What's next for global education? Prague international school launches students into the future

As the International School of Prague begins a new era with a new director, it's on a path to becoming the most innovative international school in Europe.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 04.05.2021 12:45 (updated on 05.05.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

When Kelly Esparza and her family relocated to the Czech Republic from the U.S. at the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020, they had already checked one important item off their to-do list: finding a school for their sons Dominic (12), Lucas (10), and Maximus (8).

While the pandemic would soon cut short the honeymoon phase of their new life in Prague, Esparza says the International School of Prague (ISP) proved a life raft not only to their children but to her and her husband during their entire relocation experience.

“Having chosen this school has had a positive impact on our experience in the Czech Republic. Not only have our boys made some great friends, but the school really does a wonderful job at making sure the parents feel connected which is so important, especially as an expat,” said Esparza.

Chris and Kelly Esparza with their kids Maximus, Lucas and Dominic.
Chris and Kelly Esparza with their kids Maximus, Lucas and Dominic.

“Preparing students for what lies ahead, in every sense of the word, is at the heart of the ISP philosophy,“ said ISP Chair of the Board of Trustees, Staffan Erenmalm. The school's pioneering, student-centered Mission and Learning Principles took shape during the tenure of Dr. Arnie Bieber who will bid farewell to the school at the end of June.

Erenmalm credits Dr. Bieber with transforming ISP both in terms of physical improvements to the campus as well as shifts to a more progressive and authentic approach to learning. As stated in the school’s most recent accreditation report, “ISP is mission-driven, student-focused, future-leaning, high performing and a safe, secure place for learning.”

Dr. Bieber’s 13-year tenure as director of ISP is the longest in the school’s 73 year history. During that time the school, located in the heart of Prague’s scenic Divoká Šárka nature reserve, has steadily evolved into one of the world’s premier international schools, earning Dr. Bieber a reputation as a thought leader in international education.

ISP škola school Prague Praha
The International School of Prague is located in Nebušice, next to the Divoká Šárka nature reserve.

Under Dr. Bieber’s vision, a number of flexible learning environments were created on the ISP campus including the transformation of the library into the ISP Learning Innovation Hub, a contemporary new environment that enables learners of all ages to make, think, read, tinker, and invent.

The funding of the new Hub shines a light on the school’s culture of philanthropy, which also goes to support scholarships and new programs. As a not-for-profit entity with no owner or shareholders, 100 percent of all resources are invested back into the school’s learning program and into the experiences in and out of the classroom.

The ISP Learning Innovation Hub is a contemporary environment pointing to the future of learning.
The ISP Learning Innovation Hub is a contemporary environment pointing to the future of learning.

Dr. Chip Kimball, slated to become the new director of ISP in July 2021, is committed to carrying on Dr. Bieber’s transformation of ISP into the most innovative international school in Europe.

An experienced leader who has led public and private schools with a focus on improvement, effective change, and results, Dr. Kimball is credited with shaping the Singapore American School into one of the world's most progressive international schools.

“From robotics and artificial intelligence to climate change and changing demography, today’s students will have unparalleled challenges and opportunities,” said Dr. Kimball. “ISP will not only be able to respond to these challenges, but will ensure that our students are leaders, problem-solvers, and contributors to both the local and global community,” he added.

Elementary Students do NASA-inspired experimentation in the Idea Lab.
Elementary Students do NASA-inspired experimentation in the Idea Lab.

Those challenges include helping students excel during remote learning. “ISP has really done a great job with handling the challenge of distance learning,” said Esparza. “Their focus this year has been on Learning, Wellbeing, and Belonging. They've created a program to fit the needs of the students during these difficult times.”

“ISP has a deep tradition of excellence and meeting the needs of the whole child. Looking ahead we hope to build upon this tradition while attending to the increasingly challenging student needs of the future,” said Dr. Kimball.

This level of commitment to student excellence is evidenced by a curriculum that takes learners on a journey - from Early Childhood Foundations to the International Baccalaureate - that enables ISP graduates to join the best universities: several ISP students from the class of 2021 have been accepted to continue their educational journey at Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

ISP has a dedicated Elementary School Outdoor Learning Coordinator, to enhance outdoor learning options for younger students.
ISP has a dedicated Elementary School Outdoor Learning Coordinator, to enhance outdoor learning options for younger students.

Students from ISP consistently score well-above the world average for the International Baccalaureate, with 97 percent of ISP candidates gaining the IB Diploma with an average score of 35.

“Dr. Bieber also created a culture of professional inquiry, where teachers research, prototype, and scale powerful practices to improve student learning,” said Dr. Kimball. Seventy percent of ISP faculty have advanced degrees, and 86 percent of its teachers have more than 10 years experience in education.

ISP's association with renowned international educators such as Kimball and Bieber, as well as its academic standards and exciting course offerings are the primary reasons given by parents like Esparza who enroll their children in ISP.

Graduating Class of 2020, International School of Prague.
Graduating Class of 2020, International School of Prague.

Parent involvement was also a unique selling point for Esparza who appreciated the school’s “Edge in Education” parent educational series, designed to enhance the school-parent partnership.

Esparza who relocated with her family from San Diego, California, also praises ISP's international dynamic; with students representing more than 60 nationalities, and no one nationality representing more than 20% of the student body.

“The school really feels like a community. Teachers and staff are very welcoming and enthusiastic, and it's a place the kids want to be. We are very pleased with the school's approach to learning and inquiry. What we love the most as parents is that the school truly cares about the wellbeing of students, especially during these tough times."

This article was written in cooperation with the International School of Prague. Read more about our sponsored content policy here.

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