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A Message from Perchersk School International, Kyiv

By Rachel Caldwell
A Message from Perchersk School International, Kyiv

Our world has been rocked entirely by the inhumane, illegal, and devastating attack on Ukraine. 

Although we were as well prepared as we could be, logistically speaking, for this assault, it is impossible to be ready for the emotional impact. Our staff, students, and parents are all in shock and are dealing with many layers of anxiety and grief. 

Starting back in November, preparations began to ensure the possibility of safe evacuations of staff and to ensure continuity of learning. We acquired a generator, satellite phones, and stocked up on dried and dehydrated foods. We identified mattresses and foldable beds that could be moved to our basement areas. When, just a few weeks ago (that feels like a lifetime) the US Embassy, and others, announced their first series of recommendations for nationals to depart, we gave teachers the choice to do so. We paid for flights and offered accommodation allowances for those with no base to work from. At that point, almost twenty expat colleagues stayed in the city and, with the extraordinary support of our locals, we were able to maintain an open campus for the 50% of our students still in town. We also began teaching in four different time zones. A second round of departures began a couple of weeks later, when travel advisories were communicated by many of the European Embassies. Campus had to be closed for learning and teaching.  

Currently, we have only three expatriate colleagues and their partners still in Kyiv. Of course, our local team members, for the most part, are still in the city or elsewhere in the country. Our campus is a safe haven, currently home to about thirty staff members, their families, and their pets. This team of heroes is keeping everyone on site as positive and strong as possible and are continuing to look after their practical needs. I cannot thank them enough.

During that chaos that defined Thursday, our extraordinary Business Office managed to make salary payments to all employees through to the end of April, providing, at least, some small level of practical reassurance. 

Next week we will return to online learning, with an exclusive focus on emotional well-being. No teachers who are still in Ukraine will be expected to work. They have to focus on their safety and the safety of their families. Those of us privileged to be elsewhere will focus on our students and we are grateful for the outpouring of offers of support from our own Central & Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) region and beyond. We have many wonderful counsellors who are ready to contribute their time and expertise. All of that said, those of us in other locations are also struggling. We are extremely worried about our colleagues, students, and friends still in the country. Many of us have pets in Kyiv and are unable to move them; and so much more… We are grateful to Ellen Mahoney at Sea Change Mentoring for her quick offer of assistance. Her group will run a session for us all on Sunday, 27 February. This kind of support will need to continue for some time so please let me know if you are able to help in any way.

Our community is exhausted. After two years of responding to Covid-19, now this. Uncertainty has been a hallmark of recent years and the stress that accompanies this has been tangible. Once again, we have no idea what the future holds. 

Whilst expatriate staff are understandably worried about their employment situation for the next school year, the greatest concern of all is for Ukraine itself and for its people’s well-being and freedom. It is simply horrifying to consider a situation where its sovereignty is lost.

We are, however, working with recruitment agencies to be ready to support teachers to find new employment if this is necessary. We have asked our colleagues’, existing and new hires, for their patience for the next two weeks as we try to assess the possibilities for the next school year. We hope beyond hope, that decency and humanity triumphs, and that our beautiful school can still be of service in this wonderful country. 

Thank you all for your support, kindness, and determination to #StandWithUkraine


Rachel is the School Director at Perchersk School International (PSI) in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Please fill out the form below if you would like to post a comment on this article:


03/10/2022 - Dolphus
We stand in support of the people of Ukraine.
I work for an International School in Mumbai - India.
The community of teachers & staff of all the International Schools are with you in spirit. We pray that this madness comes to an end.
The loss of human life should stop immediately that is my earnest prayer to the Almighty. God be with you!
03/08/2022 - Hayley Wilson
Kirsten, if you can make use of an international teacher I would be more than happy to come along, online and offer some wellbeing sessions. Please get in touch. The world is with you and your fellow educators are supporting you when and howeve we can. Please reach out if you think we can be of any support or help.
03/07/2022 - Nydia
Dear Rachel:
My heart and prayers go out to all of you in Ukraine. I'm an elementary teacher and am willing to teach during my free time. Please send me an email if I can help in any way. We are in different time zones so it may work. I live in Panama City, Panama, and work at an international school here.
Take care, Nydia. #StandWithUkaraine
03/04/2022 - Jenni Bricknell
International Substitute Teachers has provided teachers to Pechersk in the past. We would like to offer free registration to any teachers who are looking for work. Although we specialise in long term substitute positions, these often can turn into full time positions.
03/03/2022 - Jimi
Dear Rachel,
My heart is broken to know what your community is going through. I am an early years teacher and would be more than happy to conduct any lessons or simple story telling or anything in my capacity. Praying for all of you.
03/02/2022 - Yonvlm
Dear Rachel,
My heart is broken with all of this going on in Ukraine!
My prayers are for you all. And all the staff of the school. I hope PEACE is going to appear pretty soon! The world is with Ukraine! All my love!!!
03/02/2022 - Georgie McIntyre
Dear Rachel,
You are all in our thoughts and know that if you need to reach out for ANY assistance we are here.
03/02/2022 - Priscilla
This is all so much for everyone. I am a psychologist and work as a counselor right now. I am trauma trained and am more than happy to provide direct support to your community or teach your counselors how to support the trauma, if anyone needs it. I work at ACS Abu Dhabi right now and also have a personal website to contact me for support. (
Please do not hesitate. We are here for you all.
-Priscilla Bade-White
03/02/2022 - Jon Butcher
Dear Rachel,
Thank you for sharing this experience. I am so sorry you and your students are experiencing this. I imagine the situation continues to change rapidly, we are all following closely - in hope! Indeed your staff are heroes! I hope your community are able to stay safe. Please advise if If there is anything we educators can do to support your students and staff. I #StandWithUkraine .
03/01/2022 - Michael H Hayes
With stand with you against Putin. Be safe and sensible.
03/01/2022 - Mike
Dear Rachel,
I had the privilege to visit PSI two years ago to meet and work with your wonderful students and staff in that fantastic drama festival that Erik hosted. Your situation now is unbelievable ... or, sadly, should be. Stay strong all of you, wonderful people. The bravery and determination of the Ukrainian people is inspirational. Peace will come in the end.
03/01/2022 - Sarah ECIS
The situation defies understanding Rachel. We hold you all in our hearts. We will assist and support in any ways within our capabilities.
03/01/2022 - La
PSI have been overwhelmed by offers of support. Thank you. If you want to reach out to help, here is a form: #StandWithUkraine
03/01/2022 - Elizabeth
Thank you for this post and leadership behind such unusual times. I have worked 17 years overseas as a college or social-emotional school counselor. I am also a Taskforce member for ISCA (International School Counselor Association). Please reach out if I can help in any way .
03/01/2022 - Anna-Murie
Thanks for sharing this Rachel. I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re all going through but know that you’re very much in our thoughts.
Like Paige mentions in her comments below, if there’s anything that I can do to support students or staff online, please feel most welcome to reach out! I’m currently a Counselor in Tokyo and more than happy to provide any support you need! Please feel most welcome to reach out! Take care, Anna-Murie
03/01/2022 - Tina
Dear Rachel,
I am an early years teacher at the International School, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and I am more than happy to help in any way. I would be happy to provide some online story time/play time for the younger students online either live or recorded depending on time differences. I am sure I can find many other teachers willing to help, just let me know if this is something that you would need.
03/01/2022 - Paul Fochtman - Frankfurt International School
Dear Rachel, Our thoughts and actions are with your community and all of Ukraine. We are engaged in the opportunities to assist and have 10 students from Ukraine and Russia at FIS now - 4 crossing the border on foot. I believe two students are from PSI, but not sure I'll watch the website and any direct help we can provide, please email me. Take good care, Paul
03/01/2022 - Paige
Hi Rachel. I'm a counselor who started working at AISJ a year after you moved on-- I've heard much about you! Your leadership at PSI is commendable, and my thoughts are with your whole team. Please know that I'm happy to provide individual counseling meetings with your students and/or staff at any time I have available (weekends too) and as needed. Please reach out if needed.
Take care, Paige
02/28/2022 - Ron
Thank you for sharing this with us, I feel most humbled...

You are all amazing in your preparedness and resilience.
02/28/2022 - Kelly Harris
My thoughts and prayers are with your school community and all of the Ukrainian people. I pray that humanity triumphs and that you will all be able to return to your beautiful school to teach your students. My cousin Ciara Shaughnessy is a teacher at your school, so you are all very close to my heart.
02/28/2022 - Sarah ECIS
The situation defies understanding Rachel. We hold you all in our hearts. We will assist and support in any ways within our capabilities.
02/28/2022 - Janine Farrell
Our prayers are with the staff, all adults and of course the children.
02/28/2022 - Luis
Dear Rachel, I was the counsellor at PSI from 2007-2010. I am prepared to help out with online counselling for free.
02/28/2022 - Scott
Hi Rachel, Please let me know if I can help in any way, through online counselling. I'm a psychologist and school counsellor. Initially no charge for teachers and school communities at this time. I don't have unlimited free time, but I do have some. Currently working with one repatriated US national.
02/28/2022 - Saida Sharapova
Dear Rachel,

Thank you for this account of what is going on with PSI teachers and staff who remain in Ukraine. We are worried about their safety and wellbeing. Please, let us know how we can help!
02/28/2022 - Tishya
Dear all ,
We are aware and deeply saddened by the situation . We cannot even imagine what you must be going through. Stay strong as you have been until now and this too shall pass . Our prayers and wishes are with all of you. May good judgement prevail and this war comes to an end soon . Take care .
Love from India
02/28/2022 - Lor Foster
Dear Rachel, PSI Team and all of Ukraine, our thoughts are with you during this very difficult time. We hope that human kindness and humanity will prevail and this will unite us all together once again to bring peace very soon. Anything I and the team here from Finalsite can do to help - please let us know. Lori
02/28/2022 - Sarah ECIS
The situation defies understanding Rachel. We hold you all in our hearts. We will assist and support in any ways within our capabilities.
02/28/2022 - Jo Thompson
Rachael and all of the PSI community.
I interviewed for a position at your school last year and from here in Australia I send my love and support to all for the return of peace in Ukraine. My students are learning about this awful situation in my class and investigating ways they can help support the people of Ukraine.????????????
02/28/2022 - Valeria Laitinen
Dear Rachel and the entire PSI community, you are in our thoughts and prayers. You are all an example of the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people. Those who have the privilege to live and work beside Ukrainians are richer for it and it is our duty as an international community to stand beside our friends and do what we can to push for peace. Thank you for sharing this with us.
02/28/2022 - Valeria Laitinen
Dear Rachel and the entire PSI community, you are in our thoughts and prayers. You are all an example of the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people. Those who have the privilege to live and work beside Ukrainians are richer for it and it is our duty as an international community to stand beside our friends and do what we can to push for peace. Thank you for sharing this with us.
02/28/2022 - David Gostelow
Dear All, I cannot imagine how you are feeling at this time. My thoughts are with you all and I hope for a positive outcome and bright future for you all. If there is anything that I can do in any small way please let me know. We are all united behind you and you are not alone! David
02/28/2022 - Julie Ryan
Dear Rachel, Your summary above is truly heart rending. All of you at PIS are in our thoughts at this terrible time. May the bravery of everyone in Ukraine and the support of the rest of the world result in peace. Please let me know if we at Search can do anything to assist you.



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