Elsa Donohue

For six years, Elsa H. Donohue has served as principal of Jakarta Intercultural School, aligning the mission and values of the elementary school’s two campuses and nearly 900 students. She implemented a significant pedagogical shift at the school, moving from a “prep course” mindset to a place where students are honored as capable, creative and inquisitive, while still delivering top-quality academic results. She began by shifting the Early Years Program to a constructivist Reggio-based approach that engages children in play-focused, yet intellectually rigorous learning experiences that spark their love of learning for life. This change inspired the faculty to re-envision the functioning of the whole school through an immersive Appreciative Inquiry process, which has resulted in a school that is thriving and more connected than ever. Donohue implemented Community Inquiry Circles, parent-teacher groups that explore various questions in a conversational but structured format designed to involve families more deeply in the academic and developmental growth of their children. The key to Donohue’s leadership style “is her ability to build trust with all stakeholders in the school community while relentlessly focusing on improving teaching and learning,” according to JIS vice principal Murray Hodgson. Donohue holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from University of North Florida, and M.A.s in Curriculum and Teaching and Educational Leadership, respectively.