In early February, a Search Associates (SEARCH) team participated in the Academy of International School Heads (AISH) Oasis Day event in New York City before attending the 2020 annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE). SEARCH is pleased to partner with each of these professional organizations as they play such a prominent role in creating phenomenal opportunities for learning and networking across the international school community.
Director of Consulting Services George Entwistle, Senior Consultant Brent Mutsch, and Senior Associate Bridget McNamer attended the AISH Oasis Day event. There, Bambi Betts and Deb Welch facilitated a morning session introducing delegates to a process for successfully confronting the challenging dilemmas that directors and heads of school face as part of daily life. Brent reflects,
Of equal value to the framework for attacking difficult dilemmas was the opportunity to once again be able to work with colleagues from across the globe on addressing issues that are often quite similar in nature.
After AISH, Bridget, Brent, and George joined Search Associates Founder John Magagna, CEO Jessica Magagna, Director of School Relations David Cope, and Senior Consultants Gunther Brandt and Norma Hudson at AAIE’s annual conference, held at New York Marriott Marquis. This conference, the premier gathering of leaders from across the global international education community, represented a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with those many colleagues with whom SEARCH strives to partner in serving and enriching learning worldwide.
The AAIE 2020 Conversation, as stated on its website, “calls for us to be more than ‘diverse by accident’ simply by virtue of our student populations." The conference addressed topics such as those who learn differently, supporting linguistic equity, building success on our different strengths, addressing key issues such as ethnic diversity in our faculties and women in leadership, socio-economic disparity in relation to access to our schools.
In addition to the many compelling HEADTalks and Deeper Dive sessions offered, two “Un-Keynotes” were featured this year. Dacher Keltner detailed “a roadmap for 21st century power, one oriented toward social change and embodied in Collaborative Practice.” In his talk, Dacher clarified what real power is—"the ability to make a difference in the world”— before citing both obvious and subtle abuses of power and offering ideas about “what can be done to promote social change.” Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi, a book that has become part of the curriculum in many secondary schools and colleges across the U.S., spoke with great humor about life—her journey from Abadan, Iran to the bestseller lists of the NYTimes. Her message: “commonalities far outweigh our differences but . . . also . . . our stories connect us.”
SEARCH participated in two different presentations about diversity in leadership. Senior Associate Bridget McNamer co-facilitated a workshop called “Sluicing for Gold: Strategies for getting female leadership candidates through the recruiting process.” She and her fellow presenters, representing five recruiting agencies, led groups in discussing how to more effectively appeal to, source, and evaluate female candidates—ultimately setting them up for success in their new roles. The well-attended and lively workshop produced several positive and actionable ideas. Senior Consultant Norma Hudson represented SEARCH in a panel “conversation” addressing the imperatives for, benefits of, and opportunities for bringing more diverse leaders in general into the leadership ranks of international schools. The conversation recognized that “diversity” can mean different things in the range of contexts in which international schools operate. Because of this, the panel encouraged schools to determine for themselves what “diversity” means in their context and consider ways to more intentionally cultivate diversity in their leadership ranks.
Throughout the three-day conference, SEARCH team members engaged in countless opportunities to reconnect with leaders from across the world and to discuss how SEARCH can be of support and assistance to individuals and their respective organizations. Norma adds,
Connections are important as we continue to work on leadership searches to ensure the very best fit for the candidates and for the schools. The more we can interact with international leaders on a face-to-face basis and really understand their leadership styles and characteristics, the better served they will be as they seek their next positions.
Senior Consultant Gunther Brandt appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with Kevin Bartlett at his workshop on the Common Ground Collaborative and to meet up with colleagues in international schools, many from a long time ago. He says,
It was a pleasure to see not only those in leadership searches presently in progress but also to build relationships that will bear fruit through continuing contacts going forward.
The international school community—as represented by members of AISH and AAIE— represents a phenomenal group of dedicated and caring professional educators, and SEARCH considers it a great privilege to be able to offer support in a wide variety of ways to both member and non-member schools.