This week we met up with the VB family, who consist of parents Joris, Susie, and their daughters Ivy (G5) and Tillie (G7), who have been a valuable part of our community since joining ISKL last year in July!
Joris is the English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher for Middle School (MS), and his wife Susie has been taking part in numerous activities, painting sets for the MS School play and volunteering for the MS Library.
Their daughters, Tillie and Ivy, have also fully immersed themselves into their lives here, with Ivy taking on a new interest in unicycling during the lockdown. She also plays the piano, ukulele, and has discovered a newfound hobby recently, origami!
Tillie enjoys art (especially digital art), reading and has just started learning the ukulele. We would like to thank her for nominating her whole family in this week’s edition of Panthers of ISKL!
Here is their story.
Please share with us how your experience has been so far as faculty and parents at ISKL?
Joris: I was born and raised in Mechelen, Belgium, and graduated from university as a physiotherapist. However, after a few years of traveling around Asia and Australia with my wife Susie, I discovered a passion for teaching. I taught English as a second language in language academies in Thailand, Vietnam, and Valencia, Spain, where our daughters were born.
When they were one and three years old, we went on a 15-month adventure that took us to the remotest parts of Western Australia and across Thailand. In Belgium, I taught EAL and Geography at the British School of Brussels while also studying for my education degree. After eight years, our bilingual family decided to move on – we felt very fortunate to land at ISKL in July last year!
Susie: It’s been a very positive experience from the first day until now and everything in between. From the moment we landed, we were swept up into what felt like a great big family! The move was super easy, and the kids transitioned so well, which of course was a concern as this was their first English speaking school. We felt the care and professionalism of every teacher and member of staff. I love that the minute you enter the gate at ISKL, people notice and acknowledge you.
In the first year, I wanted to get the kids settled before offering myself up for any activities. I tried to make our new apartment feel like a home to ensure the girls felt settled as soon as possible because we plan to be here for the long term.
Once we were all settled, I saw an ad for Malaysian drum lessons, and I signed up right away. I absolutely loved it, and playing at the International Fest was nerve-wracking but amazing. This year Joris signed up too, and we looked forward to taking part, but due to COVID-19, that’s been put on hold.
I also helped paint the sets for the MS play, ‘The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet’, and more recently started volunteering in the MS library. I put together book displays to entice the students to try something new or showcase certain books. I enjoy it as it allows the creative side of me to come out while interacting with students. I love it when one of my displays gets a lot of interest!
What do you like most about ISKL?
Joris: I like the school’s emphasis on kindness, empathy, wellbeing, and the recognition that this will bring the best out of everyone. It has also been nice to be part of a community. In my last school, I lived pretty far away, but now it is only a two-minute walk, which allows us to participate in activities and after school activities (ASA).
Susie: I love the teachers’ dedication and how hard they work to get the very best out of each child. They are all part of making a significant and positive impact on our girls.
I love how my children are challenged every day in their classes and who they are as individuals. They see the world through new eyes, and it’s beautiful to see them growing every day. The support and friendships they have found in the school are wonderful. The teachers and staff are doing such a fantastic job while we are not in school and are continually changing, assessing, and evaluating the classes they teach and how that impacts the kids. I appreciate their consistent efforts in improving the online learning experience for the students.
We couldn’t wish to be in a better place during the pandemic, which we see significantly affecting our home countries and families daily.
Ivy: The grades are large – so you can have a lot of friends. I also like how friendly the ISKL community is.
Tillie’s Digital Art
Tillie: When I started Grade 7, I got my scoliosis back brace. I was grateful that everyone at school was so nice about it, and some people even knew what it was. I think everyone has got used to it, and I don’t get asked about it anymore. Honestly, I prefer people to ask me rather than to wonder about it. I’m happy everyone was so lovely about it, and I never had a negative comment. I’m so glad I’m in this school.
I also like how big the grade groups are and how so many different people and nationalities are represented with so many different cultures in one school. I’m happy to have very lovely friends.
What are your most memorable accomplishments or moments so far in ISKL?
Joris: In teaching, the most memorable moments are when students excel in their learning. For example, when a quiet EAL student gives a confident presentation or performance, which turns out to be a real turning point in their confidence.
Another memorable moment was definitely when my youngest scored their Grade 4 team’s first and only goal in a football tournament last year – and the celebration that erupted!
Susie: Our greatest accomplishment is having brought our kids halfway around the world away from their friends and family and everything they’ve known to an entirely different world, and they are happy.
For me, if our children are happy, then we’re doing it right. That’s what’s most important to me. Sometimes your biggest accomplishment can be just about being open and saying yes to new ideas.
Ivy: I started unicycling about three years ago when I received it as a Christmas present (in my last school we had a circus ASA.)
I didn’t do it much at first but started again during the semester break and the lockdown. I don’t have a teacher but have been practicing by myself in the garage at home.
I would advise anyone who wants to learn something like this is to keep trying! In the beginning, I could only stay on for 7 seconds, but now the longest I can stay on is 3 minutes and 50 seconds!
Another memorable accomplishment was in Grade 4 when I was in the under 11’s soccer tournament. We were in fourth place and hadn’t scored any goals. There was a tie at the end, and they took one person off the teams until there were two people and a goalie. I scored a goal!
Tillie: One memorable moment was the Terry Fox run last year. I don’t enjoy sports, but we had to do it for some reason. I ran with another friend who also didn’t enjoy sports. I remember feeling exhausted, but they were playing music during the race, and a song I knew came on, and it made me run faster for five seconds!
What does ‘Be All You Are’ mean to you?
Joris: I look at it in two ways. First of all, in the sense of ‘be all we can be’ as we are given all the tools, facilities, and instructions needed to become the best version of ourselves, guided by the school-wide learning results (SLR).
Secondly, being an inclusive school also means that we are allowed and encouraged to be ‘all we are,’ with all our different backgrounds, preferences, talents, languages, fears, dreams, and so much more.
Susie: This was why we left home and family because I did not believe that if we had stayed where we were, our children would have been able to fulfill all of their potentials.
I fully believe that at ISKL, they have the opportunity and support to find their passion, and I know that they will be supported and guided every step of the way, whether it be football, languages, or something else entirely.
‘Be All You Are’ to me means whether it’s finding your passion or doing mathematics that you struggle with, whatever it is you do, you do your best and do it with all your heart. It is crucial to be able to look back and be proud of your progress.
Ivy: It means to try your best or keep trying if something doesn’t work.
Tillie: To be as much as you can be or live up to your full potential. Do the best you can do!
To find out more inspiring stories of our students, read about Izzy’s artistic spirit or Vincent’s love for music here!