John Smithies

In his five years of principalship at this progressive international school with students of over fifty nationalities, John M. Smithies has focused on aligning standards and goals among instructors to foster a safe, supportive, and strong school community. Described by colleagues as an extraordinary leader and innovative educator, Smithies has met the unique challenges of serving a school with a highly diverse and transient population of both students and teachers. By utilizing collaboratively-created instructor Common Expectations documents and fostering a staff mindset dedicated to professional development, Smithies has ensured the preservation of institutional memory. In a school with high turnover, outreach to new families is key, and Smithies works individually with families and students to make sure they are on-board and comfortable with the school’s progressive structure. Identifying that some of the needs of the school’s neurodiverse student body were not being met, Smithies worked to support a schoolwide shift to a more inclusive mindset where educators are supported in taking a student-centered approach. The school now boasts a Sensory Learning Hub and an integrated mindfulness program. In the words of the School Head, Smithies’ “vision, constant reaffirmation of our mission, and ability to bring people into the fold and allocate resources have made his division a teaching and learning environment like none that I have witnessed or experienced.” Smithies holds a B.A. in Education from Tasmanian State Institute of Technology and an M.A. in Education from Deakin University.