Emerging Stronger from a School Crisis

International Heads of School handle a variety of situations that affect their organizations, from political dilemmas to problematic student issues to difficult human resource challenges. In most of these situations, leaders problem solve quickly and the school moves forward without skipping a beat. Occasionally, however, a crisis occurs of such magnitude that it’s helpful to reflect upon lessons learned. Read on for insights from AISH members and a guest author.


“Weathering Storms in Jakarta”

Tim Carr, Director of Research and Development ,Avenues: The World School, and Head of School 2010-2017, Jakarta Intercultural School, offers hard-won lessons to help other school communities.

“Schools can be remarkably resilient and tremendous learning can take place in the midst of serious tribulation…and given similar situations, schools can splinter and even disintegrate.”

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“Can We Really Manage a Crisis?”

Monica Greeley, School Support and Evaluation Officer with Council of International Schools (CIS) and Head of International Schools (Academia Cotopaxi, Jakarta International School, Cairo American College, International School of Kenya, and International School Yangon) reminds us that school culture is really what defines and guides a school in a crisis situation.

“In retrospect, there was something almost spiritual about the bonding which took place and the common commitment to ensuring a positive environment for the students despite the turmoil surrounding them.”

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“Reflections on a School Crisis”

Greg Hedger, EdD, Director of the International School Yangon (ISY) and former head at Cayman International, Qatar Academy and Escuela Campo Alegre, explains how dealing with crisis situations make a HOS stronger and how it is this strength that helps us be effective leaders who keep the focus on learning.

“My reflections on my time in Venezuela have been an important process for me, and have provided some important lessons learned.”

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“Making a Major Decision Upon Arrival”

Ellen Deitsch Stern, Head of 11 International schools, (American Embassy School, American International School of Zagreb, French American International School of San Francisco, Saigon South, International School of Krakow, Colegio Maya, American International School Vienna, American School of the Hague, etc.) speaks to the need in a crisis to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the community and the short-term challenges with the long term good of the school.

“Your guidelines are your experience, your judgment and your conscience.”

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“How to Emerge Stronger from a School Crisis”

Jim Hulbert, partner at The Jane Group, specializes in crisis and reputation management issues for independent schools internationally and in the U.S., including the handling of existing crisis as well as training school leadership and boards.  His article provides four guiding principles to keep in mind while communicating during and after a crisis.

“There are many factors beyond your control in a crisis; fortunately, there is a lot you can do to maximize your school’s chances for not only a good outcome, but one in which the community emerges even stronger.”