Saturday, September 15, 2012

School Days

The school year here has just restarted, and all of this school talk with locals has inspired me to introduce you to ours (which has been holding classes for a month now!)...The school that my husband Kurt teaches at is one of my favorite places in the city.  Behind its walls is a progressive welcoming environment of brick buildings surrounded by manicured lawns and roaming peacocks.
Kurt’s school is an international school.  (Loosely, and international school promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the Cambridge International Examinations or the International Baccalaureate, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in.)  Though 52 countries are served by this preK-12th grade school, the common thread is that all 500+ students learn in English.  Compared to the challenged NYC and CT schools of his past, Kurt has found the school to be a breath of fresh air to his teaching.  He has amazing class sizes- his smallest class has five and his largest has seventeen.  very responsible students in an expensive program make for few discipline problems and enthusiastic learners.

Teachers come from a variety of countries, most on two or three year contracts.  Teachers are always lucky to meet great people wherever they go, because there are so many amazing teachers in the world. Kurt has been blessed with great co-workers wherever he goes, and our time here is no different! Below is a little tour of the school: 

It looks tight and compact, but the school is a giant.  Gorgeous green space abounds with two sports fields, high school and front entrance on upper left, indoor gym in the large white rectangle, a top zigzag building: middle school with art, math, and language buildings on each end, a bottom zigzag building: elementary school with a playground to the left, then a large pre-school complex under the tree clump to the left of that. Down the middle of campus from left to right is the admin building, library, and theatre.  Tennis courts and some staff housing sit on the top right.

 The theater building, much to Jonas' constant amusement, has three turbines on top.  These spin with the wind.  Under the building are kept pools of rainwater.  When the turbines spin, they draw cool air up off of these pools and circulate it throughout the building. In front sit iron statues of the school's mascot: the warthog.
Outdoor art class area.  Above are classrooms for mathematics.

"The white building": a two story administration building that houses the cafeteria, nurse, admissions, teachers' lounge and administrative offices.

Standing under the overhang of the gym building, looking toward the high school where Kurt has his classroom.  Many classes take place outside, and these overhangs allow students to walk relatively dryly from building to building during the rainy season.

Jonas looks at a locust in a rain gutter.  These pathways for rain are used for a small amount of time during the year, but are very important we're told.  You can find these gullies in front of every gate throughout every neighborhood, as well. 

I love Kurt's classroom design!  The clerestory windows in the heightened ceiling are designed to vent hot air while shining light onto reflective boards that then filter it down below.  The room requires few lights for its large size, and it's great during power outages!

The school design is a wonderful mix of British colonial, modern, and African elements, surrounded by tropical flora. Here the thatched roof over the sandbox reminds you: this is Africa!

For more info about Kurt’s school, visit the website: