Dr Rob Risch, Director At The International School Of Belgrade, ISB

Educated At ISB, Equipped For The World

The International School of Belgrade offers its pupils, aged 3 to 18, an engaging and exciting educational environment, diversity and warm hospitality. With diplomas earned at ISB, pupils may choose to pursue their studies at any of numerous well-respected schools

ISB has been providing a high-quality education to the international community in Belgrade since 1948. Thanks to its teachers – dedicated professionals who hold multiple or master’s degrees in their areas of specialisation – ISB creates an inspiring, pupil-centred and individualised approach to the learning process. This month we spoke with ISB Director Dr Rob Risch about the opportunities ISB offers its students.

For which age groups does ISB provide education?

– The International School of Belgrade has educational programmes for children from the age of three to the age of 18. Our early childhood programmes for our youngest learners in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten are located on our Lower School Campus, along with classes for students in grades 1-5. Students in grades 6-12 attend the nearby Upper School.

How do you ensure that children with different backgrounds fit into your education system?

– Our assurance in this regard comes through three distinct channels: The first of these is our international and internationally-minded teaching faculty and staff. We are collectively very experienced regarding education systems from across the world, and our teachers can individualise and differentiate their instruction to accommodate students from various backgrounds and with differing levels of instructional English. We provide specific support in English and other areas where needed, and at the same time, we are able to challenge and extend all students in their specific areas of strength.

The second factor that enables children from different backgrounds to fit into our system is our curriculum, which follows the guidelines of the International Baccalaureate Organization, specifically the Primary Years Program (PYP) for Pre-Kindergarten to grade 5, Middle Years Program (MYP) for grades 6-10, and Diploma Program (DP) for grades 11 and 12.

Many international schools worldwide follow the IB programmes, and this allows pupils to transfer between these schools with relative ease. The IB programmes focus on rigorous academics and blend these with holistic opportunities for students to develop and blossom in performing and visual arts, athletics and student leadership, and by providing service to their local and global communities.

Parents wanting to learn what opportunities ISB offers their children can visit the school and talk to teachers on 17th May, when ISB is holding its next “Open Day” event

The third factor that enables children from different backgrounds to fit into our education system comes from the diversity of the pupils themselves. We have students of 43 different nationalities with no single dominant group, so current students are accustomed to each other and to new students having such varied backgrounds, which leads to the examining and appreciating different perspectives, developing an open mind-set, celebrating their diversity and learning from each other.

What diploma can students obtain? Do other schools accept your diplomas?

– All students who graduate from ISB obtain the ISB Diploma, which is equivalent to a high school diploma from an academically-orientated high school in the U.S. This diploma by itself enables students to enrol in universities throughout North America and many other parts of the world.

However, the vast majority of our graduates also obtain the IB Diploma, which is accepted at universities worldwide. Universities view the IB Diploma as a sign of success in a challenging academic environment and know that these students are well prepared for university-level expectations. In fact, many of our students who earn high marks on final IB exams are given advanced-placement credit at universities.

How do you maintain the high quality of the education you provide?

– In addition to our internal continuous review and revision of our programmes and practices, we also engage in authorisation reviews from the IBO and our accrediting agencies in Europe and North America. We are accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

The vast majority of ISB graduates obtain the IB Diploma, which universities view as a sign of success in a challenging academic environment

While the IB monitors curriculum and instruction, CIS and NEASC also examine our finances, facilities, governance and legal structures, and all other matters pertaining to high-quality international education. By meeting or exceeding the standards and expectations that are explicitly listed and evaluated by visiting teams, and which are part of the re-authorisation and re-accreditation process, we provide assurances to all of our stakeholders that we continuously review, revise and improve our high standards.

What are the backgrounds of the ISB teachers like and which degrees do they hold?

– Our teachers come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, with eleven different nationalities currently represented. The vast majority of our teachers are international educators with internationally-obtained education and degrees, as well as previous experience working in other international schools.

We also have some highly-qualified Serbian nationals in key positions at our school, such as in teaching Serbian Mother Tongue classes. In addition, our teaching faculty is highly-educated, with over 70% having obtained advanced degrees at the Masters or PhD levels. Most importantly, they all subscribe to our Mission and Philosophy, through which we inspire, equip and empower our students to be active and enthusiastic participants in their learning.

What is the ISB Scholarship?

– The ISB Scholarship programme was initiated four years ago and provides a full scholarship that covers tuition costs and fees for one Serbian national student in each of our four high school grades – grades 9-12. In order to qualify for consideration of the scholarship – in addition to being Serbian – prospective pupils need to show a history of strong academic results from their previous Serbian schools; demonstrate their passion and involvement in extra-curricular activities, such as the arts, athletics, music, student leadership, service or charity events; possess an advanced level of English; and come from families who demonstrate a financial need.

The applicants need to write a personal statement in English explaining why they would like to attend ISB and what they feel they can offer the school, as well as to obtain letters of support from their parents and teachers at their current schools, show success on our entrance tests and, if chosen, have a successful interview with our scholarship committee.

The ISB Scholarship programme provides those candidates selected from among all applications the chance to attend ISB for grades 9-12, without costs, gain an amazing academic and holistic education, and graduate with both our ISB Diploma and the IB Diploma.

How can parents learn more about your programmes?

– ISB will be hosting an “Open Day” on 17th May for all interested parents. In addition, our school website – www.isb. rs – is very comprehensive and provides details and videos, including the viewpoints of our students themselves.

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