Leadership Spotlight: Jaime Brianna Pustis
ISS Leadership Search was proud to lead the High School Principal search for The Western Academy of Beijing, China. Congratulations to Dr. Jaime Brianna Pustis for accepting the position, beginning August 2023! Jaime is currently the High School Principal at The American School of Guatemala.
Jaime holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Wilkes University; a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum Design from Pacific University; and a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and Spanish Literature from The University of Oregon. Her experiences in education have taken her to Peru, Poland, Latvia, Cameroon, and Guatemala.
In this feature, hear about what sparked Jaime’s journey in international education, the mission that now draws her to The Western Academy of Beijing, and the values she holds to as a human-centered educator and leader.
What drew you to pursue the world of education? And what drew you into international education specifically?
Teachers have made an enormous impact on my success as a human throughout my life. The support that I received from educators inspired me to want to serve those around me by going into education. After graduating with my Master’s, my family was traveling around the world for a year and invited me to visit them anywhere and anytime. After visiting my family in Spain and Morocco, I felt an enormous urge to want to live outside of the U.S. in order to learn more about the world around me.
After teaching in Central Oregon in the United States for two years, I decided to take the leap with my husband Rob and seek positions in an international school for the first time! To be able to connect learning about the world and teaching was a dream!!
Where has your career taken you since?
I have worked in international schools for the past 13 years as a math and science teacher, then a Middle School Assistant Principal, MYP Coordinator, Upper School Vice Principal, and currently a High School Principal. Through these experiences, and in my studies and research in my doctoral journey, I have focused on developing human centered school cultures. This has led to the foundation of student voice being the driving force behind school innovations, such as Mini-Mesters, passion based intensive courses facilitated by students and teachers.
Jaime at her doctoral graduation
Congratulations on your new position at The Western Academy of Beijing (WAB)! What excites you about being in this new role and school? What are your hopes?
The Western Academy of Beijing is a school community dedicated to living and breathing its mission: connect, inspire, challenge: make a difference. This is evident through the great diversity in opportunities it offers to its community, through their work in giving back to the broader community, and in their focus on continuously learning in order to better serve students.
In its nearly thirty years of existence, WAB has been at the forefront of educational innovation, pushing the boundaries of that which is traditional, for that which serves students now and in the future. This has been evident in their work on developing a strategic plan founded in the voices of alumni and students or in their development of the Future of Education Now conference. All of this, and more, make me feel incredibly humbled and fortunate to have the opportunity to join this incredible community!
Please tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can your new community expect?
Thirteen years of living around the world has solidified my belief that schools thrive when cultures are inclusive and positive. My experiences have shaped me into a human-centered educator and leader, and a champion for the diversity that exists in the world around us. I believe that my role in communities is to serve in order for students, teachers, and other stakeholders to thrive.
To create incredible things in schools, trust must be present, built through authenticity, humility, listening, care, reflection, and presence. This is woven throughout everything that I do. As students continuously change, I believe that schools must continue to innovate in order to serve their communities. I have led innovation with the grounding belief that lasting change occurs only when the voices of students are a central part of the entire process.
Brindisi (Jaime and Rob’s Fox Terrier) will join the family move to Beijing!
What is an interesting fact or story about you that you would like to share?
Two things that bring me great joy are running and making pasta from scratch! Being outside, especially on a trail, and running helps me to clear my mind and center myself. My husband Rob and I have run half marathons around the world as a way to see different cities and connect that with something we love, running! Making pasta by hand is a magical process that requires me to slow down and focus on the here and now. I find different recipes and then experiment with them, making different creations and delicious things to try. I love the act of creating something from scratch!
Thank you for sharing, Jaime! Finally, what was your experience with ISS Leadership Search like?
My experiences with ISS and the leadership search process were incredible because of the support that I received from the ISS team. They were attentive when I had questions, shared their perspectives, and genuinely wanted me to find success.
This sets ISS apart from other experiences that I have had, they are not only an advocate for schools and finding the right person for them, but they truly want to support applicants in finding their right spot. This is done through their process of getting to know applicants so they have the ability to speak to whom they are putting forward as strong candidates for a position. I believe that I was successful in this search because of this process and their support!
Our great appreciation to Jaime for these reflections! ISS is wishing her, Rob, and Brindisi an enriching chapter ahead in China. You can connect with Jaime on Linkedin.