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September 20, 2013

posted Sep 20, 2013, 8:42 AM by Suzanne WARDINI   [ updated Sep 20, 2013, 8:53 AM ]

The Search Committee would like to thank the parents and faculty members who were able to attend the briefing we did this week on the search process, timeline, and how folks can help.  The feedback we have received so far has been very valuable and instructive and we look forward to getting more good ideas from the community (

 The job opening officially closes today and the Committee will quickly be deciding which candidates we select for campus visits.  Stay tuned for an email on that next week.  In the meantime, included below are an updated MAILBAG section and a copy of the slide deck we presented at the parent and faculty briefings.

Mailbag:  Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions

“How many finalists will be visiting ISD and when will we know who they are?”

In consulting with Search Associates (our recruitment firm) and those who have been through multiple Director searches in the past (our own Paul Olson), the consensus of the Committee was to aim for three finalists to come to Dakar for a two-day series of meetings and interviews.  We will finish the application and interview process the week of September 23rd.  The Search Committee will announce who are the folks visiting ISD that same week.

 “When will parents, students, faculty, and staff have a chance to meet the finalists?”

Very important question!  We are blocking off September 30th – October 11th on the schedule for the campus visit portion of the search process.  We have had to juggle the ISD school calendar (professional development days and the mid-October break) with our desire to have the top candidates come to ISD before other schools have a chance to hire them (!), while still continuing to meet our goal of having the new Director chosen before the end of October.  Details about campus visit process and information about how you can meet the candidates will be shared with the entire ISD community when they are finalized.  Stay tuned! 

“Wait, don’t we have a new Director now?”

Yes, we have a new INTERIM Director.  When the Director position became open in June, the Board of Trustees quickly tasked the Search Committee with finding both an interim Director and more long-term Director.  Our first priority was to find someone who could ensure that ISD was fully operational when our students, families, faculty and staff showed up for the Opening Ceremony. 

Within days of starting our interim search, we were fortunate to find Paul Olson who has brought years of experience and expertise running international schools with him to Dakar.  Unfortunately, Mr. Olson was clear with us from the beginning that he was not looking for a permanent Director position and would be returning back to the U.S. at the end of this school year.  This is why we are now actively engaged in the search for long-term ISD Director. 

“What are the criteria for selecting a new Director?”

Great question!   Based on “lessons learned” from past Directors, as well as the community feedback we have received, and the parent, student, and faculty surveys ISD conducted last year, the Search Committee developed a robust list of criteria that we are using in the search and evaluation of potential Directors.  Specifically, we are looking for candidates who have:

1.  Leadership experience in an international school setting at the Director or equivalent level position;

2.  Excellent interpersonal communications with key school stakeholders – students, staff, faculty, parents, Board of Trustees, and the larger community;

3.  Strategic thinker as it relates to marketing, accreditation, financials, budgeting and controls and strategic planning with the ability to set objectives and monitor progress;

4.  Highly effective management skills and experience, demonstrated team-building skills, and ability to inspire confidence and earn trust of faculty and staff;

5.  Extensive experience in financial planning and management, with the requisite skills to ensure, working collaboratively with the Board and staff, that the school’s assets are protected and adequately maintained;

6.  Proven educator with a steadfast commitment to ensuring the highest standards of educational excellence and with the expertise to guide the development and review of the education curriculum, as well as the growth and progress of the IB Program; 

7.  Track record of recruiting a talented teaching staff, as well as overseeing high quality faculty professional development;

8.  Willingness to be an “Ambassador” of the school in the community at-large and a willingness to embrace not only the host culture, but also all cultures from a learning opportunity perspective; and, who have a

9.  Experience living/working in developing country;

10.  Has working knowledge of French; and, who have a

11.  Higher education degree, M.A./M.Ed./M.Sc. or equivalent advanced degree.

“Why the rush to hire a new Director so quickly?”

The short answer is because we have to.  In consulting with Search Associates (our recruitment advisors), Interim Director Paul Olson (who has been through his fair share of Director searches himself), and various others involved in the search process last time, we learned that most Director candidates have already settled on their new post by mid-November.  The Committee felt it was important to be proactive and aggressive in reaching out to the “top tier” Director candidates – and not waiting until other international schools have had their say first.  Yes, that means this process is progressing quickly.  It also means that we are interviewing the best candidates in the job market before other schools have a chance to hire them.

(See “The Search Process Timeline” below for an overview of what happens when.)

The Search Process Timeline

                July – September 20th: Post job opening and receive applications
                August : Finalize evaluation criteria and process for selecting new director
                September: Evaluate received applications and conduct interviews with selected candidates
                September 20th 8:30 AM: PTO/Parent briefing on the search process (HS/MS Board Room)
                Late September: Select top tier candidates for campus visit to Dakar
                Early October: Conduct series of campus visits, give ISD community ample opportunities to interact with prospective candidates and offer feedback to the Search Committee
                Late October: Board of Trustees, in consultation with Search Committee, hires the new Director