Panthers of ISKL: Opportunities Edition

Read the personal documentaries of how our Panthers capitalize on opportunities to encourage them to shape their own paths and have an ethical impact on the world!
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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 mission, 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 fourth in our series of Panthers of ISKL, focuses on ‘Opportunity’. It incorporates personal documentaries of how individuals capitalize on opportunities to encourage them shape their own paths, discover their passions, develop their competencies, and have an ethical impact on the world.



HS student Jackson GJackson was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming, U.S.A. before moving and living in Newfoundland, Houston, Dubai and arriving in Malaysia in 2017.  He is a member of the ISKL Boy Scout Troop 818 and was recently awarded the highest rank of Eagle Scout for Boy Scouts of America.  To be honored with six ranks as well as a series of merit badges, the focus and dedication of such a  Boy Scout is unsurpassable.  Jackson tells us “ranks are awarded for specific skills including first aid, service hours, the use of outdoor tools, knowledge of knots, the acquisition of life skills whilst merit badges focus on topics including handling money, staying physically fit, maintaining family relationships, learning the meaning of being a citizen as well as organizing, fundraising and leading a community service project”.

Achieving the Eagle Scout award was a result of administering a community project to help a local Somali refugee center in Kuala Lumpur.  It involved building a roof over an uncovered, outdoor area and furnishing it to be used as a kitchen to conduct cooking lessons, prepare food and ultimately generate an income for the center.  The project took 107 hours to complete with 9 hours alone dedicated to installing the roof and furniture.

The Boy Scouts epitomizes ‘opportunity’ for Jackson.  “The values it teaches are so important as well as encouraging us to give back to the community, become a leader and take care of the environment.  Scouting has taught me how to live the best life and if anyone is interested in signing up, no matter how old, I would say ‘it’s a great program!  Having been a Boy Scout for 13 years in both the U.S.A., Canada and now Malaysia, it is something that has shaped my life”.  

The endless opportunities afforded by ISKL to students in the availability of clubs and sports has enabled Jackson to contribute to the Choir program and ISKL Singers group as well as sports programs including volleyball, rugby, track and field Junior Varsity and Varsity teams.  

Jackson’s vision for his future is to help protect the environment..  “Nature is fundamental to me, and I think it is vital to maintain and protect the different ecosystems in our world as well as the flora and fauna” he tells us.  

The ‘Be All You Are’ motto is summed up by Jackson as meaning ‘to take risks and put yourself out there to try new things.  Keep pushing yourself to do something you didn’t think you could’.



ISKL SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS: NURIN AND YOGITATwo outstanding Malaysia students, Nurin and Yogita are the recipients of ISKL’s 2020/21 International Baccalaureate (IB) Scholarship Award.  In addition to evidence of their robust academic achievements, both students share a wide range of inspiring individual passions and interests. Here are their stories of opportunity.  

Nurin’s accomplishments include her appointment as President for the Interact Club at her previous school, participating in the ‘Tak Nak Straw’/’Say No Plastic Straw’ campaign which supports her passion for the environment and human rights issues. More recently she accepted from DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong the coveted and highest attainable ‘Queen’s Guide’ Award for Girl Guiding in Malaysia, has written and had a short story titled ‘Giving Back to our Beloved Earth’ published in Yayasan Rosni Noor’s book ‘Stories of Giving’. To top it all off she is an avid sports enthusiast enjoying Cross Country, Track and Field, Basketball, Futsal and Netball.  

Whilst Nurin’s parents emphasized the importance of maintaining excellent academic results, they also encouraged Nurin and her siblings to pursue their hobbies and immerse themselves in a variety of extracurricular activities.  “By having the opportunity to try violin, piano, taekwondo, swimming, tennis, golf, ballet to name a few encouraged me to be a well-rounded person and understand what I love doing” Nurin tells us.  

Having spent three years at an international school in Tashkent, Uzbekistan the experience has given Nurin a taste for what ISKL will offer her.  In return she is planning on bringing her enthusiasm for environmental protection, community and charitable projects, sports and her passion for learning to ISKL and hopes to try new things and take on new challenges.  

With this in mind and the far reaching achievements of a student her age, Nurin’s ultimate goal is to continue to make her parents proud.  She is aiming high in her aspirations for university entrance which will ultimately translate into a career that makes her happy whilst also ensuring a positive impact in the world.  She has every reason to be proud of herself and it is reflected in her determination for success on every level.  

Yogita has entered many public speaking tournaments as well as being an active participant in choral, drama and debating competitions.  In addition to being an active Girl Guide and supporting recycling initiatives, she also volunteered at the National Zoo in Malaysia to support her school community service.   Yogita’s sights are set on becoming an IT Specialist but with a focus on continuing to make a valuable impact on her community.  

The IB Diploma program appealed to Yogita for its ability to encourage versatility in a challenging and stimulating environment.  With her sights set on becoming an IT Specialist, she hopes that her career gives her satisfaction.  However, this will come alongside her focus on continuing to make a valuable impact on her community with efforts towards humanity and nature prevailing over the advancement of technology and development.

When Yogita thinks of ISKL, she imagines international culture, educational technology, first class campus facilities and endless opportunities through club activities.  Combine this with the IB Diploma program and its ability to encourage versatility in a challenging and stimulating environment shows how excited Yogita is for the education that awaits her.  She tells us “from learning to be a holistic student to being globally conscious, I trust that ISKL will allow me to grow as an individual in the best way possible”.

Yogita’s aspirations reach beyond her achieving academic excellence.  She is keen to be involved in community service and support development projects such as the Habitat for Humanity or Global Action Programme

It has been instilled in Yogita from a young age by her parents that ‘education is the key to life’s freedom’.  She aims to use these wise words to pursue her dreams and passions after graduating from ISKL.  Her message to her future self is ‘even if you have not accomplished the goals you have set for yourself, I hope you look back on this journey and realize how much you have grown as an individual.  If you have accomplished these goals, well done!  Either way, always continue doing what makes you happy and what feels right’.  

Nurin and Yogita also told us what ‘Be All You Are’ means to them.  “To me, it means to live up to your fullest potential and find things you are genuinely passionate about.  Life is short; give it your all and be the best version of yourself” says Nurin.  Whilst Yogita’s translation is “accepting who I am as an individual – that includes embracing my flaws and making the best out of who I am.  To do this, I have first to put myself out there, discover different sides of myself and learn my true potential”.



These three Grade 5 students make up the group ETBThese three Grade 5 students make up the group ETB, a developing brand that they created to showcase their artwork and endeavors.  The common link and introductions to each other was through them all being stranded overseas at the start of the academic year.  Their project started by simply sharing jokes online with 8 students and growing to offer a weekly online course teaching English to an average of 50 students in Grade 2!  

Esme initiated ETB by starting a little joke and riddle book to share with her Grade 4 teacher who opened it up to other teachers and students.  Tiny and BonBee jumped at the opportunity to join Esme and so the group was officially launched.  Their aim is to create small books and games, write fantasy and non-fiction stories whilst reading, teaching and growing phonological awareness to Grade 2 students.  

As Red Hats they are learning to become leaders and this is something they are proudly showcasing in their teaching endeavors. They believe that successful teachers should be kind, funny and also a little strict!  The Melawati Way guides them in the process, not only at school but within their ETB initiative and within their home environment too.  

ISKL has clearly had a positive impact on all three girls.  They chat openly and enthusiastically about the teachers, their friends, the available resources and activities as well as the opportunities that arise for them within the school environment; their love of art, reading and writing which evolved into EBT.

Their response to what ‘Be All You Are’ means to them was answered individually.  Esme told us “try not to be who you pretend you are but actually be who you are; don’t pretend to be good at something if you are not but always keep trying.  BonBee responded “you don’t have to care about what others say; it is just you who is important no matter how you look or feel.  You are still good enough if you try your best and learn from your mistakes”.  Tiny sums it up with “be yourself and don’t do what everyone tells you to be”.



ES Teacher Monica TindallIt is a pleasure to highlight Monica’s story as she has taught Grade 1 in Elementary School at ISKL for 18 years.  

Monica describes her early life as being born and raised in a ‘tiny country town’ with a population of only 100 people in New South Wales, Australia.  Yet after attending University in Nottingham and working for a year in Australia, she spread her wings and ventured to Singapore, Caracas in Venezuela and finally settled in Kuala Lumpur.  It was in Venezuela that she met her husband, Caning.  Their life was full of exciting travel opportunities, vibrant art, music and culture but after five happy years the political unrest forced them to set their sights on embarking upon jobs in the education sector in Malaysia.  

Monica admits she is focused and inspired by six year old students telling us “they are the absolute best year to teach; where you see the most growth.  To play a small part in that is incredibly fulfilling”.  Since moving to the Ampang Hilir campus, one of her biggest teaching goals has been to go ‘green’.  The children have been learning to compost organic waste into useful soil to plant edible gardens.  

In addition to this, Monica enthusiastically highlights the benefits of the Grade 1 Readers Theater.  Students are transformed from early readers in small groups and through repetition to gain confidence in fluency, culminating in a performance.  Monica and her team take pride in nurturing these younger students in developing their skills and abilities through careful observation, planning and open-ended communication.  “Whilst it might look as though all students are equally reading or engaged in mathematics, the subtle questioning, scaffolding and adaptation of activities are carefully designed to meet each child’s needs” Monica explains.

On a personal note, Monica started The Yum List blog some 11 years ago, mainly to serve as a community resource and an exercise alongside her blogging with students.  The platform was an excellent tool for sharing the classroom experience with families as well as expatriate friends.  Monica tells us “it started as a place for everyone to post positive experiences of Malaysia’s restaurants, hotels and spas in order to generate a community recommended list.  However, I was quickly encouraged to document my own experiences and whilst, rudimentary at first, it snowballed into what it is today; an internationally recognized website highlighting gourmet travel”.

Hobbies and interests are plentiful in Monica’s life.  Her early years working as a qualified Advanced Fitness Leader in Australia has instilled in her a lifelong fitness ethic.  She exercises at 5:00 am every morning, before the school day, whether it be aerobics, Latin dance, weight lifting and more recently, kickboxing.  To relax, you will find her reading non-fiction or autobiographies.  Over the pandemic her keen interest in sustainability and natural systems led to an online University course in Permaculture which resulted in establishing an edible balcony garden.  She is now turning her eye to passive design in order to one day create a self-sustaining community.  

After 18 years at ISKL, Monica tells us what ‘Be All You Are’ means to her as a longstanding teacher.  “I have a strong belief that you get to choose who you want to be and then align everything you do and say with those beliefs.  For me, that is the secret of happiness and ‘being all you are’. 


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