Director at Colegio Maya in Guatemala
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Colegio Maya (Guatemala)

Appointed - Michael Pettersch
Feb 20, 2020
Mar 20, 2020

Michael Pettersch has been hired as the incoming Director of Colegio Maya in Guatemala City starting in August 2021.  Michael is currently in his third year as the Director of the International School of Astana in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan after having served for three years as the Director of the International School of Minsk, Belarus. Prior to his international experience, Michael served for 13 years in a variety of roles in Denver and Thornton, Colorado:  assistant principal, IB/AP/gifted coordinator, and social studies and special education teacher.

Michael holds a B.A. in Education and History from the University of Michigan, a Master of Liberal Studies and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Denver. 

While this will be Michael’s first time living and working in Latin America, Spanish is one of his languages and he looks forward to resuming his study of Spanish after five years of studying Russian.  Michael will be accompanied by his wife and their two children. 






seeks a


Effective July 1, 2021

The School and Community

Colegio Maya, The American International School of Guatemala, wasfounded in 1958 and is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, co-educational day school which offers a US-style Pre-K to grade 12 educational program for students of all nationalities.  Colegio Maya is accredited by AdvancED and the Ministry of Education of Guatemala. It is also a member of the American Association of Schools in Central America (AASCA), Tri-Association, and the Common Ground Collaborative (CGC).  The School is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors to whom the Director is responsible.


With approximately 395 students representing 27 countries, the Maya Community truly values diversity and seeks excellence.  Through educational programs and values, each student is encouraged to find his/her own voice and to develop leadership capabilities. "Non-negotiables" include small classes typically between 12 and 18 students, academic excellence, ongoing staff development, the celebration of diversity, and a commitment to fostering social responsibility through service learning.

Colegio Maya Vision

A community that inspires excellence in every learner by developing their unique mind, body and character to become independent value-driven citizens.

Colegio Maya Mission

Colegio Maya serves a diverse international community, preparing responsible global citizens through a rigorous U.S. accredited college preparatory program.  Colegio Maya develops ethical values and inspires all students to achieve their unique potential for excellence through challenging academics, arts, sports, leadership, and committed participation in social service.  The Colegio Maya community holds all its members: students, parents, teachers, and staff, accountable for the success of every student.

Curriculum and Learning at Maya

Colegio Maya offers a U.S. educational program from pre-kindergarten (age 4) through grade 12. The curriculum is built on the foundation of Common Core standards and other widely utilized standards such as NGSS, NCSS, and SHAPE. It is designed to prepare students for university in the US or elsewhere. Instruction at Colegio Maya is in English with the exception of Spanish language classes. The school year is broken into two semesters extending from the second week of August to the third week of December and from the second week of January to the first week of June.

Colegio Maya is part of a global movement, the Common Ground Collaborative, and uses this framework to define the learning ecosystem. To achieve the deep, meaningful learning demanded by our philosophy, all learning experiences are based on conceptual understanding, competency learningand character development.

In addition to Colegio Maya’s concept-based curriculum which is delivered using guided inquiry methodologies, Secondary students are encouraged to take challenging courses, including those from Colegio Maya’s well-developed Advanced Placement (AP) class offerings. Our program currently includes the following Advanced Placement courses: AP Capstone Seminar, AP Capstone Research, AP Psychology, AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP World History, AP Human Geography, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Spanish Literature, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Physics 1, AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC; additional online AP courses can be taken independently. Spanish instruction is provided at all levels of Spanish proficiency, including for native speakers. Learning program overviews for each division can be found on our website.

Utilizing technology and engaging in service learning are two lifelong skills for all Maya students. Skills in these areas enable them to adjust to an increasingly interdependent and constantly changing world. Colegio Maya follows the ISTE Standards and also teaches Digital Citizenship to all students to ensure that students are prepared for all aspects of technology use at school and beyond. A variety of on-going service partnerships are at the heart of the Maya service learning program. Students from K-12 participate in activities and projects that are rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and support our local communities as well as global initiatives.

Extracurriculars are also an important part of the student experience at Colegio Maya. Currently, there are more than twenty activities including sports, MUN, robotics, band, drama, Knowledge Bowl, Roots and Shoots, and NJHS/NHS, which are an integral part of the School’s program. 

The Campus


Colegio Maya is located on the Carretera El Salvador in the hillside suburbs of Guatemala City on a beautiful campus filled with trees, flowers, and foliage. We are fortunate to have ample space to enjoy comprehensive facilities including a state of the art performing arts theater, music room, nature playscape, multiple gyms, fields and separate libraries for our elementary and secondary students.



Our newest building, the Innovation Hub, will include a large makerspace workshop, two tech labs, an art room, and both the secondary and elementary libraries. The design includes multiple outdoor learning spaces as well as a large multi-purpose room.  The building which currently houses the libraries will be redesigned as dedicated middle school space.

The Setting

Guatemala City, the largest city in Central America, is located in the center highland region of Guatemala and is the capital of this fascinating country, called "The Land of Eternal Spring."  The city sits at 5,000 feet above sea level and has pleasant weather year-round.  Guatemala City is the heart of the nation's cultural, political, and commercial activities, and home to over 2.5 million people.  Guatemala's culture is a unique blend of indigenous and Spanish colonial influences.  Some of Guatemala’s rural areas have maintained a large indigenous Mayan population with a distinct identity--speaking over 23 different languages, following traditional religious and village customs, and continuing a rich tradition in textiles and other crafts.  Travel opportunities abound to other areas which are also important manufacturing, cultural and social centers.  Lake Atitlan and Tikal are only two of Guatemala’s not-to-be-missed travel destinations.

The Opportunity

The next Director of Colegio Maya will take over leadership at a pivotal point in the school’s journey. He or she will inherit a school with a stable financial foundation and will have the opportunity to lead the school community in creating and implementing a vision for the school’s next phase. The new Director will have the full backing of the Board of Directors as s/he leads the school community in pursuit of a dynamic future.

Candidate Profile

Colegio Maya is seeking to appoint an internationally-experienced, learning-focused, empathetic leader able to successfully undertake strategic planning with the School’s Board of Directors, communicate an inspiring vision for continuous improvement, and establish effective systems across all aspects of school operations.

Areas of Leadership

Academic Leadership

  • Provide leadership to the program of learning with an emphasis on a standards-based curriculum, assessment aligned with standards, and instruction that furthers student learning in alignment with standards.
  • Provide direction on the criteria to be implemented in making admission decisions.
  • Provide leadership to the development of the annual school calendar for recommendation to the Board of Directors.
  • Advise the Board on all matters related to the educational program.

Communication Leadership

  • Keep the Board of Directors informed on all matters of significance to ensure that members of the Board are consistently well-informed.
  • Facilitate excellent and on-going communication within the school and across the entire school community.

Facility Development and Management Leadership

  • Work with the Board of Directors to successfully carry out campus development projects.
  • Ensure the proper oversight of school facilities, and their on-going care and maintenance.

Financial Leadership

  • Responsible for budget development in concert with the Board of Directors and the subsequent effective and efficient administration of the budget in ways that demonstrate both fiscal responsibility and accountability.
  • Responsible for on-going budget oversight, including approval of all expenditures.

Human Resources Leadership

  • Responsible for attracting, retaining, supporting, assessing, developing and--if necessary--dismissing, faculty, staff and administrators in support of the school’s mission and vision.
  • Ensure the proper supervision and evaluation of all faculty, administrators and non-faculty staff.
  • Provide orientation for all new faculty, staff and administrators.

Policy Leadership

  • Ensure that existing school policies are consistently implemented.
  • Identify policies that need revision or areas where new policies are required and make recommendations to the Board of Directors for appropriate action.


Successful candidates will have:

  • A graduate degree in education or educational leadership
  • A minimum of 3 years prior educational management or leadership experience
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
  • A demonstrated commitment to a minimum three-year contract

Professional Qualities

Preferred professional qualities of the new Director include the following:

  • A learning-focused leader able to successfully communicate a vision for continuous improvement across all aspects of the school.
  • Experience as a head in an international school or equivalent experience--minimum 3 years.
  • Demonstrated capacity to successfully recruit, retain and further develop outstanding faculty, staff and administrators in support of the school’s mission.
  • Capable of providing leadership which affirms the mission of the school, why we exist and who we are here to serve.
  • Expertise in strategic planning and budgeting.
  • Basic proficiency in Spanish and a willingness to further develop language proficiency.
  • Prior experience with Advanced Placement programming.
  • Familiarity with the Common Ground Collaboration and International Baccalaureate frameworks.
  • Confidence in implementing technological advances in education.

Personal Attributes

Desired personal characteristics of the new Director include the following:

  • Possesses integrity, honesty, confidence, firmness, fairness and visible leadership.
  • Prepared to provide clear direction to the entire school community.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills which include: being approachable, being a good listener and being an effective communicator.
  • Collaborative leadership style which translates into being a team- and consensus builder to improve student learning.
  • Willingness to explore, embrace, and value Guatemalan culture.
  • Understanding of multicultural contexts
  • A servant leader who appreciates quality teachers and supports their development.
  • Offers a holistic (body, mind, character) approach to education.
  • Embraces innovative educational practices.

Salary and Benefits

The salary will be regionally competitive and will depend on the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate. Benefits include tuition for school age children, housing and car allowance, health/life insurance, travel allowance and professional development opportunities. Salary considerations and length of contract will be detailed during the interview process.

Application Procedure

The Colegio Maya Board of Directors has partnered with Search Associates to facilitate the search for a new Director.  Paul Poore is serving as the lead consultant.

Qualified candidates should send the information listed below as a single PDF File attached to an email as soon as possible, but no later than March 20, 2020.  The Board of Directors reserves the right to close the selection process at any time if the right candidate is identified.

  • A letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Director position at Colegio Maya.
  • A statement describing your leadership and educational philosophy, not to exceed two pages.
  • A current résumé not to exceed two pages.
  • A one-page list of references, to include supervisors, with current addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

Candidates should send all requested information directly to Paul Poore at Search Associates:

Did You Know…?

During the past year, Search Associates has assisted over 3,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, and administrators find jobs.