Head of School at International School of Florence in Italy
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Head of School
International School of Florence (Italy)

Appointed - Sharyn Baddeley
Sep 8, 2021
Oct 1, 2021



Dear Search Colleagues,

On behalf of the Board of Directors at the International School of Florence, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Sharyn Baddeley as the next Head of School beginning in August 2022.  She is currently serving as the Head of The International Bilingual School in Beijing, China.  Her appointment has been shared with the ISF school community.

The following is an excerpt from the community announcement made by the Board Chair and the Head of the Search Committee:

Dear ISF Community,

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are happy to announce that Sharyn Baddeley will be the new Head of School of the International School of Florence beginning August 2022.

Sharyn is currently the Head of The International Bilingual School in Beijing, China where there are 1800 day and boarding students and 460 staff members. Sharyn's Diploma of Education and Masters in Educational Leadership is from Victoria University in Australia and she has certifications in Advanced Management from Harvard University, and in all phases of the International Baccalaureate Programme.

Sharyn is married with three grown up children and her husband Bruce teaches IB Sports Science and History.

The Board also wishes to thank all members of the ISF community for their active participation in the Head of School search process.

Search Associates would like to thank all of the candidates who applied for this highly sought position and to everyone who assisted and supported the successful search process for the International School of Florence.


Dr. Gunther Brandt, Senior Search Consultant

Dr. Eric Sands, Senior Search Consultant



International School of Florence

Florence, Italy 

seeks a 


Head of School

Effective date August 1, 2022


The School and Community


Embodying almost 70 years of tradition, the International School of Florence (ISF) is one of the oldest international schools in Europe.  ISF is an independent, non-profit, co-educational, college preparatory day school for students in grades PS-12, with a wide offering of programs across academic subjects, the arts and athletics, in a community that celebrates the dignity and worth of every individual.  



ISF is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS), Middle States Association (MSA), and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). The school is governed by a thirteen-member Board of Directors to whom the Head of School is responsible. 




ISF students represent over 44 nationalities.  The school has two campuses, one in the Tuscan countryside near Florence that houses the Junior school, with approximately 220 students.  The other in a 13th-century Florentine villa in the beautiful oltrarno section of the city where the middle and high schools are located, with approximately 350 students. Oversubscribed and enjoying a strong reputation amongst the international and local communities, ISF’s Florentine location is central to its identity as Florence continues to be a city of global significance. As such, the school has unmatched opportunities for the city to act as both its campus and curriculum and students joining the school for any length of time have unique learning opportunities. In response to continued demand and in order to modernize its learning environments, ISF has begun the search for a unified and expanded campus; growth, both literally and metaphorically, will shape its immediate future.


ISF Faculty come from more than 14 different countries. Over 75% are bi- or tri- lingual. All are experts in their field and committed to our mission of providing a caring learning environment, while engaging and challenging students to reach their best.  ISF is fully accredited both by the Council of International Schools and the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges. ISF is also authorized to offer the IB Primary Years and Diploma Programs.


The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program was introduced in 1983 and ISF currently offers the International Baccalaureate Organization’s Primary Years Program in Preschool through grade

  5 with an integrated Italian equivalency program (grades 1 through 8). Our DP results have been well above the international average for the past several years and our graduates go on to study at some of the best colleges and universities in Italy, Europe, and North America.   

ISF is guided by a mostly parental self-perpetuating volunteer Board of Directors that has committed the school to an ambitious redirection as expressed in the innovative and progressive Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan. The Board recognizes that the social and educational landscape is shifting and sees this as an opportunity to employ thought leaders to guide the school on a path of meaningful education in the 21st century.


ISF draws inspiration from the IB Learner Profile which is serendipitously grounded in the humanist values that made Florence the center of a rebirth of thought in science, the arts, and all that encompasses humanist studies today.  ISF strives to embody the Renaissance spirit in its guiding principles and uses its innovative teacher-led Research Program to reflect on what educating for the future means in the classroom today.  ISF strives to provide its students with an educational experience that will well prepare them for a meaningful life as global citizens and empathetic agents of responsible change.

ISF has the strength, stability and confidence to continue on the path to enhance the provision of a student experience that is culturally rich, intellectually stimulating, inclusive and research-led. 

International School of Florence Mission:

A laboratory for learning where we collaborate to add meaning to a shared future 

International School of Florence Vision:

We aspire to build communities of creative makers and doers 


Internationally-minded, uniquely Florentine 

Strategic Plan updated in 2018 


Cultivate growth through a meaningful and inspiring learning experience

  • Provide relevant innovative methods of student and professional learning consistent with inquiry 

  • Empower students to take ownership of their learning experiences 

  • Ensure that student wellbeing is at the core of our practices

  • Promote and honor home language learning in recognition of our unique identities

  • Embrace, foster, and promote diversity within our community 

  • Draw upon the unmatched learning opportunities of Florence

  • Recognize the impact of our actions on our interdependent world and promote a culture of solidarity



Develop constituencies for change 

  • Develop a culture of participation to define the direction of the change demanded by our Mission and Vision

  • Ensure regular and purposeful communication regarding changes and their benefits



Communicate and reflect our unique, shared identity and connect effectively with local and international partners 

  • Communicate our shared identity effectively

  • Develop a strategic marketing plan that addresses the aspirations of the school 

  • Cultivate dynamic relationships with local, national, and global partners



Further a virtuous culture of leadership and governance 

  • Ensure that whole-school structures and systems continue to reflect evolving international best practices

  • Ensure that roles and responsibilities continue to be clear 

  • Harmonize internal strategies with external obligations 

  • Implement frameworks of self-and collaborative appraisal



Build sustainable financial and risk frameworks to ensure achievement of strategic intents

  • Implement and monitor a long-range budgeting process

  • Ensure the cost efficient use of available resources

  • Support the development of a variety of income streams

  • Ensure that risk is effectively monitored and managed

  • Ensure that all financial and risk management strategies and actions remain consistent with the Mission and Vision


Curriculum and Learning at the International School of Florence

The Junior School Program at the International School of Florence develops children’s understanding of the world through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. Our program promotes the development of mathematical and language literacy as well as curiosity in the sciences and social studies through relevant and engaging units of inquiry. Technology and library lessons are integrated into their learning. A love for the creative and performing arts, together with physical exercise, is fostered by specialist teachers who work collaboratively with classroom teachers, enabling students to make transdisciplinary connections to their learning across the curriculum. Learning is enhanced throughout the year through integrated activities and trips in our local Florentine environment.  Students learning English as an Additional Language are offered support by our English as an Additional Language (EAL) services. Students are encouraged to learn our host country’s language and culture through daily Italian instruction. An integrated Italian equivalency program is offered for our host country students who wish to meet the requirements of the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione.

The Middle School Program at ISF provides a framework for academic challenge and social/emotional development for students aged 11 – 14 years. Subjects are taught as distinct areas, with interdisciplinary exploration and learning beyond the classroom woven into the school year. Students explore the arts through Music, Visual Arts and Theater classes, and expand their information and digital literacy through the integration of research skills and technology in the classroom. Well-being is supported through weekly small group meetings, as well as Physical Education and Health. All students study three languages throughout Middle School, according to their language levels and preferences. Italian national students may choose to follow the Italian ministerial program, studying History, Geography and Mathematics in Italian, in preparation for a culminating external exam.

The High School Program at ISF aims to develop the whole child, while also preparing students for academic success in universities around the world.  In our Pre-IB Programme, in grades 9 and 10, students take a range of courses: English, Italian, Mathematics, History, Information and Communications Technology, Physical Education and Health, and three pure sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) in rotation. There is a choice of studying a third language, either French or Spanish, or taking Art and Music.  An important part of High School life is our Pre-CAS program, where we introduce students to community service through projects both in and outside school. Students take part in thematically focused assemblies on a variety of life topics.  In grades 11 and 12 students study for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, a rigorous academic program which prepares them for further study at university. 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a demanding and rigorous two-year program leading to examinations for the academically motivated student in Grades 11 and 12. In 1984, ISF became the 308th school to offer the IBDP and since that time nearly 2,600 schools in over 140 countries have adopted it.

The IBDP is designed to facilitate admission to universities worldwide and earning an IB Diploma is usually the only path to European universities available to international students. For students applying to American universities, enrolling in IBDP courses can enhance university acceptance, while earning the Diploma may lead to university course credit and/or advanced placement. It should be noted that all courses in 11th and 12th Grade at ISF are IB Diploma classes, although students are not obliged to pursue an IB Diploma. Students may choose to sit for individual examinations in order to earn subject certificates rather than the full Diploma.

At ISF, we are committed to educating the whole person. A wide array of extracurricular opportunities gives students of all ages the possibility to try new things, develop their individual  interests and discover their passion. Qualified professionals, most of whom are our own teachers, offer activities every day to encourage creativity and promote curiosity and self-expression. Whether they are honing their public speaking skills, throwing clay or practicing arpeggios, our students are always on the move! 

The Junior School Campus

The Junior School, for students in grades Early Years to Grade 5, is located in Villa le Tavernule in Bagno a Ripoli, about a 20 minute drive from the center of Florence. The villa was restored to accommodate classrooms, specialist areas, the Eli Emery Computer Room, the Horace W. Gibson Aula Magna and the Paul Burke-Mahoney Library. The formal garden has a breath-taking view of the Tuscan countryside. The rural setting of this campus makes it easy to incorporate nature studies into its Units of Inquiries from the PYP Program. This campus has an all weather sports field, two playgrounds and a specially equipped and surfaced play area for the Preschool and Foundation classes.



The Upper School Campus

The Middle and High Schools are housed in Villa Torri di Gattaia, a five minute walk from the famed Piazzale Michelangelo with its unique view over the city of Florence. The villa is immersed in the nearby countryside and is just 10 minutes from the historical center of Florence. The villa is situated in a setting of formal gardens and its facilities include a covered terrace/lunch room, an Aula Magna, classrooms, the science wing, the art studio, and a two-tiered, wireless access library. A large sports complex, located off campus at approximately 5kms.




The Setting



Florence, Italy is located in the central region of Tuscany. One of the most beautiful cities in the world known for its rich history dating back to the Medieval and Renaissance period. Some of the greatest minds such as Dante, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and Machiavelli worked and lived in Florence. The city is home to world renowned  masterpieces of Art to which people from all over the world travel to see and appreciate. Florence is the capital of Tuscany and has a population of approximately 500,000. The Arno River separates the Northern side of the city with the Southern part and is surrounded by rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards. Florence continues its rich tradition of Artisans still today whilst adapting to the modern world with the introduction of  a variety of international restaurants, artists and community projects from around the world  as well as being positioned as one of the leading fashion hubs in Europe.   



Profile of Head of School, International School of Florence 


ISF is embarked on an ambitious journey that seeks to combine crucial elements of learning, school-based research to enhance the fullness of learning, and the purposeful development of the strategic plan adopted in 2019. Hallmarks of the school’s ethos are collaborative reflection, a deep commitment to multiple learning opportunities for students, and its belief that innovative progress is shaped by common endeavors. The Board of Trustees is fully committed to this ethos and its reflection in the Strategic Plan, teachers are passionate about this commitment to learning and leadership, and the community is choosing ISF for its belief in going beyond academic learning to developing the whole person –independent thinkers, internationally-minded, and thoughtful in values and decisions.


The next Head of School of the International School of Florence ( ISF ) will have the ambition, capacity, and experience to continue and strengthen the school’s innovative vision. Given recent turnover in leadership positions, it is essential for the next Head of School to build relationships with the newly appointed Interim Head and recently selected Principals, and to further develop the implementation of educational and strategic goals through a collaborative commitment and process.


ISF is seeking an internationally experienced Learning Leader with the demonstrated ability to build relationships and confidence across the full spectrum of the school’s community, effectively implement and communicate the existing vision and strategic plan, and ensure a systematic approach to school leadership and operations.



  •  Experienced pedagogical leader familiar with current research in best practices in international teaching and learning
  • Understanding of IB Programs with experience in IB World Schools
  • Familiarity with accreditation models ( CIS, MSA, IB )
  • Focused on students as independent learners, as well as experience with creative uses of the Florentine environment for learning
  • Effectively lead learning while addressing operational systems and challenges
  • Is passionate and ambitious about the visionary path the school is on


  •  Authentic communicator- transparent, organized, and open to all contributions
  • Empathetic and engaged listener
  • Familiar with the use of a wide range of communication tools and platforms
  • Able to communicate effectively with all constituents within the school and in the wider market


  •  Highly organized and able to delegate effectively
  • Experienced in shaping performance expectations and accountability
  • Ensures that the Strategic Plan is effectively executed in close co-operation with the Board and, as appropriate, other relevant partners
  • Proven record in areas of policy and regulations, financial and budgetary planning, and data management systems


  •  Experience in faculty and staff recruitment, development, and performance accountability aligned with the school’s mission
  • Approaches employee support and motivation by promoting team work across all segments of the community
  • Ensures that support and an effective program of orientation is available for all new members of the staff
  • Has experience with data and privacy regulations as well as the proper use of human resources within a local regulatory setting
  • Ensure that child protection protocols and regulations are followed


Successful candidates will have the following qualifications:

  •  Demonstrated knowledge of current best practices in international pedagogy and innovation
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience as a leader in international schools, practiced understanding of IB Programs
  • Leadership experience in European Schools is highly desirable
  • Relevant university credentials in an academic field and a graduate degree in leadership is highly desirable


  •  Strategic thinker with high energy and organizational skills, plans proactively
  • Caring and firm leader, visibly present in the life of the school
  • Analytical about priorities aligned with strategic objectives
  • Embraces and celebrates multicultural diversity
  • Has excellent understanding of governance and productively utilizes the Board-Head relationship
  • Has experience in managing change and conflict
  • Astute manager of resources, financial and budgetary
  • Demonstrated skills in building a cohesive culture of trust based on open and respectful relationships 


  •  Empathetic listener, open-minded; sees value in diverse views
  • Passionate about schools and leadership
  • Deeply values relationships
  • Resolute and resilient
  • Values-driven, integrity
  • Confident and inspiring, yet grounded with “can-do” mindset


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 and professional development opportunities. Salary considerations and length of contract will be detailed during the interview process.


ISF has appointed Search Associates to facilitate the search with Dr. Gunther Brandt and Dr. Eric Sands serving as the Senior consultant.  The deadline for applications is October 1, 2021. However, candidates should note that the search committee will begin reviewing applications as soon as they are received from Search Associates. In the event an outstanding applicant is identified early in the search process, ISF reserves the right to make an appointment before the deadline. For this reason, it is essential that interested candidates apply as soon as possible. For further information about ISF, please visit the website at http://www.isfitaly.org/

Candidates who wish to apply should submit the information requested below in the form and manner requested.

  • A letter of application, no longer than two pages, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Head of School position at the International School of Florence.
  • A current resume not to exceed two pages.
  • A one-page list of at least four references who have directly supervised the performance of the candidate with the current phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • A maximum of four letters of recommendation which you may already have in your possession.

Candidates should send the requested information in a single PDF attachment.

Please send all materials to Dr. Gunther Brandt at: gbrandt@searchassociates.com and Dr. Eric Sands at: esands@searchassociates.com

We reserve the right to close the search earlier than the stated application deadline if a suitable and qualified candidate is found early in the process.  Interested applicants should submit all required materials as early as possible.


Please note that we will not forward-on candidates for further consideration by the hiring school/organization if a candidate is under contract or otherwise encumbered in such a way that would preclude them from freely entering into a new employment contract, if offered, and being available for the start date stipulated by the hiring organization.  Search Associates will contact the current employer/supervisor to request completion of a Search Associates Confidential Leadership Reference Form for all Applicants who emerge in the search as a Finalist.

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Diana Kerry was an international educator and administrator for 25 years in various countries, including Iran, France, Thailand, and Indonesia.