Dominican Republic: Santo DomingoLength of Position: 10 months and renewable
Interviewing for teachers of elementary K-8 and highschool for school year 2014-2015.
We provide a rich environment of materials and experiences that invite learning. We are knowledgeable adults ready to guide and direct student learning and helping children to expand their knowledge and thinking. We are constantly evaluating student progress and teaching them to meet individual interests and needs.
The International School subscribes to a way of teaching and classroom planning based on studies of how children learn. At the International School, language and math skills are taught through the areas of social studies, science, literature and humanities. In our classrooms children learn to read, write, listen, talk, and think while involved in a wide variety of learning experiences.
ISSD focuses on the learning process. Children are learning how to learn. Children participate in drama, role-playing, research and other experiences that give them tools for life-long learning. Children learn how to ask questions, select topics, find materials, read, write, interview, share and present as they focus on science, social studies and literature themes. At the International School, students are evaluated on their growth as learners as well as on their written projects or oral presentations.
The best learning experiences are those that are meaningful to the child. Learning experiences such as letter writing, storytelling, field trips, interviews, reading fiction and non fiction books, and drama help children to construct meaning and understand the world around them. Even beginning readers can start with signs or familiar stories. Language skills are easy to learn when the focus is on making sense.
Children are allowed to grow at their own pace. Mistakes are a part of the learning process. For example, as children become writers they "invent" spelling and punctuation rules. These invented spellings reflect the child's learning. Teachers look for growth rather than perfection.
Teachers develop their classroom curriculum based on their understanding of children and how children learn. Activities grow out of the particular interests and needs of each class group and child. Children have choices and are encouraged to express themselves in discussion, writing, and other creative media. Children are helped to select materials, plan activities, and organize their time so that they become self-motivated learners with a lasting thirst for knowledge.
Teaching at the International School of Santo Domingo
I worked at the International School of Santo Domingo this past school year (August 2013 to June 2014) as the high school English and Social Studies teacher. The first thing I want to tell prospective teachers is that if you want to live in the DR, there are much nicer places than the capital city. Try Puerto Plata or Santiago, for starters. If you want to live in Santo Domingo, there are many other international schools that pay better and have better resources than ISSD (try the American School, or Carol Morgan). ISSD has very few students, and the owner/director, Bernadette Blenk, has a very poor reputation in the community. Parents, students, teachers, and other people in the field think of her as being negative and a bit unstable. The entire high school is only 28 students, and many of them are switching schools for next year. Bernadette controls everything at ISSD, and can be very difficult to work for.
As part of your employment package, you will get a free place to live. The apartment she put me in had no air conditioning (and the school itself doesn't either) and often lost power. There was one instance where the school "forgot" to pay the electricity bill, and I lost power for the better part of four days. Food can be more expensive in the DR than in the USA, and I had just gone grocery shopping. All the food I had in the fridge and freezer went bad, and I had no fans, internet, light, etc. from Friday afternoon after work until Monday afternoon. Bernadette didn't answer any of the calls I made to her, to see if she could pay the bill before the power company closed on Saturday afternoon. She neither apologized for the situation she put me in, nor acknowledged that anything had happened. Ultimately, she is a person you cannot trust to have your best interests at heart, and due to her position as your employer and the owner of the school, she will have an unusual amount of control over your life in the Dominican Republic. There are at least a dozen other instances in which her behavior was unprofessional, inappropriate, or downright callous when it came to my living situation and the living situations of other teachers who worked for her.
At school, Bernadette usually left me alone. In her evaluation of me, she said very positive things about my teaching, which I appreciated. She is knowledgeable about education and teaching. However, in my fairly experienced opinion, she should just teach and not try to be a school director as well. She does not handle pressure well, and often speaks very harshly and inappropriately to both students and staff. She's especially nasty to the high school students, saying awful things about them and their families to the staff (Bernadette is an insatiable gossip). She also treats the Dominican teachers as if they're much less important than the American/Canadian teachers, which, as you can imagine, caused issues among the staff all year long. She's losing almost all of her foreign staff and many Dominican teachers, I would not work for her again, and if you choose to work with her, avoid her as much as possible. If you have specific questions for me, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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