Director’s message 110

Ne y Windige et Bonsoir de Banjul!

My name is Myna Anderson and I will be joining ISO in August 2024 to serve as your Director. My husband, John Anderson, will join ISO as a teacher of IBDP and other sciences as needed in the Upper School. I am honored that the Board has chosen me to serve as ISO’s leader and will give all my energy to try to fill the big shoes that will be left open when Mr. Jeff Trudeau moves on in the summer of 2024.

We plan to visit ISO in April 2024 for a brief introduction to the community and to ensure a smooth Trudeau-to-Anderson transition. While we wait for that in-person visit, allow me to introduce John and myself!

Who are the Andersons?

John and I are both from the USA. I was raised in a small town of 2,000 people in Kansas, where I was taught to value hard work, to help your neighbors, and to be thankful for any good fortune that comes one’s way. I spent hours riding my bicycle freely around town; fixing broken electronics and motors; competing in softball, volleyball and wrestling; working many part-time jobs (from the cheese plant to the pharmacy), doing chores and sewing clothes, and engaging in arts and reading programs at the local library. I was also the most theatrical and least musical of a very musical family. I have always loved learning, reading, and taking part in every sports and arts event possible.

John grew up in a college town in the ‘diamond’ state of Delaware, also being taught to work hard and to never think that you are better than anyone else. He also played little league, competed in cross country and tennis, helped the farmer across the road tend the animals, and worked many part-time jobs. Like me, he helped grow vegetables in the family garden each summer, and he is the second to last of many siblings (5 for me and 7 for him). Our parents pushed us and all our siblings to complete university degrees, even though none of our parents had ever had that opportunity themselves.

So we value hard work, thinking and learning, helping others, having a sense of humor and participating in sports and (for Myna) arts. We also value living thoughtfully and not wasting resources. John is a big fan of compost piles/gardening and not a fan of cellphones. For more than three decades we have shared these values with school communities around the world. We both began our careers in education as Peace Corps volunteers: I was in Costa Rica; John in Botswana. After Peace Corps we worked in New York City public schools for two years while earning Masters degrees: mine in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and John’s in Science Education. Our passion for experiencing the world, led us to embark on a career as educators in amazing international schools in Nepal, Turkey, Burma (Myanmar), Zimbabwe, Sudan, Pakistan, Oman, Uzbekistan, Uganda / UAE (Dubai), and The Gambia. Thus, Ouagadougou will be our eleventh school community!

John has taught every science from middle school to the IBDP and AP levels and more, including biology, chemistry, physics, Earth & space science, environmental science, health, economics, math, and business. He is an unforgettable homeroom advisor, and his former students will find themselves repeating his signature phrases and quotes for life! My teaching has covered Pre-Kindergarten to grade 12, including elementary classroom teaching as well as specialist subjects: English as an Additional Language, Spanish, Music, English Literature, Physical Education, PSEL, HS Seminar and college counseling.

We are strong educators with lots of flexibility in the subjects we teach; still, we both believe that it is most important to teach young people how to think deeply, present oneself confidently, show compassion, and take action to improve the community.

Though I love teaching, I have fallen into leadership and admin positions throughout my career. Before becoming a school Director for the first time in Tashkent, I had already served as an elementary, high school principal and middle school principal, athletic director, operations manager, ESL coordinator, PYP coordinator, admissions officer, and Board representative. I have also served on accreditation committees, led the whole school accreditation as internal coordinator, and been a member of many accreditation visiting teams. All these experiences means that I bring a deep understanding of curriculum, pedagogy, language acquisition, organization, finances, security and safety, and more to ISO.

John and I never had children of our own, but we give a lot of time to our students outside of classes. We have coached and led numerous activities: volleyball, softball, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, Student Council, badminton, kickball, track & field, Model United Nations, musicals, drama, choir and more. I hope to encourage ISO parents and community members to join in offering activities for ISO children; you will find it more rewarding than you can imagine! Although John complains that I work too much, we also share interests outside of school: book clubs, film clubs, playing tennis and Ultimate Frisbee, and for Myna any kind of band, theater, choir or karaoke. Note that John is camera shy – good luck trying to get him to look at the camera.

I hope this gives you a good sense of who we are as people and as lifelong professional educators. We are sending you our warm greetings and best wishes for a joyous Christmas and for a healthy and prosperous year of growth in the New Year -2024! Wẽnd na kõ-d vẽer ne laafi! Until then, we wish you all the best Myna & John Anderson