We are excited to welcome you to a new school year. This will be your one-stop source of information for the 2019-2020 school year. Information will be updated often, so be sure to visit often.
We would like to bring together our entire ICS community (since 2002!) to celebrate the school’s recent charter renewal. This is a very exciting time for ICS, so join us for great company, food, and celebration.
When: April 20, 2019
Where: Location changed- it will be at ICS!!!!
What to bring: Please bring one traditional dish to share, that can feed 10-15 people. Also, bring your picnic chairs and blankets.
Here is a celebration letter from the Board of Directors:
It is with great joy that we share that the state of Georgia has approved our petition and renewed our charter for another five years (2019-2025)! Our school has the opportunity to continue pursuing our mission to educate children from refugee, immigrant and local backgrounds with a rigorous and holistic education in an intentionally diverse community of learners!
As a public charter school, we must submit a charter renewal petition every five years, first to our authorizer, DeKalb County, and then to the state of Georgia’s department of education for approval. As a public charter school, both the county and the state are trusting us and giving us the flexibility to educate our students well and manage our organization effectively using taxpayer’s dollars. The charter renewal process holds us accountable. After more than a year of work, our petition was first approved by the DeKalb County Board of Education and has now been approved by the Georgia State Board of Education.
Thank you to each of you for making this happen. The charter petition includes hundreds of pages of documents; it’s a story of the past five years of hard work (and the story of the years that came before) and the vision and promises for the coming five years. This is your story—you are the teachers who did the home visits, the families who welcomed teachers into your homes, the children who grinned as their teacher sat on their couch. You are the devoted volunteers of the School Within a School program whose work with students fascinated and encouraged our charter renewal committees. You are the team that keeps our finances solid, builds relationships with community members to raise funds, prepares nutritious meals for our children, and ensures that our building is safe and our systems running smoothly. You are the educators who work hour after hour, day after day, to help children grow as language users (in many languages), readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and global citizens and leaders who embody the IB learner profiles. You are the leaders who coach teachers, move strategic plans forward, and dream and plan for the future. You are the families who believe in our school and trust us with your children. You are the founders who had the courage to dream of and open the International Community School in the first place. You are the children who make all this work worth it! You come from a variety of backgrounds and share your differences in ways that make the whole community stronger.
Having this approval is a mandate to move forward and keep making improvements so that we can serve our children better every day. Let us continue this important mission with passion and purpose. It is so important that we are on the same team, that we speak highly of each other, and that we assume the best in one another. The governing board, the school leader, the staff, and the families are here for the same purpose, and we must believe in, trust, and encourage one another. Our students deserve a united team working together for their good. Look out for upcoming invitations to celebrate our charter renewal together! We are looking forward to lots of student learning and community building in the next five years. We will be sharing more about the details of the charter soon and the vision and goals it sets forth for the next five years.
The ICS Board of Directors and Julie Allen, Principal
The school’s annual United Nations day continues to be the best and biggest celebration at ICS. We intentionally value diversity and on this day we showcase it.
In spite of the weather forcing us to hold the Parade of the Nations and the performances indoors, it was still a special occasion. Here are some articles and pictures that highlight the day.
Georgia Charter Schools Association: International Community School Holds U.N. Celebration. “International Community School intentionally values diversity. In that spirit, the school annually celebrates U.N. Day”, reads an article published in the Georgia Charter Schools Association’s Newsletter. They attended our U.N. Day on November 2nd. Click on the link to read the article was included in their newsletter.
DeKalb County School District: UN Day at International Community School. “What do the countries Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Congo, Ireland, France, India, Malaysia, Jamaica, the Philippines, and Somalia have in common at DeKalb County School District? Along with enthusiastic representation—in the form of eager students and supportive teachers—each was represented at International Community School’s United Nations Day.” This is how an article on the DeKalb County School District’s website starts. Representatives from DCSD joined the festivities on November 2nd on our school’s campus. Click on the link to read the complete article.
The application for NEW STUDENTS/FAMILIES is now closed. The application will re-open again on April 1st be added to the waiting list.
*Note that the application requires a parent email. If you want to apply for your child, and do not have an email, contact our registrar, Ms. Inye.
The public lottery will take place on March 8 at 1:00 pm. Parents do not have to be present to be considered. Communication with the result for your child will be sent 24 hrs after the lottery to the email provided in the application.
School Tour dates January 29th & 31st at 9:15. No reservation required.
Our annual Open House will take place on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 at 10:00 am.
Please note that ICS will be implementing a weighted lottery for the 2019-2020 school year. The ICS mission states, “The International Community School is an International Baccalaureate World School that educates refugees, immigrants, and local children, and provides a rigorous and holistic education in an intentionally diverse community of mutual learners.” One of our goals is to maintain an equal balance between students who are refugees and immigrants and students who are born in the United States. Since a majority of our students who are refugees and immigrants are part of the ESOL program, we amended our charter contract, which was approved by DeKalb County and the Georgia Department of Education, to ensure that 50% of our students qualify for ESOL. Thus, students who speak another language at home, who are highly likely to qualify for ESOL services, will be given preference in our upcoming lottery in March.
Welcoming refugee children is at the heart of the International Community School’s mission, says its Principal Julie Allen in an article written int he IB Community Blog.
The article continues:
In a world torn apart by conflict, one IB World School in Decatur, Georgia, US, has dedicated itself to bringing together refugee, immigrant and local children. Founded in 2002, the International Community School (ICS) serves 400 students, in grades K-5, from over 30 countries, speaking 25 languages. Forty-nine percent are child refugees or immigrants.
New Principal Julie Allen tells us about celebrating diversity, the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and teaching English language learner (ELL) students.
How did the school come about? The founders believed that all children, regardless of their families’ backgrounds, or their financial means, should receive the kind of nurturing and challenging education that will enable them to become learners and peacemakers in a world fractured by war and separation.
In the late 1990s, four out of five refugees coming to Georgia were settling in DeKalb County, many of them in and around the city of Clarkston. At that time, schools were ill-equipped to integrate large numbers of refugee children into their academic structures. The founders had been working with refugee families and were interested in starting a school that could meet the needs of refugee children and other underserved populations. Most of all, they wanted to start a ‘community’, and that could only be possible by incorporating these newcomers with local families.
The vision of the school was written as: “The International Community School seeks staff and families who are committed to our vision of creating a supportive community of students, staff and parents, learning from each other and celebrating the diversity among us.”
The diversity and peace-making model was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision of a Beloved Community.
How does the IB’s ethos of international-mindedness inform the school’s mission? Our mission states: “The International Community School is an International Baccalaureate World School that educates refugees, immigrants and local children, and provides a rigorous and holistic education in an intentionally diverse community of mutual learners.”
The mission of ICS is alive in everything we do. The school explores and celebrates cultural differences in a challenging, nurturing and intentionally multi-ethnic educational environment to foster global citizenship, helping students grow as individuals without parochial biases and with critical thinking skills necessary to improve their world.
The previous principal, Chad Velde-Cabrera, described ICS as the home of “global thinkers”. How is this demonstrated in the school? Internationalism and open-mindedness are innate in our school. You see it and you feel it, and the combination of both results in being global thinkers. For example, the library serves as a quiet refuge for our Muslim students to pray each afternoon at 2pm. When classes are held during this time, the children express curiosity and open-mindedness at this daily ritual. Their recognition of, and respect for, other people’s religious customs demonstrates they are globally minded.
ICS students and staff form friendships and relationships with people from all over the world. So, when they hear about current events in the mainstream media, it is very personal to them. They understand that common stereotypes are inaccurate.
What do you see as the greatest strengths of the PYP in serving your diverse student community? In the PYP, students acquire conceptual knowledge while integrating skills and positive attitudes towards learning and taking responsible action. At its core, PYP has six transdisciplinary themes, which are visited each year in increasing complexity. These six themes are global in nature so every learner, regardless of culture and ethnic origin, can explore common human experiences at a developmentally appropriate level.
As part of its collaborative planning approach, ICS teachers assess students’ background knowledge, areas of interests, learning preferences as well as accommodations and required teaching aids to meet the needs of their diverse student body.
Student learning becomes visible as they drive the inquiry through their questions. When our students initiate fundraising for hurricane victims or write letters to state senators to express their concerns about budget cuts for space programmes or the US’s commitment to the Clean Air Act, you see the embodiment of the IB learner profile as well as the attitudes of a global citizen.
What challenges are there in having a large proportion of refugee students in the school? One of our biggest issues is meeting the needs of a few of our students whose education was interrupted during their parents’ journey to safety and ultimately the US.
Another challenge is parental involvement. Transportation, work schedules, and limited English hinder parental involvement for many of our ELL students. We try to overcome these obstacles through scheduling some school events near their homes at times when we think parents may be available. We are also trying to increase access to translated documents and interpreters.
Our students sometimes learn ‘conversational’ English quite fast, but it is the academic vocabulary that they need to understand and use to make progress in school.
Our group of dedicated and patient educators spend a lot of their time personalizing their methods of teaching, and we also provide small group and one-on-one opportunities. Like the students themselves, our teachers and assistants are an internationally diverse group of professionals, several from the countries where our families are from.
The teacher/student ratio is intentionally small. Students who need extra help in reading, mathematics and English language receive individual assistance through our School Within the School tutoring programme. First grade students identified by their classroom teachers participate in Reading Recovery, an early intervention literacy programme.
The children at ICS are intrinsically welcoming and help to provide an easy transition for our new and international students. When a new student can find a ‘buddy’ in their class, they have a model for friendship and school life; peers and classmates are empowered in this Beloved Community.
How does your school honour home and family languages? Teachers are encouraged to visit the homes of their students to build a bond with the family to better provide support for the students, understand the challenges they face, and to provide ideas about how to structure a nurturing environment in the classroom. Doing so, they honor and respect the family traditions and language.
Our school has assistant teachers to help meet language and learning barriers. Many of these assistants speak students’ home languages and often provide translation and support to parents.
Our school recently received the AdvancED accreditation, and in their report, evaluators note that “Teachers used the word ‘celebrate’ to describe the learning environment for diverse students. A United Nations Day provided students with the opportunity to share their own national heritages with activities peculiar to their own country, including foods, games, displays, and native dances. Teachers described the student body as unique, saying that at ICS it was normal to be different. They added that getting to know the refugee and immigrant children was a humbling experience that ‘puts everything else in perspective.’ They declared that the things ‘we do here really matter in their (students’) future lives’.”
Our school has six Statements of Understanding as part of our mission, and two of them state that: We believe in educating the whole child—their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, cultural and creative selves. Teaching in a culturally responsive lens, we view socio-emotional development as important as promoting academic excellence.
We encourage expression through maintaining home languages, fostering fluency in Standard English and offering opportunities to learn other languages.
What are your plans for the school’s future? To continue to stay true to our mission: provide equal opportunity and a challenging and caring education to all, by bringing together families from other countries who are looking for a better opportunity for their children, and American families who believe in learning from and celebrating diversity.
We aim to consistently implement a culturally responsive education approach to support academic growth and development of the whole child and use achievable and documented performance measurements.
We want to increase the effectiveness of communication between the school and all families. We plan to organize more events that bring students and their families together to celebrate the cultures, languages and traditions from which each ICS student hails
You can also read the article HERE.