Leadership Spotlight: Katherine Huamani
The ISS Administrative Search Team was proud to lead the Early Childhood Principal search for Cayman International School, Cayman Islands. Congratulations to Katherine Huamani for accepting the position, beginning August 2021! Katherine is currently the Head of Lower School at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Colorado, USA.
Katherine’s previous experiences and roles include Associate Division Head at Avenues: The World School, Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher at the International School of Brooklyn, and English teacher in South Korea and Morocco. Katherine holds a EdM in Private School Leadership from Columbia University, MA in Language & Literacy from the City College of New York, and a BA in Political Science and Education from Swarthmore College.
In this feature below, hear from Katherine about her journey in education, the influences in her leadership and educational ethos, and what she looks forward to bringing to CIS.
What countries or regions have you worked in in the past?
Over my career, I have had the privilege to serve as an educator across the world from South Korea to Morocco as well as across the United States. I was fascinated by how each different setting impacted each community’s identity and yet despite the difference, I was struck by how similar the needs of children are. All children want to be seen, heard, and, above all, genuinely loved. As educators, we show children we care by providing them opportunities to demonstrate courage through learning, integrity through growth, and persistence through challenges.
Fundamentally, children must know without a shadow of a doubt that we believe in them. Time and time again I have been humbled by the insight and capacity of young children. On my very first day teaching kindergarteners in Rabat, I recall entering the sunny classroom and being greeted by a flurry of languages – I heard Darija, French, Spanish and what I would later learn was Tamazight. It was awe-inspiring to hear students communicating in a variety of languages with friends newly made. The skills required to negotiate that initial meeting, the discovery of shared commonalities, and the pursuit of friendship across cultures and languages is what impressed me most. English, the language I was teaching them, was to be the fifth language for many of the students in the room and yet I was the one with the most to learn – the confirmation that children are not only innate learners but also inspirational teachers.
What drew you to pursue the world of education? And what drew you into international education specifically?
As a child of immigrant parents from Peru, the importance of education was deeply instilled in me from childhood. They moved to New York City so that I would have access to a great education. They nurtured a passion for learning in me – academics, music, languages – as well as curiosity about the world. In pursuing a path in education, I always strove to honor their sacrifices and realize a career that would allow me to live out and carry forward our familial values of courage, integrity, and persistence.
A life working in schools was a vehicle for continuous learning and growing – the most treasured of our core beliefs. Now, as an educator, I get the chance to continue the tradition of nurturing the love of learning in service of all the children I am lucky enough to meet.
Katherine, her parents Eliana and Raul, and sister Stephanie
Congratulations on your new position at Cayman International School! What excites you about being in this new role and school? What are your hopes?
I am thrilled to join such an incredible team in the Cayman Islands! The warmth of the community, approach to teaching and learning, as well as the vision for a unified school that centers itself on continuous improvement are all inspirational aspects of CIS that speak deeply to what I care about most in a school community. Beyond that, working with the youngest learners is most exciting. Their learning and growth at this age form the bedrock for lifelong learning; it is a privilege to be part of the start of the most impactful journey of any child’s life.
At Machu Picchu
Please tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can your new community expect?
I identify with the practices of servant leadership. It starts with listening. What are the needs of the individuals? The team? The community? It is furthered by empathy. What narratives exist that either help or harm individuals and the community? Most importantly, it is solidified by the building and strengthening of community. What bonds us? What helps us grow? I see my role in schools as the same whether I am with students or teachers – to guide and support others to be the best in whatever they choose to be.
What is an interesting fact, story, or reflection that people should know about you?
As a child, I struggled with public speaking. I would get all the tell-tale signs of an anxious public speaker – butterflies in my stomach, racing heart, and even sweaty palms! It was a facet of life I struggled with for much of my own early education. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I was able to finally overcome this challenge. Whether it was getting in front of a classroom of children or, later on, advocating for my students and colleagues, I learned to channel that anxiety into productive energy. Given my own journey with public speaking, I have come to understand the importance of opportunities for children to develop that lifelong skill in scaffolded and developmentally appropriate ways that instill confidence and future success.
What was your experience with ISS and ISS Administrative Search like?
There was such transparency and clarity throughout the entirety of the process. From beginning to end, the touchpoints were supportive and engaging. There was a clear sense that I was dealing with a professional organization that was equally invested in me as an individual as they were in finding the right candidate for the position. ISS is a thoughtful, thorough, and professional organization that clearly has the depth of experience from working in settings around the globe to support both candidates and schools.
Our thanks to Katherine for sharing these reflections and she begins a new chapter of leadership! Wishing her and her husband an easy move and transition to the Cayman Islands. We can’t wait to see her leadership flourish with the CIS community.
Katherine and her husband Ivan Irizarry in Rome