Meet the Principals
Anthony Leadbetter, ISB Middle School Vice Principal
In this interview, Anthony tells us about his unusual path towards education, from flight attendant to managing director and founder of two companies. He is a true example of how “We all do it differently”, as stated in the ISB Mission.
- Let's start from the beginning. Tell us a bit about your origins.
I grew up in Australia and my father was in the military, so we moved a lot. I went to many different schools growing up there, so I can really connect with ISB students, who typically move around a lot. I started off in the north of Australia, we then moved to the South in Victoria and to New South Wales and then back to Queensland. I finished my schooling In Perth, Western Australia.
Although we moved a lot in Australia and I have travelled extensively, I had not lived outside of Australia before moving to Switzerland. Australia is a very big country and there are a lot of places to live and a lot of places to see. Switzerland is so much smaller but has so much to offer.
- On the professional side, what has been your path before coming to ISB?
I have a pretty diverse background. I started off in Perth, where I did a teaching degree with a double major in physical education and industrial arts. I started my career teaching in Western Australia and a few years later I joined Qantas, where I worked as a flight attendant. A few years later, I became customer service supervisor, so I split my time between flying around the world and training new flight attendants.
One of the advantages of working for an airline is that you get a lot of time off, at least back in those days, so I did a lot of cover teaching on my days off. I did that for nearly 18 years, then I decided to create my own business. I took a business management degree and then became the managing director of my own import-export management business. I did that for nearly five years and then my wife and I moved to Switzerland to be closer to her parents after our son was born.
Here in Switzerland, I started another company, a wholesale and retail clothing business with various outlets around the country. I did that for about five years, but it became unsustainable, working 80-hour weeks and traveling constantly long-haul. I was not spending enough time with my family, so I decided to go back into education, and that’s how I joined ISB.
- What brought you to ISB? What attracted you to take this role?
I joined ISB back in 2014, as a cover teacher in the PE department. I remember after my first day in the school I told my wife: this is where I am meant to be, teaching is what I enjoy the most and after all the different jobs I've done, this is what I want to do.
Shortly after this I did a long-term cover for one of the Math teachers and soon after I was offered a Math teaching role in the Middle School. I taught Math and Sciences for several years and then returned to teaching PHE.
This is my first year as Assistant Principal in the Middle School. It's been rewarding, challenging and fun at the same time.
- What aspects of your work do you enjoy most and what aspects do you find most challenging?
Definitely, the part I enjoy most is interacting with the children. Middle School is just fun, there's no other way to put it. The students are just incredibly engaged, incredibly motivated and want to enjoy themselves in everything they do. Interacting with them on that basis is by far the most rewarding part of the job for me.
As for challenges, I would say probably wearing many different hats, because I teach while I have a leadership role. I feel that I am sometimes pulled in different directions and need to multi-task all the time. This, however, can also be very rewarding, as I need to work out solutions and solve problems on many different fronts.
- Which part of the ISB Mission resonates most with you?
I would say most definitely “We all do it in different ways”. Middle School is a time of transition and change for students. They are transitioning physically, emotionally and socially. Every student is different, and they are at different levels of development and learning.
I'm really a big advocate for inclusion and strive to make sure that we have equal opportunities for all students. So, definitely “doing it in different ways” is at the core of what resonates with me.
- And from the IB Learners Profile, which aspect do you identify most with?
That's harder to answer, because I identify with a lot of them. But if I had to choose one, I would say “caring”. I'm a big believer that if we all show empathy, compassion and respect, we can achieve great things in our school, in our community and in our world.
Being caring is such an essential quality in human beings, it really can make a difference in our lives and have a positive impact on those around us.
- Finally, if you could give advice for life to your students, what would it be?
I can think of something that probably goes through for all levels of school, not only Middle School: “Don't be afraid to make mistakes”. I always go back to when I was at university and one of my college professors quoted Albert Einstein by saying something along the lines: A person who never made a mistake has never tried something new.
I think that's a really good piece of advice for people and students in particular, because we have to discover, we have to learn, and we learn by making mistakes, it's how we move forward.