Building on The American School of Doha’s Success

Steve Razidlo will be soon taking over as Director of American School of Doha. We speak to him about his plans for the school, his understanding of Qatar’s education system and more.

What drew you to the world of education? Since I can remember, I have been inspired by teachers, coaches, and mentors of all kinds. 

“Both my father and my father-in-law were teachers, so there has been a family history of working in or around schools. From an early age I understood that learning opened up doors for people to become their truest selves. Who is luckier than an educator?”

You will be taking over as the Director of American School of Doha (ASD).  How has the transition process been? How important do you feel is a smooth transition process to the functioning of an educational institution’s eco-system?

“Transitions at all levels of leadership are critical to the on-going success of any organisation. Please let me first offer thanks to the team at ASD who are making my transition constructive and affirming. I have already had positive introduction to many of the current leadership team, and I look forward to more in-depth conversation and learning during my formal transition visit in March. Background reading, participation in transition decisions, and time to ask questions have all been elements of our work to date. Dr. Hawkins and Board Chair Mc Hale have been especially gracious in taking time in February to meet with me and my wife Dawn to make both professional and personal connections to the school community and to Doha, our new home!”

ASD has a 31-year-old history in Qatar. How do you see yourself contributing to taking forward the legacy and what goals have you set yourself as the Director of ASD?

American School of Doha has been the flagship of international education in Qatar, in Doha, for 31 years and must remain the school of choice for families and staff for years to come!  Over a grand history, ASD has created a programme and a culture, which draws families and staff to a fantastic mission supported by powerful values. You have built a community of learners and a community of practice. Respecting this history is essential ‘first work’. Much of my time in the first months as Director will be spent actively assessing ASD’s current status of delivering on our mission and ASD’s 5 Strategies…and then sharing/checking that assessment meaningfully with multiple audiences inclusive of trustees, board, senior leaders, staff, parents, and students. This process has already begun. From reading and from discussion with members of the ASD community I am able to see that many systems and practices are fully developed. We have enviable facilities, a healthy budget, and a supportive and engaged community. Celebrating our strengths is one powerful way of promoting growth and further achievement, and I plan to bring a fresh vision and an enthusiastic heart to lead our continued growth. I hope to both model and inspire a deep commitment to excellence, and, in short, to build on the strong foundation of success already firmly established at ASD.”

In your rich experience as an educator for over three decades, how would you say the education landscape of Qatar has evolved and where do you see it headed in the future?

While my opportunity to truly know the Qatar education landscape is limited, Qatar has obviously committed itself to development of the public and private educational institutions necessary to propel Qatar National Vision 2030. Since ASD opened doors thirty one years ago, multiple international and public schools have taken root, growing as the city has grown. I expect that competition between private schools will continue to sharpen, so full understanding of the Qatar’s focus on the stated educational policy goals of developing ‘critical and analytical thinking, as well as creativity and innovation’ will position ASD well. While the QNV 2030 suggests that private schools will maintain freedoms to meet internationally recognised standards, ASD must continue to demonstrate our student’s ability to step successfully into university and vocational programming at world class universities and training programmes.

What is the most valuable piece of advice that has always guided you as an education leader and how do you think it will shape your role at ASD?

“Early in my career I learned that our hearts must be as big as our brains.  In practice this has shaped my work and growth as a leader in many, many ways. Choose the best people. Empower them to do great things. Listen more than talk. Build community. People want connection to something greater than themselves.

“Finally, following ASD’s mission and living our core values with children as our first priority offers us a fantastic foundation at The American School of Doha and Qatar as my new school and home.”