Joel_1 Joel Llaban Elementary learning coach, ISKL (Malaysia)

Deidre Fischer is an exemplary transformational leader who is not only mission-vision-driven but a leader who strategically transforms visions and goals into reality. While she sees the ‘big picture’ and the fine details on what truly matters in schools, she is also open to generative dialogues in a collaborative and reflective process, thereby allowing for everyone concerned to take on the challenge of leveraging school change and take ownership of the collective results and impact. Her faithfulness to a school’s guiding statements and core values and her fidelity to its philosophy catapults the school into a positive new direction and continues to enable the school to do what it intends to do. “Respect for Others Community and Self” and “…becoming the best that we can be” are some of her banner statements, which she lives by and models.

Deidre’s solid background and experience in school leadership, coupled with her love for education and her genuine interest for the overall welfare of everyone in her care, have enabled her to craft a solid vision and formulate realistic actions for schools. She sets high standards and models a superb work ethics in the learning community and guides her staff in achieving them. Along the way, she provides them reasonable and needed challenge yet tolerant and understanding of human frailty and limitations. Deidre is an expert in developing educational policies, strategic planning, and curricular and assessment documentation, a much needed change process for developing international schools. Due to the transient nature of international schools, these crucial elements and change process in school supports in providing sustainability in a school and limit the transitional challenges. Deidre has a broad knowledge and in-depth understandings of leading and managing the many facets of schools, as a human organization and as a learning community. Her strengths lie in her focus on learning, on the financial and fiscal management, on administrative operations, human and labor relations, school marketing and governance, and the building of institutional and individual capacities. Her decisions at school are anchored on what is best for the students and for the school, taking into consideration best practices in international schools. She is just and compassionate in dealing with issues and challenges that confronts the school as well as optimistic of new possibilities. Her fortitude in making bold decisions for the best of the school has further consolidated a school’s strengths and paved way to further developments.

A hallmark of Deidre’s leadership is her commitment to supporting her staff grow and become the best that they can be. Her relationship with her staff does not end when they leave her school but continues to grow in collegiality and genuine interest to their personal and professional growth. She is an excellent professional coach, providing a kind of feedback on what truly matters in your career in relation to your professional goals. She invests on people and trusts in their capacity to grow and develop their vocation for themselves and for others.

Deidre is a very inclusive school leader who makes deliberate and sincere effort to get to know the people she works with from the school board to school maintenance and security. She is a dedicated and passionate leader who has committed her life and work to education. Consistent in her pursuit for the advancement of schools and a lifelong learner herself, not only Deidre leads professional development opportunities but is also an active, engaged and supportive workshop participant. Deidre is also culture builder, cultivating healthy and collaborative working environment where everyone feels supported and valued. She values confidentiality, accountability and sense of responsibility in the workplace; and respect for individuals and community.

Deidre is a reflective leader who seeks feedback and reflects on them. She constantly seeks feedback on how she can improve herself as a person and as a school head. To her, it is second nature. Importantly, she is a visible leader, who is always at the heart and buzz of the teaching and learning at school. Deidre is highly involved and connected with the parent community. Her involvement in the local community and her desire to learn the local culture of the host country are endearing, as it bridge the wide gap between the international and the host country community. She shows deep respect to the culture, values and people of the host country where she lives and works and in the same manner as that of other nationalities she interacts with in the community. Her earnest desire to recognize and value the host country culture and traditions and integrate them into the school’s curriculum, through the school community celebrations, is some of the tangible evidences to one of her goals to promote internationalism.  Deidre is a true global citizen. While she thinks with a global and international outlook, she is also deeply rooted in her home country as she takes pride of her family and cultural affinity.

She is a school head of good standing in the EARCOS organization and had outstandingly represented international schools in the EARCOS Board as Board Secretary; and she represents Asia Pacific IB schools in the IB at Cardiff, both at strategic levels. Her leadership in accreditation visits, representing the Council of International Schools, enables her to support international schools that are in a constant reflective process in the effort to make their schools best for children.  She is a well-respected person in the international arena and with an extensive professional network of school leaders, and this because of the work that she has diligently done and the passion that she has put into these large organizations and into the international schools she has led.

On a personal note, I very much enjoyed and learned a lot working with Deidre Fischer. She shows genuine care and look after the people who work with her. I have my deep respect and admiration for a person who has worked so much along with everyone to bring a school to where it is now. As a teacher, it is an honor and a privilege to have worked with Deidre Fischer.