How ISB fosters a sense of community in its student body
As an international school that hosts students from all over the world, creating an environment where students feel connected to each other and the broader, global community is an interesting and exciting endeavor. With so many unique perspectives and experiences represented within our student body, how can ISB foster a sense of community where all students not only feel welcome, but genuinely connected to their new school and community?
This is a key factor when choosing an international school. At ISB, we care about the social and emotional lives of our students because we understand that students who feel valued and a part of the larger group experience a number of wonderful benefits. Students who feel like a member of the community are more engaged in their learning, and this ideology goes into the systems we create and the people we hire as teachers and administrators.
Why is fostering a sense of community important?
Fostering a sense of community in our student body at ISB is important in order to create an optimal learning environment where your child feels safe and included.
According to Kyle Ottaviano, High School Counselor at ISB, it’s critical that students learn in an environment where they are engaged with their community because connection to community helps students feel welcome and secure. He adds that it’s necessary for students to feel settled for them to do well in school and later on in life.
“We follow [the progress] of all students and make sure that they are safe and provide a certain amount of care to make sure no one falls through the cracks, that everyone is happy and healthy, mentally, physically, and emotionally.”
By choosing a school that has invested in fostering a sense of community and already has an existing and robust social circle for your child and your family to join, many of the initial anxieties around starting a new school are quickly dissipated and replaced with excitement and engagement.
According to Mr. Ottaviano, one of the best reasons to foster a sense of community at ISB is the symbiotic relationship enjoyed by all who are a part of it, where members of the community give back what they take from one another.
“It’s important to have that connection within the community and have a strong school family to be connected to because it gives people a sense of purpose to help each other out.”
How ISB promotes community involvement
With an understanding of the value of fostering a sense of community in the student body, you may be wondering: how does an international school like ISB foster community engagement?
According to Mr. Ottaviano, students are immediately immersed in the community from their first day of school.
“We get people joining us from various locations with differing experiences, and ISB is a welcoming place where someone comes in and is automatically a part of the community.”
Peer Helpers and the Buddy System
To help new students integrate into our community, ISB connects them with a 'Buddy' and our Peer Helpers program. Our Buddy System links newcomers to ISB with a current student who will show them around the school and to their classes, help them socialize with other students, and are often only necessary to help with the initial transition days.
Comparatively, Peer Helpers are older students and are available to newcomers throughout the school year. Peer Helpers act as a check-in with new students to make sure they settle into life at ISB with ease and are trained in SEL skills to help with most situations they encounter.
Activities and events
Another great way ISB fosters a sense of community in its students is by encouraging them to engage in social activities and events.
School activities are an excellent way for students to make new friends, try out new experiences and get involved with the community. Events are also a great way for the whole family to engage with the school community, not just the student.
Mr. Ottaviano adds that students in High School are further encouraged to participate in clubs with ISB’s Dragon Time, our dedicated time for club activities during the school day. He says this:
“It’s a way to encourage students to engage with clubs, to try out new things that maybe they wouldn't do otherwise with a new group of students.”
Student Council (STUCO)
STUCO in both the Middle and High Schools is an excellent opportunity for students at ISB to get involved in organizing various events for the student community, as well as gain leadership skills. In High School, STUCO exists to promote a positive experience through representation, teamwork, consensus building, and event planning.
Five representatives from each High School class are elected by their peers and act as a liaison between students and ISB administration when necessary. This honor comes with high expectations as the representatives are leaders in the ISB community and are held to a high standard of leadership.
High School STUCO consists of four committees:
- Student Affairs Committee, to improve students’ day to day experiences
- Main Events Committee, to organize and host school events
- School Spirit Committee, to build school spirit
- Public Relations Committee, for all STUCO related correspondences
Each committee represents an opportunity for students at ISB to get involved and are essential for fostering a sense of community within the school.
ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.