Find Yourself at The International School of Kuala Lumpur!

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At The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), our vision is to create a holistic environment where learning is stimulated, curiosity is sparked, and action is inspired. Our educational approach is incorporated into our school’s motto to ‘Be All You Are,’ which encourages our students to pursue their passions, achieve their goals, and better understand themselves.

For the past 55 years, we have nurtured students from around the world to develop their individual skills, talents, and competencies. ‘Find Yourself at ISKL’ is our series of video stories that highlights how our students, faculty, staff, and community members have discovered and explored their interests while at ISKL.

ISKL is unique in offering a wide range of high-quality academic pathways that have been designed to enable every learner to choose the curriculum best suited to their abilities, interests, and aspirations.

The pathways principle

In his book ‘The End of Average’, Todd Rose, the director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at Harvard University, expostulates for paradigms that cater to individual differences rather than a ‘statistical average human’ – revealing the fact that not one individual, is in fact, average.

“The fact that there is not a single, normal pathway for any type of human development – biological, mental, moral or professional – forms the basis of the third principle of individuality: the pathways principle. 

‘This principle makes two important affirmations. First, in all aspects of our lives and for any given goal, there are many, equally valid ways to reach the same outcome; and, second, the particular pathway that is optimal for you depends on your own individuality,” as quoted by Rose. 

With that in mind, here are some testimonies and inspiring stories from ISKL’s community members and how they have found their own paths and successes, unique to their own individuality – and how ISKL has been a catalyst for change in providing them a world of opportunities.

Rami Madani, Head of School

The International School of Kuala Lumpur

“As a young person, my dream was to become a pianist, which I did, then I moved into education. Music taught me precision, quality, discipline, high standards, and high expectations, which are virtues I use in my job today. 

‘When I joined ISKL as a mathematics teacher, I was in the theater one day and saw my math students singing. I was so impressed looking at them – at their passion, energy, and how they cared for each other. That was an ‘aha’ moment for me, that students are not defined by the collection of subjects they study. They are people who are passionate about making the world a better place. 

‘As leaders, if we were to leave a legacy, that legacy should be about people – to help them be better citizens to improve the world for themselves, others, and the environment. At ISKL, we care about everything and everyone, even the turtles (who live in the pond)! I remember taking a photograph of the turtles when I joined the school 12 years ago, and these turtles are still here with us, we brought them to our new campus! This is who we are – a community of people who care about everything and everyone.”

Molly G., Student, Grade 11

“One thing that really helped me find myself at ISKL was joining the softball team. In Grade 10, I made the Varsity team, and it came as a bit of a shock to me – it’s mostly for Grade 11 and 12 students.

‘That’s when this moment happened, the highlight of my time here at ISKL – scoring my first home run! Before that, I didn’t have much confidence in my abilities, but this proved to myself that I could actually do it. In that moment, I was immersed in not just my own but also my teammates’ energy.

‘Through this experience, I got to work with some of the most passionate teachers and coaches that I had ever met and formed some incredible bonds with my fellow students. I hope to leave a legacy at ISKL where my teachers and peers remember the fun times they’ve had with me and know that we were always genuine with each other. The achievements like the home run are great, but this feeling of general happiness with each other is even more important.”

Karen Palko, Middle School Dance Teacher

“The person who helped me find my ‘aha’ moment at ISKL was a former dance student, Bilquis Hijjas, Class of 1997. In the mid-90s, Bilquis wandered into my classroom and said, “Hey, can I show you something?”. 

‘Bilquis proceeded to choreograph a dance attached to a metaphor and developed it into a 20-minute piece. I was astounded, realizing maybe I needed to change my teaching way by moving to the back of the classroom instead of leading from the front. This was a pivotal moment for me, and ever since, that’s how I teach, with student-led and student devised pieces. 

‘Right up until today, I’m still doing it, so thank you Bilquis, for helping me find that way.”

Georgia L., Student, Grade 10

“I’ve been here for about two years now, and ISKL has really shaped me as a person. Through the sports, activities, and academics, I’ve been able to flourish here and ISKL’s diversity has played a big role in this. The amount of opportunities that we have in school really help spark interest within students. Specifically for me, that has really helped me develop as a person. I’ve been able to find things that I enjoy doing and want to continue doing throughout my school life and beyond.”

Juana J., Student, Grade 5 

“ISKL taught me to speak English because in Argentina I had not learnt any. The only language we knew to talk about was Spanish. This is why I love ISKL, because we can get to know so many different people and places in the world. 

‘At ISKL, we have an international festival which celebrates all the different places and cultures in the world. I love it because I can get to know people from all around the world, and here at ISKL I have friends from Asia, Europe, and many other places. I love getting to know other people because it is like learning another language, and it helps you in many ways.

‘My passion is singing, and at ISKL I have learned a lot. I love choir because I can learn many things in other languages and we can also improve our singing. I also get to meet other people who love singing like I do and they love to show off what they do.”

Becky & Ryan Naughton, High School Social Studies Teacher & Director of Activities/Athletics

“I still keep a picture here of our Global Action Program (GAP) expedition trip to Borneo during our first year here at ISKL in 2017. We were brand new to Malaysia, and although we’d been to Borneo before, we took 18 students over for their Global trip.

‘We helped a local village plant trees and installed a new water filtration system. It was amazing to see how much the students have grown through trips like these, and reminds us of why it’s great to be here at ISKL because we get to witness the students’ growth. 

‘I saw a few freshman students who were scared to do white water rafting, or jump off a 10-foot cliff into a lake. Two or three years later, they’re doing great things. They are leading clubs, and they are captains of their team. They’re doing all the great things that we expect our students to do here at ISKL. 

‘The idea of finding yourself at ISKL is really about helping other students find their way and empowering them through their learning. Allowing them to get in there and work with the material helps – students answer different questions, explain research to other students, and empower each other.

‘Working at ISKL with the faculty members has also been inspiring. It always pushes me to do better because everybody else is working just as hard, being as innovative and creative as they can be.”

Azra Pathan, Elementary School Assistant Principal

“I found myself at ISKL when participating in a collaborative meeting with a grade-level team. They were planning an outer space unit, and the ideas were being thrown around the table, and that’s when I felt a surge of energy. The usual respectful voices were all of a sudden raised in excitement! These ideas were integrated, and a new and improved version of the unit was developed.  

‘I quickly saw what an incredible and privileged journey I was on as a leader, from being in a classroom, collaborating with fantastic colleagues, and co-teaching with them. There isn’t a meeting that goes by where I’m not humbled by the people I work with. 

‘I recognize other unique perspectives they bring and their backgrounds, which allows us to do the things that we do here at the Elementary School. These individuals have transformed the community into a more inclusive one that cultivates this sense of belonging. That’s the essence of shared leadership, and I discovered it here at ISKL.”

Michelle K., Student, Grade 1  

“I found myself at ISKL through its classes, and the school helped me to develop my passion in singing and dancing which also made me more confident.

‘In my music class, we learn songs, we act, and we dance. My favourite song is ‘Call me Senorita’. After listening to a lot of music, I got into the spirit of learning songs and singing them because I liked them, and they sounded really good to me. If I had to write a song, I think it would be about nature.

‘I would like to thank my Mom and my teachers for teaching me singing, dancing, and my other hobbies.” 

Brendan V.C., Student, Grade 10

“I found myself at ISKL through basketball and joining the Boy Scouts movement. It was not only important for me to learn how to be a leader, but it also taught me the importance of service towards other people. 

‘In scouting, it has not only taught me to be adventurous but to also be a good leader to those around me and to lead by example – a value I know I will carry with me throughout college as well as in my future career. In basketball, a sport which I’ve ultimately fallen in love with these past couple of years – I have learned about the importance of teamwork, communication, and team cohesion. 

‘Taking what we’ve learned––all the skills that we’ve acquired––and patching that onto the next generation was an important part of basketball and the boy scouts. It was the teaching of younger students about what we’ve learned as well as helping others through our shared experiences that truly spoke to me. This was a key lesson I’ve had to grasp. The community has given us so much here at ISKL, that it’s important that we give back as well”.

At ISKL, diversity is our strength, and these stories from our community are a testament to that. We invite you to come on this journey with us, to Find Yourself at ISKL. Head over to ISKL’s Find Yourself at ISKL page here to find out more or watch the series on our Youtube channel.

About ISKL 

Established in 1965, The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) has become known as a center of excellence in the world of international education. ISKL is a co-educational, private, not-for-profit school responsible for the learning journey of 1,700 students aged 3-18 years representing more than 65 nationalities at its campus in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

ISKL offers a robust international curriculum which combines leading North American educational frameworks with global best practice.  The curriculum recognizes that students are on a lifelong learning journey and is driven by ISKL’s mission to challenge each student to “Be All You Are” and develop the attitudes, skills, knowledge, and understanding to become a highly successful, spirited, socially responsible global citizen. 

ISKL is accredited internationally through the Council of International Schools (CIS), and in the United States through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). There is a strong focus on service and sustainability across its divisions and is a member of the Eco-Schools organization and the Green Schools Alliance.

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