Can you share with us what road led you to Rome?
My family has visited Italy several times, and Rome has a special place in our heart. The access to art and culture, the living history, and the ability to take our family to the beautiful parks, lakes and beaches in Lazio is really a dream for us. Last year, when offered the Head of School position at AOSR, our family packed our bags and haven’t looked back since. To roam the streets of Rome, taking in this open-air museum, makes me realize how fortunate I am every day. I have lived overseas for over twenty years, and every city is a new experience and new adventure. If home is where one's roots are, in terms of childhood memories and extended family, I am proud to say I hail from New York. Yet, Rome is quickly becoming my home!
Our student population is about 40% American, and about 80% of our teachers are American. Specifically, core subject areas are taught by teachers hired from the US, while world language teachers may be Italian or European. While our population hails from the United States, our mindset, is one of global-mindedness.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing you now?
The American Overseas School of Rome is blessed with excellent facilities that allow for in-person learning, and our faculty have the experience to give the care needed for students to succeed, while also creating learning opportunities that are challenging and enriching. Still, Covid has created some obstacles to the way we traditionally educate students. Particularly in the field of education, we must ensure that our students are safe, emotionally secure, and intellectually challenged. With some adjustments to adhere to Covid safety protocols, we are able to do just that.
I started my career in education teaching French and English in rural Louisiana through a service program called Teach For America. I moved to North Carolina to continue teaching and to serve as a high school Guidance Counsellor. While in North Carolina I married my husband Brett, who specializes in technology. We moved to Poland to work at the American School of Warsaw, where we stayed for 11 years, and had all four of our children. From Warsaw we moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where I served for five years as elementary principal. From Tashkent, we moved to Munich, where I was the deputy head of school at Munich International School. Once my oldest son graduated, we were ready for a new adventure, and we were so fortunate to be offered positions at AOSR!
How can AWAR and AOSR help each other?
AWAR is really an excellent organization to support my work in so many ways. As a school leader, I would love to have the members of AWAR mentor our students, particularly young women. We have an amazing student body, with high school students involved in the Global Issues Network, National Honors Society, and Model United Nations. Going back to our mission, by offering the ‘best in American-International Education’ AOSR seeks to offer real world examples of highly achieving women in all areas of life. My goal is to continue to find artistic, entrepreneurial, and professional role models and mentors AOSR students. Given the diverse experiences and expertise of the AWAR membership, this could be a wonderful partnership.
What creative things are you doing to attract new professors?
This year, we are using three international search organizations, The Global Recruitment Collaborative, Search Associates, and International Schools Services. These companies vet prospective candidates to ensure that only the best teachers are considered for our school. We then interview candidates via Zoom, Meets, or Skype, and we have created an AOSR confidential reference form that asks all employers to rate the expertise of each teacher. To ensure that we truly offer to exceptional educators, we ask candidates to record themselves teaching. It is a rigorous process to become a teacher at AOSR! We only take the best.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my family, as most mothers are. Balancing a career and a family is never easy, and to do so successfully took a great deal of support. I seek to serve as a role model for women leaders, to demonstrate a balanced and personal approach to my work, and to always offer the best to our students. I consider it my calling to provide our youth with the foundation needed to solve the problems of the future.
Can you tell us something about AOSR that would surprise us?
AOSR is the oldest independent international school in Rome. Maybe that is not a surprise, but I find it impressive! American families have been coming to AOSR for over 70 years, and our campus is filled with tradition and history. We have innovative programs, like engineering, computer coding and design, but we also have a classical approach to education that allows our students to attend elite universities like Stanford, Oxford and the United States Military Academies. Our co-curricular activities are also surprising- we have an American-style Cheerleading Squad that are phenomenal!
Who was your biggest inspiration in your life and why?
The greatest inspiration in my life is my mother. She taught me important life lessons: Always wear your best dress on your darkest day; always strive to see the other side of a problem; and always treat people as you wish to be treated. So far, her advice has always served me well. Knowing how greatly my mother has impacted me has made me keenly aware of how important role models are to young women. Obviously, young men need excellent role models as well, but as a woman, I feel a strong obligation to support girls as my mother supported me.
What creative things are you doing to attract new students?
We offer ‘The Best of American-International Education’. To start, this means that we select experienced teachers from elite US and International Schools. Our faculty bring out the best in every student. Our programs, including both the AP and the IB, are rigorous and rewarding, as such, our students are routinely accepted to top ranked universities around the world. Finally, as an American School, our athletics and arts programs remain unparalleled. We stick to what we do best, and this approach is what continues to draw American, International, and Italian students and families.
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