Leadership Spotlight: Viki Stiebert
As the ISS Administrative Search Team enters another full season of leadership searches this 2020-21, join us to check in on a successful candidate from last season’s selection process. In the 2019-20 recruitment season, the Admin Search team led and supported 40+ school leadership searches spanning 25 countries, including a successful search for the Director of the International School of Bergen (ISB). Congratulations to Viki Stiebert, who began her new position in Bergen, Norway in August 2020!
Prior to her role at ISB, Viki was the Director at the International School Panama. Her previous experiences include leadership roles in Switzerland and New Zealand, as well as time in Austria, Germany, and Scotland. Viki holds an Master of Arts in Art History from St Andrews University (Scotland), a Master of Arts in Leadership and Change Management from York St John University (UK), and TOEFL from Trinity University London (UK). She also holds an Advanced Leadership Certification in Educational Leadership and PTC Diploma of Teaching in Elementary Education from Victoria University (Wellington, New Zealand).
In this feature, learn more about Viki’s journey in international education, her hopes for this new chapter at ISB, and more.
What drew you to pursue the world of education? And what drew you into international education specifically?
Thinking back as far as kindergarten, elementary school in Germany, and secondary school in New Zealand, the learning process itself has always filled me with excitement and joy. It was natural after several years of exploring other options to return to my primary passion: the joy that learning imparts. After training to be a teacher in New Zealand, I returned to Germany and applied for a position at the International School of Hamburg. There, for the first time, I became part of an international learning community. That excitement is still with me today, six countries later.
Tell us about your education philosophy and your leadership style. What can the community expect? What excites you about this new role at the International School of Bergen?
There is a Maori proverb that poses the question, “What is the most important thing in the world?” The answer: “Te Tangata, Te Tangata, Te Tangata”
It is “The People, The People, The People.”
This quote resonates with me as an educator. Schools are about the transformation of people, helping children shape the future. They are about relationships between children, parents, teachers and administrators, and about evoking change as a community.
As I believe in this power of relationships, my style as a leader is one of participative leadership and the development of strong teams. Collaboration and thinking together can only lead to better results. Time and again, I find that when a group of leaders get together and truly inquire, rather than advocate for a cause, the thinking of the group as a whole improves.
It is important to me that schools form their programs around the needs of children, and not vice versa. While I have frequently seen children having to meet the needs of programs, I believe differentiating for children’s needs and being flexible in this, even when it means breaking new ground, is important. It is our job as educational leaders to make this possible.
International School of Bergen campus
Recent developments in brain research enable us, for the first time in history, to use this newfound knowledge to teach purposefully and ensure learning in an evidence-based approach. Staying up to date with these developments enables us to further optimize learning conditions for students in our schools.
International schools are the center of a community, the hub where the international community comes together. This enhances the ability of parents to be partners in their child’s education. It is also an opportunity to offer a place to be learners together, striving towards a common goal, focusing on our greatest resource:
Te Tangata, Te Tangata, Te Tangata
What excites you about being in this new role and school? What are your hopes?
Currently, one of the things I am most excited about is that after five months of being online or transitioning from country to country, I am able to be face-to-face once again with faculty and students. ISB is a small school where one is able to connect with all the learners as well as with the parents. This intentional connection is part of my Entry Plan. I am hoping that once I have been able to experience the ‘pulse of the school,’ I will be able to contribute to growing the school and providing contextual learning experiences for our students.
What is an interesting fact, story, or reflection people should know about you?
I feel privileged to have been part of so many people’s learning journeys. I’m passionate about connecting faculty and students with the right opportunities to help fulfill their goals. A number of the faculty I have worked with have moved on to become administrators; students are daily discovering their passions in the learning environments I am a part of. Intentionally planning for this to happen is deeply important to me. The saying, “We rise by lifting others” has become my Twitter tag and a life focus.
What have your experiences with ISS and ISS Administrative Search been like?
ISS has undergone many changes in recent years and has recruited a number of educators of excellence. Their workshops on Women in Leadership have become a needed reflective hour for women around the globe to replenish their energies. Beth Pfannl stood out in my leadership search for being able to listen and answer thoughtfully and honestly.
As a group, their recruitment tools, their alliance with CGC and their regular workshops are changing international education. It has been refreshing working with ISS in a number of different ways and observe them reinvent themselves.
Viki moved to this latest position with her husband Peter McGrath and Bullmastiff Lyra. We wish them all a continued smooth transition to their new home, and fantastic school year ahead for ISB! Follow Viki on twitter for more updates from her journey in international education.