Elementary School Principal at American International School, Vienna in Austria
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Elementary School Principal
American International School, Vienna (Austria)

Appointed - Brian Donaldson
Nov 2, 2016
Nov 25, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

I write to let you know that the American International School of Vienna has selected Brian Donaldson as its next Elementary Principal.

Brian has been an international school principal for 12 years.  He is currently the elementary school principal at International School Nido de Aguilas in Chile and has served previously as the upper elementary principal at American School of Doha, and as the elementary principal of the American School of Asuncion.  He has worked in both small and large international schools and have considerable experience in strategic planning, standards based teaching and learning, data analysis, community building, and school accreditation.

Brian has an MA in Educational Leadership from the College of New Jersey, and MA in in Cross Cultural Education from National University, and a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania.  He has also served in the U.S. Navy.

Brian will be joined by his wife, Florencia, and three children, Tomas, Agustina and Joaquin. 

Kind regards,

Bridget McNamer 



The American International School Vienna

Seeks a new 

Elementary Principal

Effective August 2017

A School with a Rich History

in The Most Livable City in the World


Our Mission and Guiding Principles
Within the rich cultural context of Austria, AIS Vienna

Nurtures an inclusive learning community

  • In partnership with families, we support healthy social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.
  • We differentiate instruction to accommodate diverse interests and needs.
  • We cultivate active and creative students.

Challenges students to strive for personal excellence and to explore their passions

  • We balance an academically engaging program with co-curricular opportunities to empower students for success now and beyond AIS.
  • We motivate students to explore new and existing passions through guidance and opportunities.

Fosters respect through compassion for others and our world

  • We encourage empathy, honesty and kindness towards others.
  • We embrace diverse values and perspectives with an aim to act with an open mind.
  • We strive to have a positive impact on others and our environment.

The American International School Vienna Overview

The American International School Vienna is an independent, college preparatory, coeducational day school serving students in grades Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The school was founded in 1959 and continues to thrive as an outstanding center for education in the wonderful city of Vienna.

AIS serves some 800 students from 60 countries, with about half of the total American or Austrian. The school is divided into three divisions -- Elementary (Pre-Kindergarten-Grade 5), Middle (Grades 6-8), and High School (Grades 9-12).
Because of the international and transient character of our student body, the average stay at AIS is four years, with approximately 200 new students admitted each year. Many students, however, spend eight years or longer with us. Our Parent-Teacher Forum makes a great effort to help new families adjust to a new environment.

Our international parent community is predominantly affiliated with embassies, international organizations, and international corporations. Our local parents tend to work in private businesses or professions such as medicine and law.

The core of excellence at AIS is the talented faculty and administration. Each of the three academic divisions is headed by a trained and experienced principal. In addition, the Senior Leadership Team includes the School Director, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, the Director of Athletics, Activities, and Events, the Director of Technology, the Director of Admissions, and the Business Manager. There are also trained and experienced counselors in each of the three divisions, resource staff, and librarians for the Elementary and Secondary schools. A full-time nurse practitioner oversees the school’s health unit.

The AIS Faculty numbers over 100 individuals. More than 80% of our teachers hold advanced degrees, with several having earned doctorates. A substantial majority are U.S. citizens, but the school does have teachers of other nationalities. The teachers at AIS are dedicated professionals with a commitment to ongoing professional development, as demonstrated by frequent attendance at regional and international conferences, IB training, and subject-specific workshops.

AIS is located in the Neustift-am-Walde area of Vienna, adjacent to the famous Vienna Woods, and provides an instructional setting in the midst of the physical beauty of the surrounding hills, forest, and countryside. On our 10-acre (4 hectare) premises there are seven interconnected buildings housing Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. Each division benefits from large outdoor learning spaces, sports facilities and rich cultural opportunities just beyond the school grounds.

Elementary School

The enrollment in the Elementary School hovers between 330 and 350 students PK - Grade 5. This size of a school is widely considered a “just right” size, big enough to offer exciting and varied social and academic opportunities while still being small enough to maintain a strong sense of community where every child is recognized and known. Students at AIS benefit from outstanding and progressive academic programs, paralleled by rich fine arts, physical education, technology and German language instruction. Through after-school activities, field trips and collaborations across grade levels we hope to create opportunities that enrich children's lives, igniting a passion for lifelong learning and continued success.

The American International School Vienna draws elementary curriculum from the best resources and instructional practices currently available in the United States and overseas. Our programs are aligned with the latest trends in curriculum development and approved standards such as the Common Core. These same programs are used at international schools around the world, making transitions between schools easy. Our elementary programs and materials engage students in their learning due to a high degree of student choice and collaboration within instruction. Some of the programs we are currently using include Readers and Writers Workshop, Pearson Mathematics and Foss Science. It is important to note that all programs serve as the foundation for learning; enrichment and extension opportunities ensure that every child is encouraged and challenged to reach their potential.

What Makes AISV Elementary School Special:

Our teachers love working with children and our students enjoy school. AIS is widely recognized as a school that fosters positive relationships between teachers and students. These relationships translate into highly motivated and engaged learners. AIS students arrive with smiles and energy each morning, ready to learn.

Our programs support students to reach their potential. The elementary school programs are carefully chosen to meet the needs of today’s young learners. Nurture, inclusion, challenge, and respect are hallmarks of our mission statement and closely aligned with the goals of our elementary programs.

We offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We believe in developing strong relationships between students and teachers, and these relationships are the foundations of the family-like feeling of our school community.

AIS benefits from a fabulous city. For those of you new to Vienna, congratulations! What a great place to land; the rich cultural heritage combined with the famous Vienna woods, skiing and outdoor retreats make this a hard-to-beat location for you and your family. As I am sure you have heard Vienna is ranked the #1 most liveable city in the world.
Job Description

The Elementary School Principal shall work closely with the Director, Elementary School  teachers and staff to maintain the School's philosophy and basic policies, providing educational leadership and management expertise, and bring to bear the expertise of faculty leadership. In order to enable the school to deliver the best possible educational program to its students, the Principal shall:

  • Attend all meetings of the Executive Board and any committees in which asked to serve, providing initiative and proposals whenever appropriate, representing the interest and effectiveness of a strong educational program, and bringing the faculty's expertise to the policy formation and review process.
  • Ensure the Director is supplied with the necessary information about the basic operation, school activities and problems of the Elementary School, and consult with the Director when handling emergency or difficult issues.
  • Provide, for the Director's review and adoption near the beginning of each school year, a summary of major priorities and goals.
  • Assist in the development, revision and evaluation of the curriculum and related materials of instruction in conjunction with consultation with Curriculum Coordinators.
  • Provide for a healthy, safe, and secure environment.
  • Oversee the maintenance needs of the Elementary School and direct requests to the appropriate personnel.
  • Assist the Director in the preparation, administration and supervision of the budget in coordination with the Business Manager.
  • Develop a master schedule that accommodates student and teacher needs and approve teacher assignments.
  • Keep abreast of changes and developments in the profession by attending professional meetings, reading professional journals and other publications and discussing problems of mutual interest with others in the field.
  • Represent the School by attending school-sponsored activities and functions.
  • Approve school field trips and coordinate special programs.
  • Assist in articulating the mission and strengths of the school to its constituents and community.
  • Perform other tasks and assume other responsibilities as may be assigned by the Director.

School Resource Management
In the interest of the best possible use of the school's financial resources, and the availability of the best possible facilities for its educational program, The Principal of the Elementary School shall:

  • Work with the Director to develop annual financial plans and budgets, review monthly financial reports and help respond to unexpected shifts in revenues or expenses.
  • Ensure regular, updated plans for maintaining and updating campus facilities so that they will support the school's full academic program as well as update a long range facilities plan in order to provide the Director and Executive Board with a clear understanding of future financial requirements.
  • Ensure, through the Director, thorough and effective vigilance and protections to the school's assets, through professional purchasing policies, attention to campus safety and security, effective money management, and other areas.

Staff Functions
So as to ensure the existence of a well-qualified, dedicated staff, the Elementary School Principal shall:

  • Build a strong Elementary School staff by developing leadership capacity and providing opportunities for professional growth that support the effective management of the elementary school.
  • Conduct faculty meetings and prepare bulletins and memoranda to keep the staff  informed of policy changes, new programs and other important information in order to foster morale and maintain open lines of internal communication.
  • Be able to use data to identify, analyze, and support the effectiveness of school programs and individual student achievement.
  • Work with the Elementary School staff to provide a constructive, proactive school climate which supports the expertise of the faculty and is in the best interest of student learning; work with the Director and Executive Board to provide appropriate support of faculty welfare and professional growth, through both compensation and a vigorous professional growth program.
  • Discuss, review, and assess teacher and staff goals at the beginning and end of each school year.
  • Observe, evaluate and counsel all teachers regarding their individual and group performance.
  • Ensure smooth transition from year to year for the students and their curriculum, by reviewing annually with teachers, all materials, subjects, and classes.
  • Consult annually with the Middle School Principal and teachers to ensure a smooth transition from the fifth grade to the sixth grade curriculum.
  • Articulate the curriculum with the Middle School Principal and the Middle School Coordinators.
  • Communicate regularly to faculty and families about matters of importance and special interests.
  • Provide the Director with recommendation for retention or dismissal of current staff and faculty in advance of the annual contract period.
  • Ensure regular updated plans for maintaining the scholastic curriculum so that they will support the school's full academic program as well as reflect the school’s philosophy. The Elementary School Principal should provide the Director and the Executive Board with a ready understanding of future financial requirements relating to the curriculum.
  • Implement the policies provided by action of the Director, and ensure widespread knowledge of updated policies, procedures and guidelines for all areas of the Elementary School's operation to the Elementary School teachers and staff.
  • Assist in the recruiting, screening, hiring, training and assigning of the Elementary  School's teaching and non-teaching staff.
  • Assist in the orientation of newly assigned staff and faculty members and assist in their development, as appropriate.
  • Advise on appropriate extra-curricular programs for students and to co-ordinate with the Director of Athletics, Activities and Events.
  • Review and help revise, annually, the Faculty and Family Handbooks.
  • Consider requests, and once approved, assist in the procurement of supplies and materials needed to run an efficient staff and school.
    -Consider Personal Growth Units (PGUs) proposals.
    -Consider requests for personal and professional leaves.
    -Encourage staff development and professional growth.
    -Interview/approve of prospective substitute teachers.

Student Functions
To maintain, supervise, and ensure the development and ongoing improvement of the student body, the Elementary School Principal shall:

  • Ensure the development and ongoing improvement of a high quality educational program, maximizing educational, social and physical development, which meets the need of the students at their various and changing ages, in concert with faculty leadership.
  • Provide for a healthy, safe, and secure environment conducive to maximizing educational and social development.
  • Maintain high standards of student conduct, enforce discipline as necessary, according due process to the rights of students and recommend appropriate action to staff, parents and/or Director.
  • Report student attendance.
  • Maintain direct contact with students on a regular basis.
  • Develop student class schedules.
  • Supervise daily student departure.

Parent Functions
To maintain cohesiveness among the school's constituents, and awareness of the school’s strengths in the AIS and larger community, the Elementary School Principal shall:

  • Establish and maintain effective communication and favorable relationships with the  parent community.
  • Communicate regularly to faculty and families about matters of importance and special interests.
  • Foster understanding and support of overall school objectives and programs.
  • Interpret Executive Board policies and administrative procedures and to discuss and resolve individual student problems.
  • Articulate the Elementary School program to parents of new students through orientation and proper placement of students.
  • Ensure report cards, interim attendance, and grade level meeting reports are completed in a timely manner.
  • Organize Open House, Parent Conferences, and Parent Information Evening.
  • Support and attend Parent Teacher Forum meetings and functions.

Characteristics of Successful Candidates

Demonstrate Experience

  • Leading elementary school faculty to high levels of student achievement.
  • Leading a mission-driven school culture.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and interest in developing personal and professional relationships with all stakeholders.
  • Utilizing current research to guide curriculum development and instruction.
  • Developing a vibrant and inclusive school community that strives to serve all students.
  • Leading a collaborative school climate that supports teacher leadership opportunities.
  • Supervising faculty and staff to reach their highest potential.
  • Contributing to the intellectual discussions and decision-making tasks of the senior leadership team.
  • Success ensuring healthy student/family experiences in school.

Essential Qualifications and Experience

  • Previous experience as an Elementary School principal, preferably two years or more.
  • Current professional administrative credentials.

Preferred Qualifications and Experience

  • Previous experience as an Elementary Teacher.
  • A Master’s Degree.
  • Experience overseas in a school like AISV.

How to Apply

AIS-V has retained Search Associates consultants John Magagna and Bridget McNamer to conduct the initial phases of this search.  Interested candidates should send an application at the earliest possible time but no later than November 25, 2016.

Applications will be accepted in electronic form only. Qualified candidates are asked to send all application materials in a single .pdf file, of 4 MB or less, to: bmcnamer@searchassociates.com

  • A letter of interest, addressed to Steve Razidlo, Director, no longer than two pages, explaining your strengths and why you are interested in this particular position
  • A current résumé not to exceed two pages
  • A one-page statement outlining educational beliefs and leadership style
  • A one-page list of references with phone numbers and email addresses
  • A minimum of two and a maximum of four letters of reference which may already be in your possession.

Skype interviews will be scheduled with semi-finalist candidates. Finalists, along with their partners, will be invited to campus for two days of interviews with various school constituencies. The appointment for this position is expected by January 2017.

NOTE Candidates with active files with Search Associates may simply submit a letter of interest and reference active files with Search Associates.

NOTE ALSO that AIS Vienna reserves the right to close the selection process at any time prior to the above deadline if the right person is identified prior to the closing date.


Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Gary MacPhie is based in Toronto, Canada where he started his teaching career, and then spent 26 years overseas as a teacher, principal and recruiter in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.