My friend’s little boy’s eyes were open wide, “Like in America?”
We laughed: the President of The Traidhos Three-Generation Community can hardly be compared to the role of Obama, and yet scaled down for our own Community Operations perhaps there are many similarities. Meetings to attend, strategising and formulating policy, accounts to oversee, difficulties to mediate, guests to meet and to introduce to the campus, the Sports Academies, Prem Tinsulanonda International School and the Barge, Camps, Farm and Visiting School Programs.
“You are going to be the leader?”
I felt we were getting closer to it now. The Leader. I asked him what qualities a leader should display, and without hesitation, with the confidence that can only come from an eight-year-old, he said, “You should be kind, you should think about things and be helpful.” He clarified ‘helpful’ by saying that I should work alongside and with people rather than stand and be bossy.
Later I reflected on our conversation and the wisdom of his words in the light of my new role. I could never have dreamed of becoming President of the Traidhos Three-Generation Community for Learning (http://www.threegeneration.org) fourteen years ago when I said goodbye to my classroom in London, after many years as a primary classroom teacher and as a teacher-tutor with the University of Hertfordshire. When I arrived in Chiang Mai I taught primary science (and art and English!) at the bilingual school which preceded Prem Tinsulanonda International School (www.ptis.ac.th ). Nor was the role of President on the horizon during the years I spent helping to develop the Traidhos Barge Program in Bangkok. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell refers to a level of competence being reached after 10,000 hours. A good few of those practice hours were experienced as I took on different roles at the Barge. I was Environmental Educator (on the barge for many days each month), Education Manager (training staff and working with the team to create Thailand relevant materials and activities) and Barge Director. More hours were clocked up when I returned to Chiang Mai to head up the Visiting Schools Program team. The rest of those hours were probably accumulated through years of leading guiding groups and teams.
As a young teacher I had told my Head Master that categorically I did not want to be Management, and that I would always be a classroom teacher. But Life seems to have had a different idea. Most recently I worked as Head of Community, a role I enjoyed working to re-define what Traidhos really is, and to encourage departments to work together to a common goal, to make our vision central to everything. I truly believe that we should grow to be an international community of learners, across generations, working together for a sustainable future. I value the chance to network and to learn from local people and local organizations, and believe that as life -long learners each of us should be able to continue to learn new things and develop new interests.
ML Tri’s vision is for Traidhos to develop into a genuine learning community. Prem International School is a central part, but the Academies and Programs as well as activities for families and local people must enrich both the school and the community as a whole. We are a community. I hope that during my time as President, we will develop this sense of community. I hope that we will continue valuing and learning from the operations and support staff who bring many years of experience doing the jobs they do with dedication and competence. I hope that as we grow, we will continue to develop each department to be professional and committed to offering challenging learning programs taking advantage of the amazing setting of the Traidhos campus.
What sort of a President will I be?
I plan to be connected to what is really happening - so perhaps you will not always find me in the office! I hope that the classroom teacher deep inside me will still have a chance to share the wonder of a seed popping through the soil with a group of children now and again, and that the curriculum planner will be satisfied with overseeing and developing proposals to engage our students and other learners in the campus environment. I hope that colleagues will know that I am here to listen to them and to suggest a way forward and that parents will discover a leader who cares about the trust they have invested in Traidhos, and who values their participation in the Traidhos Community. I will do my best to encourage and support all who are part of Traidhos … and living the characteristics defined by my wise eight-year-old friend, to be kind, to think about things … and to be helpful.