In 2015, the Upper School rolled out a new addition to its pastoral program by introducing an opportunity for vertical alignment of activities and events and sharing across Grades 6-12: the FIS House System.Houses were carefully created to represent and reflect the “Family Oriented” nature of the school and its mission. Each house was named after one of the school founding families – six founding board members, the founding head of school, and the founding custodians
Students are divided into eight Houses in consultation with grade-level Year Heads and counselors. Groupings strike a balance of gender, ethnicity, and talents within each House; siblings belong to the same House.
During the 2014-2015 school year a group of teachers met to review the school's delivery of the CAS (Creativity/Action/Service) Program in Grades 6-10. They concluded that the current provision no longer fully represented the goals of CAS as outlined by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). After much discussion and consultation with different interest groups, it became clear that a House System would best enable students to encounter and engage in the CAS learning outcomes in a more authentic way.
Since many teachers at FIS have experience either working in or being part of a House System, there was a high degree of enthusiasm for the idea. As planning progressed, additional benefits of a House System became apparent, including mentoring and leadership opportunities for students, and the chance for students to know and interact with others in different grade levels, thus creating smaller ‘family’ groups within a larger school.
Students are divided into eight Houses in consultation with grade-level Year Heads and the Counselors. Groupings strike a balance of gender, ethnicity, and talents within each House. Siblings belong to the same House.
FIS intentionally avoided discussing friendship groups, since there are already many opportunities for friends to play and work together. Instead, House activities offer new avenues for expanding friendship groups, rather than reinforcing them. Of course there will be cases where friends end up together, but this was not by design. Students will therefore not be given the opportunity to request to be in a particular House.
House Leaders are teachers who have come forward because of their enthusiasm for the new program. Their role is to plan one major activity per year that all Houses will take part in, to develop the leadership capacity of their House members, ensure that the ethos of the House System is being upheld, and see that meetings and events run smoothly.
The role of the House leader is to coordinate the running of the house. As much as possible, leadership should be delegated to senior house members. Building a spirit of belonging and pride must not come at the cost of the FIS beliefs. Ensuring that the house maintains a positive ethos by promoting participation, collegiality, fair play and caring is central to this role.
- To motivate and inspire students to participate.
- Organizing meeting times and spaces.
- Meeting as House Leaders once per cycle.
- Ensuring that students have an appropriate level of engagement.
- Building leadership capacity within the house: Choosing and mentoring house captains.
- House leaders be in charge of leading or co-leading one event.
- Carrying out agreed upon house activities.
- Maintaining a record of student participation.
- Liaising with counselors, year heads and assistant principals as issues arise.
- Supporting events organized by others (e.g. refereeing, scorekeeping, etc.)
- Overseeing and communicating the successes of their house through the school’s communication channels (bulletin, website, Facebook, etc)
Read more about the role of the House Captains
The House System provides a way to increase student involvement across the school (all school activities) and increase collaboration between grade levels (all events). It also affords students the opportunity to learn leadership skills in a wide variety of areas.
Shields representing House "spirit animals" were designed by students from each of their respective Houses.Service
When the House System was developed, one of the main goals was to make CAS more authentic and integrated into the whole Upper School. The House System, being a vertical alignment of students, allows for service and other activities to be more sustainable and more inclusive at all ages. The overall goal was to find a way to get 100% of our student population involved in some kind of service and to introduce the concept of International Mindedness, something that the traditional CAS program did not specifically address.
We wanted to explore ways that we could further promote and recognize what our current, student-led service projects are doing, as well as giving students from Grades 6-9 a more authentic experience with service and other activities. We also developed a “service theme” for each of the Houses to help build community spirit behind a common goal.
- Intellectual Challenge