016/2017 school year! This year, we are celebrating our 10th year anniversary, and the school gets better every year. I would like to extend a special welcome to all of the new families who are just joining our ISLA community in kindergarten and other grades. We are very excited for the new school year, and we encourage all new parents to get involved, as ISLA depends on the dedication of our committed cadre of volunteers; indeed, it is one of the factors that makes our school community so strong, and is a hallmark of any successful school.
This next spring, we will be kicking off our outdoor grounds project—which is part of our Green Campus Initiative. We had hoped to begin some of the work this summer, but the regulatory process with the city and with the watershed district was not conducive with that timeline. We are looking forward to the numerous learning opportunities and experiences that this will offer for ISLA students, with outdoor classrooms, teaching gardens, and a dedicated soccer field---all of these elements will help foster the ethos of sustainability and wellness. In addition, it will allow us to alter the drop off and pickup system in the front parking lot, to improve safety and help with traffic flow. Although the board has approved funding of the “seed” money for this project, this year we will be kicking off a fundraising initiative to move this forward. Stay tuned!
We have a talented group of teachers and staff coming back to ISLA this year, and a few new faces are joining our team. The excitement is palpable as they arrange their classrooms, attend workshops, and prepare curriculum. We were quite fortunate to have very little turnover of classroom teachers, but I would like to outline some of the changes of teaching and staffing assignments.
In Kindergarten, we are very pleased to welcome Paola Patino back to ISLA to teach after her one year leave of absence. In third grade, we welcome Dayra De La Cruz back to her 6th year in the classroom after a successful year as Dean of Students, and we are very pleased to welcome new 3rd grade teacher Jamie Pfieffer, who will be her teaching partner.
In fifth grade, we are excited to announce that Cori Adams has moved up from third grade. We are also thrilled to welcome Thairys Rodriguez, our new special education teacher, who has over twenty years of experience of working with special education in Venezuela.
In addition, we are pleased to welcome new music and band teacher David Martin, who has just arrived from Spain, and we also welcome Laura Slininger, who previously worked at Mis Amigos, to teach Art one day per week. Furthermore, Raquel Melendez will be splitting her time as a .5 RTI Math Coordinator and .5 Media Center Specialist: implementing and coordinating our math interventions program, as well as coordinating research in the library for units of inquiry.
Lastly, we are very excited to announce that Pam Shrestha, who has taught at ISLA for seven years, will be our new Dean of Students and Q-Comp Coordinator.
We have built an excellent team for this school year, all of whom were energized by our International Baccalaureate Organization training at Bethel University last week. For the first time in ISLA history, all teachers, assistants, administrative staff were able to attend the two day workshops (even the LA’s came for one day). ISLA had such a significant presence there that I wonder if Spanish is echoing in the hallways of the university today. This puts us in full compliance for training in the eyes of the IBO; more importantly, it allowed us all to hone our craft, to refresh our curriculum, and to collaborate with IB educators from around Minnesota. Within the context of immersion, we have many opportunities to utilize the IB profile attributes to cultivate international mindedness, and our meetings this week were abuzz with excitement.
This month also brought us the long awaited results of the IBO re-authorization visit, and we are pleased to inform the community that the report was very positive. As I suspected, they were very impressed by our amount of parental involvement, the level of commitment from the board, and our talented and knowledgeable staff. Although the evaluators did not give us any directives for immediate action items, they did leave us with guidance on fine tuning our written curriculum, and suggestions as to how we might continue to develop the mission of the International Baccalaureate.
Once again, I would like to welcome you all to the 2016/2017 school year here at ISLA! We look forward to continuing our work of building academic excellence through language immersion, along with the development of global citizenship through the International Baccalaureate. Thank you for being an integral part of this journey.