Panthers of ISKL #211: Susanne Safar – The Supportive Panther

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POISKL - Susanne S.

“I love being a Grade 2 Teacher and encouraging students to try new things!
Each day, I aim to create a space where students feel safe and happy to ask questions, share their thinking, do their best, make mistakes, and learn.”

Meet Susanne Safar, a Grade 2 teacher who joined the ISKL community in 2019. Susanne was born and raised in the USA and began teaching in Houston, Texas, then Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to KL. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her family, hiking in nature, and doing activities such as spending quiet time with a book or listening to live music.

Here is Susanne’s story:


Please tell us more about yourself.

I am from the United States. I was born in Houston, Texas, and graduated from the University of Houston. I began teaching in Houston, and later, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where I lived and taught for 11 years with my family before moving overseas.

When and why did you join ISKL?

After teaching six years in the United Arab Emirates, I wanted another overseas teaching experience with a non-profit private school where students were the priority. My son was entering Grade 10 in high school, and ISKL provided a good place for both of us. We joined the ISKL family in 2019.

Can you tell us more about your ES Grade 2 Teacher position? What are your daily activities?

I love being a Grade 2 Teacher and encouraging students to try new things!

Each day, I aim to create a space where students feel safe and happy to ask questions, share their thinking, do their best, make mistakes, and learn. Our morning meetings set the stage for the day of academic learning. Furthermore, it allows us to work on our growth mindset and social skills.

Susanne playing dress up

What is the most enjoyable part of your job? What is the most challenging?

Every day, I can encourage and observe students becoming more independent, accepting new challenges, and persevering when new work or learning is difficult. In addition, I work with a fantastic team of supportive teachers who are models for constructive collaboration, and we all can make each other laugh.

One of the biggest challenges in teaching is finding the time to work with students in small groups or individually. As a teacher, I always want to do more and wish I had more time.

Can you tell us something you are working on now that you are excited about?

This semester, ES EAL Teacher Yuka Kominato and I started an After School Activity (ASA), Let’s Play, which helps students who need to work on their social skills during play or recess. These students may be shy or just learning English and need a smaller group to practice their social skills. Since starting this ASA, it has been a joy to see these students joining in and talking with other Grade 2 students during the ASA, at their regular recess, and becoming more confident in the classroom.

Can you tell us more about your hobbies and interests? What do you do after work?

Traveling with my family and hiking in nature are my favorite activities. After work, I enjoy quiet time, reading a book, listening to live music with my husband, or meeting up with friends.

Susanne and family

Who or what inspires you?

Many people have inspired me along the way, and I continue to be inspired by people I encounter daily. Most of all, my students inspire me to learn and grow as a teacher.

Susanne with her friend

What is your best memory (or most memorable moment) so far working at ISKL?

There are so many memorable moments at ISKL. The smile I see on a student’s face while working on a math problem, a student using an “I message” to solve a problem with a classmate, when the student who doesn’t like to share in the class raises their hand to share their ideas, or the beginning EAL student who started the year barely speaking and by the end of the year is talking and sharing in class. These are the best memories!

What does ‘“Know yourself, care for all, and create a better world”’ mean to you?

If I know myself, I know how to take care of myself. I am responsible for ensuring I am physically and mentally well, which needs to come first. To care for all means I care for and respect all (no matter our differences). To create a better world, I ask myself, “How can I make my environment better than when I arrived?”


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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