Search Associates joined an unprecedented number of administrators— over five hundred heads of school, principals, curriculum coordinators, and others in leadership roles— at the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA) Fall Leadership Conference on October 23- 26. Search, proud sponsor of Thursday's luncheon, was among more than forty exhibitors in attendance. On hand for consultation and support were President Jessica Magagna, Vice President Michael Williams, his wife and assistant Laurie Williams, Senior Associate Diana Kerry, and Web Developer Rob Snyder.
NESA began in the early 1960's as an informal gathering of administrators. By 1968, the Near East South Asia Council for Overseas Schools was formally established by the American Office of Overseas Schools. NESA, whose boundaries are fixed to encompass the area from Greece to Bangladesh, has evolved into a world-class organization that serves thousands of educators working in more than one-hundred American/International schools.
Over the decades, Search Associates has maintained a close relationship with NESA. While Head of School in both Dhaka and Colombo, Senior Associate Jim Ambrose (also Past President) sat on the Board of NESA from 1978 to 1984. When he returned to the region from 1986-1994 as Head in Abu Dhabi, he rejoined NESA on the Board of Directors. Senior Associate John Ritter, currently working with candidates in Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana, joined as a member of the Board from 1979-1981.
Regional conferences, such as NESA, offer professional development for international administrators and teachers in the region. Each day's meetings included keynote addresses. Andy Hargreaves from Boston College opened the event on the topic of "recovering and redefining" what it means to teach, to be a teacher, and to be valued as a high quality professional. On Friday, grading expert Ken O'Connor spoke on six Musts for high-quality teaching and assessment. Saturday's keynote, author Douglas Reeves, discussed "Leading for Creativity." Sunday morning, literacy consultant Dan Feigelson talked about joy, engagement, and rigor in literacy instruction. Vice President for curriculum and instruction with the College Board's AP & Instruction Division, Auditi Chakravarty spoke on Sunday afternoon about the overhaul of the SAT exam.
Delegates took the opportunity to choose four, three-hour workshops offered by twenty specialists speaking on topics such as standards-based reporting in high schools, school leadership, leadership "stance," school sustainability, crisis communications, school culture, teacher evaluation, and learning-focused supervision.
Business managers and board trustees were offered courses for three or four day increments. Additionally, NESA members and affiliates presented a record-breaking twenty-seven, one-hour General Interest Workshops, with forty-two presenters! A special panel discussion also took place on the important subject of "Issues around Child Protection."
Search Associates is not just a recruiting organization. Most Senior Associates have been past administrators or teachers in international schools and continue to stay very connected with the international community. Attending conferences, such as these, allows Associates to reconnect with old friends, talk to school Heads about their recruiting needs, counsel and give advice to candidates, and stay current with what is going on in international education. When asked, President Jessica Magagna stated:
"Attending regional conferences is a top priority for Search Associates. It is a good way to stay connected to our member schools as well as educators currently teaching overseas. It is also a great way to ask schools and candidates how we can better assist them. What are we doing well? What can we improve? Getting this kind of feedback is crucial to our goal of continuously improving and offering the best possible service to both schools and candidates."
Search Associates looks forward to next year's Fall Leadership Conference on October 22-25 at the InterContinental Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
**Adapted, in part, from an article by NESA Staffer Laura Canellopoulou in the Winter, 2015 issue of NESA NEWS.