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Sep 17, 21
Oct 22, 21
The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK)
Seeks an experienced Secondary School Principal
Effective July 2022
Overview of TASOK – Then and Now...
The American School of Kinshasa was founded in 1961 through cooperation between a consortium of Christian Missionary organizations and the US Embassy in Kinshasa. Originally called The American School of Leopoldville (TASOL), TASOK was founded as a secular school offering a US style curriculum and instructional style with all teaching in English. In the earliest years the school was located on a compound near the Congo River controlled by the American Baptist Mission in Kinshasa. Within 4 years the student population outgrew the capacity of that site. The US Embassy negotiated a long-term lease with the DRC government for the current campus of 42 acres. However, the Missionary groups objected to US Embassy plans for a US style facility and the School Board voted for a simple construction based on Missionary buildings elsewhere in the country. Those buildings remain today in middle and high school and are now being transformed into energy saving forest classroom buildings.
The TASOK Constitution, which is the founding document of The American School Association of Kinshasa, is what ultimately runs TASOK. The Association includes all parents of TASOK students and all full time faculty. The Constitution outlines two goals: one, to maintain a school which provides instruction in English and offers a curriculum “approximating that which might be found in a representative American public school” and two, to enable “its students to take fullest advantage of the broadening opportunities deriving from its location” while still presenting the highest standards of an American education. For over 60 years TASOK has fulfilled this dual mission.
TASOK today is a far more diverse place than in the early days, students from over 38 nationalities are represented; we are truly an international community of learners. TASOK offers an American based education combined with the International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP, MYP, and DP Programs. TASOK is preparing now for its fifth accreditation visit from the Middle States Association (MSA), and first 5-year IBDP Self-study. Our population reflects the fact that the strong Christian missionary presence has diminished significantly with very few missionary students now attending. In the 30 years since the 1991 pillage that emptied TASOK, the school has grown more secular in character and has struggled to regain the population of nearly 600 for which the facility was constructed. Finally, most governments, NGOs, and now the UN have declared Kinshasa a family post due to our beautiful campus and rigorous programs. Our population of 315 plus students continues to grow each year.
Vision: Excellence, Integrity, and Inclusivity
Our Mission for Excellence: The American School of Kinshasa provides dynamic and individualized educational challenges and opportunities that promote diversity and empower each of its students to develop into independent global community leaders.
What we believe…
Learning at TASOK is both a personal and social activity
Individuals have different starting points and different interests. They will follow different learning pathways and will learn at varying paces. Learners attain understanding through regular reflection, self-assessment, and self-adjustment. In addition, it is often social interaction and collaboration, which stimulates a new direction in thinking. Articulating one’s own ideas clearly and allowing our ideas to be challenged leads us to deeper understanding.
Learning at TASOK engages and recognizes our emotions
We commit to engaging students in a positive manner and to creating an emotionally safe learning environment where they are challenged. We provide purposeful and fun learning activities that add joy to the process.
Learning at TASOK happens through providing authentic and transferable learning experiences
We strive for student learning that is authentic and contextual. All learning involves transfer from previous learning and placing students in new situations where they can apply their understanding. We strive to foster in our students the ability to make use of their learning in unfamiliar contexts, so they learn to resolve issues independently. We aim to help our students make connections within and across disciplines, leveraging technology when appropriate as a tool to enhance learning, and engaging in the wider community both locally and globally.
Learning at TASOK requires regular, timely, and user-friendly feedback
Clear and effective feedback focused on learning goals is necessary in order for individuals to demonstrate progress in learning and achieve high standards of excellence. Learners require opportunities to act on feedback in order to improve without penalty. Feedback focused on progress towards well-articulated standards and outcomes promotes learning.
Learning at TASOK happens with appropriate facilitation and modeling
The facilitation of learning is promoted in a rigorous, fun, and motivating environment where skills, understandings, and metacognitive practices are modeled frequently, inquiry-based opportunities are regularly implemented, and higher order thinking skills are developed through effective questioning. Modeling of who we are as thinkers and learners is important so that the process of our thinking is discussed, shared, and made visible.
The School’s current strategic plan was revised in 2021 with the following overarching areas:
- Academic Leadership and Development of Quality Educational Program
- Inclusive Community
- Recruiting, Developing and Retaining Quality Faculty and Staff
- Physical Infrastructure Development
- Financial Sustainability
The School and Curriculum
The Secondary School includes over 165 students from grades 6-12. The program at TASOK is aligned with the standards of the IB and MSA, to facilitate the mission and values of the school. The commitment to the International Baccalaureate Program is in full swing, and the school has done an excellent job in meeting the requirements for IB authorization in all 3 programs. Both the Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) received full authorization last fall. The Diploma Program has been in place for five years with the 5-year self-study taking place this year. The adoption of the rigorous standards of the IB Program represents a clear commitment to an international mindset, critical thinking, and academic excellence.
As part of continuous school improvement, TASOK follows an accreditation process with the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), based in the United States. TASOK remains fully accredited until 2023. This year the faculty are completing the required self-study as part of the accreditation renewal.
TASOK is a non-profit organization governed by an elected school board of 7 members, and two ex-officio members. All TASOK parents and all full time faculty are members of The American School of Kinshasa Association and are eligible to vote. Elected School Board members serve two-year terms. Each Board member is elected to a specific position on the Board. Candidates must choose and run for one specific position: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, US Government Representative, Missionary Representative, or Member at Large. In addition the Board includes two ex-officio, non-voting members, the US Ambassador’s Representative, and the TASOK Director.
Enrollment is currently 320 (Grades Pre-K to 12) representing over 38 nationalities. Of these, 165 are in Secondary School (Grades 6 - 12) and 155 in the Elementary School (Grades PreK-5). Enrollment has been increasing over the last few years and this trend is expected to continue. The parents of students largely work for various diplomatic missions, NGOs, and private business in Kinshasa.
TASOK hires faculty and staff that allow the school to fulfill the Mission and Vision for excellence. With the implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB), a further focus has been building capacity in our faculty to positively impact student learning aligned with the IB Curriculum. This school year, there are 45 full-time faculty members. The faculty represents a diverse group of qualified teachers including 26 U.S. citizens, 3 host-country nationals and 17 third-country nationals. All teaching staff are fully certified in the United States or their country of origin.
TASOK is privileged to occupy 42 acres of lush gardens and rainforest in the Ngaliema area of Kinshasa. TASOK has created a Botanical Garden on site with plants and trees representative of our region. The elementary school consists of 8 buildings, including the library and fallback room, a fully equipped playground, a tennis court, a basketball court, and a soccer field. The secondary school consists of 18 classrooms, a library, an administration building, and a sports area (including a swimming pool, a covered basketball court, 2 volleyball courts, and a soccer field). The Cultural Activities Center (CAC) is a free-standing building with the capacity to seat 300+ and also serves as the primary fallback room. This facility serves as the venue for performing arts, large meetings and cultural activities.
The American School of Kinshasa’s (TASOK) first priority is the safety and security of our students and staff. The use of TASOK’s facilities is aligned to that priority, and guidelines are established to protect the condition and integrity of our facilities along with limiting liability to the school through controlled access to non-TASOK use with effective COVID-19 measures in place. In addition, TASOK’s facility serves as home for 45 TASOK faculty and their children and the school is committed to the welfare and comfort of all its residents and community members. While TASOK facilities are safeguarded for the needs of our school community, there are times TASOK facilities and grounds may be made available for use or rent by outside agencies/groups. There are also times when the campus access may be limited due to ongoing development of our Master Plan, maintenance, and school events.
Beliefs about Communication
At TASOK, we believe that a strong home to school connection ultimately benefits the educational experience of our students. We value positive relationships and strive to be a friendly, close-knit and diverse community of learners. Good communication represents detailed information about what is happening at school and at home, ensuring that both sides take responsibility for the development of each student.
As a school, we commit to communicating:
- The academic IB curriculum and overall school program including teaching strategies, concepts and skills to be learned, and resources
- Upcoming events, learning within the classroom, daily schedules, classroom routines, expectations, and assessment plans for students
- Progress in learning for each student including transdisciplinary skills, areas of strength, and areas for development
- Strategies to help parents provide additional support for learning at home
- Opportunities for parents to get involved with the Parent-Teacher Committee (PTC), parent workshops, and as a room parent.
- Safety procedures and routines
THE SECONDARY SCHOOL
The Upper School program at TASOK serves students in Grades 6-12.
The school is committed to student well-being. In recent years the school has implemented a structured advisory program. There is now time built into the schedule and people with expertise to run the program. Work continues to ensure total teacher buy-in. There is a full time counselor working with secondary school students.
TASOK’s leadership team is strong and collaborative. The School is looking for a Secondary School Principal who wants to work closely with the Elementary School Principal to improve PreK-12 continuity of curriculum, approaches to learning, collaboration, and assessment.
As an IB World School, Service Learning is embedded in the Secondary School programs. It is valued by students, parents, and staff. Students have personal choice and elect projects and causes that they wish to be involved in. These are run through ManageBac, the CAS Coordinator, and service supervisors.
Kinshasa has a world-class music scene with plenty of opportunity to hear some of the best music in Africa. There is an interesting art scene as well and a variety of local crafts and artisans. Families and staff have recently been to see the Gorillas in Virunga National Park and climbed/camped out on the crater of the active volcano in the area around Goma. Other trips include camping, Zongo falls, and renting a boat to go to a sandbar on the Congo river for swimming and picnics.
Restaurants are numerous and delicious, from tasty Congolese dishes to European cuisine comparable to far more developed countries. Our TASOK sense of ‘Community’ continues to be the leading reason for families and staff continuing in Kinshasa.
The person we are looking for...
The successful candidate is compassionate and driven by values that are aligned with the TASOK vision, mission, and IB Learner Profile attributes. The Principal of the Secondary School has an invested interest in, and a vision for the future of education.
The Principal is the educational leader and administrative head of the Secondary School. As such, they have primary responsibility for overseeing the school’s programs to maximize student achievement in keeping with TASOK’s Mission and Vision, school board policies, approved IB curriculum, and directives. They report to and are evaluated annually on objectives established jointly with the Director.
Reports to: Director of School
Responsible for: Secondary teachers, SS Counselor, SS Support Team, MYP Coordinator, DP Coordinator, and SS Teaching Assistants.
FOR A DETAILED SECONDARY PRINCIPAL JOB DESCRIPTION - CLICK HERE
DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE
- At least 5 years in a leadership role in an international school, with a minimum of 2 years as a Principal or Vice Principal.
- A Masters degree in Educational Leadership or similar.
- Valid Principal Credentials.
- Leadership experience with an inquiry-based curriculum and the IB Diploma.
- Experience leading curriculum mapping.
- Excellent interpersonal skills and written communication skills.
- Open-minded, innovative, flexible and excited to live in, and share school leadership in a close-knit community.
Compensation and Benefits
TASOK offers an initial contract term of two years (renewable). The salary for the Secondary School Principal is commensurate with the responsibilities of the position and is competitive. Other benefits for the position include international medical insurance for the principal and authorized dependents, retirement contribution, professional development allowance, flights home annually for principal and authorized dependents, comfortably furnished housing subject to family size, use of a school vehicle, and household utilities.
The deadline for applications is October 22, 2021. Candidates are requested to submit a letter of interest and the requested materials listed below as early as possible, as the search team reserves the right to close the selection process at any time if the right candidate is found. The Director and SLT will conduct initial interviews as applications are received. A committee of staff and students will interview finalists via Zoom in mid-October. The new Secondary School Principal will be selected after two days of virtual interviews with the community and reference checks. The new principal will start in July of 2022.
The American School of Kinshasa will only accept applications from candidates who have confidential recommendations through a recognized recruiting service.
Candidates should send the information listed below to email@example.com as a single pdf file <4MB attached to an email.
- A letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Secondary Principal position at TASOK. The letter should indicate the agency which has your confidential references.
- A statement describing your management and education meetings).
- An overview of your educational philosophy, not to exceed two pages.
- A current résumé, not to exceed two pages.
Job related experience and knowledge:
- Successful track record as a Secondary Principal or Vice Principal (preferably international teaching)
- Successful track record as a Secondary Teacher (preferably international teaching)
- Previous experience as a team leader or manager (Principal or Assistant Principal preferred)
- Extensive knowledge and profound expertise in best practice of instruction and assessment
- Expertise in coaching and mentoring staff; with the delivery of professional development preferred
Areas of focus for the new Secondary School Principal are:
- Continue, reinforce, and celebrate the great work that has been done and that is going on in the Secondary School.
- Develop instructional leadership in the Secondary School team.
- Provide leadership in the continued development of Student Support Services to make the school more inclusive.
- Work collaboratively with the Elementary School Principal to ensure a smoother transition from the Elementary School to the Secondary School in terms of curriculum, assessment and expectations.
- Ensure that consistency in programs prepares students well for the IB Diploma.
- Recruit and retain excellent Secondary School teachers.
Contact Dr. Daniel Mullen, TASOK Director, with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org