International School of Brussels
 
 
Evaluation 1)
 
 
Academic integrity of school 10 is top score
9
Effectiveness of administration
7
Academic and disciplinary support provided
8
Director's involvement in academics
8
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
9
School has adequate educational materials on hand
10
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
5
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
5
Satisfaction with housing
5
Community offers a variety of activities
7
Availability and quality of local health care
10
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
5
Extra curricular load is reasonable
10
           

Comments: I have worked at the International School of Brussels for two years and am beginning my third year here. In those two plus years, I have worked harder than ever before, learned a tremendous amount about teaching - despite ten years of experience, traveled extensively, made a lot of friends, and saved some money.

The school offers an excellent education to its students, yet is continually seeking improvement. The administration has a good vision for where the school is going, though not all teachers buy into it. The combination of the ongoing efforts at improvement and uneven acceptance of those efforts does, at times, create inequity in workload in my opinion. In general, both workload and expectations are high. However, the compensation package is very good for a western European school. Extra-curricular involvement is not expected and reasonable compensation is provided if you choose to do so.

The school has approximately 1500 students. They are incredible and diverse. I believe that there were 63 nations represented in the graduating class of 2005. The largest group is North Americans, with significant numbers of British and Belgian students as well. The teaching staff is similarly distributed. The students tend to be very thoughtful and mature. The climate of the school is one that promotes this attitude and new students are usually easily integrated into this.


The school facilities and available resources are outstanding, though space is an issue at times. Each of the four divisions is physically separated on a large 40 hectare campus. There are plenty of athletic facilities that teachers can utilize, including a workout room, climbing wall, track, indoor tennis courts, and so on. The school has extensive technological facilities as well with at least one computer in every classroom and lots of computer labs, including specialized ones for graphics, etc.

The campus is located in a commune that is officially part of Brussels, but is actually quite a way from the center and not particularly urban. Many teachers choose to live in this area for the easy commute and relative quiet. However, an equal number live in the communes between the center and the school, where there is a huge concentration of restaurants, bars, and clubs. The commute by public transportation is about 30 minutes from these areas.

The highlights of the country, to me, are the food and the beer. The cheeses and chocolates and cuisine in general are really exceptional. My one disappointment in regards to the food is that the Asian food does not seem to have the same standards as I am accustomed to in North America (or Asia). Belgium is rightly famous for its beers and we have enjoyed very much trying the many unique varieties of well-crafted brews. In general, living in Belgium seems to be typical of northern Europe.

Travel opportunities abound with efficient transport connections and a calendar that is conducive to taking advantage of them. The weather/climate is awful for most of the year and can be downright depressing in the short days of winter, when you go and return from school in the dark (and the sun doesn’t break through the clouds once it is light). Integration into the culture is a challenge, but there is a huge expatriate community here and it is a large enough school that there are lots of social possibilities among the teachers. Speaking French helps outside of the school, as it is in the predominantly French-speaking part of Belgium, but is certainly not necessary as English is widely spoken. The other two official languages in Belgium are Flemish and German. There is a lot to like at this school and in this country. However, I did not leave the US to stay in one place and the combination of the workload, the climate, and my desire for a more exotic location compel me to move on.
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