End of year message Rynette de Villiers
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End of year message Rynette de Villiers

Please read this heartfelt letter by Rynette de Villiers, marking the end of the – memorable – 2019-2020 academic year, wishing you all a happy and healthy summer and looking ahead to the new school year!

Dear ISUtrecht community

We’ve come to the end of one the strangest school years most of us have ever experienced. Looking back, I am intensely proud of the resilience we’ve shown as a community. Staff, students and parents coped incredibly well with distance learning and there are definitely things we can take away from this: the natural multilingualism happening when parents and students tackled the curriculum in their home language(s) and English at the same time, our ingenuity to reach out to each other through technology as well as letterboxes, doorsteps and windows, the focus on our own and other’s well-being and what it really means to be balanced. One of the things that changed for me has been the willingness to electronically let people into my home.

When I think about our community in this past school year a couple of events immediately spring to mind. Our secondary student trips to Terschelling, the Ardennes, Maastricht, Antwerp, Paris and – this year – the exchange trip to the Sage School in Idaho, where our students stayed in host families and made special and lasting connections with students in Hailey Idaho. The joyous and colourful Diwali celebrations where we all joined in and showcased what cultural competence looks like. We love and enjoy our own culture, while engaging and embracing the richness of other cultures.

The third and very recent event that really struck a chord with me, was HomeBurst which I thought perfectly summed up our community: real, connected, driven, confident and always willing to give new things a go.

Looking ahead to next year, I am excited to have the use of a new school building which will house a mix of primary and secondary student. The addition to the school will allow us to welcome more new families into our school community. Building work should be finished over the summer and the play equipment will be placed back onto the playground in August, ready to be used again in the new academic year. The landscaping of the primary playground behind neighbouring school UniC should also be finished during the summer break.

In October 2020 the Council of International Schools (CIS) will do a – virtual – authorisation visit of the school. This is the culmination of a 3-year self-study process, involving the whole staff. While the International Baccalaureate looks at the curriculum, the CIS looks at the operational side of a school (e.g. facilities, health and safety, child protection etc.). Securing CIS authorisation is an important step for the ISUtrecht and the process has helped us to professionalise our protocols and general organisation. Whilst preparing for CIS authorisation, we have also started with the preparations for our first IB review in February 2021.

This year we say goodbye to 9 staff members. We loved working with each and every one of them and wish them all the best on their new adventures. In August we welcome 22 new staff members into our community. We look forward to introducing them to you soon. You will receive more detail about staff matters in the final school letter.

At the moment it looks like students will be back at school fulltime after the summer. Parents, however, will still not be allowed on the premises or into the buildings for the foreseeable future. We are currently planning for next year and will have to come up with clever digital ways to welcome new families into our community and make sure you all get a chance to meet your child(ren)’s classroom teacher(s) and mentor. A work party is currently developing the protocols based on government guidelines for the new academic year and we will share the new protocols with you in the week of 20 July when all information regarding the start of the academic year will be mailed.

To those of you who leave the ISUtrecht I hope you will take away fond memories of your time at the school and I would like to wish you safe travels to your new destination. To those of you who return in September, I would like to wish you a happy and healthy holiday and I look forward to welcoming you back on Tuesday 1 September.

Regards

Rynette de Villiers