Director at International School of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia
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International School of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)

Appointed - Bill Elman
May 5, 2016
Sep 20, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Search Committee of the International School of Ulaanbaatar (ISU) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, we are pleased to announce that after a worldwide search which produced a large number of highly qualified candidates, Mr. Bill Elman has been selected as the new Director, to begin in July 2017 for the 2017-18 academic year.

Mr. Elman was most recently Director of the Rabat American School in Rabat, Morocco. Prior to the Rabat position, he was Deputy Director of the International School of Tianjin, The People's Republic of China. He has also held administrative leadership and teaching positions in Latvia, Turkey and Canada.

Mr. Elman earned a BS Degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and an MA and other graduate course work from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He is currently working on a second MS in Management from the London School of Economics. He will be accompanied by his wife Eleanor Surridge and their two children, ages 14 and 11. Ms Surridge is also an educator who has taught English and Library/Media.

The Search Committee, Board of Directors and Search Associates would like to thank all candidates who expressed interest in the International School of Ulaanbaatar Director position, and to everyone who assisted and supported the search process.

Ralph Jahr
Search Associates


International School of Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

seeks a


Beginning in August 2017


MONGOLIA – nomadic culture mixes with modern urban living

Mongolia is once again on the cusp of becoming a fast-growing economy in Asia thanks to its vast mineral resources and its ongoing commitment to a market economy and a government welcoming foreign investment.

Located between two enormous markets, China and Russia, Mongolia has been influenced by both cultures throughout its history. The country has a stable democracy, a solid rule of law, good tax rates, enormous amounts of untapped resources and a small population (three million), many of whom still live a nomadic lifestyle.

Expatriate life in Mongolia is a rewarding and enriching experience, with access to a world-class natural environment, unique cultural heritage, modern urban amenities and a large array of recreational and social activities. At the same time one has to be prepared for the cold climate in winter, with temperatures an average of minus 25C in January, and the high levels of winter-time pollution from the coal-burning fires and power stations in Ulaanbaatar.

The general security and safety situation is good. There are good middle-care medical facilities available, with an SOS Medical Clinic and full-service Intermed hospital in UB. Seoul, Hong Kong and Beijing are only short flights away as options for more serious medical treatment requirements.

ISU’s Philosophy and Objectives


Guiding Core Values

International School of Ulaanbaatar (ISU) core values are the foundation for our priorities and serve to hold us accountable to ourselves and our community. We believe that:

  • Education is the shared responsibility of all members of the school community – parents, teachers, staff and students.
  • A well-rounded education balances the academic, physical, social and emotional development of students while accounting for their unique talents and abilities.
  • A balanced education provides students with the tools, confidence and motivation to excel in the face of challenge, and orients them toward post-secondary and life-long learning.
  • A learning environment that provides students a sense of belonging and individual worth encourages mutual respect and fosters character development.
  • An international school is enriched by the relationship with its host country, which serves as an important resource for strengthening the learning experience.
  • A multicultural environment enables a broader world view and affords students the opportunity to develop an understanding and appreciation of diversity.

Educational Philosophy

ISU provides a balanced educational programme that is guided by the International Baccalaureate (IB) and includes four areas in which ISU students are expected to demonstrate success and growth. Our programmes and practices are motivated by our educational philosophy.


ISU provides education and inspiration for students based on the IB programme. Our students enjoy a positive, supportive and vibrant environment in which to grow, learn and flourish. It is our aim to assist each student to acquire the skills and attitudes that provide a foundation for success in higher learning and in life.

Visual and Performing Arts

Participation in the visual and performing arts is expected of all students from Pre-kindergarten to Grade 12. ISU offers music, drama and visual arts as distinct academic courses, and orchestra, choir and various other creative arts performances and exhibitions within our co-curricular programme.

Sports, Athletics, and Adventure Learning

Students are encouraged to be the best they can be in competitive sports with emphasis placed on effort and participation. ISU competes in the Association of Chinese and Mongolian International Schools sports league and UB volleyball, basketball and soccer interscholastic tournaments. In our co-curricular programme, ISU offers a variety of recreational sports including table tennis, karate, dance, yoga, ice skating and other popular games and activities. Adventure learning through outdoor education and other types of excursions to the mountains, rivers and wide open steppes of Mongolia is pursued at all grade levels from Primary through Secondary. Whether its participating in dinosaur digs, excavations of ancient settlements, restoration of Buddhist monasteries, canoeing the Orchon River, horseback riding in Arkhangai, hiking in the Bogd Khan – ISU students are out and about, near and far from UB.

International Mindedness and Citizenship

We strive to provide a learning environment in which the skills and attitudes of democratic global citizenship and community responsibility are refined, promoted, and practiced.


Our mission defines the purpose of our school. In partnership with the ISU community, we aim to:

Achieve excellence in all that we do to inspire the unique potential of our students to contribute and thrive in a global society.



Our vision provides us the guidance and inspiration to focus on what we are striving to offer to our students.

Drawing on Mongolia’s unique cultural heritage and environment, ISU offers a world class international education to prepare students for higher learning and for life.


We accomplish our mission and stay true to our vision by:

  • providing excellence in the academics of international education
  • encouraging the unique potential of each of our students
  • investing in a holistic educational experience that whereby students learn to become critical thinkers and life-long learners
  • inspiring our students to develop international mindedness, learning deeply about their host country and appreciating the cultural diversity of the people around them
  • becoming actively involved in our local Mongolian community and the wider regional and global communities
  • practising lifestyle habits that help sustain our natural environment



Empowering Students to Make a Difference


Education in Mind

Community in Heart

Success in Life


ISU is an active member of the Round Square organisation and is very proud to be called a “Round Square” school.  As such, it strives to integrate each of the six Round Square IDEALS in all aspects of its IB curriculum programme and its extensive co-curriculum programme.

International Understanding:                               to understand to respect to care

fostering an understanding and respect for the diversity of human experience and the significance of our natural world; developing a global citizenship manifested by caring for others and the environment.

Democracy:                                                          to express to act to balance

expressing one’s voice humbly; giving open-minded, respectful consideration of the views of others; acting then in a principled and caring manner that balances the individual good with the common good.

Environmental Stewardship:                                   to reduce to share to sustain

acting locally and globally to reduce the human impact on our ecosystem and to share and sustain our natural environment for the benefit of us and for all life on our planet.

Adventure:                                                       to stretch to persevere to reflect

gaining courage and learning about oneself by confronting challenge, taking risks, stretching to learn, not giving up and reflecting on one’s accomplishments.

Leadership:                                                     to stand to communicate to inspire

seeking knowledge and understanding and then having the courage to take a stand and express oneself confidently; inspiring others to act; understanding oneself.

Service:                                                                 to serve to improve to learn

seeing need and acting on it; being caring and compassionate; contributing to improvement; learning about oneself and others by serving.


Objectives of the Position

The Board of Trustees is seeking a Director to continue advancing ISU’s position as the leading international school in Ulaanbaatar even as other independent schools are growing and developing in this relatively small city. A key strategic goal of the school is to grow in step with the expansion of Mongolia’s economy, to increase its enrolment from 315 students to full capacity of 600 students. ISU is already a leader in IB education in Asia, and now that it has become a Round Square school, its Director will drive it to become a center of experiential learning in accordance to the six IDEALS of the Round Square philosophy and objectives while at the same time focusing on the academics and inquiry learning of the IB.

Scope of Service

Within the general policies and directives established by the Board, the Director shall have complete responsibility for the administration of the school, promoting the school’s long-term growth and financial stability. He or she will lead ISU in alignment with its mission, vision and, very significantly, in fulfilment of the 6 goals of its new 5-year strategic plan. As an inspiring leader, the Director will motivate administrative staff, teachers and students to continue to excel in their performance.

Main Responsibilities

The Director shall have charge of the administration of the School and shall be a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees. He/she shall advise the Board on all policy matters.

The Board may from time to time assign additional duties and responsibilities to the Director, provided, however, that all additional duties and responsibilities assigned by the Board shall be consistent with those normally associated with the position of chief executive officer of a school.

With respect to their relationship to one another and the determination of their respective powers and duties, the parties acknowledge that they are both subject to the Laws of Mongolia to the exclusion of all others.

To perform his or her obligations the Director shall have the following authority, rights and responsibility to:

  •  organize and re-organize the administrative and supervisory staff including instructional and non-instructional personnel, in a manner which in the Director’s judgment best serves the school;
  • select, hire, assign, transfer, and terminate both instructional and non-instructional personnel, with reference to the Board Executive as necessary;
  • with reference to above, attend annual recruitment fairs as required;
  • supervise and direct deputy heads, principals, coordinators, teachers and all other persons employed in either the business management or the instructional and non-instructional activities of the school;
  • develop and implement the overall educational policies, goals, objectives, educational program and curriculum of the school;
  • develop and administer the budget of the school, as approved by the Board;
  • maintain regular communication with and submit all reports required to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS) in order to maintain the school's accreditation;
  • represent the School in the relations with natural and legal persons;
  • enter into all kinds of agreements, including employment ones with Board approval;
  • attend annual EARCOS, ACAMIS, ROUND SQUARE and/or CIS conferences as required and feasible within calendar and budget constraints and not necessarily all in the same year;
  • maintain active membership in AISH and AAIE.

Qualifications for the Candidate

  •  a proven record of outstanding educational leadership
  • understanding of and commitment to the IB PYP, MYP and DP Programme
  • familiarity with and strong commitment to the Round Square IDEALS
  • knowledge of whole school leadership – including both primary and secondary divisions
  • prior international educational experience in a developing country is preferred
  • appreciation of and desire to live and work in a multicultural environment with multidisciplinary teams
  • a proven record of working harmoniously with all school constituencies
  • evidence of ability to supervise, motivate, empower, delegate and evaluate staff effectively
  • a strong academic record with advanced degree(s)
  • a strong work ethic, and excellent organizational and administrative and people skills
  • exemplary English language writing and speaking skills along with strong oral and written skills in at least one other language
  • excellent interpersonal, communication and problem-solving skills
  • successful experience in recruiting teachers and staff
  • customer oriented along with general familiarity with all aspects of business and support operations
  • ability to design realistic budgets and adhere to them using standard financial tracking and reporting mechanism

Salary and Benefits

The salary will be highly competitive and will depend on the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate. Benefits include tuition at ISU for school age children, housing and car allowance, health/ life insurance, travel allowance, limited shipment of personal effects, and professional development. Salary considerations will be detailed during the interview process.

Quality of Life

Ulaanbaatar has one foot in the past and one in the future. About half of Mongolia's population of three million lives in this city and its surrounding "ger" areas which are dominated by traditional dwellings made of felt. There is a great selection of restaurants and bars, decent shopping, and modern theatres with English language movies. The city has a thriving arts and music community. Many residents, especially the older generations, still wear traditional clothes, and city is home to several major monasteries. Many expatriates find that one of the best things about living in Mongolia is easy access to the countryside. Within an hour of Ulaanbaatar one can find world-class hiking, biking, horse-riding and cross-country skiing. A modern downhill ski resort is open during the winter just 15 minutes from the school.

Procedure for Filing Application

The International School of Ulaanbaatar (ISU) has appointed Search Associates as its consultant in the search for a new Director with Ralph Jahr and John Ritter serving as the lead consultants. The deadline for applications is September 20, 2016. Candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and the requested materials as early as possible as the Search Committee/Board of Trustees reserves the right to close the selection process at any time if the right candidate is found. The review of files will begin as soon as applications are received. Skype video interviews of candidates will take place on a rolling basis and might be scheduled for selected candidates soon after their applications are received by the Search Committee. Site visits of finalist candidates with their spouse, if applicable, could take place in late September or early October 2016. The new Director will be selected immediately after the interviews of the finalist candidates have been completed.

Candidates should send the information listed below as a single pdf file attached to an email:

  • a letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Director position at the International School of Ulaanbaatar.
  • A current résumé not to exceed two pages, addressing the desired professional qualifications as well as the desired personal qualities.
  •  a one or two-page statement outlining educational philosophy and leadership style.
  • A one-page list of references with current phone numbers and email addresses. This should include the current Chair and Treasurer of the Board of Directors at your school, plus former board members or others as desired.
  • A maximum of three letters of reference (scanned at low resolution) that may already be in your possession

Total document size should be kept to less than four (4) MB if possible.

Applications should be sent to: 

Additional information about the International School of Ulaanbaatar can be found on the school’s web site at < >.

Ralph Jahr                                                             Tel: 609-759-0431 USA – Pacific Time Zone

Skype – ralph.h.jahr                                              Email:


Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Harry Deelman was at various times headmaster of schools in a fascinating foursome of global cities: Buenos Aires, Rome, Dubai, and Bangkok.