I recently completed the Orientation for new directors to American assisted overseas schools in Washington DC.
The Department of State of the United States government is the equivalent agency as the foreign affairs ministry of other countries. The State Department in its role of international relations, supports K-12 schools all over the world that US government dependent children attend. The Office of Overseas Schools (OS) manages this program and recently hosted an orientation for directors new to American assisted international schools. The international schools are private and independent, but cooperate closely with the Office of Overseas Schools. There are 193 schools in 133 countries with a total enrollment of over 125,000 students and over 7,000 American teachers.
OS helps Department-assisted schools in several main areas.
- Regional and Global Education Associations Due to isolation of international schools in their local markets, regional associations overcome this by facilitating sharing best practices, resources, etc. Tashkent International School belongs to the Central & Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) and are members of the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE). These are a valuable network for its members schools.
- Security The Department has granted over $116 million dollars since the Soft Target Security Initiative began 20 years ago.
- Child Protection The International Task Force on Child Protection started in 2015, sets standards and trains faculty in international schools. The OS worked with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) to create resources schools can use in their Education Portal.
- Training Programs This includes board members, college counselors and teachers.
- School Initiatives They have a lot of projects like AERO standards, Presidential awards, etc.
My big takeaways from the workshops were as follows:
- The Regional Education Officer (REO), Regional Security Officer (RSO) and Regional Medical Officer (RMO) are strong problem-solvers and a lifeline in times of crisis or need.
- Consider an executive or life coach to help me develop as a leader. AAIE has a good mentor program.
- I will prioritize child protection and emergency plans upon my arrival to make sure the policies and practices are in order.
I would like to thank everyone at the State Department and the Office of Overseas Schools for the orientation!