Interview with our Head of School Brandie Smith

Welcome to our new Head of School, Ms Brandie Smith. Ms Smith has officially been Head of School at LIS since the 2021/22 school year and has had a global career in education.

Tell us a little about what brought you to teaching?
I have wanted to teach since I can remember. As a child, I had a schoolroom in the basement of my parents’ house. I guess you could say I always knew teaching was my calling.

What brought you to a position of leadership in education?
My first school leadership position was IB Diploma Coordinator. This leadership transition occurred when I started working in the international school world.

Where have you worked in the world?
USA (Hawaii) , Iraq (Kurdistan), Albania, Germany

What attracted you to LIS?
LIS has a wonderful school community. I felt at home here from the moment I engaged with the school. I especially like the balanced mix of local and international students.

What is your role as Head of School?
The Head of School is the learning leader, spokesperson, and liaison for the whole school community. As Head of School, I am responsible for academic leadership, strategic vision, and a quality student experience.

What strengths/characteristics do you need for this job?

  • Positive Energy
  • Value Driven
  • Life-Long Learner (creative/innovative)
  • Persistent/Committed
  • Collaborative

Who is your team?
The entire school community (students, parents and LIS staff).

What are some of the challenges of leading in an educational organisation?
Currently COVID is the greatest challenge for each and every educational organization around the world.

Why should parents send their kids to LIS?
LIS is a school full of HAPPY kids.

Who inspires you?
Good question and one that is difficult to answer. The great thing about international schools you have the privilege of learning from and working with people from all over the world. I believe we can learn from everyone. Two of the most inspirational people in my life have been my former swimming coach and the middle school principal I worked for in Hawaii.

How do you deal with the stress and pressure of your job?
I was a competitive swimmer growing up and definitely learned how to manage stress and pressure during that time. To this day, I can hear my former coach reminding me to “Accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” This guides me in both my personal and professional life.
Apart from that, I love to travel and spend time with friends and family when I have the opportunity.

You have your own child at LIS. How do you experience the school as a parent?
My child is delighted here; he enjoys going to school daily and has the opportunity to challenge himself and try new things. As a parent, I hope that my child grows and develops into a balanced citizen of the world ~ LIS fosters that opportunity.

What makes a good teacher?
A genuine passion for working with students and a positive growth mindset.

Some of our students also asked questions. Here is a small selection of student questions:

Did you always want to be a teacher or did you also have a plan B?
No – I did not , I guess you could say I always knew this was my calling.

What were your favourite subjects when you were a child?
Social studies

What is your favourite food?
Thai food (extra spicy)

Do you look forward to the first day of school after the holidays, or do you regret the end of the holidays?
I enjoy returning to school and always look forward to the end of the holidays. Teaching and working in and with schools is a passion of mine. I consider myself lucky to have a career that I love to do.

How long have you been working as a teacher?
Teaching is the only career I have ever had. As a teenager, I worked as a swim instructor and swim coach. I was a lifeguard trainer and swim instructor for Hawaii Special Olympics in university. Following graduation from university, I began teaching at a middle school in Hawaii and then moved into the international school system.

LIS is truly a special place for our students to learn, grow and develop into citizens of the world who truly make a difference.  Although this is not a typical school year, rest assured, this will be a fantastic year where our students will enga­ge in rigorous and relevant learning experiences that help them build relationships and make real-world connections.

What do you like best about our school?
Our school community (students, parents, and members of staff!) LIS is a unique environment, and it is my I am privileged to be a member of this community.

Please know that my door is always open. I look forward to getting to know each of you. I am here, available, and ready to partner with you for a successful school year. I am excited to begin this journey as your Head of School and look forward to ma­king a difference together.

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