In 2004, Jane was named Chevalier des Palmes Academiques by the French Ministry of Education for her services to French culture and education as a dynamic and innovative visionary leader who believes fervently that an intellectually challenging international 21st century education emphasizing critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, and a strong appreciation of and respect for diversity in all its forms, is of utmost importance to the world in which we live.
PsychED: What is the source of your interest in education?
Jane Camblin: I was getting restless and bored with my career in the travel industry and was looking for a new direction, something where I could use more of my brain and add value. At that time I was living in Sydney, Australia. Sydney University and the NSW government were offering free tuition for teacher training in return for accepting a two year teaching assignment anywhere in the state. I thought "why not", and ended up teaching there for four years... The rest is history....
PsychED: After leading such a prestigious institution as the United Nations International School in New York City, what new challenge are you looking forward to?
Jane Camblin: I'm looking forward to applying my experience to my new position at the Canadian International School in Hong Kong. It's an exciting time to be in China, and the school is looking to expand and to position itself at the forefront of international schools in the region. I like the spirit of entrepreneurism and innovation that I encountered within the school community, and I'm eager to build on its past strengths to take it to the next level.
PsychED: Of all the pedagogical innovations you have helped develop and implement, which one has been the most successful so far?
Jane Camblin: If I have to single out one, I think it would be my contribution to the development and launch of the Common Ground Collaborative. It's an inclusive framework for curriculum development where the content is provided by experts in the field, freeing teachers to spend their time to think about pedagogy rather than course content. It's less bureaucratic than the IB, and innovative schools that have adopted it have formed highly impactful collaborative networks.
PsychED: Is there a particular educational theory or approach that you find most relevant as a school leader?
Jane Camblin: I believe that education is a political act. Students should be shown how to discover facts and truths, and be encouraged to form their own views based on data and a world view that emphasizes compassion for living things as well as empathy for the planet. Students learn best through guided research and hands-on discovery.
PsychED: We all make mistakes. What is the one you have made that you have learned the most from?
Jane Camblin: As a younger school head, I first underestimated the need to supervise the school's finances, preferring to leave such matters to the CFO. But in time I learned that "budget is power". Show me your school's budget, and I'll show you your school's mission. How you spend your financial resources is basically the story of what values you hold dear. I learned the hard way that budget mastery is the most effect tool in the head's toolkit to bring about meaningful change.
PsychED: What would be your main advice to a new international school leader?
Jane Camblin: Manage up. Mindfully and regularly cultivate positive relationships with your board....it's too late to do so when there's a problem. Empower your staff and reward loyalty.
PsychED: If you were to walk into a perfect school, what would it look like? What are the most important indicators of a school's success?
Jane Camblin: There's no perfect school. Although I've often thought I'd like to lead an orphanage, because then parent interference would be eliminated. School success is generally indicated by measures of student engagement with each other, with their teachers, and with their assignments. Healthy schools are generally humming with activity and a little noisy!
PsychED: Thank you so much!