top of page

7 More Questions on Leadership with Dr. Raymond J. Schmidt

Name: Dr. Raymond J. Schmidt

Title: Superintendent

Organisation: Escuela Internacional Sampedrana

Dr. Schmidt has been an education professional for nearly 30 years. He began his teaching career in Chicago in 1994 and that new teaching journey carried him to Arizona and then Alaska. During that time, he ascertained his Master’s Degree in Education and began teaching aspiring educators at university and in the classroom. By 2009, Dr. Schmidt began his first official education leadership position as an advisor to school principals in Abu Dhabi, UAE. From there he served as an instructional coach in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Those opportunities ignited a passion for enhancing his educational leadership skills and he returned to the States to complete his Administrative Services Credential coursework. While completing said coursework, he served first as an executive director and middle school principal and then as a lower school principal in south-central Los Angeles. In 2018, he accepted a lower school head position at Colegio Americano de Guatemala in Guatemala City. While serving the CAG community, he completed his doctorate degree in educational leadership and published peer-reviewed research on educational leadership decision-making. Currently, he is serving as the Superintendent at Escuela Internacional Sampedrana in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

It is Dr. Schmidt’s belief that all members of a global society should have access to robust educational programs, and it is a great honor to apply the expertise acquired in his professional and scholarly career toward building a future of life-long learners around the globe. He strives to be a leader who is deeply committed to the success of all stakeholders by being organized, informative, and supportive, utilizing coaching styles that cater to varying personalities and abilities. He endeavors to challenge himself and others to think critically. Having this conviction combined with being community-minded has led to strong, long-lasting relationships with students, faculty, parents, and beyond.

It is also Dr. Schmidt’s belief that truly effective directors, administrators, and educators facilitate and empower students, faculty, and community stakeholders rather than merely transmit knowledge. Successful education professionals work together to help students, and each other, learn how to study and grow through inquiry and constructive-based education. Students and people, in general, are eager and inquisitive by nature, and with organized guidance and diverse opportunities, they will naturally seek out and discover knowledge, thus equipping them with relevant and meaningful understanding. As an effective leader, it is Dr. Schmidt's responsibility to inspire students, faculty, and community stakeholders in the pursuit of knowledge while recognizing when individual situations and motivations may require differentiated instruction and/or a design thinking change process. It is also his responsibility to impart deep learning of principles and not just rote memorization – critical analysis and creative problem-solving instead of mere knowledge of facts. Students and faculty should not just have technical skills in a specific subject matter, but should also know how they are all built upon each other within that subject matter and how they integrate across other disciplines. Education needs to be engaged with enthusiasm and a desire to evaluate, hypothesize, and construct. As a balanced leader, administrator, and educator, Dr. Schmidt shows support for all students and faculty as he demonstrates an interest in both their professional and their personal growth, cultivates their independence to develop and sustain high expectations for themselves, and encourages them to continually seek out new questions and new answers as lifelong, global learners.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.

I hope Raymond's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?

Building trust as an international school leader involves several key strategies as follows.

1. Effective Communication: Maintain open, honest, and transparent communication with all stakeholders. Listen actively to their concerns and feedback.

2. Consistency: Be consistent in your actions and decisions. Ensure that your words align with your actions to build credibility.

3. Inclusivity: Involve stakeholders in decision-making processes when appropriate. Collaborative decision-making fosters a sense of ownership and trust.

4. Empathy: Show empathy and understanding towards the needs and concerns of employees, parents, students, and community members.

5. Competence: Demonstrate your competence through your knowledge, expertise, and ability to address issues effectively.

6. Accessibility: Be accessible and approachable. Make time for one-on-one interactions and be visible in the school community.

7. Transparency: Share information about school policies, decisions, and performance openly. Avoid unnecessary secrecy or ambiguity.

8. Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable for their actions and responsibilities. Follow through on commitments.

9. Feedback: Encourage feedback and act on it constructively. This shows that you value the input of stakeholders.

10. Conflict Resolution: Address conflicts promptly and fairly, striving for mutually acceptable solutions.

11. Community Engagement: Engage with the broader community through outreach programs, events, and partnerships to strengthen ties and trust.

12. Long-Term Vision: Communicate a clear vision for the school's future and progress towards achieving it.

Building trust takes time and consistent, purposeful effort. By practicing these key strategies, you can effectively establish and maintain trust with employees, parents, students, and community stakeholders.

2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?

A purposeful international school mission and school vision are essential components of a school's identity and direction.

1. School Mission:

* Purpose: The mission statement defines the fundamental purpose and reason for the school's existence. It answers the question, "Why does this school exist?"

* Focus: It outlines the core values, beliefs, and principles that guide the school's daily operations and decision-making.

* Scope: The mission typically describes the target student population and the overall educational experience the school aims to provide.

* Action-Oriented: It often contains actionable language and sets the tone for what the school community is striving to achieve.

2. School Vision:

* Future Orientation: The vision statement looks ahead to the future and paints a picture of what the school aspires to become. It answers the question, "What do we want to achieve in the long term?"

* Inspiration: It should inspire and motivate all stakeholders—students, staff, parents, and the community—by presenting an ambitious yet attainable vision of success.

* Goals: A vision statement often includes specific goals or outcomes that the school hopes to accomplish over time.

* Alignment: It should align with the school's mission and values, providing a clear path for realizing the mission.

In summary, a purposeful international school mission is a concise statement that encapsulates the school's core purpose, values, and target audience. It serves as a guiding principle for daily activities. On the other hand, an international school vision is a forward-looking statement that articulates the school's aspirations and long-term goals, motivating and uniting the school community toward a shared future. Together, these statements provide direction and purpose to the school's educational endeavors.

A purposeful international school mission and school vision come to life through actions and practices that align with their principles. Here's how they can be manifested in action.

1. School Mission in Action:

* Inclusive Learning Environment: The school actively promotes inclusivity by implementing programs and practices that ensure every student feels valued and supported, regardless of their background or abilities.

* Character Development: Character education is integrated into the curriculum, with initiatives to teach and reinforce values such as respect, integrity, and empathy.

* Academic Excellence: The school sets high academic standards and provides resources and support to help students achieve their best. Continuous assessment and improvement are central to maintaining excellence.

* Lifelong Love of Learning: Teachers use engaging teaching methods, encourage curiosity, and provide opportunities for exploration, fostering a genuine enthusiasm for learning in students.

2. School Vision in Action:

* Educational Innovation: The school embraces innovative teaching methods, technology, and approaches to continuously improve the quality of education and stay at the forefront of educational trends.

* Critical Thinking: Students are actively encouraged to think critically, solve problems, and engage in discussions that promote analytical skills and independent thought.

* Compassionate Leaders: Leadership programs and extracurricular activities focus on developing leadership skills while emphasizing empathy, teamwork, and social responsibility.

* Global Citizenship: The school incorporates global perspectives into the curriculum, encourages cultural exchange, and offers opportunities for students to engage in community service and global initiatives.

In action, a purposeful international school mission and vision guide the decisions, policies, and practices of the school. They inform everything from curriculum design to teacher training, from student support programs to community outreach efforts. The goal is to ensure that the school's daily activities and long-term goals are in harmony with its mission and vision, ultimately benefitting students and the broader school community.

3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?

An international school leader can empower the people they are leading, including teachers, support faculty, and students, through several key strategies as follows.

1. Clear Communication: Effective communication is essential. Leaders should articulate a clear vision, expectations, and goals. They should also listen actively to feedback and concerns.

2. Delegation: Empowerment involves entrusting responsibilities and decision-making to capable individuals. Delegation allows team members to take ownership and contribute their skills.

3. Professional Development: Invest in training and professional development opportunities. Provide resources and support for staff and teachers to enhance their skills and knowledge.

4. Recognition and Appreciation: Acknowledge and celebrate achievements, both big and small. Recognizing contributions boosts morale and motivates individuals to excel.

5. Autonomy: Allow autonomy within defined boundaries. Encourage creativity and innovation by giving individuals the freedom to explore new ideas and approaches.

6. Support and Resources: Ensure that individuals have the necessary resources, tools, and support to succeed in their roles. Address obstacles and provide assistance when needed.

7. Feedback and Growth: Provide constructive feedback and opportunities for growth. Regular performance evaluations, mentoring, and coaching can help individuals develop their skills.

8. Inclusivity: Promote a culture of inclusivity where every voice is valued. Encourage diverse perspectives and create an environment where everyone feels heard and respected.

9. Shared Leadership: Foster a sense of shared leadership by involving team members in decision-making processes and collaborative problem-solving.

10. Lead by Example: Demonstrate the qualities and behaviors you wish to see in others. A leader's actions set the tone for the entire organization.

11. Empathy: Show empathy and understanding towards the challenges and needs of those you lead. Connect on a personal level to build trust and rapport.

12. Conflict Resolution: Address conflicts and challenges promptly and fairly, ensuring that disputes are resolved in a constructive manner.

Empowering individuals requires a combination of leadership skills, a supportive environment, and a commitment to the growth and well-being of each member of the school community. When individuals feel empowered, they are more motivated, engaged, and capable of achieving their full potential.

4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?

Several mentors and thought leaders have had an effective positive influence on continuously developing international school leadership skills. Here are a few notable figures.

1. Ronald Heifetz: Heifetz is known for his work on adaptive leadership, which focuses on leading in situations where there is no clear solution. His ideas help leaders navigate complex challenges in educational settings.

2. John C. Maxwell: A prolific writer and speaker on leadership, Maxwell's teachings emphasize principles such as leading by example, empowering others, and developing leadership skills in oneself and others.

3. Marshall Goldsmith: As an executive coach and author, Goldsmith's insights on leadership and personal development have been widely influential. His focus on behavior change and feedback can be applied to school leadership.

4. Simon Sinek: Sinek's TED Talk on "Start with Why" has resonated with leaders across various fields, emphasizing the importance of understanding and communicating the "why" behind one's actions and decisions.

5. Michael Fullan: A prominent educational leadership expert, Fullan's work emphasizes the importance of collaboration, moral purpose, and the role of leaders in driving educational change.

6. Linda Darling-Hammond: As an education researcher and advocate, Darling-Hammond's work has shaped policies and practices related to teacher and leadership development, emphasizing equity and quality in education.

7. Stephen R. Covey: Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" has been influential in leadership development, emphasizing principles like proactivity, synergy, and continuous improvement.

8. Pedro Noguera: An expert on urban education and equity, Noguera's work focuses on issues of social justice in education, providing valuable insights for school leaders committed to equity and inclusion.

9. Andy Hargreaves: Hargreaves' research and writing on sustainable leadership and professional learning communities have been influential in shaping effective school leadership practices.

10. Jesus: It's important to note that the leadership principles attributed to Jesus are often seen as universal and can be applied in various leadership contexts, including education, business, and community leadership. His teachings continue to inspire individuals seeking to lead with humility, compassion, and a sense of purpose.

Jesus is often regarded as a model of leadership, particularly in the context of servant leadership and ethical leadership. Here are some ways in which Jesus taught and modeled meaningful leadership skills in my daily professional and personal life.

1. Servant Leadership: Jesus emphasized the concept of servant leadership, where leaders prioritize the needs and well-being of others. He famously washed his disciples' feet, demonstrating humility and a willingness to serve.

2. Compassion: Jesus displayed deep compassion for the marginalized, sick, and disadvantaged. He showed that a leader should have empathy and care for the most vulnerable members of society.

3. Empowerment: Jesus empowered his disciples, teaching and guiding them to carry on his teachings and mission. He entrusted them with responsibility and believed in their potential.

4. Leading by Example: Jesus led by example, living in accordance with the values he preached. He modeled forgiveness, love, and moral integrity.

5. Inclusivity: Jesus welcomed and accepted people from all backgrounds, including those who were considered outsiders or sinners. He taught the importance of inclusivity and treating everyone with respect.

6. Effective Communication: Jesus used parables and stories to communicate profound messages, making complex ideas accessible to a wide audience. He was an effective and relatable communicator.

7. Courage: Jesus demonstrated great courage in standing up for his beliefs, even in the face of opposition and adversity. He showed that leadership often requires bravery and conviction.

8. Vision and Purpose: Jesus had a clear vision of his mission and purpose. He communicated this vision to his followers, inspiring them to align their efforts with a higher goal.

9. Conflict Resolution: Jesus advocated for resolving conflicts through dialogue, reconciliation, and forgiveness. He provided guidance on addressing conflicts within a community.

10. Ethical Leadership: Jesus consistently adhered to a strong ethical code, emphasizing principles like honesty, integrity, and justice. He challenged societal norms when they conflicted with these principles.

11. Legacy: Jesus's leadership left a lasting legacy, as his teachings and values continue to influence billions of people around the world. He demonstrated the long-term impact that ethical leadership can have.

In summary, all of these aforementioned mentors and thought leaders offer valuable perspectives and strategies for international school leaders looking to enhance their skills and effectiveness in various aspects of educational leadership. Reading their books, attending their talks, or engaging with their work can provide valuable insights for aspiring and practicing school leaders.

5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?

Maintaining focus as an international school leader involves several strategies as follows.

1. Clear Vision: Define a clear and compelling vision for your school's mission and goals. This provides a guiding North Star for decision-making and helps you stay focused on long-term objectives.

2. Prioritization: Identify your top priorities and focus on them. Use tools like to-do lists, task management apps, or time blocking to allocate your time effectively.

3. Delegation: Delegate tasks to capable team members to free up your time for critical leadership responsibilities. Trust your team to handle certain aspects of the school's operations.

4. Time Management: Implement time management techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix to maximize your productivity and allocate time wisely.

5. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with education trends, leadership best practices, and global developments in education. This knowledge helps you make informed decisions and stay relevant.

6. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to maintain mental and physical well-being. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep can boost your focus and decision-making abilities.

7. Communication: Foster open and transparent communication with your staff, students, and parents. This ensures everyone is aligned with the school's goals and minimizes distractions.

8. Adaptability: Be flexible and ready to adapt to changing circumstances. International schools often face diverse challenges, so adaptability is crucial for maintaining focus.

9. Data-Driven Approach: Use data and analytics to inform your decisions. Data-driven insights can help you identify areas that require attention and optimize school operations.

10. Reflect and Review: Periodically review your progress and adjust your focus as needed. Reflect on what's working and what isn't, and be willing to make necessary changes.

Maintaining effective focus is an ongoing process that requires discipline and a commitment to the school's mission and vision.

6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?

Planning effectively as an international school leader involves a combination of short-term and long-term planning. Here's a breakdown of how you can plan for each week, month, and year.

1. Weekly Planning:

* Set Objectives: At the beginning of each week, identify the key objectives you want to achieve. These should align with your school's goals and priorities.

* Review Tasks: Review your to-do list and prioritize tasks for the week. Ensure that they contribute to your objectives.

* Time Blocking: Allocate specific time blocks for important tasks and meetings. This helps you stay organized and ensures you have dedicated time for essential responsibilities.

* Delegate: Identify tasks that can be delegated to your team members. Delegating tasks frees up your time for more strategic activities.

* Emergency Time: Keep some time slots open for unexpected issues or emergencies that may arise during the week.

* Communication: Schedule regular check-ins with your leadership team and staff to stay informed about ongoing projects and address any concerns.

2. Monthly Planning:

* Review Progress: At the end of each month, review your progress towards your school's annual goals. Evaluate what went well and what needs improvement.

* Budget Review: If applicable, review the school's budget and financial performance. Ensure that spending aligns with your strategic objectives.

* Curriculum and Academic Planning: Coordinate with academic staff to review curriculum, assessment data, and academic progress. Make necessary adjustments.

* Professional Development: Plan professional development opportunities for yourself and your team to stay updated on education trends and leadership skills.

3. Yearly/Annual Planning:

* Strategic Planning: At the beginning of each year, conduct a strategic planning session to set the school's priorities and goals for the year.

* Budgeting: Develop the school's annual budget, taking into account projected expenses and revenue. Ensure alignment with your strategic plan.

* Annual Calendar: Create an annual school calendar that includes important events, holidays, and academic milestones.

* Faculty Development: Plan for the professional development and training needs of your staff for the year.

* Assessment and Evaluation: Define key performance indicators and metrics to assess the school's progress throughout the year. Set up regular evaluation points to track performance.

* Community Engagement: Develop strategies for engaging with parents, alumni, and the wider community. Consider events, newsletters, and communication plans.

* Crisis and Contingency Planning: Anticipate potential crises and develop contingency plans to address them effectively.

Effective planning is an iterative process. Regular review and adjustment of plans as needed based on changing circumstances, feedback, and progress toward a school's mission and objectives is essential.

7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?

Delegating effectively can be a challenge, especially for young leaders. Here are some pieces of advice to help a young international school leader improve their delegation skills.

1. Trust Your Team: Trust is the foundation of effective delegation. Believe in the skills and abilities of your team members. Recognize that they were hired for a reason and have the potential to excel.

2. Clear Communication: Clearly communicate your expectations and objectives when assigning tasks. Ensure that your team understands the goals, deadlines, and any specific requirements.

3. Select the Right People: Match tasks to team members based on their strengths, skills, and interests. Delegating to the right person increases the likelihood of success.

4. Provide Resources: Ensure your team has the necessary resources, tools, and information to complete their tasks successfully. A lack of resources can hinder delegation.

5. Training and Support: Offer training or guidance when needed. Younger team members may require more support initially to build their confidence and competence.

6. Set Milestones: Establish checkpoints or milestones to track progress. This allows you to provide feedback and address any issues before the task is completed.

7. Empower Decision-Making: Encourage your team to make decisions within their delegated tasks. Empowering them to make choices fosters ownership and accountability.

8. Feedback and Recognition: Provide constructive feedback and recognize achievements. Acknowledging their efforts and successes motivates your team.

9. Learn from Delegation: Reflect on your delegation experiences. What worked well, and what could be improved? Continuously refine your delegation skills.

10. Don't Micromanage: Avoid the temptation to micromanage. Give your team autonomy to complete tasks in their own way, as long as the results align with your expectations.

11. Manage Your Own Time: Delegating effectively also means managing your time wisely. Use the time you've freed up from delegated tasks for higher-level responsibilities.

12. Be Patient: Understand that delegation is a skill that takes time to develop. Be patient with yourself and your team as you both grow in this area.

13. Seek Mentorship: Consider seeking guidance from experienced leaders or mentors who can share their delegation strategies and experiences.

Remember that effective delegation not only lightens your workload but also empowers your team to grow and contribute to the school's success. It's a valuable leadership skill that improves with practice and experience.

bottom of page