After three years of careful planning, Carlsbad International School officially opened last August. Surrounded by forests and hills, the school is situated on the banks of the Teplá River just 2 km from the Karlovy Vary city center.
“We like to say that the school didn’t choose Karlovy Vary, but that Karlovy Vary chose the school,” says Daniel Gildersleeve, Director of Admissions at CIS.
The school’s historic buildings were turned into luxury housing units in 2010 but ultimately failed to attract any buyers. CIS administrators saw an opportunity: “Karlovy Vary needed an international school, and the Czech Republic needed a premium boarding school,” says Gildersleeve.
“Carlsbad International School is helping to increase the cultural diversity of the expatriate community, while making the town more cosmopolitan overall,” he adds. “We target young men and women who are interested in becoming lifelong learners, independent thinkers, community leaders, and who have the capacity to succeed.”
The student body currently consists of 26 students from 19 different countries. Administrators anticipate that enrollment will hit 50 by the 2015-16 school year, with a goal of 95 boarders and 15 days students within the next six years.
“For people looking for a good boarding school, they first think of Swiss, UK and US schools, and it can be a challenge to educate them about this fantastic country,” says Gildersleeve. “For people of Czech heritage, however, who are very loyal to their country and culture, we often hear the phrase, ‘We’ve been waiting so long for this opportunity!’”
CIS follows the International Baccalaureate academic program; it is an IB Candidate School in the final stages of verification, scheduled to launch the Diploma Programme in September 2015. But its residential model blends aspects of Swiss, UK and US boarding school systems. Two to three students of different native languages share a spacious room in one of the two single-gender dormitories named after the nearby rivers, Teplá and Ohře.
“The feedback has been fantastic. Families are referring their friends, students who only enrolled for a year abroad are making plans to continue their education in Karlovy Vary,” says Tim Sloman, Head of the School. “I have never seen students more excited to return to school after a holiday as when ours returned after a three week winter break. In a very short time we have earned both the trust and the loyalty of our families.”
The faculty hails from the US, the UK, India, the Czech Republic, Germany, Brazil and Norway. CIS offers a special English as an Additional Language program, allowing students at any level of English fluency to enroll in the school at the ninth and tenth grades. However, by the time they reach the 11th grade, IB Diploma Year 1, students’ English level must be sufficient enough to successfully pass the challenging IB program. The first class is expected to graduate in June 2017.
“Our students and families enjoy how personal we are with them, how much we listen to them and incorporate their feedback, and how we are able to tailor our program for them,” says Sloman. “Best of all, as a small school, we will never grow too big to lose this focus on program quality and dedicated service.”
Student applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Tuition for boarders for the 2015-16 school year is €32,500, while day students pay €21,500, half of what competing schools in Switzerland charge, Gildersleeve points out. “For families in Prague, Pilsen, and other nearby cities, we offer a five-day boarding programme for 27,500, which allows them to enjoy weekends at home with their families.”
“As a small city with a large tourist population, Karlovy Vary has all the safety and security of a country village with many of the resources of a much larger city,” Gildersleeve says. “The response from our local expat community has been positive and supportive, especially for children of our business community, young men and women who have never spoken Czech but already speak some level English. They are often much better suited for our English program than for a Czech gymnasium, technical or vocational school.”
CIS administrators are looking for additional ways to integrate into the local community and are planning to offer evening English classes for adults in the near future. The school is also scheduled to launch a new English summer camp, Camp Carlsbad, with programs running weekly from July 5th to August 9th. This includes a special Film Camp running alongside the popular Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Although CIS is a new school, its veteran team of teachers and administrators, along with its internationally recognized advisory board, have established its place in the world of international education. Two short years ago, Carlsbad International School was just an idea. Today it is a living breathing school, committed to its students, families and community, growing and developing together everyday.
Carlsbad International School
36001 Karlovy Vary
Tel +420 353 227 387