Leadership Spotlight: Daniel Yamasaki

ISS Administrative Search was proud to lead the Head of School search for Del Mar Academy in Nosara, Costa Rica. Congratulations to Daniel Yamasaki for accepting the position, beginning July 2022! Dan is currently the General Director at Colegio Panamericano, Colombia.

Dan holds an MA in Education from the University of Phoenix, USA; BEd from Queen’s University, Canada; and a BA in Sociology from McMaster University, Canada. He will graduate in October with an EdD in International School Leadership from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. His previous experiences include serving as Principal at Colegio Granadino in Manizales, Colombia, and as a Teacher at the Toronto District School Board.

Learn more about the serendipitous night that inspired Dan to teach abroad, the beliefs that guide his school leadership, and what he finds uniquely exciting about this chapter ahead at Del Mar Academy!

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

My whole life, I have been involved in working with children and youth in recreational settings, so it was natural for me to enter a career in education. As a university student, I happened to be walking home on a cold winter night and stopped into the faculty of education building to warm up. At that very moment, there was a seminar on international teaching showing a slideshow (this was pre-powerpoint) of mountains, coffee fields, and tropical beaches. I knew I had to go!

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

I believe in creating a nurturing environment that encourages student innovation, community involvement, and challenges that prepare students for their future.

To illustrate this, I would like to recount an initiative at my current school. A few years ago, we were renovating our elementary playground. Since we are a project-based, STEM-certified school, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for our students to have a real-life, problem-based learning experience. I reached out to parents from our community that were architects and engineers to help us design a contest to be used as a blueprint for the new park. We launched this project with all the classes from third to fifth grade. Students interviewed experts, created plans, gathered feedback from younger students, and refined their designs. They submitted their projects to a jury of architects and the winning team had their design used for the construction of a new playground!


Daniel and school mascot

Del Mar Academy

Congratulations on your new position at Del Mar Academy! What excites you about being in this new role and school? What are your hopes?

Many international schools have the vision of preparing globally-minded students who are agents of change. However, it is rare to find a school that lives the vision in so many ways. It is abundantly clear that the students of Del Mar Academy learn through a transdisciplinary approach that develops the whole child and in a school culture that promotes respect, stewardship, and sustainability with the world around them.

Furthermore, Del Mar Academy positively impacts the broader community through its scholarship program, which allows local students to access high-quality education and, consequently, enriches the school and experience of all stakeholders. This is a vision that I am excited about, and I hope that I can add my grain of sand to this exciting educational project.

What is an interesting fact or story about you that you would like to share?

I arrived in Manizales, Colombia 20 years ago, for my first job overseas. As I exited the plane there was a group of people waving Colombian flags and taking pictures. There was even a band playing! I had heard Colombians were welcoming, but I had no idea! I returned their love by smiling and waving emphatically. As I walked across the tarmac, they did not embrace me as I expected but were indifferent to my approach. Their eyes remained fixed on the exiting passengers. That was when I realized that this welcome was not for me. There was a presidential election that year and the welcome was for a visiting candidate. These were his supporters. Even though that welcome was not for me, I was right about one thing. Wherever I have traveled in Latin America, I have found warm and friendly people eager to welcome visitors to their country.

Daniel and an incredible student

Dan and family

What was your experience with ISS Administrative Search like?

It was a wonderful experience working with the ISS leadership recruiting team. They were committed to get to know me as a person, as well as a professional. This led to an opportunity that I know will be a good one for myself and my family.


Thank you so much to Dan for sharing his journey! We wish him and his family a smooth move and transition to Costa Rica; he will be joined by his wife Lina and youngest son Andrew, going into Grade 8. You can follow Dan’s journey on Linkedin and Twitter.

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.