Q&A with President & Founder Rhonda Broussard

We are starting a new series of Q&A sessions with some of our SLLIS community leaders. We hope that this will give you a new opportunity to learn more about SLLIS, our mission, and most importantly our vision. Learn from individuals in our community what separates SLLIS from other schools.

The first Q&A session is with President and Founder Rhonda Broussard.

What is exciting about SLLIS in year 5?
It’s exciting to have a full K-5 grade span community in The French School and The Spanish School.  Not only are we are able to see the linguistic and academic growth of students across the years, but we get to witness their growing sense of community within their schools.  One of my favorite things to overhear our younger students say is “When I’m in X grade/class, I can’t wait to….”  This speaks to their genuine excitement about their school experience.  As someone who attended five different schools from preK-5th grade, I am inspired to create a sense of expectation and stability for our students and their families.

How do we compare to national education reform?
The national education reform movement recognizes the need for policy changes at federal and state levels, the value of collective impact on sustaining strong outcomes for youth, and the burning patience needed for systemic reform to impact our youth for generations to come.  SLLIS mirrors those values in our advocacy for updating Missouri’s teacher certification for internationally-trained teachers, our upcoming Colaboratory on inquiry in immersion classrooms, where partner schools in inquiry and immersion will share best practices in K-8 settings, and our understanding that ultimate outcomes for our students will not be visible for another 8 years when our founding students begin university with the confidence of an International Baccalaureate education.

You’ve been traveling more. Any recent takeaways?
The Pahara-Aspen Institute for education reform has greatly informed my work over the past year.  In this cohort, SLLIS sits around the table as the youngest school network among giants like Uncommon Schools, Alliance Public Charter, YESPrep, High Tech High and Achievement First.  I find great reassurance to learn that the experience of our first five years is very similar to their start-up phases and that our growth needs are both predictable and unavoidable.  I am encouraged by their willingness to serve as thought partners about our stability, sustainability and growth into a full K-12 network.

Any advice for prospective parents?
Whether they are considering one of our elementary campuses for total immersion or The International School for a 6-12 immersion option, I encourage parents to think about the ultimate academic and social outcomes they want for their children and how they will serve as their child’s biggest advocate.  I invite all parents to remain engaged, inquisitive, and unreasonable about their children’s growth with us.  One of the reasons that I believe so deeply in IB as a transformative educational experience is that IB requires us to continually raise the bar for our students.  As adult learners and doers in our community, we need to continually raise the bar for our own performance and, often, that comes from parent observations and requests.  These are not the traits of a new school, but the traits of a responsive school.

Where do you want to be five years from now?
Five years from now, I want to be the community advisor for one of our 10th graders’ Personal Projects.  I love to plan our trajectory, but the natural temptation about future planning is to think in terms of construction, enrollment numbers, and accolades.  My personal challenge is to measure our success in achieving those milestones, by how they allow me to be intimately connected to our students and their work.  The sooner that my team is able to deliver on our organizational needs, the more able I will be to see our students’ intellectual growth up close and personal.  That’s exactly where I want to be five years from now.


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