Upper School Principal at International School of Florence in Italy
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Upper School Principal
International School of Florence (Italy)

Appointed - Dr. Carey Killen
Feb 13, 2023
Mar 6, 2023



Dear Search Associates Colleagues,

On behalf of the International School of Florence (ISF) community, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Carey Killen as the next Upper School Principal at the International School of Florence, Florence, Italy beginning in August 2023.  She is currently serving as the Principal at South Eugene High School, Eugene School District 4J, in Eugene, Oregon.  In her recent message to the ISF school community, Head of School, Sharyn Baddeley wrote the following about Dr. Killen’s candidacy:

I am delighted that we have successfully completed the selection process for the Upper School Principal. There was a strong field of high caliber candidates making a decision to find the best fit very difficult. Carey’s experience and knowledge is a perfect match for ISF. We are grateful for all candidates whom applied and very excited for the future ahead.

The international search was conducted by Search Associates, which specializes in the field of education, and was overseen by the ISF Upper School Principal Search Committee with input from a broad array of community stakeholders inclusive of teachers, parents, students, administrators and support staff.   Due to her professional and personal qualities, as well as her broad administrative and curricular experiences, Dr. Killen was selected from a large group of qualified applicants.

Dr. Killen has ten years of secondary school administrative experience as Assistant Principal and Principal in the Eugene School District 4J, as well as Principal experience in Prairie Mountain School, Bethel School District, Eugene Oregon. She has in-depth knowledge of the International Baccalaureate program as a result of her position as IB Diploma Program Coordinator at Bend High School, Bend, Oregon and as an IB/AP Spanish Instructor at Beaverton School District, Beaverton, Oregon and Bend-La Pine School District, Bend, Oregon.   She earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Oregon and she has a Masters in Spanish Language and Cultures from the University of Salamanca Cursos Internacionales, Salamanca, Spain. 

She is well aware of the strengths of the Upper School at ISF, and she will continue to develop and grow these strengths over the coming years. For Dr. Killen, the well-being and best possible development of each and every student is paramount. She is looking forward to engaging fully in supporting staff, students, and families at ISF in the years ahead.

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 Upper School Principal at the International School of Florence.


Dr. Lana Al-Aghbar, Senior Consultant

Dr. Eric Sands, Senior Consultant






seeks a 

Upper School Principal (Grades 6-Grade 12)

Effective date August 21, 2023


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.

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 multilingual. 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.   

The Board of Directors

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.

Teaching and Learning

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. 


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


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/lunchroom, 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.  



The Upper School Principal serves as the educational and community leader for ISF’s US division which has approximately 320 students.  The principal ensures that everyday school activity supports ISF’s mission and philosophy, oversees curriculum development and implementation, and maintains a partnering relationship among students, parents, and teachers.  The US organizational structure is focused on teams (Wellbeing & Academic) and all members work towards the same goals and vision of the Division. Working closely with the Head of School and Junior School Principal the Principal will use their Transformational leadership skills to continue the growth and advancement of the school.


  •  Oversee the day-to-day function of all US programs to fulfil the school’s mission and philosophy.
  • To lead, motivate and supervise staff in effective implementation of academic and administrative policies of the school.
  • Coordinate the IB MYP accreditation application.
  • Lead and coordinate the CIS accreditation process for whole school.
  • Lead and oversee the on-going development, implementation, and management of ISF’s unique bilingual/bicultural curriculum.
  • Supervise, oversee, and analyse learning and assessment outcomes and make recommendations for improvement, ensure successful development of every student.
  • Collaborate with the US Leadership team, working with them to suggest strategies to continuously enhance performance and welfare of the staff, and appraise/evaluate US teachers according to the school’s Professional Expectations Process.
  • Liaise with and support the Dean of Student’s and Vice Principal of Curriculum to ensure programs are running effectively and efficiently.
  • Liaising with the Timetabler with staff allotments in conjunction with the VP and Heads of Department.
  • Working with the Heads of Department on staff allocations.
  • Work with Curriculum leaders and Head of School on Professional Development in-school sessions.
  • Liaise with the JS Principal to ensuring cohesion and consistency in procedures, programs and curriculum across all grades.
  • Sustain and develop the culture of learning, collaboration, and professional self- improvement among the US for the primary purpose of promoting the education of the whole child.
  • Work closely with the Head of School and report issues and concerns daily within the school.
  • Foster the mindfulness and wellbeing (Lifeskills) program within the school, ensuring dedicated timetable time allocated for each grade level.
  • Ensure emergency processes are followed.
  • Develop and implement annual school division objectives focused on continuous improvement and aligned with the ISF Strategic Plan.
  • Lead and Coordinate Curriculum Verification or Authentication visits (IB, CIS).
  • Working alongside the IB Coordinator‘s & VP of Curriculum to monitor student performance on a regular basis and use the information to guide the further development of action plans focused on improving student learning.
  • Make specific recommendations Head of School for instruction, taking into consideration current educational research and practices as well as specific Divisional school needs.
  • Actively participate in consultation and decision-making regarding student admissions and progression.
  • Work cooperatively with other administrative colleagues to plan and support ECC-12 initiatives and programs.
  • Support and implement child protection practices in the school.
  • Support a wide range of co-curricular activities.
  • Maintain safety measures and security processes within the school.
  • Liaise with Head of School to ensure relevant policies and processes are updated and consistent with growth of the school.
  • Maintain staff professional standards.
  • Represent ISF to students, parents, faculty, staff, and the broader school community in a professional manner.
  • Recognize and strengthen personal performance through feedback and self-reflection, participation in professional development activities.
  • Liaise with various groups (such as the PTA, School Board, Divisional Leaders and members of the school’s administrative staff) to ensure that a positive and productive working relationship is sustained.
  • Representing the US division to the school community and the community at large, promote a welcoming environment for members of the community including students, teachers, parents, and visitors.
  • In conjunction with the Head of School & Finance Director monitor annual academic budget and oversee expenditures, develop strategic plan and annual plan in accordance with the direction and strategy of the school.
  • Lead the IT team across the whole school.
  • Participating in branding and marketing of the school and activities related to student admission.
  • Participate in all Open House, Information sessions and School Fair events.
  • Any other duties as assigned by the Head of School.


  • Are aligned with the vision, mission of ISF.
  • Collaborative, respectful, and responsible.
  • Are a transformational leader, that is empathetic and caring.
  • Are experienced with change management.
  • Passion and commitment to the aims and objectives of the School .
  • Are skilled in educational leadership and are able to inspire others.
  • Have the awareness and ability to make reforms.
  • Are committed to ensuring high standards of teaching and learning.
  • Have high level expectations for students and faculty.
  • Are organised, efficient and clear in thought.
  • Are internationally-minded.
  • Are able to deal with challenging situations.
  • Are approachable with a sense of humor.
  • Are calm and composed.
  • Are innovative, flexible, and patient.
  • Are technologically adept.
  • Are capable of managing resources and a budget.


  • Experience in leading a prominent Upper school division or institution.
  • Teaching certificate/qualification, administrator credential, and advanced degree (MEd, PhD) in education.
  • Extensive understanding of and experience with bilingual education.
  • Demonstrated a track record of strong leadership in creation and motivation of a collaborative working environment with shared vision and objectives.
  • Experience in successfully supervising and supporting teachers in the development of school programs and excellence in teaching.
  • Experience in managing enrolment, staffing, scheduling and budget.
  • Experience in recruiting high performing teachers and track record of strong leadership in professional development.
  • Extensive knowledge of Curriculum –Preferably IB (MYP,DP).
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills, ability to plan and act strategically, excellent executive abilities.
  • Experience and enthusiasm in working in an international setting, awareness and appreciation of cultural differences, relevant consequences and benefits.
  • Good understanding of and experience in integration of technology to improve student learning.
  • Experience and working knowledge with the IB program.
  • Experience with CIS/MSA Accreditation processes.
  • Communication skills in Italian will be an advantage, although not necessary.


  • 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 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


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, health/life insurance and professional development opportunities. Salary considerations and length of contract will be detailed during the interview process.



International School of Florence (ISF) has partnered with Search Associates to facilitate the search for the new Upper School Principal. Dr. Lana Al-Aghbar and Dr. Eric Sands will be serving as the senior consultants. 

Qualified candidates should send the information listed below as a single PDF File attached to an e-mail as soon as possible, but no later than March 6, 2023. ISF reserves the right to close the selection process at any time if the right candidate is identified. 


  • A letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Upper School Principal position.
  • A statement describing your leadership and educational philosophy, not to exceed two pages.
  • A current résumé not to exceed two pages.
  • A one-page list of four references with phone numbers and email addresses. Two references should be current direct supervisor references.
  • A minimum of two and a maximum of four recent 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 send all requested information directly to Dr. Lana Al-Aghbar at lalaghbar@searchassociates.comand Dr. Eric Sands at esands@searchassociates.com


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 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 Ray Sparks's over 30-year career as an educator has involved working in Canada, Europe, and Asia.