A Q&A with AISB’s Future Director, Peter Welch
|23 Jul 2018|
|WM Summer 2018 edition|
By Pius S., Grade 9 Student
June 12th, 2018 As published in the Secondary School Newspaper: The Bite // https://thebite.aisb.ro
When Dr. Robert Brindley came to AISB four years ago, he said he would change everything. And by the end of his tenure next school year, he will make good on his promise.
From a new early childhood building to a massive secondary school expansion, Brindley has spearheaded projects that have restructured the campus and the Board’s master plan.
“There’s a life cycle of schools,” says Brindley. “I’ve restructured it, and now we need a new person to come in and build the culture.”
That person is Peter Welch, who comes to us from the International School of Helsinki in Finland (ISH). According to Brindley, he’s the perfect person to “bring the school from growth into stasis.”
We reached out to Welch to learn more about him and what he’ll be like as a Director. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: Why were you interested in this position?
A: I think AISB is a really interesting, dynamic school with fantastic future potential. I believe in the IB way of learning and have certainly really appreciated being part of the CEESA family of schools. This will be my third headship within the CEESA region.
Q: Had you been to Romania before your interview at AISB? What are you looking forward to about living in this country?
A: My family and I had not spent any time in Romania prior to the interview process last December. We are excited to learn about the culture and language of Romania. From the outside looking in, it seems like a country that is changing in many ways and has a culture with great contrasts. Having spoken with international families who have lived in Romania, they have had really warm things to say about the people and possibilities to travel around the country.
Q: What are your main goals for when you begin working at the school?
A: My main goals are to build on the current strengths and ambitions of the school. First, it will be important to get to know the community well and to build relationships of trust characterized by positive, supportive communication. Working with students, teachers, parents and the Board, I would like to develop a shared vision for the future of AISB and tell a story about this future that engages the entire community in the process of making this happen.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you’re like as a director?
A: With a priest and a counselor as parents, the conversation around the family dinner table was often about what makes people tick, and this upbringing gave me the instinct to ask deeper questions about what things mean. I think I have always been exploring these themes as a student, as a teacher, and as a traveler.
This curiosity and searching is which has taken my family and me around the world. We love to keep learning and trying to renew ourselves. I enjoy great food, movies, and books. Stevie Wonder makes me want to get up dance. Chelsea Football Club can affect my mood way too much on the weekends. Some of my happiest times are walking our dog in the Finnish
forests, watching the seasons change.
As a director, it is important for me to understand the ‘why’ questions first of all. Why are we doing this, this way? This is a kind of default strategic mindset in which I constantly explore the purpose of what we do and the wider implications.
With this priority, I invest time in working out our collective purpose in conversation with the communities I seek to lead. I would always like this conversation to be brave, open and based on trust. I am comfortable in challenging basic assumptions of how schools work, but understand that creating a consensus for change can take time. The success of any conversation is really impacted by the culture and context of my work. I believe more and more that leadership is an adaptive skill. What works in one place, in one school, often does not work another. So becoming Director of AISB will challenge me to really tune into what will work in my new community.
Married to Suzanne, who is Canadian. Suzanne is a professional artist, illustrator, and teacher. We have one daughter, Gaby, who is 12.
I have developed an online questionnaire that maps student cultural dispositions to their learning and communication habits. This research has been adopted by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and is currently being piloted in 50+ international schools worldwide.
CIS Symposiums on Intercultural Learning (London/Hong Kong 2016)
CCE Symposium on Creativity (Finland 2015)
AAIE 50th Anniversary Conference (Atlanta 2016)
CEESA Conference (Istanbul 2016)
Keynote Speaker ELMLE Conference (2017)
Marketing for International Schools @ Haaga-Helia University (Helsinki, 2015)
‘How Do Boys and Girls Learn Differently?’ - EIS (Helsinki, 2015)
Lycee Winston Churchill, ‘Working Across Cultures’ (London, 2016)
CEESA Executive Committee
IB Workshop Leader - Leadership Pathway
CIS and WASC Accreditation Visitor
Head of School
International School of Helsinki, Finland
Istanbul International Community School, Turkey
American Pacific International School, Thailand
Director of Admissions & Marketing - Elmwood School, Ottawa, Canada
Director of Post-16 Education - Sir James Henderson School, Milan, Italy
Head of Sixth Form/Head of Humanities - Tanglin Trust School, Singapore
Head of History - Haileybury College, Herts, UK
Voluntary English Teacher - VSO, Ghana
Voluntary English Teacher - Link Africa, Lesotho
BA - History
MA - History
PGCE - Secondary Education
Ad. Cert. Educational Management
Strategic Planning – Experience leading whole community strategic planning exercises from initial audits through to the collaborative writing of strategic and action plans with KPIs.
Facilities Development – Experience of project design, financial planning, architectural studies and permit process including ‘third campus project’ at Istanbul International Community School.
Budget Management – Overall management of school budgets, strategic enrolment objectives and development of long-term financial sustainability plans.
Curriculum Design & Development – Curriculum leadership of all IBO programmes (PYP, MYP & DP) and experience with UK, US and Canadian national curricula. Experience leading early childhood curriculum writing.
Accreditation – Leadership of schools through all aspects of international accreditation processes: WASC (APIS, Thailand), CIS/NEASC (ISH, Finland & IICS, Turkey) and IBO.
Recruitment – Significant experience of recruiting international teachers as a Head of School at Search Associates, CIS and ISS Fairs and through Skype and phone interviews.
Teacher Training – Workshop leader at educational conferences on ‘Working Across Cultures: Leadership in International Schools’. ‘Developing Effective Collaboration in International Schools’ & ‘Gender-based Learning Styles’. Approved Trainer for ‘Culture Active’ program for Richard Lewis Group.
Learning Technology – Overall management of integration of 1:1 laptop program, the development of e-learning platforms and developing short, medium and long-term learning technology plans, including transition to BYOD. Excellent ICT skills in Windows, Apple and DTP products.
Marketing & Branding – Experience of running own consultancy serving independent schools in Ottawa, Canada, providing brand identity services, school marketing plans and design of marketing materials. Building of new website at ISH including concept and ‘Uniqueness Project’ photography.
Appraisal & Mentoring – Experience leading the redevelopment of the appraisal system and the integration of a new peer mentoring systems.
Counseling – Training in ‘Acceptance & Commitment Therapy’ & ‘Reflective Listening: Working with Adolescents’.
I enjoy writing and am currently working on a book called ‘Culture Vultures’, which takes a humorous look at why understanding cultural differences is so important. I paint with the indulgent support of my wife, who is a professional artist. Our family enjoys traveling, keeping fit and walking our dog in the forest where we live by the sea.
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