Two hats, one head

As you should expect, I take my job as Frankfurt International School’s Head of School very seriously. I’ve spent years studying education research, continue to pursue professional development on best practices, and routinely engage my peers at other leading schools to ensure our students receive an education that is second to none. However, there is one attribute that is equally important in helping me lead this school: I am also an FIS parent.

As an FIS parent, the success of the FIS mission directly affects my own children. Similar to the difference between the commitment of a home renter versus that of a home owner, helping FIS achieve its greatest potential has a long-term impact on my own children’s ability to reach their potential. The cause and effect of my professional actions are also acutely personal.

As a parent, I empathize with a number of the aspirations that other parents have raised in our annual FIS spring survey. I know there are areas where FIS can become even stronger and I am intent on seeing that we push forward toward reaching our strategic goals. It may surprise some of you that even as the Head of PaigePaulSchool I, too, become impatient that change cannot happen at a faster pace. Yet I know that substantive change, and not just window dressing, does take time to ensure that sound judgment is used and due process is followed. (While I wish the building project could be completed in a week, I’m pleased that I will be able to see my Grade 10 daughter compete in the new Sport and Learning Center before she graduates!)

When working with our Board of Trustees and the Leadership Team, I find that wearing the complementary hats of parent and educator allows me to have empathy for both perspectives. When I sit in the stands of a sporting event cheering on my children, or in the audience applauding their performances, I appreciate the balance the school offers in supporting “head, heart and hand.” I have accompanied my children to the FIS Kalahari Project and have seen how it has changed their view of the world. And as the Head of School, I want to ensure that all of our students have the chance to excel within AND outside the classroom in order to enjoy a balanced life.

Finally, as an FIS parent, I see my children not only as current students but eventually as FIS alumni. When I address our alumni gatherings, speaking to those who return to the campus each spring after 10 or 25 years away from the school, I envision my own children coming back to Oberursel as alumni. I don’t know from which corner of the world they will be arriving on that future date, but I want my children to be greeted by a school that continues to be inspiring and continues to care about graduates long after their last tuition payment.

Some people have asked me if it’s difficult to wear both the parent and Head of School hats, attending parent-teacher conferences with my colleagues or making difficult decisions in one role that has a direct impact on the other. In truth, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I firmly believe that being an FIS parent makes me a better FIS leader, and I feel fortunate to share that leadership commitment with so many other caring parents at Frankfurt International School.