I was honored to have participated in Brazil Foundation’s 3rd Gala Minas at Casa Tua in Nova Lima. The Foundation raised over R$3M that will be invested in civil society organizations throughout Brazil.
International schools represent almost 13,000 institutions across the globe. They span a myriad of forms and frameworks across hundreds of countries all over the world, and yet we are united by a common purpose: connecting cultures, people, and nations through education.
International Education Leadership: Stories From Across the Globe is a collaborative effort to share stories that matter and are relevant to educators aspiring to become heads of international schools or anyone already involved in educational leadership. We asked 13 international school leaders to share their leadership story or lesson, each of which is captured and divided into seven major motifs:
1. Mission, Vision, and Core Values
2. Professional Capacity of Educators
3. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
4. School Improvement
5. Community of Care and Support for Students
6. Equity and Cultural Responsiveness
7. Operations and Resource Management
Together, they illustrate the beautiful landscape of international school leadership; they turn an abstract work of art that paints everything tenuous, gray, and ambiguous in educational leadership into a clear form of tangible perspectives. The book unveils the mysterious skills of educational leadership to portray intuitive knowledge and perceptive accounts of lessons learned.
Our collaborators include:
* Dr. Jeremy Moore, Director, American International School of Johannesburg
* Dr. Mary Ashun, Principal, Ghana International School
* Dr. Lee Fertig, Head of School, The Nueva School
* Dr. Audrey Menard, Head of School, International School of Panama
* Dan Yamasaki, Director, Colegio Panamericano
* Dr. Spencer Fowler, CEO & Superintendent, Affiliated High School of Peking University’s Dalton Academy
* Robert Rinaldo, Head of School, GEMS American Academy
* Dr. Bill Johnston, Retired
* Dr. Colin Brown, Head of School, American School in Taichung
* Dr. Michael Johnston, Assistant Head of School, Frankfurt International School
* Bridget McNamer, CEO, Sidecar Counsel
* Lisa Perskie, Executive Director, School of the Nations
* Dr. Ruth Allen, Superintendent, The Columbus School
On May 5th, we welcomed parents and friends at the Annual EABH Future Program Dinner at O Conde Restaurant. It was a wonderful night to see familiar faces and celebrate our community in unity and friendship.
The EABH Future Program Annual Dinner is a special evening that brings together the EABH community to enjoy fine dining and entertainment all the while supporting our Giving Program and the development of our Master Plan.
The Mineirão Stadium was the center stage for our Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremony. We had Mineirão entirely to our students and school staff during a very meaningful and unforgettable event. During the entire last school year, each one of our seniors found within themselves the inner strength needed to make this a special year, despite all the adversities and challenges of social distancing imposed by the pandemic.
Beyond the academic content and the multiple subjects covered by the Brazilian and American Curriculums and the AP Capstone Diploma Program, students learned about inner balance and resilience, and were forced to push boundaries. An entire year has passed and we are amazed to see how far they have come! They all now stand as champions and we couldn’t be prouder.
This is Jim Collin’s Good to Great Book. A must read! I love the bus analogy he uses which applies to almost everything we do to be successful. “First, get the right people on the bus- the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats and then they figured out where to drive it!”
Here’s the portuguese version:
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I had the honor and privilege to meet Dr. Yvonne Cagle here in Belo Horizonte. Dr. Cagle is a NASA Astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. During her visit, she shared some wonderful stories of her being an astronaut with our students.
The way we communicate and engage with one another has definitely taken a big turn since our engagement in social media. Social networking is reshaping our world, so much so that it is speculated that about 3 billion people will be on social media by 2020 – that is a third of earths’ population! Consequently, internet language has also evolved considerably. One common way of communicating has been the use of emojis and hashtags. If overused, they can be annoying. However, it’s hard to deny that using digital images and catchy connotations can help convey ideas in a way that text alone sometimes lacks.
I personally use a myriad of emojis to express my “in the moment” feelings, but I also like to use hashtags to express my ideological views, especially regarding education. Just like a picture can say a thousand words, hashtags can sum up our feelings and relatable experiences.
I often use my favorite hashtags #eabhconnection and #ittakesavillage in the context of our school. The “EABH Connection” is an expression we coined to capture the essence of our school culture. It’s targeted to EABH community members that experience our school ethos by engaging in daily school affairs and special events that involve all stakeholders.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is an old African adage that encapsulates the communal effort of caring for a child. Today’s fast-paced world is filled with instant information and pressure-packed moments. The age-old village model where people work together to help each other out has never been more necessary than it is today to achieve our mission to “prepare students in a well-supported international setting for a fulfilling life as world citizens.”
At EABH, we work hard to establish strong community partners for our village approach. It’s hard to ignore the dangers our children face today, and it’s easy to want to build a barrier to protect them from the world around us. However, we know that isolation won’t provide the skills and experience children need to make appropriate choices and actions. We must engage in each other’s lives now in order to collectively foster the development of all of our children.
Working together entails establishing partnership, developing trust, and engaging in collaboration. Partnership is established when two or more people or organization commit to achieve something together. Trust is earned when you’ve proven yourself to be reliable based on your actions and pledge to principles. When you have a trusting partnership, you can then collaborate at a high level.
Collaboration is more than just cooperation. Cooperation entails agreement and compliance. Collaboration is cooperation plus innovation. It’s a higher level of thinking and doing on Bloom’s taxonomy hierarchy. Collaboration exhibits our willfulness to fulfill our mission, but it also pushes our performance to the next level to achieve our vision.
At EABH, our village approach is cultivated through our collaborative work. Every community member is a collaborator. When we think of schools, we normally think of teachers and support staff, and not always our behind the scenes staff members such as our guards, cooks, and maintenance and cleaning crew. Beyond their respective daily duties of being vigilant, serving food, repairing, and serving food, our staff members are expected to know how their work is part of a bigger system and how their actions can make the system better. With a continuous improvement mentality, our staff takes the time to learn English taught by our high school students, participate in IB workshops offered by our teachers, and engage in training about first aid and fire safety, as well as food manipulation in relation to hygiene, allergy, and intolerance. This level of collaboration is needed to not only keep our school safe and clean, but also critical for intentionally creating an environment that is conducive to learning.
Our teachers and support staff engage in a myriad of professional development at school. Due to teachers’ direct contact with students in the teaching and learning process, we invest the most in our teachers. But the highest level of collaboration takes place when our homeroom and specialist teachers as well as our administrators engage in Professional Learning Community (PLC). During this time, teachers apply their knowledge to help one another fine tune their practice to increase student achievement. Teachers analyze student work, identify exemplars, evaluate assessments, and synthesize standards to the learning experience when writing the curriculum. This interactive engagement of teachers is a high level of collaboration needed to create meaningful and authentic learning experiences for students.
Engaging our staff and teachers in collaboration is not complete and comprehensive without the involvement of parents. Often times, it’s easy to presume that teachers are the sole responsible figures for our student education. However, research demonstrates over and over that parent involvement is important for student success. Parents serving as board members offer their skills and expertise for strategic planning and good governance of the school. On a more regular and on the ground basis, we have parents that belong to the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) that plan and collaborate with the school.
The PTA plays an important role at school. As our PTA President Renata Baratz explains, the PTA is a plusat school. The PTA is not just a club that just organizes fun events. Their contribution is greater than this. They align their fundraising efforts to the school’s mission and current needs, so that together we can advocate for our children’s well-being and support the educational aims of school.
To top it off, we also collaborate with external partners to innovate our practice. With our partnerships with various organizations such as UFMG microbiology labs, Fablab, Buddys, Minas Organic, and the Association of Buritis, just to name a few, we are able to deepen our practice and accelerate our outreach.
The effective management of our school is a collective action that involves the evaluation of our strategic programs that are systematic, but also the deep involvement of all stakeholders that are systemic. #Ittakesavillage is not just ahashtag influencing our attitudes and behavior on social media. It is about building trust and forming healthy working relationships so that our collaborative efforts help us achieve our vision.
#Ittakesavillage is about ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things. Collaboration is our sustainable model for staying connected and joining forces to not only survive but also thrive in our fast-paced and “ever-changing world.”
As we close out the 2016-2017 school year, it’s natural to (re) flect on and celebrate our accomplishments. But it’s also just as critical to (re)view our history and the trajectory that brought us to where we are in order to critically evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t, as we (re)calibrate for the future.
The EABH 60 Year anniversary was a major milestone for our school, commemorated throughout the year with various memorable events such as the formal dinner gala, a family trip to the private island of Comandatuba, and a live band concert for our students. Other accomplishments included a new partnership established between the EABH science and UFMG microbiology departments, thursday PYP assemblies showcasing units of inquiry through student performances, as well as our school’s prominent participation at the AASSA educators’ Conference held in Rio de Janeiro.
AASSA stands for the Association of American Schools in South America. This nonprofit association founded in the United States is made up of 80-member international schools. I currently serve as the Vice-President on the Board of trustees of AASSA, and part of our responsibilities is to govern the various services we offer such as school material purchasing, teacher recruitment, and professional development, such as the educators’ conference.
Based around the theme (Re), the educators’ conference was designed around a collaborative think-tank with a focus to (re)think and (re)invent international education. (Re) is a prefix of Latin origin. it means to repeat, as in repetition, to do over and over. It can also mean to move back, as in reverse.
I have adopted the (re) concept in an effort to explain the trajectory of EABH.
Many times, in our daily routine, we may feel we are doing the same thing, over and over again. the motions may seem (re) petitive, as if we are going in circles. Yet, we do not arrive at the same place as yesterday.
I invite you to imagine a spiral, a metaphor to visually explain the meaning of (re). A spiral is a continuous and gradually widening curve around a central point to form a cone. At the center of the point is the EABH mission statement. As the curve rises, it turns in one direction around an open center shaping the purpose and values of our school. The curve continues to rise and conveys our school pillars, S-A-A-G-E. This motion (re)peats, gradually articulating layers of our school identity such as our American, Brazilian and international accreditations, dual American and Brazilian diplomas, as well as IB Curriculum.
The spiral repeats itself, (re)vealing more and more educational events and accomplishments that build on top of the other, symbolizing our trajectory to the present time – EABH 60 Years. This upward motion should repeatedly rise and advance, but it should never reverse.
Not too long ago, our school was at risk of a (re)versal.
A poignant but true (re)cent history is that our school suffered high turnover in leadership and governance. With at least four different school directors in a five-year period, and frequent rotation of board members, it was impossible to provide continuity to schoolwork.
When i stepped into the job back in 2009, during the world economic crisis, I quickly learned that there was a lot work to be done. The school was in the (re)d, enrollment was dwindling, and we were at risk of losing our accreditation as an American school. I immediately recognized two (re)alities. First, I alone would not be able to overcome these major challenges. Second, our school would not be able to reverse its situation overnight.
With the board’s strong and steady support, our staff’s diligence and dedication to students, and PTA’s caring and creative contribution, we collaboratively worked hard to (re)vamp our practice, grow our enrollment, pay off our debt, and work towards meeting high international standards to (re)claim our accreditation status and become (re)cognized as an IB World School.
Although the school has been around for sixty years, there are times when we feel like a sixty-year-old startup. In (re)trospect, we made immense progress, but we never lost sight of the central point of our spiral: to prepare students as world citizens by developing a desire for lifelong learning and respect for individuals, cultures and the environment. Our mission is based on the EABH Statutes, the school’s constitution, which clearly defines its nature: this association exclusively will be of an educational, cultural, scientific and literary nature. It shall not practice any form of racial or religious discrimination. It shall be a non-profit and it shall at all times comply with article 33 of these statutes, which deals with funds management.
With vigilant stewardship, we managed a delicate balance between innovation and tradition, hard measures and gentle love, a “slow down to go fast” intuition, and a “pay it forward” mentality.
So while our statutes clearly state that we are not a religiously affiliated school, we (re)spect people of all different walks of life and their (re)spective faiths. and just as we are a not-for- profit school, we have a fiduciary (re)sponsibility to financial accountability and commitment to fiscal prudence, to ensure surplus for the longevity and sustainability of the school.
Today, we are financially healthy, working our way to meet our six-months reserve as mandated by accreditation standards, and recommended for our good business practice. We are working on our surplus so that we can invest in better infrastructure to support cutting edge teaching practices and innovation projects. our revised master plan is undergoing final (re) visions and will soon be shared with our community members. We are also very excited about our STEM (ScienceTechnology Engineering Math) program that will pilot an 8th grade Design Maker class next year to deepen and enrich our MYP design class. While keeping our eye on our long term plans, we simultaneously and wisely apply our (re) sources towards improved curriculum with teacher training, (re)levant school materials, and increased international faculty so that the core of our business is continuously being invested in.
This edition of the FYI humbly serves to safeguard our institutional memory, (re)minding us of our past and vulnerabilities. But it also (re)joices over our community’s tenacity to have not only survived, but also thrived over the past 60 years, as we envision many more sixty years to come.
May the following pages of the FYI bring you fond memories of our daily life in school. Precious snapshots of what (re)ally matters in our lives, special moments that provide a glimmer of hope, are all worth celebrating and cherishing. (re)lish it!