Upper School Principal at International Community School of Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire
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Upper School Principal
International Community School of Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire)

Appointed - Andrew Pontius
Sep 7, 2021
Oct 1, 2021


Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Director of the International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA), I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Andrew (Andy) Pontius as the new Upper School Principal to commence in August 2022.

Andy has a M.A in Educational Administration and is currently the MYP Coordinator and member of the American International School of Bucharest Secondary Leadership team. He has also been a school leader at the International School of Phnom Penh Phnom Penh, in Cambodia and the New School in Tbilisi, Georgia. He brings excellent experience of inquiry-based learning and inclusion. Andy will be joined in Abidjan with his wife Kirsten and their two young children.

In part of his message to the ICSA community Andy said, "I am excited to join the conversation about what we believe about learning, and in doing all the things that can help our students become the best humans they can be. So many great things are happening already, and I look forward to adding to that and supporting you all in your many diverse roles."

Search Associates would like to thank all of the candidates who applied for this position and to everyone who assisted and supported the successful Upper School Principal search process for ICSA. 

Kind regards,







The International Community School of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

seeks a new

Upper School (Secondary School) Principal

Effective July 2022


Learning and Leading in a Collaborative Culture

VISON – What Does the Mission Look Like?

We Learn, so we develop confident, inquiring learners, who are experts in working with important concepts and critical competencies and equipped with a personal moral compass.

We Lead, so we teach our students to lead and manage their own learning and we build the leadership capacity of our learning stakeholders and of our school.

We Collaborate, so we share information, co-create innovative ideas and build relationships by reaching across traditional boundaries to involve people in all parts of our school community.

We Share a Culture within which we are appreciative of the benefits we enjoy, openly welcoming a range of perspectives, embracing our differences and building a community that is diverse in essence, united in direction.


Several diplomatic families associated with the US Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire founded the International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) in 1972. Growing from humble beginnings, ICSA was located in villas for several years in residential communities in Abidjan. It was not until 1989, when ICSA moved to Riviera III, that it developed “purpose-built facilities”, which permitted a larger enrollment and the development of a comprehensive PreK-12 program. During the 2002 – 2003 school year, ICSA experienced the largest enrollment in its history, decreasing to less than 100 students by February of 2003, due to civil conflict in the country.


Between 2003 and 2007, ICSA’s enrolment declined to less than 20 students, which prompted the need to relocate its facility to a temporary location. The school faced some unexpected financial challenges associated with maintaining its 5.3 hectare campus. In 2005, in order to address rising operating costs, ICSA moved to a residential location in Riviera III, near the village of M’Pouto and rented its facility to the United Nations. Between 2007 and 2010, the school experienced increased enrolment due to the stable political conditions in the country. However, in November 2010, as a result of post-election violence, enrolment once again declined to less than 30 students by the end of the 2010-2011 school year. Since 2010, ICSA has experienced a steady increase in enrolment.

In 2013 ICSA returned to its 5.3 hectare purpose-built facility and began with an enrolment of over 180 students. The school has steadily grown ever since with the current enrolment of 520 students (and expected to increase during the year), 270 of them in the Upper School. 


As part of continuous school improvement, ICSA follows an accreditation process with the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), based in the United States. ICSA remains fully accredited until 2023. This year the faculty are working on the self-study for renewing their accreditation.


ICSA a not for profit organization that is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors and recognizes the US Embassy in Abidjan as its “Founding Sponsor”. Seven Board members are elected by the ICSA Association and the remaining two are appointed by the US Ambassador. The School’s current strategic plan is coming to an end but will be continued with a focus on the following strands:

  • Quality Staff
  • Quality Facilities
  • Quality Academics
  • Secure Financial Position
  • Strong & Open Communication


ICSA follows an international curriculum that is based on academic standards developed by Project AERO (American Education Reaches Out). The curriculum has been modified to meet local needs and opportunities. French, the official language of the Cote d’Ivoire is offered throughout the school. English Language support is offered in Grades 1-10. The Common Ground Collaborative, a guided inquiry-based framework, guides ICSA curriculum development up to Grade 10. ICSA offers the IB Diploma Program for students in their last two years of school. If students choose not to take the full Diploma, they take IB courses.


Enrollment is currently 520 (Grades Pre-K to 12) representing over 74 nationalities. Of these, 270 are in Upper School (Grades 6 - 12) and 250 in the Lower School (Grades K-5). Enrollment has been increasing over the last few years and this trend is expected to continue. The parents of students largely work for the African Development Bank, Diplomatic missions, NGOs and private business.





ICSA hires faculty and staff to reflect the diversity of the student body. The administration’s commitment to hiring a diverse group of teachers is widely appreciated by the community. This school year, there are 84 full-time faculty members. The faculty represents a diverse group of qualified teachers including 19 U.S. citizens, 25 host-country nationals and 40 third-country nationals.  There are 15 administrative staff and 20 support personnel and two full-time nurses.


The campus is very open, purpose built on 6 hectares of land, in the Riviera 3 area of Abidjan. It includes the following facilities: 3 fully equipped science labs, a large library, IT, music and art rooms and ample classrooms.  There are two covered basketball courts, a large soccer field and an 8 lane, 25-meter swimming pool.  The school is beginning a major building project including an auditorium, a new Early Childhood Centre, an additional Science Laboratory and new administrative offices. Work on the auditorium is scheduled to begin this school year.


The Upper School program at ICSA serves students in Grades 6-12.

One of ICSA’s key objectives is to promote the desire to learn, the awareness that learning is a lifelong process, and the recognition that there are a wide variety of resources for learning. Therefore, the Upper School focuses on the total development of each student and provides many opportunities for personal, social, emotional and academic growth in a nurturing, structured environment. Students talk about the strong and supportive focus amongst their peers to be an excellent student. There is positive peer pressure to be the best you can be.

The school is committed to student well-being. In recent years the school has implemented a structured advisory program. There is now time built into the schedule and people with expertise to run the program. Work continues to ensure total teacher buy in. There are two counsellors working with Upper School students.

This year the role of K-12 instructional coach has been added.  This role is being developed and clearly defined as priorities are identified.

ICSA’s leadership team is strong and collaborative. The School is looking for an Upper School Principal who wants to work closely with the Lower School Principal to improve PreK-12 continuity of curriculum, approach and assessment.

The school provides all Grade 6-12 students with a Chromebook. ICSA is a Google School and all teachers are required to use a Google Classroom. The Internet at the school and in people’s homes is generally reliable. There is a strong team of technicians. An I.T. Director will be hired for next school year to work on developing better tech integration in the future.

Service Learning is embedded into the Upper School program. It is valued by students and staff. Students have choice and elect projects and causes that they wish to be involved in. These are run through the after-school activities program.

The IB Diploma Program has been in place for five years and the program has become embedded and respected by the community. The school utilizes Pamodja courses to increase the options for students in grades 11 and 12. Students are conscientious and talk of actively supporting each other. Last year the school had an 88% pass rate with an above world average score.

The Upper School leadership team is a nine-person team supporting the Upper School Principal. It is composed of

  • Two counsellorsone college counselling and one social emotional.
  • Curriculum coordinator (K-12)
  • Instructional coach (K-12)
  • Heads of Department



Warm and welcoming, the school is more than just a set of buildings; it is a place that is bustling with activity, after-school and at weekends, as well as during the regular school day.  At ICSA, parents play an integral role in the school and their participation is greatly encouraged. Parents are members of the ICSA Association (the organization that oversees the management of the school), the Board of Directors (parents are elected to the Board to govern the school), various committees of the Board, and the Parent- Teacher Organization (PTO). Parents volunteer in various capacities at the school.  Social events are held throughout the year.

Cote d’Ivoire and ICSA have been relatively fortunate in terms of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. School is open face-to-face and was only online for a relatively short period, related to local elections, last school year. Currently travel in and out of the country is easy. Travelers do not have to go into quarantine when they enter the country. About 70% of faculty are fully vaccinated and vaccinations available for free from the government. Across the country, vaccination rates are still relatively low.



Identified as a family post by the UN, Abidjan is filled with museums, cultural centers and a multitude of cultural events that take place throughout the year. Abidjan has a vibrant and internationally known music scene along with an important fashion industry. Numerous shopping complexes and amazing restaurants throughout the city ensure you won’t go without your favourite foods and commodities. Groceries and other items are easy to buy. Everything you could want is available. Candidates can compare the cost of living in Abidjan to where they currently live using this tool.

And there is so much more to Cote d’Ivoire outside of Abidjan. Beautiful beaches, golf courses and wildlife and national parks, local traditions and celebrations.

To view a video about ICSA, click here.



ICSA seeks an Upper School Principal who is an experienced leader of learning. The Principal should be open-minded, innovative, flexible and excited to live in, and share school leadership in a close-knit community. The new Principal should be prepared to build on the good work that the school has done in the last few years.

The Upper School Principal is responsible for the running of the Upper School and works closely with the Lower School Principal, Head of Operations and the School Director, who is his/her direct supervisor. Additional administrative staff include a K – 12 Curriculum Coordinator, Instructional Coach, a Human Resources Director, the Business Manager, the General Services Officer, and the Technology Manager.

Areas of focus for the new Upper School Principal are:

  • Continue and reinforce the good work that has been done and that is going on at the school now.
  • Develop instructional leadership in the Upper School Leadership team.
  • Provide leadership in the continued development of Student Support Services to make the school more inclusive.
  • Work collaboratively with the Lower School Principal to ensure a smoother transition from the Lower School to the Upper School in terms of curriculum, assessment and expectations.
  • Ensure that the Grade 6-10 curriculum and program prepares students well for the IB Diploma.
  • Recruit and retain excellent Upper School teachers.
  • Help develop the Arts offerings in the Upper School.


  • At least 5 years in a leadership role in an international school.
  • A Masters degree in Educational Leadership or similar.
  • Leadership experience with an inquiry-based curriculum and the IB Diploma.
  • Experience leading curriculum mapping
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and written communication skills.


  • Visionary leader keeping the school’s mission and vision front and center
  • A desire to work as part of a collaborative team
  • Student-centered, and ensures an inspiring, innovative, and safe learning environment.
  • Values diversity and actively promotes and celebrates this
  • Reflective
  • A sense of humor
  • The ability to develop positive relationships with all members of the community.
  • Visible and active in all aspects of school life.
  • Committed to continuous improvement.
  • Leads by example; with integrity, honesty and transparency
  • A good listener
  • Emotionally intelligent with high degree of cultural literacy
  • Ability to manage budgets.


  • Ability to speak French is a strong advantage, particularly in terms of being able to integrate into the wider community.
  • Experience working in a developing country.



ICSA offers a competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with position expectations and market benchmarks. 


ICSA has selected Search Associates to assist them in the Upper School Principal search, with Caroline Jacoby as the Lead Consultant. The deadline for applications is October 1st, 2021, GMT.

Candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and the required materials as early as possible as ICSA reserves the right to close the selection process AT ANY TIME if the right candidate is found. The review of applications begins as applications are received.

Please note that we will not forward-on candidates for further consideration by the school if a candidate is under contract or otherwise encumbered in such a way that would preclude them from freely entering into a new employment contract, if offered, and being available for the start date stipulated by the hiring organization.  Search Associates will contact the current employer/supervisor to request completion of a Search Associates Confidential Leadership Reference Form for all applicants who emerge in the search as a semi-finalist. 

Candidates should send the information listed below in a single PDF file attached to an email:

  • A letter of application describing your interest in the Upper School Principal position at ICSA, listing your strengths as a candidate and how your qualifications and experience align with the position profile and the school’s areas of focus.
  • A current resume not to exceed two pages.
  • A one (1) page list of four (4) referees who have been your direct supervisors, with current email addresses.
  • A statement describing your leadership and educational philosophy, not to exceed two pages.

The total document size should be kept at (4) MB. Applications should be sent to: Caroline Jacoby at cjacoby@searchassociates.com

It is currently easy to travel in and out of Abidjan. Depending on the location and any travel restrictions in place in finalist candidates’ country of residence, ICSA hopes to hold onsite visits for the finalists at the end of October. If this is not possible, finalist interviews will be conducted virtually.

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Ray Sparks's over 30-year career as an educator has involved working in Canada, Europe, and Asia.