Leadership Spotlight: Jen Munnerlyn

This 2019-20 recruitment season, the ISS Administrative Search Team has led and supported 40+ school leadership searches spanning 25 countries, with more searches continuing to be added. We are proud to have led the selection process for the Lower School Director at the American School of Madrid. Congratulations to Jen Munnerlyn for accepting the position, beginning August 2020!

Jen is currently the Elementary Principal at the American School of Warsaw, Poland. Previously, she’s been an Assistant Principal in Abu Dhabi, UAE and Teacher in Shanghai, China. Jen holds a BA from Louisiana State University, Masters of Science in Education from SUNY New York, Essential Skills for Principals Certificate from the Principals Trainings Center, and a District of Columbia Administrative Credential.

Read on to hear more about her path in international education, as well as her hopes for this next chapter in Spain.


Why are you excited about this new role at ASM? What are your hopes?   

The American School of Madrid is committed to a solid academic program grounded in a workshop-based approach. My background as both an instructional coach and as a Principal with experience in developing systems across a division will allow me to support teachers as they implement the curriculum. In addition, the proposed future facilities projects on the ASM campus will allow for more flexible learning design. Leading the community through those changes will be an important part of my role at the school over the next few years. I’m excited about the future and I believe my job is to help make things even better for the students, staff, and parents at ASM.  

American School of Madrid

Tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can the community expect?

As much as we are called to educate children for a future we cannot see, we are also responsible for delivering on the promise of a high-quality childhood today. In my role as an international school leader, I embrace that polarity, working within the complex systems of a school to ensure the humans doing the work (children and adults) are healthy, happy and able. In my role as Lower School Director at the American School of Madrid, I will work to create the conditions for teachers and other staff to teach the skills and concepts necessary for students to progress, while staying focused on seeing those same children as diverse, capable humans. I will trust and empower the educators in my building to use their own professional judgment to design, implement and teach, ensuring our children’s progress is considered from both an academic and social-emotional stance.​

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

While my 20+ years in education have all been working with elementary-aged students, what many people don’t know is that my original plan was to be a high school teacher. I was an English major in university and the plan (after my parents helped me realize that writing a novel was probably not my best goal) was to become an English teacher. Right up to beginning student-teaching, that was the plan. However, nearing the end of my studies I was allowed to shadow a student teacher for a day and in even the first hours realized the big kids were not a fit for me. After some maneuvering, I was allowed to join a year-long elementary preparation program. It was the best decision because my heart has always been with younger children.   

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

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by little kids. How they think, what they choose to do and why, the joy they have in being alive each day; everything about young students keeps me engaged and interested.

As for my decision to work overseas, my parents were both International educators who, during their careers in the 1980s and 1990s lived in Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Peru, and Poland. School-talk was always part of my life, and so became a natural path for me to follow. In many ways, returning to an overseas school was for me, much the same as someone returning to their hometown after college. It didn’t matter which school or which country I went to, I understood the culture, felt familiar with the people and the role, and ultimately got to go “home.”   



We appreciate Jen’s sharing her insight, and look forward to seeing her leadership in action next school year at ASM! You can follow her on twitter for more updates.

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

Jen and now-husband Tim, 1990, Senior year at International School of Kuala Lumpur