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After six years circling the world as THINK Global School’s Head of School, Jamie Steckart intends to return to his native Wisconsin for the foreseeable future. He plans on spending that time with his wife Angie and their three children: Charlotte, Finn, and Piper.
“My family has been living abroad for over eight years now, and it’s been nine years for myself. In that time, I have made many new friends and experienced so many cultures that it’s mind-boggling. And as eye-opening as my THINK Global School experiences have been, I spent much of my time here living apart from my family. That was emotionally hard on all of us, and we collectively feel it’s time to reunite.” Jamie shared regarding his decision to leave THINK Global School.
Like our students, Jamie had the opportunity to explore the world firsthand during his time at THINK Global School. Those experiences made him wiser and more in-tune with how a global curriculum should work. They also made him better appreciate the benefit of having somewhere consistent to stow his suitcase and take time to breathe.
Jamie shared: “There is something to be said for opening your mind to the reality of the world. Travel does so many things, but so does having strong ties to the place from where you came. I’m heading home appreciating Wisconsin more because I went away. I think back to a conversation I had with my best friend’s dad, Mr. Paprocki, when I was 19. I told him I couldn’t wait to get out of my hometown. He replied, “I understand this feeling – go explore the world, but remember this is your home. You will be back.””
Moving THINK Global School Forward
Jamie joined THINK Global School as head of school at the start of the 2014-15 school year, which included terms in New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Greece. He immediately proved to be a transformative leader through his fresh perspectives on learning and pastoral care, shifting the school’s focus away from test scores in favor of intellectual, social, and physical wellness.
Regarding pivoting THINK Global School towards a more holistic, student-centered approach, Jamie shared: “Real deep experiences are the most profound ways of learning. As educators, we must impel our students into value-forming and life-changing experiences. Too often, education seems like something to get through, often leaving the student feeling trapped. When you combine passion with service, skill-building, and a way of making a living, you provide students with a methodology of true self-worth that is capable of giving back.”
The Changemaker Curriculum
The most significant aspect of Jamie’s legacy will likely be his overseeing the creation, design, and implementation of the Changemaker Curriculum, which imbues students with a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose through its focus on place- and project-based learning. In 2017, the Changemaker Curriculum replaced the IB Diploma Programme as the course of study at THINK Global School, ushering in a new era where students are firmly in charge of their learning.
Regarding the curricular shift, Jamie shared: “Rarely does a head of school get the mandate or the permission to try something new. I view my time at THINK Global School as a tremendous gift to innovate a school. We looked at the mission and re-tooled the school to create a mission-aligned program in line with adolescent development, brain research, and motivation theories.
The Changemaker Curriculum is a testament to the dedication and creativity of the staff and the openness of the Board. I am especially grateful for the support and trust that Joann McPike, our founder, had in me. As this chapter of my life concludes, I will look back with pride and fondness of my time at THINK Global School.”
Recognition and Thought Leadership
Since his hire, THINK Global School has been recognized by the HundrED as one of the world’s most inspiring education innovations in 2018, 2019, and 2020; selected as an Apple Distinguished School three times; and invited to join a variety of school councils and networks, including ECIS, NAIS, Round Square, EARCOS, and NESA.
Jamie has continuously aspired to share THINK Global School’s pedagogy by acting as one of the preeminent thought leaders in experiential and project-based learning. Over the last six years, he has spoken frequently at conferences around the world and had his thought pieces published on leading educational websites.
Introduction to our Leadership Team
Rather than replace Jamie, THINK Global School will transition to a three-person leadership team, beginning in the summer of 2020. The Leadership Team will be comprised of CM1 Principal Adnan Mackovic, CM2 Principal Russell Cailey, and Director of Business Operations Vanessa Salinas. Principals Adnan Mackovic and Russell Cailey have both spent multiple years in onsite management roles, and all three members of the Leadership Team possess advanced degrees.
Regarding the transition, Russell shared: “As the new Leadership Team, we’re delighted to take on this opportunity. What we collectively love about THINK Global School is that it’s a free-thinking, forward-facing and dynamic institution, not afraid to ask hard questions about the logic and design of the traditional school model. Together in our new roles, we look forward to enacting a variety of new initiatives and innovations as we head into the 2020-21 school year.”
Thank You, Jamie
We will forever be grateful for everything Jamie accomplished during his time at THINK Global School. We wish him well as he contemplates the next stage of his professional journey and enjoys some well-deserved time in Wisconsin.