Head of School at Alto International School in USA
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Head of School
Alto International School (USA)

Appointed - Mr. Michael Chapman
Oct 4, 17
Nov 30, 17


Dear Colleagues and friends,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Alto International School we are pleased to inform you that Mr. Michael Chapman has been appointed the new Head of School, effective July 1, 2018.

The position attracted a large number of highly qualified candidates from whom the Board, on the recommendation of the school’s Search Committee, unanimously selected Michael. John Furlan, Board Chair and head of the search committee, announced the school’s decision in a letter to the school community, noting Michael’s leadership at outstanding schools in Britain, Austria, and Colombia.

Michael Chapman brings to the position a distinguished background in  academic preparation and school leadership. After 20 years of school leadership in England he was selected as a “National Leader in Education”, the highest leadership accreditation in the U.K. In 2004 Michael embarked on his international career, heading both Vienna International School and St. Gilgen in Austria. Most recently he was the Director ( Rector ) of the prestigious Colegio Anglo Colombiano in Bogota.

In an accompanying note to the Board’s announcement Michael describes himself as a ‘lead learner’ and a ‘leader of learning’

Michael is joined by his wife Andrea who teaches art, and their son Nico.

The Alto International School Board of Trustees and Search Associates  would like to thank all candidates who expressed interest in the Head of School position, and to everyone who supported the search process.



John Magagna, Founding Director

Gunther Brandt, Senior Search Consultant



School Profile

Founded in 1988 as the first German immersion school on the U.S. West Coast, Alto International School (Alto) was formerly known as the German-American International School. The campus is located in Menlo Park, California, just 25 miles south of San Francisco and neighboring Palo Alto, home of Stanford University.

Alto’s mission is to provide an outstanding international, multilingual education focused on inquiry-based learning to foster confident, creative, and responsible learners and global thinkers.

Alto is an accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) World School from preschool through high school. Alto has offered the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) since 2007 and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) since 2013. Currently the school is a candidate for the IB Diploma Programme (DP) and the authorization visit is scheduled for November 2017.

The launch of the high school in 2016 coincided with the rebranding of the school to be called Alto International School (Alto). This was in response to the changing clientele within the area that not only includes German families but now boasts a more international audience. While the German program remains an essential part of our school, the vision has been extended to include other target groups. The school campus was relocated to the current site in August 2015 following the termination of the previous lease. The current site, which is located in the same neighborhood, is approved for a school population of 400 students.

Alto is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the most vibrant and innovative regions in the world, where a school based on the IB philosophy seems particularly appropriate. That is one of the reasons a key goal is to become the first IB continuum school in the Bay Area.

Alto’s new Head of School will play an important role in promoting Alto to international as well as local families. While the school is planning to grow from 250 to 400 students in the coming years, the close-knit sense of community is a highly valued characteristic which is important to maintain. The upcoming IB Diploma authorization visit and the graduation of the first high school class in 2020 will provide a unique opportunity for the new Head of School to work with the board, staff, and families to write the next chapter of Alto.


Alto International School - Overview:

  •  Small, independent school in the heart of Silicon Valley
  • 260 students, 60 staff members representing 15 different nationalities
  • Founded in 1988 as the German-American International School
  • IB World School since 2007
  • German-immersion preschool and elementary school
  • Multi-lingual middle and high school with English as the main language of instruction
  • High school launched in 2016, now a candidate school for the IB Diploma Programme
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


German immersion preschool & elementary school focusing on the whole child

The Primary Years Programme at Alto is offered from Preschool (3 years) to Grade 5. Alto’s German immersion preschool provides an engaging daily curriculum, organized around units of inquiry, that promotes integrated and holistic learning and development through hands-on activities. Children from all language backgrounds are welcomed.

German is also the main language of instruction in our elementary school program. Over 30% of our students begin in preschool or Kindergarten with no German language experience. By the end of first grade, all students are reading and writing in both German and English. Alto’s small class sizes ensure that the teachers and staff can focus on students’ social and emotional development alongside their cognitive development.


A globally minded, progressive middle and high school preparing students for university and beyond

From grade 6 to grade 10 the Middle Years Programme (MYP) provides a holistic learning environment where the main language of instruction is English, but Alto offers several classes taught in German for students who are fluent or native speakers. In addition, language acquisition classes in French, Spanish, and German are offered. Consideration continues to be given to the needs of students beyond the academic, with their social and emotional development receiving equal attention.

Alto enrolled its first grade 9 high school cohort in 2016. This grade of many firsts will graduate from Alto in 2020. Alto’s new Head of School will have in important role in growing and promoting the Alto high school program and in establishing Alto as the first - and leading - school in the Bay Area to offer the full IB continuum from preschool through high school.


Located in one of the most desirable regions in the world to live

Alto International School’s home is a small campus in a quiet, family-friendly residential neighborhood with tree-lined streets in Menlo Park, California. The school is close to downtown Palo Alto, a vibrant area of restaurants and shops, and the impressive campus of Stanford University. Just a few miles away are many of the most influential and exciting technology companies of Silicon Valley, such as Facebook, Apple and Google. Many of Alto’s parents work in the tech industry, often providing Alto with unique access to those companies.

San Francisco, home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and one of the most vibrant cities in the world, is just 25 miles away, offering a wide range of cultural opportunities. The beautiful Pacific coast can be reached in less than an hour. The coast and the San Francisco Bay offer many kinds of water sport and sightseeing opportunities. Napa Valley, one of the most famous wine regions in the world, is a couple of hours away, and not much further are Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, a beautiful mountain region offering first-class winter sports opportunities. The Bay Area is blessed with year-round mild temperatures and abundant sunshine, making it one of the most desirable regions in the world to live.  


Learn more

Additional information about Alto International School can found on the school’s website: AltoSchool.org as well Alto’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/altoschool/

 Alto International School seeks:

An inclusive, inspirational, and visionary leader who can take the school to the next level as a premier IB World School in the Silicon Valley market of competing independent schools. 

Preferred Qualifications

  • Master’s Degree, preferably in educational leadership
  • Proven record of educational leadership

Desired Attributes and Skills

  • Will support the mission and goals of the school with integrity and transparency in communication, relationships, and operations
  • Will appreciate the advantages of a small school with a warm and involved parent community, that practices a progressive IB philosophy committed to student-centered and inquiry-based teaching and learning (currently 250 plus students growing to 400)
  • Has a background in teaching and in leadership roles in an IB school
  • Is a capable administrator that leads and inspires a culture of performance, accountability, innovation, and teamwork
  • Has interest in joining a German bilingual school and has experience in bilingual/immersion language learning programs
  • Speaks a language other than English; knowledge of German is an advantage
  • Is an articulate and effective communicator with a capacity to advance the school in the wider community, representing Alto International School with vision and passion
  • Will be an inspired participant in the school’s development programs focused on Annual Giving, special events, and the goals for capital campaigns
  • Is a strategic, analytical leader who will work cooperatively with the Board of Trustees in crafting the school’s future path.
  • Is a visible leader immersed in the life of the school, committed to the healthy development of children and adolescents in an environment of guided, rigorous, independent, and differentiated learning.
  • Keeps abreast about best practices and innovations in education including the use of technology in teaching and learning
  • Is a personable, authentic individual whose networking skills will help build strong relationships with feeder schools and other local IB and independent schools
  • Will look to a sustained commitment well beyond the initial contract

Personal Characteristics

  • Sense of humor
  • High energy level, performance driven
  • Active listener and learner
  • Compassionate and fair
  • Can-do attitude, hands-on mentality
  • Open-minded, culturally inclusive
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Problem Solver, solution-driven

Application process

Please send applications as instructed below no later than November 30, 2017. 

(The review of files will begin as soon as applications are received).  Candidates should note that, in the event that an outstanding applicant is identified early in the search process, Alto reserves the right to make an appointment before the deadline mentioned above and to bring the search to a close. For this reason we encourage interested candidates to apply at the earliest possible time.

Candidates should send all the information requested below as a single email with a single PDF attachment to Search Associates:


with a cc to



  • A letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Head of School at the Alto International School.
  • A current résumé not to exceed two pages.
  • A one to two page statement outlining educational philosophy and leadership style.
  • A one-page list of references with phone numbers and E-mail addresses.
  • A maximum of three letters of reference (scanned at low resolution) that may already be in your possession.
  • Submission of your application is an acknowledgement that the school may contact references both listed and not listed who would know your professional background.


For further information about Alto International School see www.altoschool.org


Did You Know…?

Search Associates has 22 Senior Associates with offices around the globe, each bringing a wealth of experience in international education.