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Simon N. Gillespie
International School Manila
U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Schools
Taguig City, Metro Manila, Phillipines
Gillespie@ismanilla.org

Establishing a clear vision, training staff in inclusive education, and forging strong partnerships with parents and community members are among Simon N. Gillespie’s accomplishments in just two years as principal of the middle school at International School Manila. Gillespie began by leading and facilitating the development of a school-wide mission and vision aligned to a curriculum framework that is unique to the needs of middle school students. With guidance from the book, This We Believe, by the Association of Middle Level Education, Gillespie and his faculty identified essential attributes to the program including developmentally appropriate, challenging, empowering, equitable, and internationally-minded. Collaborative team planning, cross-disciplinary skills, and support for ongoing, embedded staff professional development are central components. Gillespie also prioritized inclusion with a focus on conceptual learning and an inquiry model that challenges all students at their individual levels. Students are taught to be self-advocates for support by understanding and communicating their needs to teachers. To strengthen stakeholder relationships with the grade five through eight, 680-student school, Gillespie maintains high visibility on campus, an “open door” policy for parents, and an advisory program focused on kids’ social and emotional needs. Technology enhances communication through a blog space and various Google applications, offering innovative ways for parent involvement. Parent-teacher conferences are more private and in-depth, and student-led meetings guide parents through their child’s learning. The Classroom Without Walls and Saturday Service experiences connect students and staff with the local community to help develop projects for those in need. Gillespie holds a B. A. in Education from the University of Alberta; an M.A. from California State University, Northridge; and an Ed.D. from Walden University.