I came to BASIS International Schools to be part of a great learning organization and have an impact on the evolution of the BASIS International Schools program in China. Having filled the roles of Vice Head of School, Head of Primary School, and Chief Instructional Officer since 2020, I’ve had the opportunity to experience and support the learning and program development across the network of schools and see first-hand how we consistently provide an unparalleled, rigorous, high-quality learning experience for students. Heading into my third year with BASIS International Schools, I’m truly exhilarated to be BASIS International School Nanjing’s Head of School.

BASIS International Schools’ history of providing quality learning is complemented by the organization’s work to create a learning community that provides students with the life skills and experiences that will prepare them to be successful leaders and participants and drivers of their future success. Being a part of the evolution of the BASIS International Schools, China program is something I see as transformational for the students, the organization and everyone who is a catalyst and deliverer of this journey. Being responsible for identifying the staff who will be integral to making BASIS International School Nanjing, along with the overall organization, exceptional is an honor.

My career in education began in the United States where I served in a variety of roles, including classroom teacher, technology specialist, educational consultant, elementary principal and founding school principal. Most recently, before joining BASIS International Schools, I worked for 15 years in educational leadership in international education in the Middle East.

My educational experiences and involvement, both formal and otherwise, have always been focused on creating the capacities of students through meaningful learning. My undergraduate and graduate work has focused on student learning, technology implementation and educational leadership. I’ve done extensive work in school and organizational development that has included the development and implementation of curriculum design, meaningful instructional practice based on student agency and conceptual understanding, and most recently, the work of facilitation and collaborative practices for effective teams.

Leadership Philosophy and Focus

Always Learning, Champion Hope & Make Their Moment

As an educator for more than thirty years, I’ve identified three cornerstones to my work that challenge me and act as my internal compass as a learner and leader. Those cornerstones are:

  • Always Learning
  • Champion the Hopes of Many
  • Make their Moment

Always Learning

I’ve been privileged to be part of learning organizations that recognize that lifelong learning and continuous improvement are more than buzzwords that we only talk about or say we impress upon our students. The opportunities I’ve been afforded, formally and informally in my career have refined my practice and beliefs about learning and what I have to offer.

As a learning organization, we encourage students to learn, question and explore. Impactful learning organizations are committed to their staff’s continued growth and development. As an educational leader, I challenge myself to thoughtfully consider the possibilities and encourage and expect my staff to do the same. With encouragement, empathy, and guidance, I aspire to create communities where staff embrace the opportunity to become masters of their craft and as such, provide meaningful learning for students and are models of lifelong learning for students.


The Hopes of Many Over the Barries of Few

As an inexperienced leader early in my career, I often found myself frustrated with the work that need to be done and confronted with all the obstacles that impacted opportunities important for students. I realized early on the importance of conviction, persistence and confidence in the value of our work. It was during one of those moments of challenge, that a friend, wise beyond his years, matter-of-factly told me something that I’ve continually reminded myself for the last 20 years. He said, “Dan, don’t let the barriers of few hold up the hopes of many.”

From that time on, that quote has been posted in every office I’ve inhabited. Of course, it’s my responsibility to navigate conflict and opportunity tactfully. But, if you know that the work is important and will benefit students learning, you should have the strength and fortitude to persevere.

Make Their Moment

More than ever, research supports the belief that students engaging in their learning and having opportunities to construct meaning, enhances learning as well as instills inquiry and lifelong learning. Our charge as a staff every year is to “make moments” for each student which instill curiosity and wonder in their growth and learning. This aspect of learning and leadership has been something that I’ve worked to be purposeful in how I, as leader and colleagues, can make the learning experience gratifying, exciting and motivating. It is my responsibility to encourage and provide the resources for staff to help make each child’s moment in their learning. It is also my responsibility to ensure that the moments my staff have are meaningful and rewarding as well.

Joining BASIS International School Nanjing

I am proud and eager to continue BASIS International Schools’ vision of transforming education in China. Our staff is committed to maximizing students’ learning experiences, inclusive of the Chinese language and culture, by developing and supporting exceptional academic and social opportunities for students as both learners and contributing citizens.

I look forward to meeting and recruiting great educators to share in BASIS International School Nanjing’s journey. If you are highly skilled in your practice, care deeply about students and learning, and are up for the challenge of being part of realizing a great learning program, I encourage you to apply for a position in our organization. I look forward to meeting you and talking more about the possibilities.

Dan Hovland Head of School BASIS International School Nanjing

Daniel Hovland
Head of School
BASIS International School Nanjing

Visit our careers website for more information about teaching with BASIS International Schools.

Join us for a live webinar on Tuesday, November 8th at 6 p.m. US MST/Wednesday, November 9th 9 a.m. China time, about teaching opportunities with BASIS International School Nanjing. Register now!

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