With excitement and optimism, the ISC Board of Trustees announces the appointment of our next Head of School, Ms. Tini Bennett. This appointment comes after a four-month global search in coordination with Search Associates, and a unanimous vote by ISC’s Board of Trustees.
A 15-year veteran in international education, Tini brings to the task a wealth of classroom, administrative, and multicultural experiences and accomplishments. Since 2012, Tini has been at the Dar es Salaam International Academy in Tanzania (DIA), a 300-student school, where she first served as the Primary Year Programme (an International Baccalaureate curriculum) Coordinator for two years before being promoted in 2014 to the Head of School position in which she currently serves. As the Head of School at DIA, she has been particularly instrumental in the addition and expansion of the Middle School, and in “exponential” increases in the school’s enrollment. Meanwhile, Tini also currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Association of International Schools in Africa.
Prior to her work at DIA, Tini worked to co-found and manage the construction of the Starehe Nursery School in Mwanza, Tanzania, an initiative whose inspiration arose from some volunteer work she’d been doing at the Starehe Children’s Home orphanage. Recognizing and responding to a void in educational opportunities for the children at the orphanage, she began in 2003 to design, plan, and fundraise to build the school, ultimately bringing the project to fruition in 2007. Along the way Tini was responsible for managing all areas of the school including business logistics and operations, developing curriculum and extracurricular activities, staff recruitment and training, and ensuring older students within the children’s home also had access to the highest quality of education in the area. Sometimes, she even squeezed in some time to sleep.
In the words of former and current colleagues, Tini is a “supportive” and “empowering” leader, with a record of creating and articulating a “clear vision” for her schools, and the “resourcefulness” to see a vision through to realization. She “skillfully manages” finances, with “strong interpersonal, networking and communication skills,” and an ability “to listen empathetically and with cultural sensitivity.” The teachers whom she has supervised at DIA have shared that “Tini is a community-focused global citizen” who is “responsive to the needs of those she lives and works with.” They laud her determination, strong work ethic, compassion, and creativity, and appreciate that she is “collaborative and flexible, with a desire to empower those around her to meet their full potential.”
In her short time in Charlottesville, Tini made a favorable impression on many members of the ISC community, as well. In the words of one person who met her, “She seems bright, driven, warm; understands how a school functions and has experience in building a school. She has implemented an IB curriculum in her school and knows the importance of accreditation. [In our conversation], she was an advocate for teachers and their professional growth and wants to support them in order to [maintain high retention]. She understands the role of the Head of School and would generate respect, collaboration not only within our school but within the larger community. She seems to truly understand our school and she respects what we have built....She can see the challenges facing her in stages, and very masterfully outlined a timeline on how we can simultaneously increase our visibility and our importance in town (even when we are not immediately looking for money or expansion) in order to be prepared for making the jump to a new campus in [the near future]. The challenges & opportunities that ISC faces did not seem daunting to her at all and I would feel very confident with her leading the way.”
Others who met Tini described her as energetic, passionate, level-headed, strategic, confident, ambitious, experienced, thoughtful, multi-cultural, and that “she seems to have a great humanitarian’ quality, focusing on the challenges of providing education for less fortunate families.”
Philosophically, Tini strongly believes in holistic and inclusive education which focuses on connecting home, school and the community. She is a self-described “third-culture kid” herself, having been raised bilingually in Germany and the United States, and graduated from the Atlanta International School with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. Tini now speaks not only German and English, but also Swahili and some French, and she and her husband, a native of South Africa, are raising their two young children trilingually.
In the wake of this exciting and reassuring news, we would like to thank the Parent Advisory Committee and the teachers who participated and shared input, and most especially the members of the Head of School Search Committee: Rusty Carlock, Neal Gorman, Jon Hill, Hilary Ritt, and the indispensable committee Chair, Amanda Armstrong. Amanda not only organized but also executed nearly every step of the search process, arranging travel, drafting and managing schedules, providing food, hosting and escorting candidates, gathering information, processing data, and facilitating meetings. It was an extraordinary investment of time and effort, and Amanda was utterly instrumental in the success of this process. Thank you, Amanda, and all the members of the committee, Board, and ISC community who contributed time, insight, thoughtfulness, and talents to the search. In the coming months, we will keep you updated about plans for the transition, and invite you to contact us if you have any questions.
The ISC Board of Trustees