BECOME A MEMBER! Sign up for TIE services now and start your international school career


Leading in Venezuela: The Answer Is in the Question

By Kelly Kramer
Leading in Venezuela: The Answer Is in the Question

When I received an email from Meadow Hilley, the editor of The International Educator newspaper, asking if I would be willing to share my perspective as Head of School in trying to guide our community through some very challenging times in Venezuela, I didn’t hesitate to write Meadow back with a positive response. I am delighted to share information about Colegio Internacional de Caracas (CIC-Caracas) at any time. I am a CIC Bear and love to show off our school.
I opened the computer to write about the topic of leading a school in challenging times, and I thought to myself this is not just a unique issue to CIC-Caracas. This situation is similar to that of my friends at the other international schools in Caracas and in Venezuela. We are all living the reality of a hyper-inflation economy and a political situation that has everyone scratching their heads. Venezuela is a country that holds such incredible cultural, environmental, and human potential.
By the time this article is published, I will have shared it with my colleagues, the other Venezuelan international school superintendents. I want to ensure that if I represent them, I do it honestly and with integrity. I would, however, argue that many other schools around the globe are also living similar types of situations, so in this we are not unique, just more publicized for the moment.
CIC, like many of the Venezuelan international schools, has seen a decrease in enrollment. I have seen many of our wonderfully supportive families leave CIC. They left not because they wanted to find another school for their child, but because they felt obligated to find other economic opportunities for their child and their family. How do I—we, as leaders—guide our communities in such challenging times?
The simple answer to the complex question is already embedded in the question itself—COMMUNITY! I wake up every morning thinking today allows me the opportunity to find ways to enhance someone’s life. But, really this is not just my opportunity, it is our chance. Parents an active role in finding ways to improve our budget, or ways we can still improve our campus. Students find ways to help our staff members by assisting in painting projects or by spearheading food drives to donate to our community within CIC walls and outside of those walls, as well. Time is allowed if someone needs to go to the store to buy a necessity because it is their day to buy. It is now a very symbiotic existence for us; we rely on one another in an atmosphere of hope.
Our actions as Venezuelan international school heads are what we do as leaders, moreover it is what we do as concerned, caring human beings. A budget can be balanced or not, things can be bought or not, projects can be completed or not, but what can never be forgotten is the strength of community and human spirit. This special tensile strength allows us to move forward, and to always remain focused on our goal: teaching our students not only how to learn, but also how to care.
I started the school year in August with an open letter to members of AISH, but from there I thought the message was pertinent to read at our opening day at CIC, so I sent it to our parent community. I copy it here as my closing and hopefully an answer to the question how are we dealing with the challenges; we support each other to get through the current challenges together as a community, whether the community be CIC-Caracas, Caracas schools, or any international school found world-wide.
Open Letter to AISH, August 2016
The theme, if you’ve read the messages from my Venezuelan colleagues, is indeed one of concern. At CIC-Caracas, we are concerned for the country, but we are more concerned for our local hire staff. At CIC-Caracas, the backbone of our school is our Venezuelan teachers and staff. Even under such difficult circumstances, they continue to come to work with the same vibrant, can-do, and will-do attitude. I feel incredibly humbled and fortunate to work with such a dedicated and talented group of people!
CIC in the face of such challenges is standing strong! To steal a slogan from an U.S. politician, “Stronger Together”—CIC is certainly standing stronger together! This year’s group of new teachers has infused our campus with renewed energy, which complements our returning staff.
In the face of all trials and tribulations in Caracas, Venezuela, and other places in the world, I truly believe in the words of Taylor Mali, a teacher/poet,
‘Teachers today are breaking down obstacles, finding innovative ways to instill old lessons, proving that greatness can be found in everyday places.’
I know at CIC will we work for greatness for our students everyday no matter what is happening around us. May you all find your greatness this year no matter the circumstances!
Kelly Kramer
Colegio Internacional de Caracas

Please fill out the form below if you would like to post a comment on this article:


11/04/2016 - Coach Irvin
Hi Kelly,
Great article!
It is terrific to hear what you are doing to help your local staff.
Looking forward to visiting you, Denis and the CIC crew at VANAS in a couple of weeks.



Elevate Student Voice & Choice in Diverse Learning Settings
By Lindsay Kuhl, Jane Russell Valezy, & Esther Bettney
May 2021

Increasing Student Autonomy Through Time and Place
By Tim Johnson & Tony Winch
May 2021