Travelling to different countries for your career can be complex and challenging at the same time.
Mike Miller, Head of Bali Island School (BIS), talks about his background, his vision for the school, and his experience behind his success in the education world with Indonesia Expat.
Hi, Mike! We’d like to know more about you.
My name is Mike Miller, I’m originally from Scotland, UK, and I’ve been here since June. I love cycling, and I’ve now begun to cycle again. I used to cycle a lot in Spain but after I moved to China and Vietnam, I didn’t do much cycling so now I’ve managed to return to the bike. I also love motorbiking and travelling!
You’re currently residing in Bali, share with us your thoughts on expat life on the island and the reason behind your move.
Bali is an exceptionally warm and kind environment to live in; the people are fantastic. There’s so much to see here! I think there is a wealth of restaurants and nationalities for an expat to choose from, choice is abundant. Many activities can also be done in terms of exercise, nature, and wildlife so for me, Bali is a very interesting and exciting place to be. The reason behind my move was a professional move, I saw BIS as a perfect career opportunity.
What has been the biggest challenge to getting where you are right now?
There are only a limited number of international schools which are IB continuum schools, so the biggest challenge in terms of getting where I am right now as the head of the school is my competition as a leader. Everybody wants to be working in an IB world school and even better if it’s an IB continuum school such as BIS. So, having the right experience and knowledge is crucial in landing the right position.
Briefly explain about Bali Island School.
Bali Island School is a small, family, community type of school. It’s an IB continuum school and as you’d see if you took a tour of the campus, we have a village-style setup in terms of the buildings. The physical resources we have here create a wonderful family atmosphere. Also, with an IB curriculum school, we offer that continuity of learning that other non-continuum schools can’t offer.
What made you choose BIS as your next career move?
BIS has such amazing potential, really amazing potential. The current student numbers are 280 and we have the capacity for 380 so I’d like to see the school growing. We are working on a process of embarking on new strategic plans that allow me and many community members to work towards for the next five years. The two biggest factors in my decision were that this is an IB school and that we are at a very exciting stage in terms of our strategic goals.
What sets BIS’s education system apart from the rest?
Apart from the IB curriculum, we are the only IB school in Bali and being a continuum school gives us continuity in the learning process. By continuity, what I mean is in IB, we have something known as approaches to teaching and learning that begins in preschool and continues all the way to grade 12. When students join us, they can pass from one IB programme to the next, seamlessly. The teaching and the learning take a similar form which you won’t get in a non-IB continuum school, so what sets BIS aside from the rest is that we are an IB continuum school that can offer continuity and seamless transition.
Why are engaging, empowered, globally-minded, and confident learners part of the core values?
Our mission is aligned with IB’s mission themselves and the reason we choose to talk about producing globally-minded and confident learners is that IB places a large emphasis on international-mindedness. What that basically means is that we want our students to grow up respecting and acknowledging other cultures and other ethnicities; we want them to be listeners, we want them to be effective communicators, and we want them to understand other people’s perspectives. That’s what we mean by empowering the globally-minded. In terms of learners, we want our students to be independent and to be lifelong learners. That is why we choose to have these two aspects in our mission and core values. Being globally-minded and confident learners are two aspects which are fundamental to the IB philosophy.
You have years of experience in the education sector. What are the values you would like to apply in this school based on your experience?
Very good question! I’ve been involved in international education for over 20 years and many of those years as a leader. In my experience, the most important aspects of leadership in the education sector – or other sectors – is to have integrity, honesty, transparency, and consistency. These are four fundamental values for effective development of not only your school but also your staff and there is an idea that many staff will believe in the leader, not the school. It’s very important as a leader to act with integrity, honesty, and transparency to get the staff to be able to respect and trust what you stand for.
Mike, what’s next for you and BIS?
Many things are coming, however, the most important issues to formulate are our new strategic plans for the next five years. That’s the biggest thing we have going on this year, that would be an ongoing process where many members of the community will be involved to formulate our strategic plan that should be finalised by approximately April or May. This will take us forward for the next five years.
How can our readers get in touch with you and Bali Island School?
Quite easily! They can come along to the school and receive a school tour if they’re interested in what we offer in terms of teaching and learning and they can see first-hand the wonderful teaching and learning at our campus. If people can’t come to the school, they may contact the school and have telephone conversations or online conversations as well, but our doors and our gates are always open for visitors.