Welcome to the International Schools Group. This marks my second year as Superintendent of ISG and my 38th year in education, having spent six years as Superintendent for Lakewood School District in the state of Washington. I feel fortunate to be building on the strong foundation that ISG has already established and to be part of the planning, construction and moving phase of the new Dhahran Campus, a purpose built, state-of-the-art facility set to open in the fall of 2021.
ISG's roots go back to 1962 when it was originally founded. Since then, ISG has earned a reputation for providing the highest quality U.S., U.K. and international education in the Eastern Province, with an emphasis on progressive teaching and learning. Our six schools each have their own distinct personality, but common to all is a warm, caring and diverse community that together represents over 70 nationalities.
I am a firm believer in ISG’s core values of ‘Respect, Responsibility, Acceptance and Integrity.’ These values provide a solid foundation for learning and help prepare our students for life. Teachers and students gain confidence from the security our values bring. Confidence, in turn, assists in taking control of one’s own learning. Developing increased learner agency is one of ISG’s key objectives. We know that the most successful students feel they can control their futures – that they possess learner agency. These children tend to work harder, focus better, engage more and are less likely to give up when faced with challenges.
At ISG, students come first. As a result, we are deeply committed to professional development for our teachers. Why? Because we know that the best way to teach is to be a learner too. ISG is fortunate to attract some of the best teachers from around the world. And to keep them. The average length of stay at ISG is five to seven years, whereas 48% of international teachers do not stay at the same school beyond two years. Our teachers’ dedication and love of teaching contribute to the vibrant learning environment our students enjoy every day. They work collaboratively, locally and globally, in order to share best practices and resources. We organize regular district-wide professional learning events to ensure that our teachers’ practices deepen and that students’ learning is sustained, embedded and continuous.
This year, of course, has been unlike any other. COVID-19 has thrown schools into online learning in a way never imagined. Previously, ISG held routine virtual school days to prepare us for any short-term situations, like flooding, so some groundwork had already been laid. This made the transition to virtual school in March 2020 a little smoother. This spring, we then undertook a comprehensive review of virtual school, looking at best practices worldwide and finding the right balance between asynchronous and synchronous learning. Our goal is to create the best online learning platform as possible for our students and to create community in a virtual world.
We are fortunate to benefit from an engaged parent body that works with us to enrich school life at each ISG school. We would not be where we are today without our parents’ participation and tireless support. For this, we are very grateful.
As a not-for-profit organization, ISG is overseen by a Board of Trustees. These dedicated stakeholders hold honorary positions on the Board and work closely with me to secure the long-term direction of the school. A major focus in the next two years will be the building of the new campus. Named “Inspiring the Future,” this building campaign will see the construction of purpose-built, state-of-the-art schools and facilities, and is already generating much excitement and anticipation.
Our six ISG schools provide a first-class, coeducational education to our family of international stakeholders. We are privileged to be hosted here in KSA and are thankful to our colleagues within the supportive Saudi network who work closely with us to help make our schools run as smoothly as possible.
If you are considering ISG for your child or children, we invite you to come and visit us, or contact us. If you are new, I extend a warm welcome to you. If you are established friends of ISG, thank you for your invaluable support as we work together to provide the brightest of futures for the students of ISG.
Dr. Michael Mack