Rosy Clark, principal of Nord Anglia School Jakarta shared with us about her insightful career journey in education. As well as how she leads the school, especially during this difficult time.
Tell us a little about your background, your career, and your inspiration to be in the education industry?
I have been a full-time educator for 32 years. I grew up in central England, in a beautiful rural area on the edge of a national park called the Peak District. As a child I benefited from spending time in the outdoors, learning to appreciate the importance of protecting our planet, and gaining the qualities of calmness, patience, and resilience that help me in my current role as an international school leader.
As a child I was close to my great-aunt who was a teacher and, during the final years of her long career, a primary school leader. I was impressed at a young age, as well as inspired by her energy and commitment, to make a lasting difference to children’s lives through education. Since graduation from university, I have followed in her footsteps, bringing my passion for a high-quality education to the schools I have worked in.
How has your leadership style evolved over the years?
My leadership experience spans most of my career in fact, from my early years in education as a middle leader when I taught full-time as a primary class teacher firstly in London, then in the Netherlands whilst leading school developments in a wide variety of curriculum and pastoral roles. This foundation in leadership allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of how children learn best and resulted in the reflective style that I employ today as an international school leader.
My senior leadership experience included a fabulous opportunity as a founding headteacher of an international bilingual school in Vietnam. I learned a vast amount from the initial stages of research, strategic planning, and the training of local teachers through to the establishment of the school as a world-class institution at the cutting edge of bilingual education.
I am an experienced leader who believes in the power and benefits of teamwork. My strengths lie in my ability to nurture others within the clear framework of a well-planned, ambitious school where learning is for everyone – students, parents, and staff.
What are some ways you have dealt with challenges, and how did you find solutions?
Founding a brand-new school with a new curriculum and educational concept was certainly a challenging time for me during my time in Vietnam. From this experience, I learned to appreciate the importance of wellbeing and am currently applying that approach to my new school here in Jakarta during the Covid-19 pandemic. All of us, at all levels, need to set aside quality time every day for wellbeing whether that is physical exercise, social interactions, personal reflection, or favorite pastimes. These are challenging times and I believe firmly in a positive, balanced approach with everyone’s wellbeing, health, and safety at the heart of the decisions we make as a school.
As the principal of a Nord Anglia Education school, I am fortunate in being a part of a worldwide network of principals who support each other in their day-to-day work with the additional support of our regional and central office teams. This means I‘m never alone and can always reach out to my colleagues in other countries for guidance, support, and practical solutions to the issues that arise.
What do you think the traits of an effective principal?
Firstly, I believe an effective principal is one who is highly visible, leading from the front. The principal should actively promote the ethos they wish to establish in their school with all members of the school community. In short, the principal must have a vision and be able to lead the school in all its strategic planning towards fulfilling this vision.
Secondly, effective communication is vital in an effective principal’s toolkit, and whilst I find this can take up a large amount of time, it is time well spent. Communication is multi-layered in a busy international school from personalized feedback to an individual student to support them in their learning journey, to the necessary clarity or support required for staff in a well-organized, high-functioning school, as well as the important investment in time meeting with parents and others outside of the immediate school community.
The third priority for a principal to be effective in their role is to bring a commitment to quality to their school, whether that be children’s learning, staff development, or the facilities and resources. Finally, I believe an effective principal should have the capacity to remain calm and positive, especially at a challenging time like the present, in order to support the community they lead.
Could you tell us about how important parents’ role in the operation of the school?
I always refer to the power of the relationship between students, parents, and school. All three are cornerstones in a partnership that truly makes a difference in students’ learning. Effective communication between all three elements is vital and my school helps parents in their role as one-third of this partnership through regular newsletters, informative blog articles, curriculum workshops, informal and formal feedback as well as involvement in social events. We seek to actively involve parents through a structure of partnership groups such as event organizers, parent voice representatives, and parent consultants on key issues.
What mission do you want to achieve with Nord Anglia School?
As a Nord Anglia School principal, I bring the “Be Ambitious” approach. My vision for NAS Jakarta is to maintain our reputation as a quality international school providing excellence through our virtual school during the Covid-19 pandemic. Once schools are able to open again in Jakarta, our mission will be to re-open safely and smoothly so our students can benefit from learning in the rich indoor and outdoor environment that our campus offers.
As a Nord Anglia School, we are able to offer the experience of learning via our “Global Campus”. Our students can learn through exciting projects such as “Into the Void” which is this year’s STEAM challenge facilitated by MIT University. Nord Anglia’s unique collaboration with The Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York has provided our music teacher with specialized training and materials to deliver the Juilliard curriculum in our school.
What are the major qualities you seek in a teacher?
First and foremost, I look for a teacher who is focused on learning. They must have an open mind and flexibility to be a learner themselves but, above all else, they must seek to do their best for each and every child in their care so that all students can achieve their full potential regardless of need or ability. I also look for a positive approach. Teaching in an international school is both demanding and rewarding. Successful international schools are dynamic places to work so teachers require resilience and a positive mindset.
What would be your ideal school environment, and how would you encourage that kind of culture in NAS?
My ideal school environment is a positive one because happy children learn, and staff will go above and beyond what is expected. I believe firmly in respectful relationships between all members of the school community.
During this pandemic, what steps or plans you do to maintain the quality of the NAS Jakarta’s education system so that your students are able to be one of the best graduates in Indonesia?
One of the first things I did in my role as the new principal of NAS Jakarta was to completely review our ‘Virtual School Experience’. It is clear that the pandemic is far from over and therefore I felt it was important to set up robust structures and procedures to support learning in different time zones (some of our families may be living overseas for some time to come) and that set times aside in the school day to focus on the wellbeing of our students.
NAS Jakarta remains committed to creativity in bringing our curriculum alive for our students whilst learning through our virtual school and we continually reach out to support our parents. Our children receive new materials to support their learning on a weekly basis through our special NAS Discovery Bags. We are pursuing our school developments and professional training for staff despite the school being closed and are continuing to offer a responsive program of virtual events for our community.
Could you give some examples of how you have communicated with students and parents to stay motivated during this challenging time?
I lead the school’s Primary assembly every week during this period of school closure so that I can encourage the children with their learning and consistently promote the values of the school. My teachers regularly send me news of outstanding learning which I celebrate through personalized letters to the children’s parents. Virtual school is not easy for parents, so I feel they need to be encouraged by their child’s achievements too!
I am fortunate in the skillset and creativity of my Marketing, Admissions, and Communications team who produce a steady stream of good news stories and updates via our social media feed, website, and internal communications with our school community. We all need encouragement and some light relief at this difficult time, so we bring an element of fun, a sense of optimism, and feelings of confidence and security to the way in which we communicate.
Thank you for your time!