Leadership Spotlight: Sarah Clover

ISS Leadership Search was honored to support the Secondary Principal search for Vientiane International School in Vientiane, Laos.  Congratulations to Sarah Clover for accepting the position, beginning July 2024! Sarah is currently the Secondary Principal at the The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK).

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison; a Teaching Certification from the Transition to Teaching Program at George Washington University; and completed Post-Masters Educational Leadership studies at The College of New Jersey.

Sarah’s career has taken her to the USA, Thailand, Russia, and DR Congo. Her past experiences include Acting Principal Primary, Deputy Principal Primary & Secondary, and Diploma Program Coordinator at the International School of Kazan; Extended Essay Coordinator, Head of Department, and High School Social Studies Teacher at the International School Bangkok; and High School Social Studies Teacher at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County, Virginia.

In this feature, follow her journey in international education, her beliefs on empowering students and teachers, and how Sarah looks forward to creating meaningful impact and growing as part of the VIS community.

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

The hook for an international life was set when I was an undergraduate; I spent a term studying abroad, mostly in SE and East Asia and loved it. Before I moved into education, I worked in politics, cultural studies, and for non-profits. Later, a graduate school contact gave me an opportunity to spend a year teaching EAL in Bangkok.

After that experience, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in education. I was lucky enough to be part of a transition to teaching program that gave me a year-long internship in a High School in Virginia. After three years of teaching, a colleague told me about the amazing opportunities in international schools. It’s been the most rewarding way to combine so much of what I love doing; learning about other people, cultures and places, teaching and learning, and being part of close-knit communities as we’ve raised our children in the hopes of making a positive impact in the world.

Sarah with a group of Grade 11 and 12 students who organized a dodgeball tournament to raise funds for Operation Smile in the DR Congo

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

Schools should be a place of agency and life-long learning. I believe my primary role as a leader is to empower students and teachers, allowing everyone the chance to grow. I strive to create an environment that encourages reflection and autonomy, where students and teachers can become leaders themselves.

Learning is limited when individuals do not feel safe to take risks, ask questions, or make mistakes. Building an inclusive environment where everyone belongs comes through valuing diversity, respecting others, and fostering trust.

Congratulations on your upcoming role at Vientiane International School! What are you excited about in this new role?

I’m delighted to be joining VIS, a school committed to agency, innovation, and sustainability. What VIS shared with me regarding their mission, vision, and community left a remarkable first impression. When I had the opportunity to visit in person, I was instantly captivated by the VIS community and their remarkable embodiment of their values. VIS embraces a warm, inclusive, and mindful approach to education, learning, and their vision for the future. It offers a nurturing environment where individuals can find a sense of belonging.

I’m thrilled to return to Southeast Asia and be surrounded by the richness of Laos’ beauty, culture, and traditions. I am certain that VIS is a place where I can make a meaningful impact and continue to evolve both personally and professionally as an educator.

Vientiane International School

Sarah and her family in South Africa. From left to right: Evelyn, Katherine, Maeve, Sarah, and husband Chris

What was your experience with ISS Leadership Search like?

ISS really made the experience personalized. They made a sincere effort to know me and help me share the best of my experience with potential schools. As a result, I felt that all the schools that I was connected with were mutually good fits. During what can be a stressful process, I always felt that I was being supported.


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

I studied ballet for ten years before college, and as an adult I’ve made an effort to take part in the traditional dances everywhere I’ve traveled.


Our thanks to Sarah for sharing these experiences and insights! We look forward to seeing her inclusive leadership woven into the VIS community, and wish her family a joyful transition into life in Laos.

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