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Helping schools support students: Meet the IBWS team!

We are continuing to share inspiring stories and showing the ways our community is joining together during this difficult time with #IBtogether. Here, we give you a behind-the-scenes look at the staff members that are keeping us going! This week, we connect with some of the IB World Schools (IBWS) team to get some insight into how they are supporting schools and students.

Helping schools support students: Meet the IBWS team!

IB World Schools (IBWS) department works with authorized schools to provide guidance and support in programme implementation, on-going programme development and innovation and connecting schools into the IB ecosystem. This global team supports schools in interpretation of programme requirements to ensure that school efforts positively impact student experience and lead to positive student outcomes.

Fidelis Nthenge, head of IBWSIB Global Centre, The Hague

“My work only matters when it matters for IB schools. “

As we come to the end of May 2020, focus has shifted to November 2020 and May 2021 class. An IB coordinator going on maternity leave recently was very happy when I confirmed that I had gone through IB Concierge, and she had completed all required documentation for the school’s upcoming evaluation, which will be conducted virtually. This small exchange allowed her to shift her energy toward a much more important part of her life, telling me in her words, “Now I can have my baby!” I have had several similar meetings and email exchanges with school leaders to discuss how they could best support their students in completing the IB programmes during this unprecedented period. My work only matters when it matters for IB schools. 

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Rémy Lamon, IBWS managerIB Global Centre, The Hague

“The IB Community is coming together, with a hope for better days soon.”

If COVID-19 can give us a lesson, for me it is the importance of supporting each other. As an IBWS manager, the part I enjoy the most in my job is being the voice of schools inside the IB. The circumstances are difficult for everyone but being able to show to schools that you care and want to support them creates these magic moments. You can feel the smile on the other side of the email or the call. In these few weeks, I have tried to support schools in difficult situations by giving advice and creating a network of support. I am amazed by their creativity and the willingness to move forward. The virus hasn’t stoped education. The IB Community is coming together, with a hope for better days soon.

Laura Lane, IBWS manager―IB Global Centre, Washington D.C.

“They truly exemplify that nothing is impossible!”

On 1 May, I learned that the schools I work with had great success with the assessment upload deadlines!  I was so proud to hear that coordinators, teachers and students overcame the challenges they were facing to ensure that our IB students will receive their marks this session. They truly exemplify that that nothing is impossible!

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Suman Sethi, IBWS manager―IB Global Centre, Singapore

“Together we can make a difference.”

Despite these unprecedented times, the positive impact we continue to have as an IB Community is admirable. IB students have come together to ensure they continue to give back to their communities. Our school administrators and teachers are adapting to rapidly changing work, school and home environments while making every effort not to compromise their jobs’ effectiveness or students’ education. My most memorable moments have been hearing Primary Years Programme (PYP) students singing and sending thank you messages to healthcare workers while also taking their exhibitions to a global scale. Thank you all! Together we can make a difference.

Iris Lazarus, IBWS managerIB Global Centre, Washington D.C.

“I have witnessed schools plant the seeds of possibility and challenge themselves”

In the last two weeks, I have witnessed schools plant the seeds of possibility and challenge themselves to see beyond their current situation. Whether celebrating the culminating projects, employing ways to continue IB learning and teaching or devising plans for graduation ceremonies, schools are embodying what it means to live the IB mission. It is a delight to support a community of compassionate and caring educators, who put students first!

As we all grow together (yet apart) and learn to live in this ever-changing world, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on your back for the amazing work you are doing in serving students and families.

What I have cherished the most, in the past few days, are the heartwarming messages of gratitude that I have received from schools. It is these messages that make our work meaningful and rewarding.

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Kelsey Day, IBWS managerIB Global Centre, Washington D.C.

“In total these students completed a grand total of 17,569.44 community service hours!!!”

I recently received an email that highlighted some wonderful service news. We asked 520 students to report their service hours and fill out a survey. About half (48.5%) said they love giving back to their community. Another almost half (44.4%) said they did service because they had to but ended up enjoying it. Only about 7.1% just did service to fulfill the requirement. In total these students completed a grand total of 17,569.44 community service hours!!!

Antonio Muñoz, IBWS manager―IB Global Centre, The Hague

“I’ve been especially moved to receive messages from many schools simply checking in on me and my family”

There have been a number of memorable moments during the past few weeks since schools have gone through very tough situations. I’ve responded to a lot of questions and attended numerous virtual meetings to discuss different urgent issues and matters. I’ve been especially moved, however, to receive messages from many schools simply checking in on me and my family and asking how I was coping with the quarantine. I was also touched by the many thank you emails I’ve received, which made me realize the importance of the work done by the IB World Schools Department team, especially during these times. Stay strong, everyone.

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Renee Ilhardt, IBWS managerIB Global Centre, Washington D.C.

“Virtual collaboration has provided an extra layer in creating strong relationships”

The virtual opportunities I have been afforded recently have been so incredibly impactful! I’ve had more Skype and Teams meetings with coordinators and district supervisors in the last 8 weeks than ever before! Now I can put faces with voices―this opportunity for virtual collaboration has provided an extra layer in creating strong relationships with stakeholders.

Katrin Fox, IBWS managerIB Global Centre, The Hague

“I have been impressed by the creativity and resilience”

While I miss face-to-face interactions events and school visits, as an IBWS manager, I’ve become more connected with my schools through email, phone and video conversations and in webinars. During recent webinars on distance learning, I have been impressed by the creativity and resilience that were evident in the practices educators and pedagogical leaders shared. When faced with their schools being closed for an unforeseeable amount of time, these education professionals ensured continuity of learning and that the community stayed connected. Hosting an Ambassador of the Council of Europe as guest speaker into a virtual classroom in Manila and a whole school service project that led to more than 500 masks for a local hospital are just two examples that highlight how IB World Schools and IB educators remain committed to IB philosophy in these challenging times.

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Ricardo Chiaradia, IBWS manager―IB Global Centre, Washington D.C.

“Each action we take to support schools … is a memorable moment.”

Each action we take to support schools and make things easier for them is a memorable moment. These actions make our work meaningful because of the positive effect they have on the teaching and learning process.

Clark Stroupe, IBWS managerIB Global Centre, Singapore

“Teamwork yields innovative solutions.”

These unusual circumstances have shown me, once again, the organic, grass-roots core of the IBO, which finds ways to enhance learning opportunities. When the coordinator of a geographically isolated school in Indonesia emailed me to tell me they made a decision to cancel their PYP exhibition due to COVID-19 and that the parents, students and teachers were all very disappointed, I reached out to IBWS colleagues, my educator team and PYP practitioners who have taught me so much over the years. At first, we all started talking about the essence of the exhibition and why it mattered to each of us, but within a couple of weeks the coordinator had a pool of ideas and support, a kind of personal learning network that allowed her to safely begin to capture the best of the exhibition and start experimenting with how to scale up expectations for students. Teamwork yields innovative solutions.

The IB is encouraging students, teachers, alumni and staff to share your ideas for #IBtogether on social media. We encourage you to share your own #IBtogether posts on Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow along with #IBtogether posts from the IB community on our curated social page here.

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