Leadership Spotlight: George Stewart

The ISS Administrative Search Team was proud to lead the Superintendent search for American School Foundation Monterrey (ASFM), Mexico. Congratulations to George Stewart for accepting the position, beginning July 2021! George is currently the Head of Education Strategy at EF Education First.

George holds a BA from Bates College and MA from Middlebury College. He was also a Klingenstein Private School Leadership Fellow at Columbia Teachers College. In the following feature, learn more about what sparked his interest in education, his journey to this new position, and what he looks forward to bringing to the ASFM community.

What drew you to pursue the world of education? And what drew you into international education specifically?

My interest in international education and education, in general, started at a young age. My parents were teachers, we were fortunate to have summers in which we could travel, and, essentially, I grew up on a college campus, Dartmouth College, where my mom first was the Editor of the Webster Papers and later the Head of the Romance Language Department. When asked how I might connect my childhood experiences to my interest in Spanish, Mexico and ASFM, I point out that my mom’s first office at Dartmouth was adjacent to the Mexican mural, Epic of American Civilization, painted by Jose Clemente Orozco. His work dominates one whole wall of Baker Library and this same room was where I did my homework while waiting for my mom to finish work.

What countries or regions have you have worked in the past?

Most of my career has been in traditional independent schools in the US. In the last 10 years, however, while working as Head of Education Strategy for EF Education First, I travelled and worked all over the world as we developed and then launched our EF Academies: EFA Thornwood, EFA Pasadena, EFA Oxford.


George Stewart, his wife Alexandra Turner, and their children Nicholas and Jules

Please tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can your new community expect?

First, I think we all adapt our leadership style and philosophical approach according to the demands of the position as well as where we are in our own careers. 10 years ago, I stepped out of a traditional school setting to work for the one of the largest private education companies in the world, EF Education First. I did this because I had an idea about how online learning, cultural exchange and experiential learning could be woven together into one holistic program—EF backed the concept. When I started looking for Head of School positions, and was faced with writing a philosophy of education, I realized that what matters most to me and what seemed to support the success of any of my initiatives at EF, was that they were supported by a great working culture even though life and the success of my projects was so unpredictable. With this in mind, I titled my Edu Philosophy “From Surviving to Thriving: How to build a strong culture in uncertain conditions.”

In my opinion, any good philosophical statement should really function as a road map. It’s not good enough to just declare what you think and why you think it and then hope that others can extrapolate action steps from your views! Therefore, my educational philosophy is a roadmap that lays out the values I think are necessary to build a strong school. It’s an action plan. I’ve developed these views over three decades of working in public and private schools as well as the private sector, and ultimately, I think this roadmap is a useful guide to building a strong culture in any institution.

In short, Culture is the bedrock of highly functioning organizations (regardless of sector). In tumultuous periods when the world accelerates and shifts unexpectedly, a strong institutional culture can be the bedrock that guides decision making and helps everyone feel comfortable and at home. My roadmap to help schools maintain a thriving culture rests on three pillars: Cultivating Empathy, Embracing Diversity, and Fostering Innovation.

The American School Foundation Monterrey

Congratulations on the new position at ASFM! Why are you excited about this role? What are your hopes?

Gosh, I am really excited about everything having to do with ASFM. This is a tremendous school with a wonderful faculty, a committed board, and strong community support–I’m lucky and privileged to be the next superintendent of ASFM. Honestly, I feel like I won the lottery! Part of my excitement is that I’m returning to a country, language, culture that is deeply familiar to me and feels like home. I’m lucky to be following a super talented superintendent, Michael Adams, who has put the school on a solid foundation—there are no fires! This school community is strong, and I will have the luxury to help the school focus on what matters most to support learning and the needs of learners. ASFM is forward-thinking and is sincerely interested in building for the future—what a great moment to be part of this school’s history!

What is an interesting fact, story, or reflection that you’d like to share?

I think my brother and I might have been the first full family experiment in Experiential and Project Based Learning! At the beginning of elementary school my parents packed our family into a modified Toyota van to travel south from Hanover, NH, and soon I was in the business of studying Spanish instead of studying books. It turned out I had a talent for language and was fluent before I could read a novel!

Before the age of ten I had been to every country in Latin American (except for Venezuela) and seen the heights of Machu Picchu and the lows of slums in Buenos Aires. Travel profoundly opened my eyes to new places and perspectives. Speaking a foreign language at a young age taught me how empowering it can be to understand people from diverse backgrounds. And at a very young age I discovered the confidence that comes from feeling at home in a world far from your own. Somehow being forced into contact with new places and peoples gave me a confidence I’d never felt on my farm or in school in New Hampshire.

What was your experience with ISS and ISS Administrative Search like?

ISS and Beth Pfannl deeply understand the international and US school landscape and are tireless in helping their candidates navigate it successfully–great organization!


We thank George for these reflections as he prepares for an exciting new chapter with the ASFM community! You can follow his journey on Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you’re interested in pursuing a school leadership position, please check out our current leadership searches or get in touch with the ISS Administrative Search Team.



George and Alexandra