Head of School for 2018
School and Position Description
General Information and History
We prepare young people to succeed and take their place in a rapidly changing and
increasingly competitive world.
We are an inclusive community dedicated to each child’s discovery of their unique purpose
and passion. We deliver a world class international education tailored to help each student
reach their highest-level of personal and academic success. We exist to help our students grow
into resilient, empathetic and inquisitive individuals who think both critically and creatively
and who possess the courage and conviction to take action.
The Magellan International School (“Magellan”) is an independent, secular day school for
students in grades PK3-8. The school is located in the heart of one of the most dynamic, fast
growing, and entrepreneurial cities in the world: Austin, Texas USA. The school is accredited
by AdvancEd and is authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for the
Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) and delivers them in an
English/Spanish immersion environment with the addition of Mandarin instruction. As it stands
now, Magellan is one of only 8 schools in the United States to offer both the IB PYP and MYP
in more than one language. Magellan intends to expand into grades 9-10 and 11-12 to complete
the IB continuum with an additional 2 years for the MYP and for the Diploma Program (DP)
once it achieves the critical mass of students and establishes the financial position to do so.
Magellan was envisioned by our founder, Erin Defosse, in 2007 as he was looking for a school
for his children. Erin recognized that his own schooling, attending the world-renown American
School Foundation in Mexico City, had enabled him to achieve his visionary childhood dream of
becoming a “rocket scientist” and build spaceships for NASA. Through rough middle and high
school years at home and at school, his alma mater stuck with him and gave him the support he
needed to eventually be accepted to attend The University of Texas’ aerospace engineering
program and subsequently obtain his dream job working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
where he was literally able to participate in the building of spaceships that now orbit Jupiter and
Unable to find a school with a robust academic curriculum, language immersion program and
international community that mirrored that of his own learning experience growing up, Erin was
compelled to create a school that would offer the same life changing opportunity to his children
and those of his entire community and, in the process, empower them to be passionate and
purpose driven visionaries for changing the world for the betterment of all. Not finding a school
that lived up to his vision, Erin conducted market research, secured capital investments and hired
a highly qualified Head of School and facilitated the broad logistics of establishing a new,
accredited school that would live up to it. Magellan opened its doors on August 24, 2009 with 47
students in grades PK4-2, 7 teachers and 2 administrative staff. Now at 430+ students in grades
PK3-8, 70 faculty including 21 teaching assistants and 2 campuses, the school has never looked
back. As the school grows and matures further, it eventually plans to offer the complete IB
continuum with the PYP, MYP, and the DP.
MIS is driven to instill curiosity, passion, and capacity for achievement in its students. We
educate students to be innovative and creative so that they are able to find solutions to the
challenges of a continually changing world. Our approach is largely grounded in the philosophy
of the International Baccalaureate as we implement the Primary Years Program and the Middle
Years Program (MYP) and develop the attributes of the IB learner profile in our students,
teachers, parents and administrators. Magellan implements the IB while espousing its six
founding principles: Service-Based Learning, Inclusion, International-Mindedness,
Multilingualism, Character, and Educational Excellence. All in all, Magellan seeks to serve its
community by “Inspiring Creative Thinking, Passion, and Purposeful Action.”
A major component of Magellan’s offering is its language immersion and instruction model.
Magellan recognizes and embraces the profound cognitive effects of multilingualism including
enhanced attention and working memory. Students at Magellan are developing differentiated
skills for their careers and personal lives and the ability to communicate in the top three spoken
languages across the globe: English, Spanish, and Mandarin.
Of greatest importance to the Magellan Community is supporting the success of every student.
Parents give their time and treasure generously and are present and involved in school events to
strengthen the educational experience. In addition, the teachers of Magellan’s students are
commended for the depth of their personal commitment and investment in educating the whole
of every child. In addition to the 17 countries represented by our faculty and 30 countries
represented by our students, the MIS Community welcomes and includes students and families
of different religious beliefs, economic and cultural backgrounds, races, nationalities, sexual
orientations, genders, physical and mental abilities, and ages. Our community is made up of
traditional families, families with same-sex parents, single-parent families, families created
through adoption and other types of non-traditional families. All kinds of families are celebrated
through curriculum content and social activities.
MIS is currently lead by its founding Head of School, Maria Isabel Leon (“Marisa”). Marisa was
hired in early 2009 after an international search conducted by the school’s founder and its board
and has overseen the success of the school since then. The school received accreditation from
AdvancEd in 2011, PYP authorization from the IB in 2012, and MYP authorization in 2014.
The school was reaccredited by AdvancEd in 2015 and re-authorized for the IB PYP in 2017.
About Austin, Texas - the home of The Magellan International School
Austin is the capital of the State of Texas. The city is known across the country and the world as
the home of The University of Texas at Austin, one of the leading public research universities in
the world, the seat of Texas government, its world leading technology sector, its thriving music
and arts scene, and its beautiful landscape. The metro area population is slightly over 2 million
people and is growing fast, mainly due to its quality of life, because of the talented pool of
people living and moving to Austin, and its very high performing economy, one of the few
places in the country that has been effectively recession proof over the last decade.
Why are so many smart, creative and successful people moving to Austin? It’s more than a great
place to work and do business. On top of its thriving economy, Austin offers unmatched quality
of life – for all kinds of people.
Austin is known as one of the best places to live in the USA, and with good reason:
• Affordable neighborhoods and housing, from urban lofts to hill country estates
• Great climate made for outdoor enjoyment nearly year round
• Lush environment highlighted by parks, lakes and trails throughout the urban landscape
• More fine restaurants and clubs per capita than any other U.S. city
• Creative culture that supports the arts, music and the theater
• Many professional and amateur sports venues and events
• Year-round Austin festivals and celebrations for people of all ages
That unique and engaging Austin character is built on a solid foundation. Austin is a community
that offers reasonably priced housing, a safe environment, solid schools, healthy and charming
neighborhoods, and big-city amenities at a small-town pace. It’s no wonder so many people
come to Austin “temporarily” … and end up staying.
Austin’s gorgeous natural setting, in one of America’s most unique landscapes, offers plenty of
opportunities to get outdoors for fitness, recreation and relaxation. But if you’re more the indoor
type, Austin also boasts a world-famous live music scene and equally exciting happenings in the
creative and performing arts. In Austin, it’s easy to make a habit out of having fun.
As Austin takes its place among the world’s leading cities, it’s cultural vitality and lifestyle
assets will continue to grow.
The above information provided by Texas Monthly’s “The Greater Austin Newcomer Guide” at
In the last few years, Austin has been recognized by leading publications as #1 in a variety of
categories, from living to jobs. Here are some examples:
• Austin Ranked #1 in U.S. News & World Report 2017 Best Places to Live in the USA
• Austin Ranked #1 by CNBC as “ Best Place to Start a Business ” in the USA
• Austin Ranked #2 by Fast Company in their “ Best G lobal Cities for Working in Tech ”
“We chose Magellan for our children because we believed it to be the complete package, the
language development, the inquiry based learning, the world view, the extraordinary support
and love from the teachers, and a great administration. Our children have flourished at
Magellan. The time, education, effort, love, and support the teachers give them are unmatched
and we are thrilled to have been proven right. Magellan has all the ingredients for success.”
Mike & Monica, Parents of PP4 and 1st Students
At Magellan our Preschool students explore and learn in a nurturing, safe and enriching
environment, and are immersed in the learner-centered and inquiry-based International
Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.
The Magellan Curriculum:
? Respects different learning styles
? Offers a transdisciplinary approach, where learning is authentic and relevant to the real
? Reinforces diversity and cultural understanding
? Strives for conceptual understanding rather than acquisition of knowledge by itself
? Helps students construct significant knowledge through inquiry
? Searches for creativity and innovation
? Integrates music, art and PE with specialist teachers
Primary Years Program in Preschool (3 & 4 year olds)
Our Preschool provides experiences and activities that promote cognitive, social, emotional,
creative and physical growth and adapt their learning strategies to meet the learning, growth and
developmental needs of the children. Preschool at Magellan offers a Spanish-language
immersion program, providing children the opportunity to build a foundation for biliteracy. The
activities integrate content-focused early literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, and
creative arts. Learning focuses on developing the ability to treat others with respect,
cooperatively learn from and play with others and problem-solve in order to appropriately
resolve conflicts. The Preschool schedule is both flexible and predictable. It includes large
blocks of time for children to engage in play and creative expression in large and small group
settings and is both teacher and self-directed.
The Preschool programs are housed at our Chimney Corners campus, which is a short distance
from the main campus. The facility provides classroom learning environments, a multi-purpose
space, a lunch room, library and two playgrounds for age appropriate outdoor play and
recreation. The campus has a medic on staff to attend to all medical issues of the student. The
Head of School and other Leadership Team members are regularly present to guide and support
the administrative staff who provide oversight and management of the day-to-day program.
Primary Years Program - in Elementary School (K-5)
The Primary Years Program is learner-centered and inquiry-based. Teaching begins with and
builds on the curiosity of the students, their capacity to understand the material and ideas, and the
questions they have. Primary School at Magellan is a Spanish immersion program that
introduces Mandarin instruction in 3rd grade.
At Magellan, we believe in deep as well as broad educational experiences for our students. Our
Primary Students are provided with regular instruction in art, music, physical education, and
library. School-wide service projects and ongoing cultural, global and sustainability enrichment
programs take place both inside and outside the classroom.
Middle Years Program (6-8)
Magellan’s Middle School curriculum is authorized by the International Baccalaureate. Students
learn in a collaborative environment with strong curricular opportunities across STEM
disciplines and literature, language and humanities.
Our Middle School students participate in significant project-based, interdisciplinary work to
deepen their conceptual understanding by looking at problems through a variety of lenses and
exploring a variety of solutions with classmates. Support Services and Learning is offered to all
students to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach his or her academic potential.
The Magellan International School’s Board of Directors consists of 13 voting members including
current parents, Austin community members and two members with Head of School experience.
Additionally, the Head of School and 3 leadership team representatives participate actively in all
Board meetings, but do not vote. Members serve either a one or three-year term and multiple
terms are common. In recent years, the size of the Board has been increased to reflect the
growing size of the school and permit better management and oversight. The School’s
commitment to diversity has influenced the selection of new trustees, resulting in a
The Board has organized itself into several standing committees: Advancement Committee,
Governance Committee, Finance Committee, Marketing Committee as well as several temporary
committees to address current school needs: Customer Satisfaction Committee, Operations
Committee, and Admissions Committee.
As a reflection of the Board’s long term focus and commitment to strategic growth, the Head of
School and the Board have worked to develop the current Strategic Plan, covering 2016-2019.
The primary areas of focus included: long-term financial sustainability for the school, improving
communications and building the community, providing a challenging and comprehensive
educational experience and diversity and inclusion. To download a copy of the strategic plan, go
When the school community is asked what makes MIS unique and successful, the most frequent
response is the faculty. The talented teachers of Magellan are deeply committed to their students
and to the goals of the school. They are creative, passionate and knowledgeable, collaborating in
ways that enrich the overall classroom experience and help each of the students reach their full,
individual potential. The teachers create a caring and supportive environment that encourages
creativity and risk taking in the classroom and results in students loving their teachers and the
Parents often comment that they might have initially been drawn to the school by the language
immersion the school offers, but come to appreciate even more the immersive, experiential
learning approach to education the school embraces. The school focuses on developing critical
thinking over rote memorization or testing, encouraging students to develop a love of learning
and to explore their own educational path as they discover their unique strengths and interests.
Students are challenged to excel at their own rate through classroom differentiation.
The Magellan International school is a very warm and inviting atmosphere for both students and
the tight-knit community of families that make up the school. Commitment to the school is
displayed in the thousands of volunteer hours that are served during the year as well as through
financial donation. In the 2016-2017 school year, 100% of Board Members, Faculty and Staff
and 88% of families gave to the Magellan Annual Fund, totaling over $357,000 in donations. In
addition, the annual Gala netted $354k, far exceeding the $250k goal.
Parents and teachers have highlighted communication as an important area of focus for the
school to both attract and retain families. While Magellan is widely praised for its IB,
multi-lingual curriculum and strong academic program, as one parent stated “People don’t know
about Magellan.” It would benefit from a multi-faceted and effective internal and external
marketing plan focused on communicating the benefits of the IB program and a multi-lingual
It has become even more important to clearly differentiate the school’s offerings and unique
benefits, particularly with the recent increase in competition in Spanish Immersion programs. As
the school continues to grow, solidifying the middle school program and with an eye towards
establishing upper grades when ready, implementing and continuing to evolve the Strategic Plan
will be vital to ongoing success and a key component of the new Head of School’s role.
Magellan has new initiatives that resonate with our community and differentiate, but these need
to be nurtured to fruition. One example is the Center for Innovation, which aims to increase the
influence of innovation in our teaching and curriculum, through technology, entrepreneurship,
The strong community and support for teachers have led to a remarkably low teacher turnover
rate of <10%. Regardless, teachers remain one of the strongest assets of the school and acquiring
and retaining the best international talent will be fundamental to powering the next stage of the
school’s growth. With this in mind, the school is exploring increasing select benefits to
continuing competing for top teachers across the globe.
Position Requirements and Candidate Profile
The successful candidate will be an energetic and passionate educational leader with the ability
to set a vision and inspire others. Additionally, the successful candidate will have the strength
and sensitivity to help build the school community and guide the school’s future development
while maintaining its identity.
• Advanced degree and expertise in Primary and Middle Schools
• Solid knowledge of the management functions of an independent school, including
admissions, finance, marketing, development, curriculum development, and faculty
• 10+ years of education and administrative experience (at least five in the US)
• An inspiring and empowering leader with the ability to set and garner support for a vision
• Effective communication skills inside and outside of the school community
• Ability to delegate responsibility and authority effectively
• Strong decision making skills
• Ability to synthesize multiple points of view
• Energetic support of fundraising efforts
• Ability to select, develop and retain excellent teachers
• Sensitive to multicultural differences
? Committed lifelong learner who embodies the IB Learner profile (thinker, communicator,
risk taker, open-minded, principled, caring, inquirer, reflective, knowledgeable,
? Ability to remain calm through times of change and pressure
? Good listener with strong emotional intelligence
Application Deadline: July 1st, 2017
Interested candidates should send electronically via e-mail:
· a letter of intent,
· a résumé,
· their educational philosophy and
· a list of five references
Chair, Head of School Search Committee
The Magellan International School
A.M.P & Associates is consultant to the search and can be reached at +1 (415) 386-4008
The Magellan International School provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all
employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, The Magellan
International School complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination
in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all
terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion,
termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.