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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

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The Legacies Among Us

Veale’s “Legacy Tree” endeavors to trace the legacies of the most influential international school leaders

By Timothy Veale


The Legacies Among Us
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

There is some discussion among educational leaders regarding the value of getting a PhD. While I found pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership to be extremely rewarding, the value of the degree itself depends on one’s motivation and goals.

For me, the decision is much like determining to get in better physical shape. A good physical workout can feel great, both for the physical results it delivers and for the mental benefits. In my case, returning to university has led to a similar experience; it is giving my brain a good, regular workout. Besides, it is helping me become a better professional.

This has led to a new approach to time management, which, ironically, has helped me improve the quality of the time I devote to work, to my family, and, ironically, to myself. In effect, doctoral studies have reinvigorated my weekly exercise routine. So, for me, pursuing a PhD has been a great choice. It has had enormous benefits in terms of how I think about my profession, about leadership, and about family life.

As part of my PhD program, I recently completed a course on Transformational Leadership, which included a segment on the legendary college UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden. His professional accomplishments are unparalleled, including having won a national championship 10 times in 12 years and having been declared “The Greatest Coach of All Time” in American sports in 2009 by Sporting News.

Wooden increased the leadership capacity of those around him and used the sport of basketball as a means to grow leaders both within and outside the sport. The number of coaches currently in the National Basketball Association who can be linked to Wooden’s influence are a testimony to his leadership.

One of these includes a current NBA coach who was a UCLA ball boy in the mid-1970s, Steve Kerr, who has now won three of the league’s past four championships. However, Wooden’s legacy as a leader beyond basketball truly makes him an ongoing and important figure. The “Wooden Effect” details the ways in which he has influenced many outside of basketball, including Bill Gates, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, and Tom Hanks.

Wooden’s legacy of growing leaders is enormous, and this has had me ponder who the John Woodens are in the international school world.

International education is a relatively young industry, having experienced early growth in the post-World War II era. Slow but steady growth until the turn of the millennium has been followed in the past two decades by explosive development of the sector. For international school “lifers”—those having worked in international schools longer than 20 years—many names in school leadership are increasingly recognizable. Pat Bassett, for example, or Kevin Bartlett and Forrest Broman.

There are many others, like these three, who have made a significant impact on the newest generation of international school leaders. Are they, or others, the John Woodens of the international school world? How would we know?

In thinking about some of the legacies of international school leaders, I considered the different ways this influence could be mapped or, at least, made visual. Then it struck me that using a family tree diagram as a tool should allow for the visualization of these leaders’ impact, and, by extension, their legacies.

In creating what might be called a “Legacy Tree,” I am endeavoring to identify the legacies of the most influential international school leaders over the past decades. In this context, a professional lineage of leadership can be drawn from the start of leaders’ careers, decades ago, up to the present among educators working at international schools across the globe. Could it be that we can draw a professional leadership lineage from an international school that opened in 1945 to any currently renowned international school leader? I invite you to help me try.

Send me the names of past international school leaders who helped spawn a new generation of school leaders in their own right, noting the schools where they served. Don’t worry if you do not know the latter names; the more names of prolific leaders sent to me, the easier it should be to connect the dots.

In so doing, we can collaborate in building an International School Legacy Tree. I believe it will help current and aspiring leaders to learn about the leadership legacies that spanned so many decades in the past and, in so doing, to understand what will continue to drive these legacies—and new ones—well into the future. Write me anytime now or in the future at I look forward to hearing from you!

Timothy Veale is the Upper School Principal at the International School of Indiana.

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