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News Release (January 2013)


The Next Frontier Inclusion: An Update

Thirty years ago, in his classic work In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters argued that for organizations to achieve great things, leadership must
child-with-learn-letter-blocksexhibit passion and drive.  Last year, in his most recent book, Change Leader, Michael Fullan asked the all-important question:  Where do passion and drive come from?

Interestingly, the answer he arrives at is something that we at NFI have known intuitively for some time.  Passion and drive, Fullan suggests, come from perceiving that we have accomplished something that has significant moral purpose.  Accomplishment actually produces passion – we don’t necessarily need to start with it.

We believe that including students in international schools who learn differently is exactly the kind of accomplishment of moral purpose that generates passion and drive.

Take for example, Mauricio.

Mauricio (his real name, used with permission) was born blind.  He went through the Brazilian national school system until he was fourteen when he decided that he wanted an international education.  Accordingly, he applied for admission to the Graded School in Sao Paulo.  With regret, the school responded that they did not accept blind students because they could not meet their educational needs.

Mauricio persisted and re-submitted his application. The school responded again that with deep regret, they were unable to offer admission.  The teachers simply were not qualified or equipped to teach blind students.

Mauricio agreed, but then stated that he knew what he needed and he would be pleased to have a conversation with the teachers about his needs.  He was convinced that he could succeed at Graded given such a partnership.  The Director of Admissions was very impressed by Mauricio’s poise and self-confidence.  She called a conference with the administration and teacher leaders. Ultimately Mauricio was admitted to the Graded School with the understanding that “it was to be a learning experience for everyone.”

And it was.

Bill and Ochan visited the Graded School after Mauricio had been in attendance for about a year.  He was unquestionably successful and everyone we spoke at the school took enormous pride in his accomplishments.  Teachers and administrators also took pride in their accomplishments.  They recognized they had successfully addressed a challenge that carried with it significant moral purpose.  This created a shared sense of passion and drive.

In early January, Kevin Bartlett, Kristen Pelletier and Ochan and Bill Powell got together in a tumbledown farmhouse in the French Pyrenees to spend two days thinking and talking about the future of the Next Frontier Inclusion.  We occupied our time by developing a formative continuum for inclusion (to be shared at the NFI Conference in Johannesburg in March), clarifying our leadership structure, developing a plan for partnering with other organizations (accrediting agencies, the Council for Exceptional Children, Office of Overseas Schools, UNESCO etc.) and planning for future publications and conferences.

We are very pleased to announce that the NFI Design Team will be composed of Kevin Bartlett, Kristen Pelletier, Bill and Ochan Powell.

They will be supported by an NFI Advisory Board that includes:  Laurie McClellan (Nanjing International School), Simon Gilespie (International School of Manila), Walter Plotkin (Copenhagen International School), Andy Davies (Internatonal School of Bangkok), Connie Buford and David Cramer (Office of Overseas Schools) James MacDonald (Yokohama International School) Barry Dequanne (American School of Brasilia) Jeff Paulson (Zurich International School) Anu Monga (Bangalore International School), Danette Sack (American School of the Hague) and John Roberts (International School of Kenya.)

We would invite others who are interested to join Advisory Board – we are the least exclusive club in the world.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and inclusive new year,

Bill and Ochan Powell (for the NFI Design Team)

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