News: After 14 Years in International Schools, Leesa Downes Heads Overseas! - Apr 10, 2024
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Wednesday, April 10, 2024Candidate Stories

After 14 Years in International Schools, Leesa Downes Heads Overseas!

Leesa Downes has spent the better part of the last 14 years working for an international school in her home country of Australia. Now, with the help of Search Associates, she is heading to Beijing City International School, China (BCIS) as their next Deputy Principal of the Early Childhood Centre!

As International Baccalaureate Teacher, Workshop Leader, and School Evaluator, Leesa has had the privilege of visiting international schools in Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia. These experiences sparked a realization:

Every opportunity to continue learning from other schools and cultures energises me as a lifelong learner. After our boys completed their IB Diploma Programme, we decided it was time for Mum and Dad to explore the world. Both boys are very excited to visit us in Beijing.

When Leesa and her husband Andrew sought advice from several colleagues in the international school community about how to pursue positions overseas, they all said, “Register with Search Associates (SEARCH) and go to the Melbourne job fair!” They checked out SEARCH’s “amazing” website—loving the Job Search function, watching and re-watching the Help videos—and discovered that the Melbourne Office offers face-to-face information sessions to members prior to their fair. Leesa and Andrew jumped at the opportunity, and recommends those wishing to teach abroad do the same:

Nick and Paula Kendell were a wealth of information and kindly answered all the participants’ questions. We also had the wonderful opportunity to speak with an international school principal, who explained what teaching internationally might look like. My husband Andrew and I left this information session with confidence and enthusiasm to continue the journey to apply for teaching and leadership positions overseas.

The Melbourne fair proved to be extraordinary for Leesa and Andrew. Before official interview days even arrived, the Melbourne Office had scheduled some interviews for Leesa. At the fair, the couple was mightily impressed by the school presentations. Leesa enthuses,

We had the best time! There was a vibrant energy across the fair. All the school administration teams were very positive, kind, and interested in candidates, and we made connections with school leaders, and other candidates. It felt like we were like a family! We sought advice from Nick and his amazing SEARCH Team, and they willingly responded with good advice to make the choice about the options based on their connection with the schools and what they know about them.

Leesa interviewed with many excellent schools, who then made their offers. One of her biggest challenges: she loved them all. She describes one that stood out:

I received an email from BCIS for an interview prior to the fair. Andrew and I thought this school might be the right fit… BCIS is an IB World School, one of my priorities. Further research revealed that the school would challenge me while aligning with my values, experience, and interests. Andrew and I also wanted to make sure that in an emergency, we could return to Australia within 24 hours. Asia became our "acceptance net."

Leesa is grateful for having her husband Andrew as her accompanying dependent to support her settling into a new country, home, and school. Andrew is open to new opportunities to explore how his architecture experience and skills can be further enhanced by the culture and people of China.

If you are considering teaching overseas, Leesa and Andrew Downes highly recommend that you join Search Associates:

SEARCH knows their schools well; they visit them regularly and have the background knowledge that candidates may not know from a school’s website…Embrace the journey to a wonderful future within international schools and share your strengths and skills with the world. We have so much appreciation and gratitude for Nick, Paula, and their team for their incredible support and for making us feel like we were part of the family. We are heading to an amazing school, thanks to the Search Associates!

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Nick Kendell has worked in Asia, Australia, and Africa as an educator and administrator.