Search Associates' co-founder Dexter Lewis announced his retirement this past June. Before the company began, he and Founder John Magagna were friends and colleagues, first as heads of large schools in neighboring countries, and earlier as John frequented a favorite city, Vienna, where Dexter worked.
Twenty-four years ago, John encouraged Dexter to invite his connections on the board of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) to job fairs John was launching with co-founder John Sly. Having run schools domestically and abroad for 25 years, Dexter was ready for a change. In the beginning, creating fairs and persuading schools and candidates to attend was the priority. The team launched three small job fairs in Dexter's first year: Kuala Lumpur; Carmel, California; and Bethesda, Maryland. Dexter recalled,
"My wife always worked closely with me. We had no internet. I remember us carrying boxes and boxes of papers… In those early days, we didn't know how Search Associates—we called it 'John's baby'— would turn out. So, I took a part-time job in Admissions at a small, private school."
As the company grew, more Associates joined, each maintaining their own personal style. Today, Search Associates has over 18 experienced Senior Associates from around the globe, including Australia, Great Britain, Canada, as well as the U.S., and has grown from three job fairs to thirteen. He adds,
"Search Associates is needed more than ever with the proliferation of international schools around the world, particularly Asia. Choices and opportunities are much greater for candidates, yet they need to be very selective."
In the early years, John encouraged Dexter to attend educational conferences for networking. Dexter explained the consequence of that:
"We know our candidates, which gives us a step up over our competitors. But that was the fun of it… to help change peoples' lives, watch their careers— because our candidates returned to us. I loved helping them make decisions that were in their best interest. It required honesty too. I knew to tell people when a school or situation was not the best fit."
Dexter especially loved working with new graduates as intern candidates. He believes they are an invaluable resource and dreams that more schools will offer opportunities for interns to train among experienced teachers and mentors. A favorite quotation from Ben Franklin underscores Dexter's philosophy: "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
Dexter, now 81, volunteers on the board of a local Chinese-English bi-lingual school and other educational institutions in the Washington D.C. area. In addition to playing a lot of competitive tennis, as well as skiing and skating in the winter months, Dexter plans to continue traveling.
Search Associates wishes Dexter a wonderful retirement and thanks him for his invaluable experience and dedication.