In the February issue of our school’s quarterly magazine FIS World, there is an article highlighting an honor I recently received. However, don’t be fooled. While the award for Superintendent (Head of the School) of the Year may be displayed in my office, the applause and recognition belongs to our FIS Community.
When the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) reviewed its list of possible award recipients, you can bet their eyes looked beyond my CV and focusedon the school itself. Was the school transforming the lives of the students it served? Did it have the highest aspirations for its teachers? Did its parents fully support the school’s mission and values, and take an active part in the life of the school community? Was it on a trajectory of success that would place it among the finest international schools in the world? In relation to FIS, the answers to these and other questions like them was a resounding YES!
While I have never entered a talent contest, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by talent in my years as an educational leader. Our FIS parents know this to be true because they have seen their children become excited about subjects that previously were considered boring. Our students have developed as artists and athletes and scholars in ways we may never have thought possible. I may have been recently cast in the spotlight, but the source of that light radiates from an incredibly talented group of FIS teachers and administrators.
I must also take a moment to put the spotlight on our FIS Board of Trustees. I know many of my peers who lead schools where the Board is content to follow the status quo in order to avoid “rocking the boat.” But the Board at FIS has instead had the courage and vision to continually transform our school, from its
facilities to its programs. I remember when they decided to go forward with the Stroth Center construction, which some in our community questioned as too ambitious. Yet now the wisdom of that decision is clear. Future generations will owe a great debt to this Board for their tenacious pursuit of the highest standards.
In addition to passing the kudos of this award to our students, parents, faculty, staff and board members, there is one person I must single out. Those of you who have travelled around the world with your family know that there is one linchpin that holds everything else together – our partner. “Trailing spouse” is a frequently used but terribly inadequate phrase. It would better be replaced with “Leading Light” or “Enduring Strength.” For me, that person is my wife, Wendy, who makes what I do possible because she is a constant reminder of all that is good and worthwhile.
So there you have it. An award was given to me for the simple reason that they couldn’t fit the thousands of our FIS Community members up on a single stage. It is an award our community has definitely earned!
In February 2018, I attended the AAIE’s annual conference where I had the great honor of accepting the 2018 Superindenent of the Year Award. During the event, I was asked to deliver a speech to friends, mentors, colleagues and other Heads of Schools from around the world. You can read an adaptation of that acceptance speech here.