Director’s update 10 January 2018

Dear Parents,
Welcome back to ISKR. We used the vacation time to make further improvements here at school. The focus this time was to make further improvements to safety and security. Fire, and other, drills that we held during the first half of the year highlighted some weaknesses on the main campus. We have now rectified these with extra sirens so that signals can be clearly heard and we have installed extra staircases that allows outside access from behind Grade 4 and behind the new Library/Media Center.  You will also notice that our guards are now wearing new uniforms; while keeping the guards we like we have upgraded companies so the same guards will have better training and support that is more responsive.
As of yet we haven’t had a chance to refurbish the tiles under the Elementary play structure (the existing tiles are now ‘hard’ and no longer cushion falls as they should). In the meantime, the smaller students will not be able to use this structure.
Thirteen students left before the holiday break and we are sad to see them go. Today, however, we have a family that left last year returning and siblings of other ISKR families beginning school as well as two new families sending students and we are happy to welcome all of these.

We are closing in on the end of the semester. For High School students this means end of semester exams beginning on Monday 15 January and for all students there will be report cards before the end of the month.
ISKR is now moving into a second accreditation cycle. We are currently accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) based in the Netherlands and by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA) based in the United States. In effect, both of these associations send people to look in detail at our school; everything is examined including teaching and education, financial operations, facilities, ethics and communication within the community. We will have a preliminary visit in March to see how we stand at present and then we begin an 18 to 24 month process to ensure that we are exemplary in all areas. All members of the community will receive updates and be asked to participate in surveys etc as we go through this process.
If you have any questions on any of the above or any other questions please don’t hesitate to email or drop by in person and ask.

Seamus Hennessy,
School Director

Director’s Update October 5, 2017

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We are well over halfway through the first Quarter and all is going well. We do have much higher numbers in Secondary (Middle & High School combined) than expected. To ensure they all receive the same high quality education we have introduced extra assistants, split some classes (I now teach a Grade 9 World Lit class) and are importing extra resources.

The school has invested heavily in new technology this year some of which is visible if you step into our new Library/Media center. Along with adding new student laptops, increasing the number of ipads available and even purchasing a 3D printer we have also introduced many new software products to help with teaching and learning and to better streamline the business operations of the school.

The new Board of Directors has met to discuss main strategies and planning for the year. More detailed information will follow on this soon. They have also chosen officers for the year;

Robert Ackatia-Armah – President
Kayrn Aguirre, US Embassy Rep. – Vice President
Louise Keyworth, PTO Rep. – Secretary
Stephanie de Vanssay – Treasurer
Teklay Teame – Member at large
Kirsten Rober – Member at large
Nick Meakin – Member at large
Seamus Hennessy – Director – ex officio member
Bridget Davies – Deputy Director – ex officio member
Mary Powell – Staff Representative – ex officio member

As in any organization the Board of Directors are responsible for long term strategic planning and financial control they would be happy to receive feedback and ideas in these wide areas from any other association members. As for day-to-day operational events and issues please do talk to the staff member directly involved as a first port of call.

My door is always open, literally, so feel free to drop by at any time, just to say hello if nothing else.

Séamus Hennessy,

Director’s updates 24th August 2017

Dear Parents,

We have successfully navigated our first two days of school and returning students are so engaged already that is seems they never had a summer break. Many of the new students seemed a little timid at first but already most are working and communicating as if they have always been here. Everybody will be pleased to see that we have made every effort to keep class numbers to decent sizes this year. It means the EC children have even more room per student to run and play than ever before. Overall numbers in Elementary are up due to having a second Grade 1 class rather than overcrowding in each class. This, however, does leave us with relatively large waiting lists for all Elementary classes. We realize that students on this list have a genuine need for the type of education offered at ISKR and as we look to the future we keep this in mind. The Secondary School (combined Middle and High School) has grown rather dramatically this year. High School alone has grown from 24 students in August 2016 to 36 students now; an increase of 50%.

The returning teachers are also fully engaged in classroom work and have had over a week of intensive training in new systems (RENWEB, DESTINY, Google Classroom etc) and curricula advancements that are being implemented this year. A new Library/Media center will soon be opening as a core addition to this progression. All our new teachers are also in place and adding their extensive experience and knowledge to the mix.
Now that we are moving past the initial excitement of meeting everyone again and moving into the school year I want to highlight some of the areas of the Parent Handbook;
1. Drop off time is 7:45am and pick-up (when there are no clubs) is at 3:15 (or five minutes earlier in the EC building). Due to extra morning meetings we do not have anybody on duty before 7:45am and feel that children dropped off alone before this time are at risk.

2. All visitors, including parents, need to report to the office (or Nurse’s station in EC) on first entering the building (aside from regular drop-off or pick up times). This process has been there for years and now as numbers grow we really need to enforce this for everyone’s safety. In case of a fire, lockdown or evacuation we need to know who exactly is in the building and where they are. Many classes are now full and this increases the number of possible visits during the day if parents are rushing in with forgotten homework or lunches. All items can be left in the office (or lunches on the table outside) and the office staff will ensure they are picked up.

3. Please let us know as soon as possible if your child is going to be absent. Again with larger numbers this is likely to occur more often and teachers can plan ahead (changing learning groups or assignments etc.) The easiest way to do this is to email and Mensiye will immediately enter the data into the new RENWEB system.

4. Please turn up to school events!! This is not a rule but the more communication between school and home the more all students will benefit.

Next week there is a possibility of two school closures; it is possible that Rwanda will celebrate Harvest on Sunday 27th of August which may lead to a public holiday on Monday. Eid Al Adha, a public holiday in Rwanda, will fall towards the end of the week though we are not yet sure on which day. As soon as we know we will inform all parents. Please keep watching your email or the website for updates.

I sincerely hope that you and you children have and excellent school year and I look forward to meeting everyone at school on numerous occasions.

Séamus Hennessy
International School of Kigali-Rwanda

Director Updates 07 February 2017

Dear Parents,

The year keeps moving on and we are now firmly into 2017. At this stage it is time to welcome the new families and students that have joined us since the beginning of this calendar year. We have Skye, John, Nuala and Agam all in Early Childhood, Maayani and Victor in Elementary School and Celia and Uthandile in High School. They, and their families, are all very welcome additions to our learning community.
As the numbers continue to rise we are moving forward with equipping and preparing the second campus for Early Childhood. The gardens and buildings have been cleaned up and are in the process of being equipped with the appropriate furniture and learning resources. We are also ensuring that they will be safe and secure for the eventual move. A tentative date for a whole school move is the 6th of March with an open house being planned for March 1st.  More details on all this will follow.
We have begun to interview for the new teaching positions approved at the last Board Meeting and are close to hiring the first of the new teachers. We have had some very good candidates apply and we are confident that we will be in a position to choose those who best fit the ISKR profile.
The Secondary School has just recently completed some very successful educational school trips in different areas around Rwanda. Over 90% of the students participated and all claimed to have really enjoyed their individual trips. Grade 6 went camping on a farm in Bugesera, Grade 7 went camping in Akegera national park, Grade 8 drove to Nyungwe National Forest stopping off in Butare to visit the National Museum and High School went to climb Mt. Bisoke in Volcanoes National Park. I hope you have all heard the interesting stories from these trips and have seen the photographs. We hope to rerun the same trips next year fine-tuning as we go to ensure even greater educational and cultural experiences. I would like to thank all the teachers who gave up their evenings and home comforts to accompany students on these trips, the teachers who stayed behind and took on extra responsibilities with the classes still at school and the office staff who spent extra hours organizing logistics. And a special thank you to Ms Lwanbo who was the lead behind the whole programme.
Not to be outdone the Early Childhood took their annual picnic off campus and spent a lovely Friday morning at Central Park where there were games and food galore for students, parents and teachers. And Elementary School went to visit various swimming pools and bowling alleys around Kigali to carry out experiments to help with the whole school IPC units based on the general theme of ‘Forces’.
And while the staff have been extra busy at this time of year so too has the Board of Directors. As well as seeing to the general business of the Board they have given up the first weekend of February for the annual Board retreat and training session. This year the Board invited Mr. Michael Thompson as a consultant and facilitator for the retreat. Mr. Thompson is a very experienced International School Director with a good deal of past experience in Africa (Including in Botswana and in Tanzania). The retreat centered around strategic planning to ensure that the school continues to move in the right direction.
Many parents have been to visit the school to participate in and help with ongoing activities. We would like to thank you for this and to encourage you to continue to do so.
As the school grows the drop off and pick up times are becoming busier and busier. We need to ensure that we are always extra vigilant at these times for the safety of our students, staff and general community. Please take the time to ensure that all the children that you, or your drivers, transport to school are safely strapped in and in the appropriate seats as dictated by age. Please ensure that they leave the vehicle safely and above all we need to ensure that as drivers we are all very patient and careful on approaching and leaving the school. Having a second campus on the same road will complicate matters so getting everything right now will make this transition easier and safer.
Thank you for reading and understanding.

Séamus Hennessy

Dear Parents/Guardians,

It is very quiet here in school today with all students on vacation. The administrative and custodial teams are working full time, however, to ensure that the school is ready for classes in January. We will also spend some time working to make sure that the newly acquired building is brought up to standard for our Early Childhood section. When the Early Childhood moves in, early in the second semester, they will have a great deal of inside and outside space. We will then concentrate on how we can best organise the vacated space in the main building to better serve all students.

When you come back in January you will notice that we have constructed a temporary wood/bamboo fence around the grass field. The current structure is not only ragged but also not very solid and we feel that it is dangerous. A new permanent structure has been ordered and as the core materials have to be imported it will be six to eight weeks before it can be put in place.
In January you will also have a chance to meet new staff members. We have hired the new Counselor – Shelley-Ann Francis. Shelley-Ann is a South African national who attended High School and College in Pennsylvania. She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a separate Master’s Degree in School Counselling. In between both masters she worked for 7 years as a clinical psychologist in the US and also worked as an intern in the Admissions office of her US university. Since August has been working as a careers counselor in South Africa.
Teacher Assistants: We have hired three new Teacher Assistants; one for Elementary and two for Early Childhood, to begin in January.

a. Margaret Kufandirori has Zimbabwean nationality and has taught in Zimbabwe and Oman and is currently a teacher at Hope Academy. She will work as a TA in Elementary School.

b. Megan Niyonshuti is a Rwandan and currently works as a TA at Green Hills Academy. She has also has worked with Asante Children’s Choir (spent 3 years with the choir in the USA) and she is in the process of finishing her Bachelor’s degree. Megan will work as a TA in Early Childhood.

c. Remy Nyaminani is a Rwandan and has completed a Master’s in Education at Kampala University. He currently works as a security guard for an ISKR family and volunteers at Top Kids Football Academy and at Messy Play so is already familiar with a number of ISKR students. He will also work in the Early Childhood section.

All teachers have indicated that they will return in the next academic year with many committing for at least two more years. This is highly unusual in the international school context and is due, we believe, to the positive and welcoming atmosphere that exists across the entire ISKR community. This stable situation is very good for the school and really allows us to plan ahead in all areas. We can ensure that all staff members receive the correct level of professional development that will benefit both them and the school. We can look at the needs and requirements of future accreditation and begin planning now. New teacher hires will be few; an extra teacher in Elementary to help with the current numbers coming out of Early Childhood; a new activities coordinator to ensure continued growth and improvement in the area of extra-curricular offerings and a teacher-librarian to run a much larger library that will improve learning for all Elementary and Secondary students.

We are aware that a number of parents are not receiving general emails from the school and we are investigating this. Mensiye has sent out a test email and will begin to follow up with people who haven’t replied by phone to see where the issue lies. We also noticed that the school emails had an automatic ‘reply to all’ function. We will fix this to ensure that the automatic reply goes back to the school and that ‘reply to all’ is a function that has to be purposely chosen when appropriate.

I hope that everybody is able to enjoy the holidays and can find the time to relax. I look forward to welcoming everybody back to school on January 9, 2017.


Séamus Hennessy
International School of Kigali-Rwanda

Director Updates 31st October 2016

Dear Parents,

Today is the first day of the second academic quarter of the school year. The first quarter passed quickly as all the new students and teachers began the process of settling in and making new friends. The first two months of the school year were filled with activities of all kinds the most recent being the excellent Halloween party, expertly run by volunteer parents and teachers, and the student council run Middle and High school dance. We are looking forward to many more such events. The upcoming major events, however, are much more academic in nature; First Quarter Report Cards will go home on the Friday the 11th of November and will be followed by Parent Teacher Conferences on the 18th and 25th – more details to follow.


Séamus Hennessy
International School of Kigali-Rwanda

Director’s Updates

Dear Parents and Guardians,


I would like to thank all the Early Years and Elementary parents that took the time last night to come and meet our teachers. The evening was very productive overall with many good ideas being exchanged. Ideas that we will all work on to ensure an even better learning experience for all our students. Please remember that the secondary Back to School Night will take next Wednesday beginning at 5pm (more details to follow).

In the same vein I would encourage all parents and teachers to participate in the first PTO meeting of the school year that is happening tonight. (Directions as per PTO email – The house is in Nyarutardma on KG 9, house number 64: Coming from MTN towards Woodlands, the house is on the main road on the right hand side. There is an EU Residence sign on the gate and the Quiet Haven hotel next door. There is parking for 5-7 cars inside but the rest should try to park on the side street right after the house where the Canadian residence is. ) at 7pm for a 7:30pm start.

Our search for a new EC3 teacher (3 year old children) is ongoing and we are still gathering applicants and CV’s. If you know of a teacher, qualified to teach this age group, who would be interested in beginning work here immediately could you please ask them to forward their CV to the school or feel free to send us their details directly and we will follow up.

On our school calendar we have put Monday 12th of September as a non-school day to celebrate the Eid al-Adha public holiday. Based on a list of countries that have already declared the official date this still looks like the most probable date but we cannot be 100% certain until the Rwandan Muslim Association declares. We will endeavour to keep you updated on this situation and inform everybody if we need to switch to Tuesday. If you have any more definite information on this holiday please let us know.

Séamus Hennessy
International School of Kigali-Rwanda