Leadership Spotlight: Ken Kunin
ISS Administrative Search was proud to lead the Head of School search for The International School Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile. Congratulations to Ken Kunin for accepting the position and beginning the role this July 2022! Ken was most recently the Superintendent of South Portland Schools, in South Portland, Maine.
Ken holds a BA in English Literature from Brown University, Rhode Island; a MEd in Special Education from Lesley University, Massachusetts; and a CAS in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Maine.
His prior experiences include serving as the Secondary Principal at the American Overseas School of Rome. He has also been a High School Principal at Deering HS, Maine; Elementary Principal at Reiche School, Maine; and the Associate Executive Director/Principal at Walker Home and School for Children, Massachusetts.
In this feature, learn the inspiration behind his leadership vision, what excited him about joining the Nido community — plus, how the lens of being a juggler informs his journey.
What drew you to pursue the world of education? And what drew you into international education specifically?
I have come to understand that beyond the story we sometimes tell ourselves and others about why we do this hard work, for each of us there is another deeper and more personal story. My own story, and the winding path over the course of my career serving families from around the corner and across the globe, has taught me that as educators in learning and caring communities, we each have the joyful and solemn responsibility to add threads of color, of caring, and of learning to the tapestries of all of the students we are privileged to serve.
Together with our students’ families, friends, school staff, and community members, each of us has a hand in weaving a tapestry, thread by thread, to enrich our students’ lives. Through our weaving, we have the power to ensure that there is a web of caring for each and every student we know — and also for those we may not yet know yet, but who deserve the opportunity to someday add to the strength, the beauty, and the wonder of the tapestry of our community and our world.
Students and mascot at The International School Nido de Aguilas
Please tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can your new community expect?
Working with staff, parents, students, and community to create and sustain an equitable vision worth striving towards, and mobilizing our collaborative efforts in gathering the will, tools and resources to do the work is key to my educational leadership. In each school that I’ve led, I engaged the community in deciding what is truly important and then focused efforts to reach goals. This has led to new and renovated buildings, updated technology, new programs and services, revamped curriculum, collective directions for professional learning and a deeper sense of the school as an equitable, respectful and kind community where all can see themselves in the face of their school.
This process is never complete as we meet challenges and opportunities that emerge every day in our school, our community, and our world. Much is possible when there is a shared vision of what it means to educate ALL students to high levels.
The Nido campus
Congratulations on your new position at The International School Nido de Aguilas! What excites you about being in this new role and school? What are your hopes?
I am excited by so many aspects of the opportunity to be of service as Head of School at Nido, a truly international school in Santiago, Chile with over sixty student and faculty nationalities. Nido’s mission to “empower learners to connect authentically, explore with curiosity, and act with purpose,” deeply resonates with me. As an educator, my aim has been to create relationships in service of learning that challenges all learners – students, teachers and families – to make a positive difference in their individual and collective futures.
I welcome the chance to lead a school that is dedicated to the IB approach through offering the DP. I am convinced that striving towards the IB learner profile, in close alignment with the Nido way as a private school with a public purpose, is more important now than ever.
What is an interesting fact or story about you that you would like to share?
I am a juggler, having briefly earned a living as a street performer in the Southwest of the United States many years ago. I continue juggling to this day – and not just juggling life with my wife, an immigration law policy expert, and my 21 year old child, a musician who works in a veterinary emergency care center.
Rather, looking through the lens of a juggler has informed my efforts as I serve the schools I have led. While we are often required to keep many things in the air in schools, this is not the point. As a juggler, I know that improvement and excellence takes focused and thoughtful effort directed towards better results. As a juggler, I know that progress is not a straight line, and that persistence, willingness to learn through mistakes, and finding joy in the journey, is vital to success.
And finally, what was your experience with ISS Administrative Search like?
First and foremost, ISS appears to look through the lens of what it takes to strengthen and improve the schools with which it partners. Knowing this, I had confidence throughout the search process that I’d find a school where my experience and skills would be of service.
Ken in Segovia, with wife Beth Stickney and child Simi Kunin
Much appreciation to Ken for sharing these thoughtful reflections! We look forward to seeing the tapestry Ken and the Nido community continue to weave together. You can follow his journey on Linkedin.