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Dr. Brobst’s children visit Vienna for Thanksgiving

Dr. Brobst’s children visit Vienna for Thanksgiving

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Dr. Brobst’s children visit Vienna for Thanksgiving

For three years, our youngest son, Ben, and his wife, Katie, have been trying to come to Vienna to experience the Christmas markets. They are finally here! It is always nice to have family visit us, but it’s especially a treat when it falls during the holidays.

American Thanksgiving is a day when families make it a priority to spend time together and to enjoy a huge turkey with all the fixings. Traditions include watching football, tuning in to the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, and then falling asleep after eating too much. I remember one Thanksgiving over 30 years ago that made us say that we would never travel again over Thanksgiving weekend. (It’s the busiest time on the road in the US.) Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Our family of five, with kids ages 2, 6, and 7, piled into our minivan and drove all the way from New Hampshire to New Jersey to spend the holiday with my husband’s parents. It was probably about a six-hour drive. On the way home, we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into the bridge in New York. Our minivan had a clutch, and all the stopping and starting caused it to start smoking and then to die. We were stranded with three little ones. Remember, this was before the days of cell phones. A tow truck picked us up, towed our van to this hole-in-the-wall fixit shop, and then dropped us at the closest hotel (which was super fancy). We grabbed some stuff as fast as we could from the back of the van. Everything was dirty. We looked like a bunch of vagabonds sitting in their hotel lobby.

We had one room, so the kids were on the floor. There was a pool, but we didn’t have bathing suits. All we had was a pack of cards and the TV to keep the kids busy while we waiting for them to fix the car the next day. Without a vehicle, we had to eat in the hotel’s fancy restaurant, complete with crystal glasses just for the water. The kids only wanted McDonald’s. We were so out of place. When we look back on it, it was quite funny.

Actually, one of the parts that makes me laugh was when we went to get into the front of the tow truck. Our youngest, Ben, was a big two-year-old boy, just like his dad. I climbed in first, but the seat was really high up off the ground. I leaned out to pick up Ben, but his weight pulled me right out of the truck head first into the gutter. I landed on top of him laughing hysterically. The tow truck driver got into the cab and then couldn’t figure out where we had gone. He was in a panic that we were hurt and that he was going to get sued! It really was quite humorous. 

Today Ben is almost 2 meters tall and is a really low-key, fun guy. The school’s social committee sponsored a Thanksgiving potluck meal so we brought Ben and Katie here to school for everyone to meet and to enjoy the food together. We are so thankful that Ben and Katie can be with us this week. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Because of His Faithfulness,

Dr. Sharon Brobst. Director 

Dr. Brobst Signs the Building Project Plans Submission

Dr. Brobst Signs the Building Project Plans Submission

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Dr. Brobst Signs the Building Project Plans Submission

Today was a day to celebrate! Our architect firm, Franz&Sue, came by with two boxes of documents for me to sign so that they can submit our new building plans to the Baupolizei. The government then has six months to review the plans before giving permission to build. In the meantime, they will communicate with us any changes that need to be made so that the plans can be approved.

At times, it may not seem like much has been happening with the new building, but I assure you that we have been working hard. We have had building committee meetings continually over the last couple of years. Franz&Sue told us today that the process has actually gone very smoothly. They have enjoyed working with us, and we have grown quite close with them, as we’ve put together a very exciting building plan.

Let me remind you of what it will look like. It includes a double gym with locker rooms and a fitness room. At one end of the gym is a full stage, with a drama suite of rooms for sets, costumes, dressing, etc. On the ground floor are a cafeteria, a smaller café, main offices, and art and music suites. On the first floor are the elementary classrooms. On the second and third floors are the secondary classrooms, with four science labs. A multi-floor learning commons contains the library, study areas, and places for group work and presentations. Each floor has an outdoor space where students can play or hang out together. On the roof of the gym, there is a large soccer field, and the roof of the main building has a track. It’s all quite amazing!

Please continue to pray for God’s timing with the project. Let us all give thanks to God for seeing us through this intense period of planning. Our God is faithful, so we are excited to see how He works it out so that we can finish the project so that even more students can “find hope” here at ICSV.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon Brobst. Director

People Before Process and Policy

People Before Process and Policy

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People Before Process and Policy

I’ve been “doing education” for my entire life, so much of what I believe or draw from when making decisions is just part of me. Recently, I was asked the school’s philosophy behind one of my opinions. It took me a while to be able to formulate the response. While I was at the Flourishing Schools Institute last week, one of the speakers said something that caused me to have one of those “that’s it!” reactions. She said, “People before process or policy.” 

Now, what did she mean by that? I’d say that this one phrase sums up ICSV’s philosophy of education. We have worked hard to put into place processes to make things run smoothly in order to provide a satisfying experience for the community. We also have policies that guide our decisions. They are to help provide stability and consistency in how we do things. On the other hand, we are not a black and white school. For every situation, we try to take into account the student or family that will be affected by the policy or procedure. 

We believe that we are here to love and nurture our students. We seek to model a community of respect and appreciation for each other. It is impossible to put all of these transactions into a single box. Students come to us from over 60 different countries. They have each experienced unique situations while growing up, from moving multiple times to experiencing great personal loss. It’s not easy living in a “gray” world. It can get messy. But it’s what we believe is the best way to love our families. 

Do we always make the best decisions? Probably not. Can you trust our intentions behind each one – absolutely! One of the benefits of having served at ICSV for eight years is that I believe the school community has grown to trust me. I try very hard to follow through on what I say I will do. I try to be transparent and forthcoming as much as possible. I try to live a life of integrity and to model Christian character. I hope that your experience with the school has demonstrated this desire. 

But, we are all flawed people. This same speaker that said, “people before process and policy” also said, “there is freedom in being flawed.” As human beings, we cannot be perfect all the time, but my personal prayer is that God would be there in all of the hundreds of decisions that I must make every day. I would add that I pray that ICSV will always put “people before process and policy.” Welcome to the world of “the gray areas.”

Because of His Faithfulness,

Dr. Sharon Brobst. Director 

ICSV: An International School

ICSV: An International School

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ICSV: An International School

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how it is possible for people from over 60 countries to get along so well here at ICSV. When people come from all around the world, there can be language issues, cultural misunderstandings, or even ignorance that there are such differences.

I can think of numerous times when working with our Austrian architect firm for the design of the new building that we thought we understood each other, but we really didn’t. One easy example is when I tried to explain how the classrooms would be set up. I even showed them in a diagram where I thought the teachers might place their desk in the classroom and took them to see our current classrooms. Each time they’d come back with a design with the teacher desk up front right in the middle of the room. I’d again tell them that it will probably not go there, etc. Then one day I added that the teacher would need their desktop computer at the back or side, but that they would still need access to the projector, etc. from the front. A light bulb went off in their heads when they said, “Doesn’t the teacher sit at the front of the room while they teach?” I told them that they walk around the room, but never just sit at the front of the room. That one question explained the lack of communication. We both had our own preconceived idea of how a teacher operates in their classroom. Evidently, in a traditional Austrian classroom, teachers stay seated while teaching. It never occurred to me that this was the case, and it never occurred to them that it wasn’t.

When we survey our alumni, one of the things that they mention as a highlight of their time at ICSV is having gone to school with students from all different nations. In a world where countries are at war and people are being persecuted for their beliefs, one of our core values is to teach respect for all individuals. For some, this is a new experience. Be assured that we work hard to instill in our students a love and acceptance of those who are different from themselves. You never know just who in our student body today might be in a position as an adult to change government policy or to work for the rights of the underprivileged. As we learn how to get along in spite of our differences, we grow to appreciate others because of our differences! ICSV sure is a special place.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon Brobst, Director

To be Absent from the Body is to be Present with the Lord

To be Absent from the Body is to be Present with the Lord

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To be Absent from the Body is to be Present with the Lord

This past has been a week of grieving and rejoicing at the same time. A friend of 40 years passed away after many years of suffering. He went through cancer treatments decades ago, and the treatments made it so that he could no longer eat and barely talk. When we couldn’t understand him anymore, he took to using Facebook to share what was on his mind. When we moved to Vienna eight years ago, we became Facebook buddies.

I learned of his death when his wife of 47 years posted that she had lost her husband and best friend. When I saw that, I went back to see what he had recently posted. I was stunned. The day before he died, he posted 37 times. About five of them were about food. Even though he couldn’t eat, he would post all kinds of recipes with pictures of food. I imagine that was his way of “eating” even without the taste. The other 30 plus posts were about his faith. You see, as his suffering increased, so did his faith in Jesus as his personal Savior.

His posts gave praise to God. He wrote, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). Another post said, “Forever thankful; always grateful; abundantly blessed.” As the day progressed, I noticed more and more posts about Heaven. He quoted Elisabeth Elliot, whose young husband had been killed by a tribe in South America where they were living in order to tell them about Jesus. The quote said, “We think we are going from the land of the living to the land of the dying, but if you know Jesus, you are going from the land of the dying to the land of the living.” Then he wrote, “Think of the most beautiful place you know on earth. Think of the most wonderful day you have ever had. Think of the person who loves you more than anybody else loves you. And then multiply that by a million, and maybe that’s the tiniest hint of what Heaven will be like.”

On the day that he passed away, he was in the hospital, so I imagine he knew he was nearing the end. His very last Facebook post on the day he died said in big red letters, “HELL IS NO JOKE. And it’s time we stop downplaying it and start warning people about the consequences of a life without Jesus.” The verses listed were John 3:3-7:16; Romans 3:23, 6:23; John 14:6; Luke 16:19-31; Mark 9:43-49; Matthew 13:42, 25:41; Revelation 20:11-15. I encourage you to look up these verses to see what they say about life after death, Heaven and Hell. There is no greater decision that we must make during our lifetime than whether we believe that Jesus died for our sins and that He is the only way to Heaven.

I began this post by saying that this has been a week for grieving. Those of us who are left will miss our dear friend. But it is also a time for rejoicing, for he is now in the very presence of his Lord and Savior, and he has a new body free from pain. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon Brobst, Director

Dr. Brobst’s children visit Vienna for Thanksgiving

We are Here to Serve

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We are Here to Serve

Something unusual happened today at school. For the first time during my eight years at ICSV, our lunch caterer called in sick. The catering company told us that they’d deliver the food to us hot so that we wouldn’t have to heat it up, but that there was no one to serve it. Now, we have four different lunch times in order to keep the lines to a minimum. They run from 11:00 until 2:00.

At 11:00, I received a frantic message that the food had arrived, but no one was in the cafeteria to receive it. I quickly put away my work and ran down to the cafeteria. You would not believe what I saw when I got there! The kitchen was packed with about 10 staff members. The facilities team, the office support staff, the elementary principal, and even the finance manager were all there filling bowls of salad and soup and slicing pizza. Whoever thought it was a good idea to serve noodle soup to five year olds should work in a school cafeteria. My job was to wipe up all the spilled soup and noodles from the floor. With everyone chipping in, our smallest students enjoyed a full hot lunch. As I write this, I’m looking at the clock, and there are middle and high school lunches yet to be served. I sure hope they do better with the soup than the little ones did!

Another practice that is special here at ICSV is that our teachers volunteer to cover for each other. No matter how many people we employ as substitute teachers, there always seems to be a need for teachers to find someone to cover their class when they are sick or they have a doctor’s appointment. No other school where I have worked had a staff that was so selfless that they regularly gave up their prep period to fill this need. Our teachers are awesome!

What I saw in that kitchen today and when teachers willingly fill in for others demonstrates what I love the most about ICSV. We are called to serve, just as Jesus came to earth to serve. It doesn’t matter what position we hold at the school; we are all servants that do whatever is necessary to ensure that our kids have their needs met. Today that included filling lunch trays and wiping up spilled food. I hope that the children will remember how we all came together to serve them lunch. Maybe they’ll then “pass it on” to someone else when they see that they can step in to help. Service to others is one of the biblical character traits that we desire to instill in our students.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon Brobst, Director

“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45