Reflections from ISS President Liz Duffy

August 2016

Back to School

Dear ISS Educator,

As the new school year begins at ISS schools around the world, I want to reach out and thank you in advance for your hard work and dedication throughout the year on behalf of ISS students. ISS manages and supports 17 schools across the globe, and while they vary in size from a few dozen students in Pointe Noire, Congo to over 800 students in Shenzhen, China, as well as in location, from the steppes of Kazakhstan to the jungle of Indonesia and the beaches of Aruba and Cayman, there are many core values that bind ISS schools together. Most notably, all ISS schools are committed to student-centered teaching, ongoing professional learning, and global understanding.

"Making a World of Difference" is the new tagline for ISS. It was inspired by the work that you do day in and day out guiding and mentoring students to become thoughtful and imaginative global citizens and leaders. One needs only to read a newspaper, watch TV, or follow social media to realize why the type of education provided at ISS schools is essential to our shared futures.

For those of us who work in ISS's home and regional offices, "making a world of difference" means serving the myriad needs of international schools and educators. As we start the new school year, I want to remind you of some of the special services available to you as an educator at an ISS school.

Professional Learning

The late Seymour Sarason, a professor at Yale, often said, "Show me a school where the teachers are learning, and I'll show you a school where the students are learning." ISS very much abides by that philosophy, so we have developed a series of face-to-face and blended learning opportunities of particular relevance to international educators, including:

  • Level 5 - Recognizing that creativity and innovation are essential 21st century skills, ISS established Level 5, a space for creativity, learning and design at Shekou International School.  With an eclectic range of events for school leaders, educators and the wider community, Level 5 is a place to explore contemporary practice and reimagine traditional schooling. See for a full schedule of workshops, including the inaugural ISS Learning Summit on September 23rd and 24th.
  • Open Book - This online forum provides curated curricular resources, peer advice and collaborative study opportunities. One of the main foci this year will be on assessment.  See for more information.
  • World Language Initiative - ISS's renowned World Language Initiative has introduced standards-based Arabic language instruction, materials and professional learning to many schools, teachers and students in the Middle East, while our English as an Additional Language (EAL) program supports English language learning in pre-K-12 schools throughout the world and offers a blended learning certificate program for interested educators. Further details can be found at

This year too we will be piloting two new blended learning initiatives with ISS schools, one focused on the science of learning and the other focused on global mindedness. We will send further details about those opportunities later this fall.

The ISS Community

Since our inception over 60 years ago, one of the hallmarks of ISS has been the strong sense of community and loyalty among ISS educators. Today social media enables communities to be formed across the world around common interests, not only to share teaching strategies and practices, but also to co-create teaching resources. If you aren't already following and connecting with the ISS community through social media, please do through our Facebook page and Twitter account and on twitter using #ISSedu.  There, ISS educators are sharing the magic happening in their schools and classrooms everyday as well as links to best practices and educational research. In addition, ISS is launching a closed Facebook group specifically for educators at ISS schools and other teachers associated with ISS. \

Based on interest, we also periodically host more focused conversations, such as the Open Book community described above and our network of women leaders (see and follow #ISSwomenlead). Join these dynamic conversations today! When we launch a new website later this fall, you will be able to access all the ISS communities through the navigation bar at the top of the site.  In the meantime, get connected and stay tuned for further opportunities to share what's happening in your school and classroom and to learn from other ISS educators.

Career Services

ISS has been a leader in educational recruitment for decades.  Whether you're searching for your next teaching opportunity, your first teacher leader position, or your next headship, take advantage of the free recruiting services we offer to educators at ISS schools by registering with our teacher or school leader placement services at or respectively. To open an account with ISS, just reach out to the Ed Staffing Team and they will assist you - email them at

Our placement system enables you to highlight your experience, not just with the requisite certificates and application, but also through a multi-media friendly platform that allows uploads of photos, videos and other exemplars of your work in schools. Through the system, you can quickly and efficiently learn about and apply to international schools with open positions that fit your specific requirements. Throughout the recruiting process and especially at IRCs and iFairs, the ISS team is available to coach and mentor candidates. If you don't plan to be on the job market this year, but want to stay abreast of recruiting and career trends, join our online recruiting conversations at and #ISScareers.

I hope that you will avail yourself of some of these benefits for ISS educators, and I will send periodic notices out as we launch additional initiatives. My colleagues and I also look forward to seeing many of you throughout the year at regional conferences, on school visits, and/or online.

Last, but certainly not least, as the new school year begins, a tribute to you by ISS's resident bard, Executive Vice President Bruce McWilliams:

It's 3:30 a.m. I'm in bed wide awake
Tomorrow's the day and I still have to make
A name tag for Nikolai, Bella and Sue
My bulletin boards and the school's out of blue

Did I remember to draft my flip chart
Cuz' I need it first day, it's part of my start
Will the kids like me and will dad and mom
I hope that that they do or my year could be glum

It's a quarter to five when I glance at the clock
I'm still wide awake but it's too soon to walk
Out to my car for the drive into school
Did I label a cubby for John and Rasool?

Finally it's time - there goes the bell
In comes the hoard the day starts out swell
With uniforms crisp and a smile on their faces
They hang up back packs and sit in their places

All of my hard work has come to fruition
The kids are engaged, I'm meeting the mission
Tonight I'll go home and flop into bed
Soundly I'll sleep with a worriless head

For when the alarm goes at 7:15
I'll move with the groove - my familiar routine
The year has begun and the kids with great glee
Are loving our school and it's all cuz of me

From the entire ISS team, thank you for making a world of difference to ISS students and best wishes for a new school year filled with learning, innovation, collaboration and community.

Warmly and gratefully yours,
Liz Duffy
ISS President