For five years, Peter Soliman has been the sole managing director and owner of ISR International School on the Rhine gGmbH ("ISR") in Neuss. In the interview he takes stock.
Peter Soliman from Meerbusch and his team are behind the recent success story of the ISR International School on the Rhine gGmbH. Since its founding five years ago as a private gGmbH, the number of pupils from that time rose up to 485 children to currently 865 girls and boys. In an interview, Soliman traces the development of recent years and reveals what he intends to do in the future:
- The origins of the ISR date back to 2003. In August 2014, ISR was founded as a non-profit limited liability company under the English name ISR International School on the Rhine with you as the investor. How are things looking after five years?
We are very satisfied with the development of the school. As a non-profit limited company, we invest every cent in the quality of the school for our students. In the last 5 years we have invested more than 10 million euros in the school. We have also increased our student body from 485 to currently 865 students. We were able to increase the number of our employees by almost 70%. The current employee-to-student ratio is 1:6. We recruit top people from all over the world and attach great importance to the training and further education of our teachers.
The ISR kindergarten at the Neuss site has recently been expanded for the second time thanks to further investments. The neighboring sports facility was also acquired by the school at the beginning of the year and is now to be modernized by 2021.
- Students from the region and from all over the world prepare together for internationally recognized school-leaving qualifications at the ISR. "Enabling Great Minds and Strong Characters" is at the heart of their education, according to the school's self-portrayal. What exactly is meant by this, how is it implemented and why is it so important to combine the two these days?
In addition to academic achievements, we attach great importance to the character development of our students. Of course, good grades open the doors to the best universities, but soft skills are indispensable in today's world. For this reason, all students from the 5th grade onwards are involved in our Student Life Organization®, where the students organize different projects, begin to learn about leadership qualities and get involved in local charity projects.
ISR also attaches great importance to the sporting and musical education of its students, with the aim of strengthening their team spirit and consolidating their character values.
- The students – about half of whom come from Germany – achieve above-average grades in a global comparison and receive numerous offers of study places from renowned universities. Where do they usually end up? (More to Europe, Asia or the USA?)
We are naturally very proud that our students have the best IB grades in NRW and are among the top 3 in Germany. Accordingly, they go to top universities worldwide. For our last graduates in 2018 there were offers from Cambridge University, Imperial College London, University of San Francisco - California, University of Melbourne, University of Toronto and University of Amsterdam, to name just a few. Generally speaking, the majority of our graduates go to universities abroad. Many choose STEM subjects when selecting a place to study.
- How important is an international school like the ISR for the region and the people who live here? (Keywords: culture, economy, quality of life, internationality ...)
North Rhine-Westphalia is an international location. I think that diversity creates added value, especially in our global times. We see this every day at school. With our commitment – whether in social or cultural areas – ISR offers families from the region benefits that significantly improve the quality of life for everyone. Having local roots in the region is very important to us, because Neuss is a city that surprises everyone with a wealth of opportunities thanks to its cultural diversity and typical Rhineland zest for life.
- What are your plans for the next five years?
We want to set a limit on our growth and thus guarantee quality in the long term – no more than 1,050 students. This will enable us to maintain close ties with the students and their families. This is especially important given that they spend such a long time at our school. In the last final year, more than 50% of the students had been in school since the first grade, some even since kindergarten.
We plan to open a day care center in Düsseldorf Niederkassel this year. But the Neuss location will also continue to gain in quality. We are investing further in infrastructure and increasing digitalization in order to be able to offer our pupils an all-embracing learning experience. We are very positive about the future and look forward to further growth here in NRW.