Search Associates takes pride in the wealth of knowledge our Senior Associates— former teachers, administrators, and heads of school—bring, not only to candidates, but also to our organization. It is fascinating to learn of the path towards their positions now. Below, Past President and current Senior Associate Jim Ambrose describes his early years as an educator:
"By the early 1970s, I had been teaching sixth grade in Michigan for several years and coaching three sports; I was acting with different theaters, fairly recently married, and working on my Master's degree. I was happy, but… I could also see my life stretching out before me with the cycles repeating themselves annually: coaching football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. Sandwiched in were musical theater, a repertory company, and summer stock. Toss in evening and summer school classes while working toward my Master's degree, not to mention cave exploration in a nearby state, and it was a busy time. Thank goodness I was young!"
Jim loved teaching and the kids, but after nine years, it was time for something similar, but different. His teaching partner—they had a removable partition between their rooms—moved to teach at the American School of Warsaw in 1971, so Jim became aware of international schools before recruiting fairs appeared five years later.
As Jim's M.A. neared completion, discussion with his wife centered on whose career they would follow, Jim's, as an aspiring principal, or hers, as office manager for a large insurance company. Jim explains,
"Either option would result in more income, but what would that do? A better car, a nice vacation for a few weeks every few years—these would have been nice, but there would be no fundamental change in lifestyle, only the trappings."
Living and working abroad seemed to offer the ideal combination of travel, adventure, and the change of lifestyle that the Ambroses wanted, so their letter writing began. At the time, even getting the names and addresses of international schools was not easy, and the turn-around time for replies was long. Eventually, a school in Norway showed interest in Jim as a principal. The head of school interviewed him at the airport while he was changing planes! Back in the pre-security days, visitors could meet passengers as they deplaned. Jim reflects,
"It was all so small and casual, unlike today's highly-organized system of recruiting for international schools. And how lucky I was for that break, which evolved from an adventure to a career, offering personal and professional opportunities that changed and defined my life."
How lucky, too, for the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of candidates and international schools that Jim has helped during his career in recruiting and board consultancy work! As a Senior Associate, Jim now focuses exclusively on head searches and governance consulting.