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Appointed - Mr. John Smithies
Nov 17, 2021
Jan 15, 2022
Dear Search Colleagues,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the American International School Dhaka and the Search Committee, we are pleased to announce that Mr. John Smithies has been appointed Superintendent beginning in August of 2023.
Mr. Smithies has dedicated the past two decades of professional service to the international school community. John is currently the Deputy Head of School at the American School of Bombay in Mumbai, India where he also had an extended tenure as the Elementary School Principal (2013-2021). John served as the Lower School Assistant Principal at the American School of London (2002-2013) and began his international career as the Middle School Computer Coordinator at the American School in London.
Mr. Smithies earned his Bachelor of Education at Tasmanian State Institute of Technology in Tasmania, Australia and his Master of Education at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia.
The Board of Trustees of the American International School Dhaka, the Search Committee, and Search Associates would like to thank all candidates who expressed interest in the Superintendent position and to everyone who assisted and supported the successful search process.
Norma Hudson and Brent Mutsch
The American International School Dhaka
Seeks a New Head of School
effective July 2023
AISD creates an academic and social environment based on American educational principles. We challenge students from an international community to achieve their potential, become life-long learners and contribute to a changing global society.
We are a compassionate, caring and diverse community.
We act with integrity and respect.
We embrace creativity and balance.
We are proud of our diversity and willingness to collaborate.
We hold each other accountable to these values.
Founded in 1972, the American International School Dhaka (AISD), is an independent, college preparatory, not for profit organization, offering an international education founded on research and best practice and facilitated by an enthusiastic, caring and passionate faculty. The program promotes the academic potential, multicultural understanding, environmental awareness, as well as the physical and social development of each student.
With a student population of more than 400 students across the elementary and secondary divisions, AISD is accredited by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Council of International Schools and the International Baccalaureate Organization. It is governed by a self-perpetuating nine-member Board of Trustees. Students’ parents are typically professionals serving with various embassies, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The school community proudly includes thirty-six nationalities.
AISD’s Pre-kindergarten to Grade 5 Elementary School Program is driven and guided by both the school's Mission Statement with a curriculum designed to prepare students to become stewards of a just and sustainable world. Utilizing the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) the Elementary School focuses on the total growth of the developing child including social, physical and emotional needs in addition to academic and intellectual development. Teachers work collaboratively, planning units of study that integrate concepts and topics so students can make links across subject areas.
The school is dedicated to a student-centered education in which students are encouraged to celebrate cultural diversity, share their knowledge and understanding with others, pursue personal aspirations and set challenging goals. Teachers empower students to develop confidence and personal responsibility while concurrently students are encouraged to take risks in their learning, to reflect on their work and to develop the imagination and motivation to meet their own needs to be global citizens.
AISD uses curriculum standards and benchmarks to create units that are challenging, relevant and engaging. The main source is the AERO standards supplemented for Pre-kindergarten, PE, library and technology based on American and international curricula emphasizing learning how to learn, thus preparing students for a lifetime of learning, independently and in collaboration with others.
The AISD Secondary School consists of Grades 6-12. It is committed to the realization of students' potential through a holistic program, differentiated instruction and recognized international standards of achievement. The major elements of the Secondary School are the core curriculum, the exploratory program and electives, the grade level advisory teams, the student support services and the extra-curricular program. These components reinforce the AISD mission statement and provide a learning environment that supports and nurtures the development of early adolescents. AISD promotes the development of informed, creative and critically thinking individuals by supporting an environment that provides the highest standards of education based on the principles of American education and the IB Learner Profile.
The Secondary School offers students a variety of learning opportunities outside of the classroom setting. Students have the opportunity to compete in volleyball, soccer, basketball, swimming, badminton and track and field. In addition, students are encouraged to participate in after-school activities such as Global Initiatives Network, Model United Nations, National Honor Society and activities/clubs created and offered by faculty. (AISD is a member of the 11 school SAISA Conference which coordinates academic and cultural festivals and athletic tournaments within the South Asia region.) Each grade level takes part in a week-long class trip in the region. Class trips are designed to emphasize both an adventure and service component. Service learning is integrated into the curriculum and is organized through classes and through grade level advisory teams. This is an essential part of the AISD school experience and is a requirement to earn an AISD Diploma.
AISD graduates regularly attend their top choice university throughout the world; one-third of them attend universities in the United States.
A World Class Learning Environment
AISD is situated on a 4.5-acre site within the Baridhara Diplomatic Zone of Dhaka. All indoor and instructional spaces, including the gymnasiums, are fully air-conditioned There are 60 classrooms in modern, spacious, western-style buildings. AISD school has two libraries, four computer laboratories, six science laboratories, two gymnasiums (one with a climbing wall), and a large fitness center. The entire campus has full internet access. As part of an indoor air quality initiative, AISD recently updated the air filtration system to reduce indoor PM2.5 air pollutants with a reduction goal of 70% cleaner air than the outdoors.
AISD's facilities provide students with an environment that supports a well-rounded education and a healthy campus life. The campus incorporates a state-of-the-art performing arts center, art and music facilities, a clinic staffed by medical personnel (including an American trained and certified doctor), counseling offices, student center, coffee shop, cafeteria and more. Facilities include a covered 25-meter heated swimming pool, a tennis court, two playgrounds and an athletic field. Parents of enrolled students are welcome to use the campus facilities.
Opportunities and Challenges for the Next Head of School
The next AISD Head of School will have the opportunity to lead a school with an excellent reputation serving an engaged and supportive community that persevered through the challenges of recent years. The school is known as the community center for its families and warmly opens its doors to all school families. AISD benefits from a strong financial base and is debt free. The classrooms are well resourced, technology is abundant and special care has been given to recruit highly qualified faculty. The School Board operates as a strategic oversight governing body for AISD.
The AISD community seeks a leader who is visible and approachable while managing the varying demands of a highly active and involved school community. Thinking strategically, the next Head of School must evaluate potential for growth in services offered. In addition, the next Head of School should have an interest in building the school's endowment and engaging its alumni. AISD is fortunate to have a high-quality academic program and the next leader will be expected to strengthen the academic experience for each student.
Life in Dhaka
Living in Dhaka provides educators with opportunities to experience and celebrate ancient, diverse cultural traditions; explore a country rich with lush tea plantations, mangrove forests, and archeological sites; and develop and gain a further appreciation for South Asian language, history, cuisine, and culture. Graduating early into middle income status, Bangladesh has a burgeoning youth population (roughly 60% of the country) eager to move beyond the early decades of extreme poverty. While traffic congestion persists, Bangladesh is also one of the largest Muslim-majority democracies in the world with a growing educated middle class. Bangladeshis are warm and hospitable hosts. They are justly proud of their rich cultural traditions and visitors enjoy frequent music and dance performances, river trips in the most fertile country in the world, visits to river markets, fine craftsmanship, delicious local cuisine and colorful local culture. Those with an adventurous spirit and readiness to engage with the people and culture of Bangladesh will find it to be a rewarding and enriching life experience.
As the hub of the community, AISD hosts events in the evenings and weekends: plays, concerts, sports, after school or adult education activities. Although Dhaka is one of the largest cities in the world, many expats note its small-town feel, which is enhanced by the neighborhood environment of Baridhara and adjacent communities in which most school families reside. Opportunities for volunteering abound and its community have big hearts and give newcomers a warm welcome.
Dhaka’s location is good for getaways to popular tourist destinations like Thailand, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Laos or Vietnam, while its warm, seasonal climate means it is possible to swim at Christmas and play softball in January.
Anyone who is community minded, culturally curious and flexible will enjoy living in Dhaka. Even more importantly, s/he will enjoy working at AISD.
Most of the school population lives in what is termed “the diplomatic enclave”, which comprises a quiet gated community with large parks and empty streets as well as two gastronomically rich, bustling neighborhoods nestled in the northern part of the capital city. This enclave has enough variety to satisfy any lifestyle. Infrastructure in this area is appreciably better than in other areas of the city and country. School families generally reside in spacious apartments within a walk or short drive from the school, though traffic can be congested at certain times of the day. There are many restaurants, local markets and western-style supermarkets nearby in the area. Health care in Dhaka has improved significantly over the past several years. Although most school families choose to have major medical procedures in either Bangkok or Singapore, there are excellent doctors and modern hospitals in Dhaka. AISD has an association with a local hospital and runs an on-campus clinic staffed by a U.S. trained and certified doctor.
The challenges of life in Dhaka come in the form of poor air quality during winter months, mosquitoes carrying diseases like Dengue, and traffic, which makes navigating the city during peak hours burdensome. The school mitigates these in several ways. It provides apartments and school facilities, which are well ventilated and include air filtration technology to reduce exposure to harmful particulate matter in the air. Apartments also are well sealed to ensure mosquitoes do not enter, and mosquito nets are provided. Finally, living near the school and in an area with amenities abound allows folks to avoid traffic in daily commutes and for most typical evening and weekend activities.
Candidate Profile: Characteristics, Experience and Qualifications Sought in the New Head of School
Leadership and Management
Good management skills and strong leadership are necessary to provide an efficient and effective operation. AISD is fortunate to have competent and dedicated teachers and administrators who thrive with able leadership. The new Head of School will need to build on the strong foundation of a good school yet be innovative and creative in continuing to guide the school on an upward course.
Leadership at AISD is defined as possessing genuine passion for and commitment to the mission and vision of the school, “Challenging students to become life-long learners to contribute to a changing global society as stewards of a just and sustainable world.”
Experience and Qualifications
Experience in senior management positions in other international schools, especially in developing countries, is expected, with points of emphasis including:
- Demonstrating a strong record of recruiting and retaining quality teachers and supporting professional development
- Having experience with IB programs
- Understanding curriculum development across both school divisions
- Understanding the use of modern technology for learning and institutional enhancement
- Demonstrating experience in leading and managing a school through a crisis while understanding the next steps to ensure a strong and positive learning-focused culture
- Promoting a shared common vision and direction for the school
- Being approachable and visible
- Demonstrating both long-term and short-term financial acumen
- Being familiar with facility development and maintenance
- Being willing to make a long-term commitment to the school.
- Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Education or equivalent
- Minimum five (5) years senior leadership experience in an international school
- Experience and knowledge of AERO and Common Core standards
- Leadership and teaching experience in at least one of the IB programs
- Experience developing budgets, long-term financial planning and higher-level financial oversight
- Demonstrated experience incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion principles in an international school’s program, operations and community
- Ability to successfully work with students, staff, parents and other stakeholders within a multicultural environment.
The compensation package will be attractive and commensurate with the candidate’s experience and skills.
In the interest of identifying the best candidates for this position the AISD School Board has partnered with Search Associates to assist in this process with Dr. Brent Mutsch and Dr. Norma Hudson serving as the Search consultants. The application deadline is January 15, 2022 with interviews scheduled for January and February 2022 and the appointment of the new Head of School in March 2022. The new Head of School will begin her/his duties in late July 2023.
Interested candidates should apply as soon as possible. Screening will start as soon as applications are received. Please note that the School Board reserves the right---in the event that a truly superior candidate emerges early in the search process--to shorten the search and to make an earlier appointment. For this reason, it is important for interested candidates to apply in a timely manner.
Interested candidates should submit an application to include the following elements:
- A letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Head of School’s position at the American International School Dhaka;
- A current résumé not to exceed 2 pages, addressing the preferred qualifications;
- A one to two page statement of educational philosophy;
- A one-page list of at least three references with phone numbers and E-mail addresses. (At least two of the referees must have supervised the applicant. The other referees may be peers or educators that the applicant has supervised.)
- A maximum of three letters of reference (scanned at low resolution) that may already be in your possession is not a requirement but may be included in the application.
Candidates should email this information as a single PDF attachment to both Dr. Brent Mutsch (email@example.com) and Dr. Norma Hudson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Candidates wishing to learn more about the American International School Dhaka should visit the school website at www.aisdhaka.org