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Thank you, ISPN and Director Gary Gibbons!

Keith Cincotta, ISS Director of School Supply and Senior Leadership Executive, Managed Schools

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After nine years, three campuses, three directors, and hundreds of children passing through its gates, the International School of Pointe Noire (ISPN) will be closing their doors for the last time this month.  Located in the small coastal city of Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo, ISPN has served the expat community and grown into a home-base for children from dozens of countries. The school’s sponsoring company, Schlumberger, regretfully cite the low price of oil and declining investment in Congo’s off shore oil fields as the reason they are no longer able to support the school.  


ISS is very grateful for the years we had to walk alongside this small, but mighty school.


With a size of just 15 to 50 students depending on the year, the school was always gifted with a feeling of a family; students, teachers, parents and staff all knew and cared for each other, children from all grade levels ate lunch and played together every day, and everyone in the ISPN community was proud of their small school. We will greatly miss the teachers and families that made ISPN such a special place! 


Reflections from Gary Gibbons, ISPN Director


At the end of another school year we reflect on what a quite exceptional journey we have all been on in Congo, and to mark the passage of our graduates from students to alumni. When students came to ISPN they became part of our family.

Whether they stayed for a year, or end up as a “lifer” that family membership can never be taken away from them. Some moved on quickly when they left, to become “distant relatives”. Some seemed to stick around perpetually, like the child who just wouldn’t move out. Others kept in touch, keeping us apprised of their progress. Whatever role they chose, they will always be family.

In my day-to-day travels around the city, I was regularly in contact with new people or existing families, and in many cases our conversations drifted to “Where do your children go to school?” Without fail, when I mentioned ISPN I got one of two reactions: “Oh, that’s a good school” or “my kids love ISPN!”

The teachers and directors over the years have really given their all to keep ISPN a warm and loving family school in the face of various challenges, some of which are unique to this part of the world. Their dedication to the task has been quite above and beyond what can be generally expected these days and I salute them all. The small teams that have been sent from ISS have been well supported and guided by our Contract Executives and the Home Office teams who have always stayed in touch to really make the ISS Difference.

And lastly, like any good family, there can be no finish without a lesson. To all of our students: Remember that we have equipped you to be lifelong learners and that your learning does not stop, not for the summer, not for the year, not in your life.

No matter what your age or place, it is the role of your family to remind you of this. Thank you.


ISS would like also to say a special thank you to Gary Gibbons, the Director of ISPN for the last five years. Gary’s time at ISPN has added many colorful titles to his resume: in addition to being the school Director, he has been a classroom teacher, the business manager, tech director, facilities engineer, nurse, driver, community leader, pool cleaner, head cheerleader for the school, and occasionally even a snake exterminator. Over the years -- even while dealing with challenges such as security and political instability, moving campuses, endless power and water outages, and a fire on campus -- Gary has maintained an endlessly upbeat, professional, and child-centered approach to running the school.

With the help of Gary’s leadership, energy, and his tremendous determination to build ISPN into a world-class school, ISPN has flourished over the years; we've seen the school improve facilities, continue to build academic and extracurricular programs, and most importantly, look after the needs of a highly mobile, culturally and linguistically diverse student body. As they have embraced the indomitable spirit of small international schools everywhere, Gary and his team have made a world of difference in the their students' lives.

We thank them for all the work and passion they’ve put into ISPN, and we wish them all the best in their next chapter! 

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