Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Jason Carpenter
Title: Head of School
Organisation: Acacia International School
I grew up in Zambia and graduated from RVA in Kenya. My undergrad is in Communication from Moody Bible Institution, Chicago and M.Ed from Harvard in Education Policy. I founded Acacia in 2012 where I currently serve as head of school.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I am on the visionary side of the spectrum. I enjoy creating and inventing. I tend to find the tinkering and perfecting of administrative tasks tedious.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have always enjoyed starting ventures. From college I rebuilt a printing center, creating education materials and started a discipleship group. Later I started a teacher training college and a bunch of primary schools in Sudan. In 2012 I started Acacia International School, which provides a limitless supply of new projects big and small to keep me occupied.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am terrible at life structure. I am always restarting new routines that fail. Something inside of me, laziness perhaps or restlessness or a pernicious forgetfullness or a lack of discipline means two days seldom look the same. It is a flaw, but I have come to live with it and adapt as best I can.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I have been reflecting on the importance of prediction. Part of leadership is understanding the ripple effects a policy is likely to have. I think good leaders tend to intuitively perceive the knock on effect of actions and decisions and stem some of the worst impact before it happens. But I wonder to what extend this could be learned.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I always like Todd Witakers writing he has a lot of very practical insight into creating lasting change in schools.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
It may seem a trite, but I think "just be yourself" is perhaps the best I could offer. You have a lot of unique talents and abilities and you to the extent you can flourish in the ways that you are strong and give you joy and can be brutally honest with your weaknesses, you are likely to succeed. Certainly in a school context, great leadership never looks the same, it always looks like the quirky, weird, playful, delightful, sincerity of the educational leader who is passionate about learning, encouraging the teacher serving and the children trying to figure things out.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
None spring to mind.