The Quirky Quibbler

Meet the New Director

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With every new school year come many new changes. One of these changes this year at SIS is the new director, Ms. María “Marisa” Isabel León.

We at the Quirky Quibbler had the chance to meet with the new director and ask her all of the questions the SIS community might have.

Ms. León grew up in Bogotá Colombia and later attended high school and college in the USA. She went to Bryn Mawr College in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Before moving to Sweden and starting at SIS, Ms. León lived and worked in Austin, Texas.

Many of you might be wondering, as we at the Quirky Quibbler were too, what exactly is the role of the director? This was one of the first questions we asked Ms. León, “The director has three main areas of focus. The first is to ensure that the strategic plan for the school is put in place and that we follow it. The second is being the balance between the school and the board. The third is to create the advancement office, which includes creating groups for fundraising, external communications, an alumni, and so on.”

How does a typical day look life for you?

Everyday is so different! One of my goals this year is to be very present, and to make sure that the community gets to know me. I often stand at the door every morning at the main building so that I am able to get to know the parents. I am present at assemblies, the school jog, fire drills, evacuations and PTA breakfasts. Also, as the director, I help run all of the meeting for the senior leadership team as well as the extended leadership team.

Right now I am conducting interviews with every single member of staff at SIS in order to get to know everyone. The questions I am asking everyone are what they love about SIS, what things they wish to improve and what they expect from me as director.

The process so far has been very much a learning curve about understanding the school and the community.

What was your initial reaction about the SIS environment?

There has a sense of care, warmth, understanding of different cultures, which I found  very attractive to me. I felt that the community was very serious about providing a good education where there is a rigorous academic system in place. I also felt that there was an autonomy to explore, that students take their own initiatives and are supported, and that the student wanted to take initiative.

I also had a very good impression of the students, who I loved meeting. I was impressed by how articulate the students are, and I was impressed by the DP students who are a product of this school

How is SIS different from the other schools you have been at?

I was coming from a school that only taught until the 8th grade and I missed having the opportunity to see students graduate and go off to college, which is the first difference between SIS and my previous school. Also, my previous school was an immersion school where we taught in both Spanish and English. It was also a very large school.

I feel that SIS is an older, more established school which has its own set of already established traditions such as the Hat Parade, UN Day and many other events. SIS has a very strong sense of community.

The main similarities between SIS and my other school are the sense of an international curriculum,  just as at my previous schools which were IB, MYP and PYP curriculums.

What do you hope to achieve here at SIS?

SIS is at such a great foundation right now, but we can make it better. One of the changes we wish to achieve is the change in physical location, being able to access better spaces, improvements for the school in terms of technology and STEM*,  as I feel that school is a bit behind here. I wish to create an innovation space, and hope to create innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities for the students.

Another thing I want to focus on is how do we elevate the profile of this school in Sweden and on an international platform. I hope we are able to achieve this through annual funding, capital campaign, creating an alumni system and more. Other areas to improve in include increasing global leadership and increasing global citizenship.

Many might also be wondering what is happening with the move of SIS, and when the Quirky Quibbler asked Ms. León she said the school is working on it and that it is headed in a positive direction. She also said they are close to having a contract signed and close to producing a timeline.

Ms. León’s also wanted to add that she is, “very very very very happy to be here. I want to thank everybody because I have gotten a very warm welcome!”

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Meet the New Director