1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what were you doing before arriving at THINK Global School?
My name is Lee Carlton, and I’m the marketing director for THINK Global School. Like many of our students, I would consider myself a “third-culture kid.” I was born in England, then moved to Edmonton, Canada, for five years before finally ending up in Dallas, Texas (where after multiple stops I once again reside). One of those stops was Wayne, New Jersey, where I went to William Paterson University for my undergraduate degree, majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing.
After graduating college I worked in a variety of marketing-related roles for private companies and non-profits before joining THINK Global School in 2010 as a research coordinator. I’ve actually been working here at TGS since it opened, so I’ve been fortunate enough to see it evolve from a tiny startup with fourteen students in Stockholm, Sweden, into the amazing institution that it is today.
2. What are your favorite aspects of your job?
I think first off would be the enormous diversity of tasks that I regularly work on. We all wear a multitude of hats here at TGS, so I regularly work with other departments on projects. That’s to my benefit, as being offsite, it helps keep me clued in on the school’s activities.
As a marketer, I think it’s important to believe fully in the product that you are selling, and that comes naturally here. TGS is very much a mission-driven school and one that expects its students (and staff) to embrace and live by its core values. I respect that, and the school’s mission of developing students into compassionate individuals through firsthand experiences is simply amazing. I really do pinch myself all the time though in terms of getting to market something so meaningful and unique — the school is in a new country every few months exposing our students to incredible experiences that actually better the places we visit. It’s humbling and I’ve learned a lot about the world and its cultures since starting here.
3. What aspects of THINK Global School’s educational model do you find most appealing?
I think the switch to the Changemaker Curriculum really took THINK Global School to the next level. The place-based learning we’ve engaged in since our inception is what attracts most students, but the addition of a project-based learning curriculum last year has made the educational experience so much more engaging for them. I fully buy in on the decline of education across the world, and we’re being proactive about it by putting our kids back in charge of their own learning. All of our teacher-led modules offer a really well thought out look at the world, and I’m confident that our students will be better prepared to make an impact through the skills they learn from them.
4. If you could make one major change to global education, what would it be?
Less rote learning and more messy learning. Get kids out of the classroom and into the community to learn from local experts. Project-based learning is awesome in its scalability, and you don’t have to travel the world to benefit from it — it’s all right there in your backyard, regardless of where you live.
5. Which of our core values do you feel you most embody, and why?
Probably 求知欲 Qiú Zhi Yù (Thirst for knowledge – be open, be curious, and challenge assumptions.) I’ve always enjoyed reading, and given the current political climate here in the States and around the world, I feel it’s more important than ever to be curious and challenge assumptions. For that reason, our educational model is more important than ever, not just from the travel aspect, but because we are bringing students from around the world together. Whatever preconceived notions they might have of other cultures or nationalities are usually dispelled pretty quickly, and I love that.
6. What is your most memorable travel experience thus far?
In terms of memorable, it has to be Japan. I’ve had the chance to visit Japan twice now, and I just love everything about it. The blend of modernity and tradition is unlike anything I’ve really seen elsewhere, and I love how clean and efficient it is. I mentioned preconceived notions above, and Hiroshima was nothing like what I expected it to be. Kyoto is incredible. I also really enjoyed my time in Costa Rica. In terms of friendliness, I think the Costa Ricans have to top the list.
7. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would really like to spend more time in South America, so probably Argentina, Chile and Guatemala. I love being outdoors and hiking when I’m traveling, and all three of those offer very unique experiences.
8. What is your favorite book and why?
Not sure I have one particular favorite, but here are a few from different genres that I really enjoyed:
Fiction: Beartown by Fredrik Backman.
Non-Fiction: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Business: Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
Graphic Novels: Anything by Joe Sacco (Safe Area Goražde is probably my favorite book, overall)