Senior Consultant, Dr. Lana Al-Aghbar, and Senior Associates Nick Kendell and Ray Sparks had the great pleasure of representing Search Associates (SEARCH) at the Fall Leadership Conference of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA) in Bangkok in October 2023.
As a gold sponsor of the conference, SEARCH was proud to support Dr. Derrick Gay’s keynote presentation “From Good Intentions to Informed Practice: Transforming International Mindedness into Effective DEIB Strategy to Foster Inclusive NESA Schools.” A globally recognized, intercultural competency and inclusion strategist, Dr. Gay presented strategies for fostering belonging and implementing inclusion policies and practices in schools. Over the years, Dr. Gay has partnered with over 800 organizations around the world in varied fields to deepen understanding of intercultural competency, diversity and inclusion, global citizenship, empathy, and belonging. Lana stated,
Dr. Gay’s work deeply resonates with Search Associates’ commitment and continued efforts to advance DEI within all its endeavors. His keynote was highly engaging and many conference participants shared that it was great that SEARCH sponsored him.
While one or two Associates attended sessions, our reps took turns chairing the colorful and well-stocked SEARCH table in the Exhibit area. They also had the pleasure of meeting with many NESA school leaders throughout the conference.
Homa Tavangar’s “From Growth Mindset to Growth Culture: Leading with Abundance Through Uncertainty and Change” helped leaders explore new possibilities for schools. First, Homa asked attendees 11 big questions that would prompt reflection on current school traditions and practices Then, she emphasized the need for radical, moral, and collective imagination to promote fearless inquiry and the courage to create school systems that provide an education that is more relevant, equitable, healthy, and joyful for all children.
Charles Vogl’s session, “Belonging: The Art of Community,” centered on the importance of schools fostering strong community cultures where people support one another, share their passions, and achieve big goals. In addition to addressing the crisis of belonging, this kind of community building inspires individuals and builds greater confidence to make a difference.
Phil Echols’ session, “Centering Equity – Unpacking the Revised Standards for Professional Learning,” examined the revised standards for improvements regarding access to high-quality professional learning for all learners.
Elin Kelsey’s meeting, “In an Age of Eco-Anxiety, Leading with Evidence-Based Hope Matters,” focused on the need to adopt an environmental approach to climate change, for hopeful, solutions-focused learning in lieu of a fatalistic approach. By re-framing the climate crisis as a crisis of hope, she emphasized the importance of creating safe spaces in schools.
“Close to Inclusive,” by Eric Habegger & Andrew Hoover, presented a model of a Complex Adaptive System, aimed at improving support services in schools. This raised awareness as to board mindsets and perceptions as well as school parameters and limitations pertaining to inclusive educational programs.
“Supercharge Your School’s Success - The Ultimate Recruitment Roadmap for International Schools,” led by Beth Plannl, Nadine Richards, and Pauline O’Brien, focused on tools to make the recruiting process more effective, such as CVs and references, conducting Google searches of candidates, contacting referees before offers are made, and gaps in careers. They also discussed changes in recruitment practices to support further diversity in hiring.
Led by Nadine Richards, Dana Watts & Jennifer Beckwith, “Leading Impactful Change - Utilizing the Diversity Collaborative's DEIJ Sustainable Goals” focused on DEIJ sustainable development goals developed by the Diversity Collaborative. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice were addressed separately, relative to key indicators and actions for school implementation.
Lana, Ray, and Nick enjoyed three, evening social events, including a reception for sponsors, speakers, and NESA representatives. All these well-attended gatherings were great opportunities for networking.
Search Associates looks forward to next year’s NESA Leadership Conference in Dubai!