As the Head of School of Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) Kemang Village, Mark Thiessen has been working in education for more than 15 years, many of them serving in various leadership roles within Christian international schools. He was drawn immediately to the mission and vision of SPH and the tangible way it embodies these statements by supporting redemptive Christian education throughout Indonesia.
This pursuit of mission has continued to be a driving force behind his service and desire for Kemang Village to grow in excellence. Recently, we spoke to Mark Thiessen. It was a fruitful discussion on how he came to lead at SPH Kemang Village, his goals for the school in a post-Covid era, and the future of the school plus the education system in Indonesia.
First of all, what is your educational background?
This is my fourth year as a Head of School at SPH Kemang Village. Prior to that, I was a leader in the International School in Canada, where I was born and raised, and educated. I did my undergrad and graduated from Brock University, Ontario, Canada receiving my Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, and finally my Master of Education in Administration and Leadership Education in 2016.
What are your vision and mission for SPH Kemang Village?
We as a group of 5 schools have a vision and a mission which involve transforming the nation of Indonesia through holistic education. We want to equip our students to participate in, act as a restore, and redeem the nation of Indonesia to make it more prosperous moving forward.
Our desire is not necessary to do just educate kids and send them out to the parts of the world even though many of our students do go overseas for education, we want them to come back, Indonesia is their home. We want to be passionate and make sure Indonesia is the world leader in education in as many areas as possible.
Specifically for this school, I want us to be seen as a light for innovative education in South Jakarta. When parents and the communities think of what’s the best school in South Jakarta, I want the number one thought to be SPH Kemang Village.
What does it take to get there, it takes the right people. So we have incredible teachers who come from all over the world to work in our school. It takes incredible facilities, we have beautiful facilities, 20,000 sqm of the facility, and it takes the right program with a strong curriculum with strong curricular programs that help develop students to be holistically flourishing in all aspects of life. My vision and mission are to be the best school in South Jakarta and to allow students to hit the outcome they desire so that they may transform Indonesia.
What do you think about Indonesia’s education culture and its students compared to any other countries that you had worked in before?
That’s a great question. I have come to love Indonesia, I really have. The Indonesian people that I have had the privileged of working with, I see they are incredibly hard-working and incredibly industrious. They desire to be the best at what they do. I see that in the education system as well. I see Indonesian schools with a firm desire to innovate and change and grow because they want their graduates to be successful in life beyond school.
I also see Indonesia might be a little bit behind in some of those ways compared to some western countries. But their desire for growth is exemplary. I believe the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia has a vision for education in Indonesia that is going to help the country get there. So I’m excited for the future of Indonesian education.