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Seven Questions With....         

Lori Dembo
Head of School,
St. John's Parish Day School


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AIMS Insights is a newsletter started in the summer of 2016 with the goal to communicate AIMS activities, as well as highlight interesting and exciting AIMS member school events. We also aim to stress the value of independent education overall, as well as the process of accreditation.



AIMS profiles a new school leader in each issue of Insights in our series entitled Seven Questions With...For our current profile, we reached out to the Head of School at St. John's Parish Day School, Lori Dembo.

What's your first memory of being a new Head of School?

The first day at my new school was so exciting. I was warmly welcomed by board members, staff and parents with smiles and lovely flowers in my new office! Everyone was as excited as Ito begin the next chapter of our school. The following week of July was extremely hot. The air conditioning shut down early one morning and by noon we were sending over 300 campers home! I learned a great deal about ‘chillers’ that day, but more importantly that I had a terrific administrative team to help in difficult situations. I now know that every day is different and it is never dull being a Head of School, but always worthwhile!

 
Why did you decide on a career in education?

For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to teach. I just really enjoy learning new things and teaching others became a great joy in my life. Watching students’ ‘aha’ moments when they understand something new or tackle and succeed in a difficult project is amazing. Seeing students inspired to help others or teach what they've learned to another student is energizing. Just being with children and watching them grow into productive and contributing members of our world inspires me every day!

 
What experiences and preparation helped you become a head of school?

I think my 30+ years in education have afforded me numerous experiences at all levels of education: Second grade and Kindergarten teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, Academic Dean, International Baccalaureate MYP Coordinator, Lower School Head, as well as being a Commissioner for AIMS and serving on numerous AIMS Accreditation teams! Additionally, I was very lucky to be mentored in this profession by several fabulous former longstanding heads of school! It is due to this level of experience, support, and professional development that I feel well prepared to be leading a school.

 
What experiences as an educator have brought you the most joy?

I think building relationships with faculty, staff, students, and families! Mentoring educators, helping others meet their full potential and watching them soar is rewarding. Also, successfully helping students learn when they have struggled. To transform how a child sees themselves as a student and knowing that you have helped them become successful learners makes for a joyful career!

 
What parts of being a leader have been the most difficult?

I think it is most difficult to make hard decisions and to have the necessary conversations that will often need to accompany these decisions. It helps to remember that we should strive to do what is right for the whole and not just a few. Perhaps some will not understand and often you as a leader cannot explain all the details of a decision or action. Preserving the mission of the school and the community should be the focus for all leaders and that makes it clearer, if not easy.

 
What lessons have you learned about leadership?

To always try to be a good listener is an important lesson learned. If you do not listen carefully, it is difficult to get to the heart of the concern/issue/need. I feel that everyone needs time to be heard and hopefully by listening you are building relationships and helping others.

 

If you weren't serving as a Head of School, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?

I love to learn, experience new things and travel! Exploring new countries and cultures gives me great pleasure. I think I would be traveling the world and writing documentaries for travel agencies or children’s books. Whatever career I would have chosen, I know I would never be bored!

 

 



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