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 Diversity as a Core Value
FIS epitomizes the spirit of internationalism
 Ilooked out over the rows of graduating students in their identical maroon caps and gowns at last June’s FIS graduation. As I did so, my mind went back to the
morning a few weeks earlier when I had signed their diplomas. On that morning, the last thing on my mind was how identical the graduates would appear at the ceremony. Instead, I was struck by the extent of diversity in the group whose diplomas I was signing. The names alone spoke of five continents and scores of countries, and I knew of many cases in which the names told only small parts of the seniors‘ stories.
To describe how and when families came to FIS, and where they may be headed next, is to learn of a rich variety of personal experiences. Some of those grad- uating students had been at FIS since First Steps; oth- ers had arrived within the past year or two. Some families have made our region their home for an in- definite period while others are counting down the months on a government or corporate assignment.
This diversity – in all senses of the word – is at the core of what FIS is about. It goes beyond passports to take in the range of places and environments in which the students have grown up, and more impor- tantly the diversity in their worldviews and outlooks. But the word“diversity“ on its own does not carry suf- ficient meaning to understand our FIS community.
Your Board of Trustees spent time at its annual start- of-year workshop in August thinking about what“di- versity” means at FIS – the ways in which we should strive for a diverse community and what diversity does and should mean in practice. We discussed di- versity of national origin, socio-economic diversity, diversity of background (often different than nation- ality), linguistic diversity, cultural diversity and other differences among our community members, in ad- dition to a range of individual and personal identi- ties. We talked about how to measure whether our ef- forts to maintain and promote diversity are successful. This in turn requires us to define what it is we want to encourage. Should we be concerned if students speak varying native languages at recess or lunch rather than English? Should we be focusing more on socio-economic diversity despite our high funding needs and tuition? As a Board, we are continuing to think about these issues, and welcome your views.
Maintaining diversity in Board membership is also an important goal of the Board. Our four new Board members this year demonstrate both the continu- ous rejuvenation of the Board and the range of back- ground and experiences of our parents.
Seong-Han Kim arrived at FIS in 2018 and has three young daughters, two of whom are enrolled in the Primary School. He holds a PhD in finance and MBAs from Columbia and London Business Schools, and was CEO of a German state lottery operator. Shasha Lepore also arrived here in 2018 and has three children in Grades 7, 9 and 11. She has worked as a teacher in schools in the United States and Czechia, and also as a lawyer in various cities in the United States, most recently in the Office of the General Counsel for the US Department of Education.
Michael McDowell, the faculty/staff representative on the Board, has been teaching at FIS since 2012 and has a son in First Steps. He is originally from New Zealand but has been “international” for 20 years. He teaches English and Media in the Upper School and is the ad- visor to the school newspaper. And Kate Sawyer ar- rived at FIS in 2015. She has a daughter who gradu- ated in 2018 and two boys in Grades 9 and 12. She has worked in investment banking, as a lawyer in corporate law and is involved in United States voter protection and participation efforts.
I’ve been delighted by these new voices on the Board, bringing new ideas, different ways of looking at things and otherwise ensuring that our Board meetings are rich with the range of experiences we boast at FIS. Come to our next meeting (see the Calendar Highlights) and see for yourself!
Ward Greenberg
Chair, Board of Trustees
From our classrooms to our boardroom, diversity is what has made
- and continues to make - FIS such a special place
 October 2019 FIS World 3

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