Four Ways Faculty at IST Bring Expertise and an Exceptional Learning Experience

Teacher teaching a science class

At the International School of Tanganyika (IST), faculty members are recruited from both Tanzania and around the world, allowing for a diverse range of values. 

Regardless of where faculty comes from, they share four important characteristics.

1. They are experts in their field, often holding advanced degrees and training in our core programmes

“My BA (Hons) degree is from the University of Southampton, UK where I studied my favorite subject, Geography,” said Camilla Alexander-Watson, who teaches Individuals and Societies to Grade 7, Grade 11 and Grade 12 Geography and Grade 12 Environmental systems and societies. “I completed my teacher training in London and recently completed a distance learning Masters in Geography Education from UCL (University College London) in the UK.”

Alexander-Watson has been teaching at IST for the past five years and has truly enjoyed every moment. 

“I really like working here as the students are open-minded and determined, proactive and inquisitive,” she said. “The campus is a beautiful place to be and my colleagues are good fun to work with.”

Kirk Leichner is in his second year at the school and teaches EC to Grade 5.

“I really enjoy working at IST,” Leichner said. “The students are amazing, funny, intelligent and fun.” 

Leichner, similar to Alexander-Watson brings expertise to his teaching. 

He holds two degrees in history both a BA and MA from the University of Idaho in the U.S. He also has an MEd from Northern Arizona and a Library Endorsement from the University of Washington.   

2. They are committed to making the world a better place and are keen to contribute to Tanzania

Faculty at IST continuously strive to make the school community, Dar es Salaam and Tanzania a better place to live and thrive.

Leichner is the head of a global triathlon organization, originally started in 2014 by a teaching friend in Beijing. When his friend moved, he excitedly took over and ran it for the next three years in Beijing. He believes his enjoyment of triathlons and community service made this leadership position a natural fit. 

“We were happy to host our first event in Dar es Salaam this past December as we raised money for Santa's Surprise, a group working to help out local orphanages,” Leichner said. “We had a great turnout, lots of community support and a fun morning.”

While the Beijing chapter is currently going strong, the organization is looking to add a third chapter in Kazan, Russia, this spring. You can find out more at tri4change.net

3. They are willing to contribute to our co-curricular programmes and are excited about sharing their passions and interests with the community

Contributing to the co-curricular programme at IST and bringing their outside passions to the school are both of the utmost importance to our faculty members. 

According to Alexander-Watson, some of her favourite moments at the school so far were during co-curricular activities. 

“Climbing Kilimanjaro twice with two amazing groups of students has definitely got to be one of the many highlights, along with a couple of ski trips, many Morogoro trips and of course all the other events at school where students are able to showcase their amazing talents.”

When asked if there were any particular moments that held significance to him, Leichner spoke about the moment he brought a much-loved book series to the school this past semester. 

The fifth volume in the Dog Man series came out in September, and normally, this would have been difficult to get as the school only has one large book order per year. 

To Leichner’s surprise, he was able to attain three copies within weeks of the book coming out. 

“For a week, students wrote their names and put them into a lucky draw box,” Leichner said. “At the end of the week, over 100 students crowded into the library for the lucky draw to see who would be the first three students to get to read Dog Man, Lord of the Fleas. It was wild, loud and tense as the names were drawn. We currently have a waiting list of 50 people for this book, even four months after its release into library circulation.” 

4. They love working with our students and recognize that all of our students are unique individuals

One of the ways IST faculty members guarantee an educational experience as unique as the students learning is to keep in mind just how unique the students are and teach accordingly.  

“Variety is key and also responding to the needs and requests of the students,” Alexander-Watson said. “Our lessons are quite long so it's important to have variety to keep the students engaged and interested.”

According to Alexander-Watson, a typical middle school lesson includes the students moving seats, collaborating with a range of different students and having choice in how they can go about producing their own work. 

Leichner mirrors Alexander-Watson’s opinion in making sure students have choice when it comes to how they learn. He also has a unique approach to teaching and likes to break the stereotype of a quiet library.

“Does being loud in the library count?” Leichner said when asked about his unique forms of teaching. “We have worked to create a space in the library where everyone, from EC to teachers to parents, feels welcome.”

He starts each lesson by handing out stuffed animals to the students. 

“We have no written rules in the library, but students understand that respecting themselves, others and the space is expected,” Leichner said. “Our library focuses less on the use of ‘shhhhh’ and more on what students are interested in; it's a space where everyone can come together to learn, play and feel like they belong.”

Alexander-Watson, Leichner and all other IST faculty go above and beyond to make sure students have an exceptional experience while at the school. And both of them couldn’t choose one answer when it came to the question, “What is your favourite part of teaching?” 

“The fact that no two days are the same,” Alexander-Watson said excitedly. “I am constantly being amazed and surprised by the students and also challenged (which is definitely a good thing). The students are curious and each student responds differently to each lesson I teach.” 

Alexander-Watson added that she enjoys forming relationships with students, sharing her passion and having a laugh together in between. 

“Having been at the school a while, it's great to see the students grow over time both in their personalities and academically,” Alexander-Watson said. “There's an amazing buzz on campus and as soon as I see my students enter the classroom at the start of the lesson, they put the biggest smile on my face!”

Leichner’s response was similar in that his favorite part of teaching is the students. 

“My favorite part of teaching is being with the students,” Leichner said. “As a teacher, they make everything worth it. Even on a teacher's worst day, some student will say or do something to make you smile. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend my days teaching and learning from children.” 

IST offers more than their world-class faculty, the school has a personalized learning curriculum, a distinguished history, academic rigor, just to name a few. Click the link below to discover nine detailed reasons learning at IST differentiates from other schools, why learning at this school is superior.

A picture with a link to the 9 reasons to attend IST page

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