Canadian in Paris: The Life and Work of an International Educator

After growing up in Nova Scotia, Daniel Kerr made the expensive decision to attend college in Maine. To pay off some of his student debt, Kerr took a teaching post in Abu Dhabi for the attractive salary and housing stipend. During his first break, he realized that international travel was a big bonus of teaching at an international school.

Kerr met a counselor in Abu Dhabi, who ironically was from the same part of Nova Scotia, who became his wife. They accepted positions at the Jakarta International School, a well-regarded school where they taught for seven years.

In Jakarta, Kerr met Tim Stuart (featured in this report on the Singapore American School, now head of school in Addis Ababa), and learned about the importance of professional learning communities.

Now a decade into his teaching career, Kerr was hooked as an international educator. He accepted a leadership role at a large middle school in the heart of Shanghai, a diverse and inclusive school with students from 65 countries.

Check out Dan’s Shanghai Tedx Talk on Living a Life Well Lived.

After four years in China, Kerr took the opportunity to lead an intermediate school in Quito, Ecuador. And after three years there, he became lower school director at the American School of Paris (ASP).

Sound crazy? Kerr’s journey is not unusual for an international educator. Each post was an important developmental stage, an opportunity for growth and contribution. Like the intentional leadership development in the military–each stage added breadth and responsibility. Kerr (@DanKerr1) speaks five languages. His children, age 10 and 12, have visited two dozen countries. He is a thoughtful educator and citizen of the world.

American school, an international community

Mark Ulfers leads the first American school in Europe. The American School of Paris (@asparisofficial), founded in 1946, serves 780 students ranging from preschool through 12th grade.

About four in 10 students are children of US expats. The rest are international students and children of French parents interested in attending a US university.

The leadership team is adopting broader measures of success, supporting more student-centered learning experiences, and striving to make the campus even more inclusive.

Middle School Director Jeff Lippman (@jefflippman) showcases design studios and projects in 1:1 classrooms that promote creativity, innovation and connected learning. Middle-grade students are beginning to build portfolios and lead parent conferences.

Kerr observed creativity, imagination and problem solving during a third-grade lesson on invisible forces.

He explained: design challenges plus projects plus maker plus service learning prepare young people to be citizens of the world.

Three new buildings expand student opportunity this year on the ASP campus, and a new high school features an IB Diploma Programme.

In addition to being a pathway to American universities, ASP offers a more progressive option than the very traditional French schools. Lippman admits that the master schedule offers challenges like design studio versus choir. “Balance is key,” he adds.

Kerr is only six months into the lower school assignment. He is supporting professional learning communities. He writes thoughtful reflections in his Monday Musings Blog and contributes to The International Educator.

For more see:

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

1 Comment

Patricia Londono

Captivated by Dan's views and passion in education. This is the kind of administrator needed to encourage positive, meaningful teaching-learning for all those involved. International teaching is a rich learning field. Congratulations Dan!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.