Dear SLLIS Community Members and Stakeholders,
It is with great pleasure, excitement, confidence and humility that I address this, my first official correspondence as Founding Head of The International School, to Ms. Broussard, members of the Board of Directors, fellow SLLIS Heads of School, SLLIS students and teachers, parents, stakeholders, and committed members of the greater TIS community.
If you’ll indulge me for a few moments, I promise to do as thorough and concise a job as possible of introducing myself to you. My name is Jeff Lash, and I am currently the Secondary School (MS/HS) Principal of Colegio Karl C. Parrish in Barranquilla, Colombia. I have lived and/or worked on five continents, gaining valuable experience along the way as a teacher and school leader at levels ranging from middle school to high school, all the way up through both undergraduate university and adult education.
I am sending you this brief – but very heartfelt – letter from my desk near the sunny, steamy Caribbean coast of northern Colombia. My present location is significant because it marks the most recent leg of a professional and personal journey that has involved learning about and living in many cultures outside the US, as well as learning and reaching a level of near-native fluency in three languages in addition to my native English – French, Spanish and Arabic. In fact, the language immersion theme runs through much of my post-HS life, and has played a very significant role in shaping the type of person I am today. Language acquisition is, on a very basic level, high-quality, cognitive brain development. Learning about other cultures is a fascinating, eye-opening experience. Together, they are an invaluable source of confidence and enduring knowledge.
Prior to moving with my beautiful wife and two amazing kids to South America, I worked as an Assistant Principal at an IB- MYP middle school in Fairfax County, a large school district just outside Washington, DC, in Northern Virginia. Leading up to my promotion to that position, I taught ESOL, Math and Language Arts for eight years in the same school system, ultimately becoming the chair of a large ESOL department. Near the end of this stretch, I completed a Master’s in Education Leadership at George Mason University, where I also taught undergraduate French. This paved the way for me to begin working as a school leader. Before all of that, way back in the 1990’s, I took a Master of Arts in Teaching from the School for International Training (in Brattleboro, VT) to South Korea, where I spent a year as an ESL teacher, followed by three years as a teacher-trainer, curriculum developer, teacher and freelance translator in Rabat, Morocco. My theory is that I was bitten early and often by the travel bug while growing up as a Marine brat whose family lived in Hawaii and Japan, among several other US locations.
All of this amounts to little more than the proverbial hill of beans if it hasn’t given me the skills, knowledge and experience to take on the job of The International School’s Founding Head of School, hit the ground running, create a positive, enriching, supportive and inspirational, internationally-minded school culture, and – ultimately – send TIS’ first class of IB Diploma Programme graduates off to the top-tier universities of their choice with the tools to succeed and be competitive in an increasingly rigorous and interconnected world. You may rest assured that it has.
I look forward to working with each and every one of you, to learning what makes you who you are and what you bring to the SLLIS community, and to making a powerful statement that language immersion and the IB are a perfect foundation on which to build a successful secondary school.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to play a role in this amazing vision. I will see you all soon,
Founding Head of The International School