Jeff Stubbs: Showcasing a Better Perspective of International Schools
Jeffry Stubbs| Director |Hangzhou International School

Being a leader is much more than what we think. It’s more than just the person being who is incharge. These leaders are those who own their responsibilities. Figures who would justify through action rather than words. Personalities who are driven by the goal to create, innovate and disrupt the system in a way that would change the world. Jeffry Stubbs, Director of Hangzhou International School, China is one such individual who with his passion for learning and education has made his mark in the education system and has become one of the most admired educational leaders in China. Jeff has been to many places around the world where he actively contributed to schools learning and growth environment. However, only in China, he found that his skills and experiences have been most valuable in transforming and enhancing the country’s scholastic sphere.

Rise to Glory

Jeff is an American educator born in Slovenia and raised in different countries. As a child, he attended international schools in Pakistan, Syria, Indonesia, Egypt, and Philippines. Having early exposure to many different schools and a diverse range of teaching methods fascinated him even as a kid. Jeff further pursued his education at the University of San Diego where he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy and a minor in Environmental Studies. His thirst for learning led him to pursue a Teaching Credential in Social Sciences. After working for many years for San Diego Unified School District, Jeff finally got an opportunity to work in an international school in Durango, Mexico at the American School of Durango. There he taught middle and high school social studies while pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Education. During his first year as a secondary school educator, Jeff advocated many activities, including student government, student newspaper, model united nations, soccer, and volleyball. Jeff’s hard work was notable among his peers. Students started to admire him and eventually from a point Jeff was Teacher of the Year for several years in a row. Such accomplishments and his quality to lead resulted in an appointment as Secondary Principal. During his first administrative post, he pursued a second Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Principal’s Certification. In 2004, Jeff along with his family moved to Cambodia after accepting the positions at the International School of Phnom Penh. Finally, Jeff moved to China where he took positions of Superintendent of Schools of Shanghai Community International School and Hangzhou International School. Jeff is in his 13th year in China has been successfully leading the prestigious institutions and pursuing his Doctoral Degree in Education.

During his career, Jeff has served on the boards of numerous international associations, such as the Association of Chinese and Mongolian International Schools (ACAMIS), the Shanghai International School Association (SISA), the Hangzhou International School Association (HISA), and the Community Center Shanghai (CCS). He has participated in senior leadership meetings with the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and was recognized in 2018 with the prestigious Friendship Ambassador Award for the city of Hangzhou, China.

Bestowing the Educational Sphere

During his tenure as an international educator, Jeff has participated in many meetings and conventions in collaboration with the Hangzhou and Shanghai governments. He is committed to the expansion of all support resources that can be established to provide foreign expat families with better support and connections, as well as greater inclusion and participation in the host country’s culture. Since taking the leadership position of many schools, Jeff has always established a strong commitment to community service and action projects that truly give back to the host community and develop each student’s sense of responsibility in society and desire to contribute positively. Jeff realized early that many international school students live in affluent and somewhat sheltered lives. He has pushed to develop programs and educational opportunities so these students could actively realize their leadership capacity and social responsibility within the cities and countries. Jeff and his schools have received numerous awards that recognize this true engagement between the international school community and the host society.

About Hangzhou International School

Under his carefully curated values, the Hangzhou International School (HIS) has become one of the prominent institutions in China.The HIS vision is to provide the international community with the highest quality education that will prepare students to be positive contributors to society and are prepared to attend the best universities in the world. Being the only school in Hangzhou accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) it serves over 700 students from 54 nationalities of ages 2-19 years old. The accreditation helps the school to deliver all three International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. HlS is very inclusive, intending to serve a diverse and complete range of the international community children, including students with considerable special needs. It believes in the value and potential of all people, and the benefits of learning in an environment that reflects the world outside the school walls.

Facing Challenges in Adversity

As an international educator, Jeff describes the major challenges being faced by international students is maintaining one’s mother tongue language, learning the school’s primary language of instruction, and the high degree of mobility within the school community. Jeff thinks families in international schools often seek new adventures or more lucrative posts. He believes that international schools must take extraordinary measures to support students who are new, students who are leaving, and those students who stay and are affected when their close friends would leave. Jeff’s school, HIS, is a model school for supporting students in transition. With his valuable leadership and experience, the school has created outstanding language programs that support the maintenance of a student’s mother tongue, as well as opportunities to learn the host country’s language and culture. HIS was selected as the first international school to pilot a transition support model for the school community known as Safe Passage Certification.

Views on Chinese’ Education System

Jeff strongly believes that China has great potential where students can learn and grow. He urges parents and as well the government to comprehensively evaluate the learning environment of the schools. As international schools have become dynamic in nature, he thinks every school in China should blend itself in the country that inculcate values in students to discover, experience and respect it. Jeff sees the potential in the Chinese education system and the curriculum. He anticipates if international schools in China would develop a blended curriculum, then it not only benefits student learning in schools but also aid those who have studied within this mixed curriculum. Ultimately, they can deliver a valuable contribution to the world.

Motivating Message to Empower Students 

When asked about the message for students in China and the rest of the world, Jeff highlights the need for the youth to develop ‘soft skills’ that will better prepare them to live, work, and contribute back to the world. He thinks for someone to appreciate the culture and beliefs of others, it is not required to abandon his or her own belief. He believes that one needs to have the will to understand others and to develop skills that will help them to relate and successfully collaborate with others of different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. He told us, The Knowledge Review team, “There will be a great opportunity to make this world a more civil, responsible and sustainable place to live.”  Jeff hopes that young students are given these opportunities to become more caring and positive contributing members to their communities and the global society as a whole. And no matter what line of work these young people pursue, it will always serve them well to have the ability to work well with others, to appreciate their differences, to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual and to respect those values all of humanity uphold.

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