New staff, major renovations and a 22 percent increase in the student body are just a few things among what’s different this year about the International School of Budapest. The Budapest Times sat down with Principal Timothy Helmick to talk about these as well as the changes to the school’s education program.
What is different about International School of Budapest this year compared to the past?
ISB has grown considerably this year, from 180 to 220 enrolled students. This is an increase of around 22%. We have completed major renovations and improvements to our facilities, and rented another building to accommodate our music, art and computer lab classes. We also have added 10 new staff, and have increased the diversity of our international staff to include seven English-speaking countries represented. The most significant changes, however, have been the academic and curriculum changes. We have officially implemented our Cambridge certified curriculum for our English language programs, and we are continuing our wonderful Hungarian state education program. With the Cambridge program, we now have official testing for grades 3-8, and we have the ability to use official Cambridge-approved materials in class. We have also reviewed and updated our official school regulations, parent’s handbook and our after-school program, increasing the number of after-school teachers. This school is growing, in all the right ways, as we face new challenges and exciting opportunities.
What are the personal changes that you have brought to ISB this year in your first year as principal?
After having taken over from our previous principal, Mark Davies, I felt that some changes needed to be made regarding how our school should be run, based on the increase in our student population. I have instituted several policies in regards to the new challenges and needs our school now has. These include but are not limited to: moving our music, art and computer lab classes to a new building; revamping and revising our parent’s handbook and school regulations to reflect our new needs; increasing the staff size to accommodate for more students with diverse needs; mixing our ELL (English Language Learning) groups so that we are socialising and preparing all children for higher levels of English.
What do you see as the future for ISB?
We are looking forward to our next few years, as we grow in size and expand our offerings academically. We are always looking for qualified teachers who can contribute to our staff, offer opportunities for those here to increase their professional qualifications through professional development, and eventually, would like to expand our operations to include a high school, so that we are a school which extends from Prep to Grade 12.
Why should students and parents choose ISB?
It’s a great school, with a family atmosphere, and we have a diverse group of students and families from all around the world. We are proud of our three academic programs, Bilingual, Advanced Bilingual and International, which accommodate for whatever style and method of learning that families are seeking. We are flexible and work with families and students to ensure that they receive the differentiated education that they are entitled to. We also have a quality team of professional educators here that strive every day to be better at what they do and to make each student feel they receive personal attention each day.
What sets ISB apart from other schools?
With our advanced bilingual academic program, we are the only international school in Hungary that offers both the English and the Hungarian National Curriculum simultaneously. These two curricula combine the strong knowledge-based Hungarian program with the strong skills-based English program, which ensures maximum academic progress for our students. Our students leave here as fluent English speakers and often achieve the best results in language exams after our 8th grade program. We prepare students to enter either Hungarian gymnasiums or international high schools, and they are often academically better than their peers entering from a purely Hungarian or international school. It really is the best of both worlds.
Timothy Helmick is a graduate from VMI with a BA in History and a double minor in International Studies and English. He received his Master’s in Central and European History from the Central European University here in Budapest, in 2011. Mr. Helmick has teaching experience at the elementary level in the United States, and at the secondary level here in Hungary at ISB. He hails from Rustburg, Virginia, USA, and has a wife, Dora, and a 16-month-old son named Lucas. He enjoys rugby union, and reading in his spare time.