Lower School Principal
As a student who did not fit the mold of traditional education, before concepts such as scaffolding, individualized instruction, project-based learning, and inquiry, my school had a rigid system that allowed little flexibility. My struggles with this system stemmed not from a lack of desire to be successful, but the frustrations of forcing myself to fit inside a box made for only certain students. I entered the British military in search of success and to move away from a system that was incapable of helping me progress.
I can say without reservation that my military experiences, whether inspirational or traumatic, have shaped the person I am today, and it is a person I am very proud to be. As I reflect on my experiences, I realize how much they influence my role as a leader in education. Building the plane and flying simultaneously, occurred repeatedly in the military, and it has taught me the importance of project and inquiry-based education. My struggle in learning under a rigid educational system has shown me the importance of individualized instruction and teaching from a variety of learning modalities. The chain of command and the insistence of the organization have provided respect for these attributes in education. My life has also taught me that social responsibility and character education are of utmost importance. Many of my military friends asked me why I wanted to move into education, but even during my boy service as a teenager, I was already an educator, trying to help those around me.
After 14 years in the British military, I began my career teaching science in England. My first official experience in educational leadership was as a Curriculum Coordinator in Southampton, providing me with a “look behind the curtain” of education and the ability to combine my educational and leadership abilities. Since that time, I moved abroad and have been placed in both the role of teacher and administrator in two international school systems. As upper school principal at North Jakarta International School, I served as administrator, head of security, and primary advisor to the Head of School while continuing to teach middle school science. I have also been an Athletics and Activities Director that served on the leadership team at the American International School of Lagos in Nigeria. Both of these positions have provided me the opportunity to see the school simultaneously from an educator and administrator’s perspective.
An educational philosophy must come from within, and my experiences gave me the drive to be successful today. Education must, as with life, drive us to do better each day, be that from a learned mistake or even the smallest flicker of understanding in class. Education should at its heart be the attempt to instill the desire to learn and think for oneself. Mastering cleverly disguised puzzles that will equip learners is essential to becoming industrious citizens in this ever-shifting land we live in. I would like to see the responsibility and self-discipline I found assistive in the military inspire students in the classroom. Students must also have a willingness to be actively engaged in their education. As educators, we must energize our lessons and attempt new ways to impart knowledge, but the student should ultimately be the explorer, finding as much from the experience as teachers put in. I look forward to continuing my career path in education, now as an administrator to impact and inspire students at the International School Ouagadougou.