Pauline Stulberg has just accepted a position as Director of the British International School in Ukraine (BISU). A born educator, she remembers helping classmates with their music lessons as far back as elementary school. In secondary school, she could be found helping the P.E. teachers give lessons. As a teen, she further developed her leadership skills, earning the titles of Head Girl of the corridors and Captain of sports teams. At 18, Pauline entered the Royal Air Force as a Physical Education Officer, leading her division, handling budgets, and coaching and educating others. She completed her B.Ed after her service in the Air Force and then entered the school system as an teacher, confident that her many skills were easily transferable. Not incorrect in her self-assessment, Pauline moved into leadership positions very quickly.
Now in her ninth year working in international education, Pauline has experienced very different leadership roles in the field, and has come to believe in the transformative power of learning inside and outside the classroom. She says,
"Education is a passion and a life skill that can be taken for granted, but I firmly believe that empowering individuals with knowledge allows them to make choices about their lives. The more tools you give individuals, the more options they have … I love this quote from Maslow: 'If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.' Education is an ongoing necessity, and becoming life-long learners is vital. I believe it is a mistake to think that you have finished learning!"
Pauline considers it a blessing to work with many multi-cultural, multi-educational programs, each offering a wealth of experiences. In her schools, she has adopted and employs the best practices that she has found throughout her career working in many regions, each with their own methods:
"I have used the multi-faceted approach of the Australians and their experiences with early years, that of the Americans and their approach that everyone in life can have whatever they want, and that of the Chinese with their relentless approach to achieving the best results … More than anything else, international teaching gives one … a truly international approach and gives students an international background; after all, the world is a small place, and the more we become familiar with other cultures, other ways people are educated, the more we can live and work in the 21st century."
For her latest overseas position, Pauline used the Search Associates database. She loved the Openings section and the user interface that is easy to navigate, with everything clearly broken down. She appreciates the "REAL people behind the picture," as well as the fact that "advice is at one's fingertips." Pauline adds,
"Search Associates feels like quality: you know you are in safe hands, and you know that the schools they are advertising have been vetted… I used Search Associates as a filter and reduced the amount of 'burn' one can receive when working overseas."
Pauline was extremely fortunate that the British International School in Ukraine invested in her trip to come interview on site over a three-day period, allowing her time to iron out any final concerns before accepting the position of Director.
Pauline shares her best advice with any educators wanting to move into the international field, especially those in leadership positions:
"Don't lose your sense of humor, and remain flexible. The balance between business and education can become quite cloudy in some schools, and it is probable that you have to re-think or re-balance some of your beliefs in your head in order to move forward. Lastly, do not let go of your high expectations!"