Teaching at the International School of Santo Domingo
Submitted by Sarah1900 -
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.