Our school leaders are a diverse group of experienced, professional educators, who lead the way in ensuring the educational success of our school communities. Each Head of Division observes teachers in the classroom and provides feedback and coaching, while also continuing their own practice as an educator by teaching a class or two themselves.
At BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour, the new Head of Middle School, Dr. Kevin Jaramillo, brings an extensive educational background to our campus, with over 20 years of experience as an educator, and more than a decade teaching abroad. Dr. Jaramillo shared with us about his time teaching abroad, as well as his advice for others considering making a move.
What made you decide to pursue a career in education?
When I started in college I originally thought I wanted to be a nurse. As I took classes in college I realized that I had some time to substitute at the Junior High that I attended. When I arrived I saw a former coach and he asked what I was doing. I told him that I was substituting and asked if he needed any help with the basketball program. He told me that he could not pay me but that he would be delighted to have me on his coaching staff. The year and season continued and we ended up taking 2nd place that year. I knew from then on that I wanted to be a teacher to make sure that I could also continue coaching. I never looked back and this year marks 22 years of teaching and learning.
What influenced your decision to teach abroad?
I loved the idea of teaching abroad but did not really know much about international teaching. I was at a counseling conference and I met the representatives from ISS (International Schools Services) and they told me about living and working abroad. The time was not right, but a couple of years later, I worked with a counselor and she told me that her son and daughter were teaching overseas. I talked to them via email and realized this was what I wanted to do as an educator. I took the leap in 2010 and never looked back.
What do you enjoy most about your role in leadership in an international school?
I am not sure I can only pick one, but if I had to say one, I enjoy working with like-minded individuals. Those that want to change the world and help students discover their full potential. I appreciate the passion that teachers bring to the international profession and I want to support the ideas and dreams that teachers have for the classroom. Knowing that together we can truly make learning the priority.
What do you enjoy most about working with and coaching teachers in their craft?
I enjoy the collaboration, communication, and contributing to the success of our teachers. Knowing that when I walk in the classroom for an observation that we are all there to improve learning. Focusing on learning is what all schools should strive to do as this is our number one job. At BASIS, teaching is our passion, but learning is our priority.
When you came to China, what did you find pleasantly surprising that you didn’t expect?
I did not expect the air to be so blue and the ocean to be so beautiful. I did not come to China with many expectations because I wanted to appreciate China as I experienced it. However, upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s politeness and warm welcoming. From meeting individuals who worked in the airport, working with a property manager to find an apartment to live in, to seeing the smile on teachers and staff’s faces when I arrived. It has been quite the warm welcome, even as we get settled in and start to know more people, the hospitality is amazing.
What has been unique in your experience with BASIS International Schools as compared to what you have seen in other environments/organizations?
I have been highly impressed by the attention to details. I have always claimed that my motto is, “It’s all about the details.” I know that many people focus on the big picture, but I must say that paying attention to the details is what separates people or organizations from the other. At BASIS International Schools they capitalize on that important phrase. Before we even signed our contract we had the CEHOS (Chief Executive Head of Schools) and HOS (Head of School) emailing and asking if there was any further questions. They made sure there were teachers we could talk to in case we had personal questions about living in China or the school.
When we signed our contract the business office was contacting us the next day telling us what we needed to do to prepare our documents for travel to China. Each step of the way they made sure we were without questions. They knew how to pay attention to the details. When we landed, although our school could not be there due to COVID, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour (BIPH), had everything organized for our quarantine. The constant communication made it so comforting that although we were in a new country, we were with the BASIS family.
What have you found to be the most rewarding part of your experience of international education in China?
The most rewarding part of our experience in international education in China is the students’ grit. BIPH is a boarding school for most of our students and these students work hard each day to achieve their dreams to attend top tier universities. Students in Middle School and High School (BIPH is a Grades 5 – 12 school) not only study at the highest academic level, but these students also challenge themselves by taking additional courses or extra-curricular activities such as joining clubs, sports, and/or partaking in visual or performing arts! It is incredible to see how involved all students are on our campus.
What advice would you give teachers and school leaders who are considering teaching abroad?
I would tell them if they even have a slight thought about teaching abroad, they should try it as we all only live once. No matter if you are married, single, with children, you should take the leap and see what life has to offer. I would recommend to start by talking to someone that has already done or is doing it. Then do your research about international teaching, the pros and cons. Finally, reach out to some schools and see if it is a good fit, then apply. There are no guarantees in life, but I can tell you and I quote from the Motorcycle Diaries, “Let the world change you, and you will change the world.”
Dr. Jaramillo is originally from New Mexico, U.S.A. He has been a teacher, counselor, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, and Principal. He has taught abroad in South Korea, Brazil, Venezuela, and China. This is his twelfth year teaching internationally.
Visit our careers website for more information about teaching with BASIS International Schools.