The Panthers of ISKL is a platform to showcase inspirational, real-life stories of ISKL community members. The diverse variety of these select students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff reflect the rich tapestry of what enables ISKL to be proudly acknowledged as an inclusive and empowering educational environment. Each individual is invited to share their passions in order to illustrate the full meaning of ISKL’s vision and how it translates directly to their personal endeavors. With ISKL’s focus on developing a practical, social and emotional skill mindset amongst all its students, enabling them to reach beyond the parameters of academic success, these individuals conceptualize their unique role in an ever-evolving and complex world.
The third in our series of Panthers of ISKL, focuses on ‘Community’ spirit. It incorporates personal documentaries of how individuals contribute to our community and beyond and work towards making the world a better place.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT – LACHLAN C. (‘21)
Originating from South Perth in Australia, Lachlan left his home town in 2012 to join ISKL in Grade 4. His community spirit and ethos grew throughout his years in Elementary, Middle and ultimately High School. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Lachlan leant upon this community growth mindset to undertake the mammoth task of organizing, ordering and distributing Senior jackets and hoodies for his contemporaries. His vision and initiative relied upon maintaining the ISKL spirit despite the closure of the school and the lockdown pitfalls he encountered on the way. He utilized his connections and communication skills to work towards the task at hand with the sole mission to support all Senior students to feel part of the ISKL graduating community despite the disappointing measures preventing celebrations akin to previous years. “I was overwhelmed with positive responses and I am happy to have helped bring some joy during these challenging times. It was worth every minute and my constant message to my classmates was ‘we got this’ to help preserve our united determination, perseverance and hard work”.
Whilst Lachlan heads home to Australia to further his studies at University with aspirations on studying Architecture or Sports Management, he leaves us with what the ‘Be All You Are’ motto means to him. “Although my entire life changed when I moved to Malaysia, I wanted to remain unchanged; true to myself. We should understand that it is okay to be different, to be yourself because that is what humans are – unique”.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS – HANNAH A. & RUSHDAN S. (‘28)
Our fifth graders and Red Hat representatives, Hannah and Rushdan are the perfect role models for their younger Elementary peers. They pave the way forward as helpers in the community, demonstrating clearly the ethos of the Melawati Way.
Together with student leaders from Middle School StuCo and High School Student Leadership Teams, they enlighten the ISKL community on what it means to be a responsible Red Hat.
Hannah explains that “Red Hats are the voice of other students”. Whilst they act as role models to younger pupils, they use teamwork to support each other in acts of responsibility and leadership. Their endeavors reach beyond the parameters of the classroom, to support external charity drives which helps them connect with local communities needing help. This was an enjoyable task and experience for Hannah, to work with her contemporaries whilst raising funds and see the happiness she was delivering to others less fortunate.
Rushdan felt grateful to represent the Red Hats with Hannah and whilst he was nervous to participate in the Student Leadership Forum, he gained an insight into the other Student Council bodies including Middle School StuCo and High School Student Leadership Teams. Through the Red Hat program Rushdan has learnt confidence, independence and team work in order to gain special privileges. He likens the quote “with great power comes great responsibility” to his Red Hat experience and understands that if you misuse privileges, you risk having your leadership role taken away.
Rushdan and Hannah are exemplary examples of Red Hat students, guiding and reinforcing their honorable role whilst not taking the privilege for granted or abusing the responsibility afforded them. They believe the best part is ‘training to be leaders’.
What does the ‘Be All You Are’ motto mean to Hannah? She tells us “it means to do the best you have got. Try your best, and push yourself to the limit. Keep learning and growing”. It is evident that despite Hannah’s relatively short time at ISKL and with her aspirations set on becoming a microbiologist to create a vaccine, she is an individual who has a clear vision and one to watch!
To Rushdan the ‘Be All You Are’ motto means “to be myself and know that even if someone is different, they are unique. There is only one you.”
TEACHER – JULIE JONSSON
Our teaching representative is Julie Jonsson, a Social Studies teacher who is tutoring Grade 9 in World Studies and IB History. She is a one-woman inspiration and on a mission to run a 42km marathon fundraiser whereby the public decide on the charitable cause.
Julie’s innate community spirit is encouraging her to run for charities close to other people’s hearts so she, in turn, reaches a wider audience so more vulnerable people and animals, on a global level, benefit. They include Planned Parenthood, UNICEF, UNHCR, Every Mother Counts, SPCA, Doctors Without Borders, The Breast Cancer Foundation, The National Kidney Foundation, Cambodia Education Fund and The Chin Student Organization.
The ‘Cheer me on! Or Run with me!’ concept is based around turning up on the day at ISKL to support Julie and run an adopted kilometer alongside her, to show YOUR support for HER mission to raise funds for YOUR chosen charity.
Julie’s story starts with a personal reflection on her life and a future challenge to reclaim the physical and mental health benefits of a pre-pandemic and pre-children life. Whilst she originally aimed at completing the Vietnam marathon, her plans changed with travel restrictions but she realized that this was an opportunity to do something good for the community as well as herself.
Running has been a passion of Julie’s since her Middle School years and an exercise she turns to explore new places, meet new people and connect with her mental health on a positive level. With the guidance and support of Jeff Ross of ‘Total Running Club’ in KL (@jeffreyrose_runner), a training schedule of speed, easy and long distance running helped Julie train for the marathon. She believes that it is within the reaches of any individual should they dedicate consistency and time to the task at hand.
With Julie’s financial sights set on raising RM100 per km, she is hoping to reach a target of RM42,000. Her greatest motivation is what this effort will be contributing to and refers to the words of Tim Urban “a remarkable, glorious achievement is just what a long series of unremarkable, inglorious tasks look like from far away”.
The ‘Be All You Are’ motto is reinforced in Julie as an individual, teacher and parent. She uses the analogy of Shakespeare’s quote “This, above all, to thine own self be true” to reflect knowing who you are, what you believe in, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, what fuels you and what depletes you. Whilst these are essential keys of knowledge to carry through life, they continually shift so remaining ‘true’ to yourself whilst making choices that align with self awareness, courage and intentionality.
PARENT – TRACY CATON
Our PTA President for 2021/22, Tracy has lived in Beijing, China and Houston before arriving in Kuala Lumpur two years ago. She currently runs her own holistic health coaching business and includes playing the piano, singing, giving music lessons and painting as her hobbies.
Undertaking the role of PTA President has given Tracy the opportunity to contribute and collaborate her services for the benefit of the ISKL community. Having taught music for eight years in the U.S. public school system, this position enables her to continue to merge this with her love of participating in the education of children.
As parents, Tracy and her husband feel supported and have confidence in the ISKL faculty and staff. They believe there is a high level of excellence for all students with a value placed on individual skills, talents, gifts and abilities. They deem it an inclusive environment that celebrates the diversity of the entire community.
Tracy’s experience in transitioning into ISKL enables her to advise new and joining families to not be afraid of vulnerability, in engaging in the community and making connections with other members. There are a whole host of PTA events that encourage participation throughout the year that can appeal to everyone.
To Tracy the ‘Be All You Are’ motto means “that you have to spend time understanding yourself and who you are, realizing what kind of work satisfies you and then sharing your gift with the world”.
We are #ISKLproud of the stories shared by our Panthers that reflect their sense of community. Many thanks to Lachlan C., Hannah A. & Rushdan S., Julie and Tracy for sharing their stories with us.
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