Leadership Spotlight: Sam Mills

The ISS Administrative Search Team was proud to lead the Head of School search for Sias International School (Zhengzhou, China), an ISS managed school that opened in August 2020. Congratulations to Sam Mills for accepting the position, beginning May 2021!

Sam was most recently the Chief of Staff/Staff Attorney at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. He holds a Ed.D in Educational Leadership from High Point University; Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration from Campbell University; and BS in Special Education from Bradley University.

In the feature below, learn more about Sam’s career journey, leadership vision, and what he looks forward to bringing to the Sias community.

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

My wife grew up in international schools in Saudi Arabia. She has frequently talked about wanting to raise our kids internationally. When it came time to look at schools for Henry, we decided to research international options. We became convinced that an international education would best align with our educational philosophies.

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

Creating a passion for learning, treating everyone with kindness, and the ability to think critically are the most important tools we can equip our students with to be internationally-minded citizens. I believe that it is our responsibility as educators to design a learning environment where students can pursue their creativity and interests. To accomplish this, we must invest in teachers through professional development and collaborative planning opportunities. When we give teachers the tools, they will ignite a fire in their students to thrive in their learning environment.

I love helping leaders grow. My leadership is heavy on relationship building, honest feedback, and providing opportunities to challenge people to grow with support tailored to their needs.


Sam with wife Lauren and children Henry, Ruby, and Maya

Sias Campus auditorium design

Congratulations on the new position at Sias International School! Why are you excited about this role? What are your hopes?

Dr. Shawn Chen and the Sias IS Board of Directors have entrusted me with an incredible opportunity to grow a new school. We are blessed with tremendous support and resources to build a world-class learning environment. Without being too hyperbolic- I am honestly excited about every aspect of this new challenge. My primary goal is to hire staff who are as excited as I am about this opportunity and are willing to do whatever is needed to achieve the Sias IS vision. With the staff we have in place and those joining the family for 2021-22, I feel strongly that we are on the path of success.

What is an interesting fact, story, or reflection that you’d like to share?

I met my wife at an event with other educators. We played ‘two truths and a lie’. Below are two truths and a lie. Follow me on Twitter or send me an email with your guess about which one is a lie.

  • I played Division 1 college soccer at Bradley University.
  • My dissertation was titled “Closing Achievement Gaps Through Summer Instruction”.
  • I played Captain von Trapp in my high school’s performance of The Sound of Music.

Thanks to Sam for sharing these reflections, and we look forward to following the journey to Sias! You can connect with Sam on Twitter or Linkedin and read his welcome to the Sias community here.You’ll also find an article from Sam on page 26 of the April 2021 NewsLinks, sharing insight and advice about the leadership search process.

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.

Sam and family