” There is no greater gift that a parent can give their children to equip them for life than a great education. A Board composed of parents will always ensure that ISKL is true to its Vision and Mission and supports the school’s strategic plan for the future.”
Anna-Marie, an ISKL parent, was recently appointed as the Board Chair for 2023-2026. She has been an active and long-standing member of the ISKL community, joining the Board in 2019. Anna-Marie has previously served as the Chair of the Governance Committee, where she played an instrumental role in aligning the Board’s guiding documents to support the Head of School in effectively fulfilling ISKL’s Mission and Vision.
Here is Anna-Marie’s story:
Tell us more about yourself.
Originally, I am from the UK, although I spent my earlier years growing up in Trinidad & Tobago, where my father and family come from.
After finishing high school in the UK, I spent a year in Switzerland learning French. Then, I decided to pursue my passion for becoming an international hotelier, so I studied at Guillon Hotel School before joining the InterContinental Hotels group in London. Then, I moved to Paris before returning to join my husband in Edinburgh (he is also a hotelier!).
We then started a journey around Asia for the last 24 years, taking us to Taichung, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Manila, and finally, KL, where we have been happily living for the last 14 years!
What year did your family join the ISKL community? What made you choose ISKL?
We arrived in KL in the second semester of 2010. It’s hard moving in the middle of a school year, but such is life for many expats, and we were used to it after all our travels.
While there were far fewer international schools in KL than now, we made a conscious decision to join ISKL as we wanted a truly international education for our children rather than sticking to one curriculum or the other. Hence, the attraction of our kids to pursuing an IB became paramount – plus, of course, ISKL had a first-rate reputation for a well-rounded education.
Both our daughters were warmly welcomed onto the Melawati Campus in Grades 1 and 3, and coincidently, I was reunited with a childhood friend whose children were also at ISKL. We were fortunate that I was quickly introduced to the broader ISKL community.
How has your experience been as a parent at ISKL?
ISKL has been our “Community Rock,” so to speak – right from the time when we first arrived in KL until now. Initially, I quickly became involved in the PTA as a room mom.
I have many special memories of watching all the kids grow up and enjoying fun and interactive learning. I continued being heavily involved in the PTA for the next seven years. I reflect on that time in my life as a great opportunity to meet amazing parents and teachers and, as a result, have a great sense of achievement and success. Getting involved in all the PTA-hosted events became great fun, including Christmas Around the World, International Fest, Quiz Night, ISKL Celebrates, ISKL’s 50th Anniversary, and so much more!
In 2017, I started working full-time again after a long break and, given my previous involvement in the school, began to feel a bit of a disconnect. So, I decided to join the Board in 2019, which has been very fulfilling and has kept me close to ISKL ever since.
Can you tell us more about your experience chairing the Governance Committee?
From the start of my joining the Board, I was a member of the Governance Committee. While I didn’t have any prior experience in a formal Governance role, I learned quickly, and mostly, it’s a matter of logic, common sense, and interpreting the school’s constitution, which like-minded people have built up with a wealth of experience.
In 2020, I was asked if I would chair the Governance Committee, which I embraced, and I have been fortunate to grow in the role via online training webinars and facilitated workshops. It has been a great experience expanding my knowledge to include governance on School Boards. It has grown my knowledge and insight into how the many aspects of school governance are interconnected and how important they are to the overall Strategy, Vision, and Mission at ISKL.
As Board Chair, what are the strengths of a parent-led Board?
First and foremost, the strength of a parent-led Board is that members of the Board, as parents, have a highly specific and vested interest in their children’s education.
A parent-led board brings a wide range of competencies and expertise to the table, supporting our governance and fiduciary duties and responsibilities while aligning them with a shared passion for their children’s education.
In my opinion, there is no greater gift that a parent can give their children to equip them for life than a great education. A Board composed of parents will always ensure that ISKL is true to its Vision and Mission and supports the school’s strategic plan for the future.
Can you offer any words of advice for new ISKL parents?
I recommend attending as many school meetings and social gatherings organized by the PTA as possible to garner an insider view of how the school community works together. Even better would be to volunteer whenever possible, as active participation is the best way to find yourself in the heart of the ISKL community!
I can assure other parents from first-hand experience that they will meet amazing people who find themselves in the “same boat,” such as being new to the school and usually the city while trying to make everything fall into place for their families! I have found that they become true friends for life and will be part of your memories forever!
Describe your most memorable moments at ISKL.
Ah, there are so many….. all the shows within each division showcasing students with amazing talent, all the sporting events, parent events, moving on ceremonies from Grade 5 to 6 and Grade 8 to 9, and graduation! Those special moments at Elementary School (ES) include moments when kids have that twinkle in their eyes when they suddenly get a breakthrough in their learning and understanding!
What do you love most about ISKL?
Witnessing happy, busy, and engaged children! Seeing the highlights of all the opportunities they can experience, like the G5 Malacca trip, Malaysia Week, GAP, etc.
Who or what inspires you?
Anyone positive, funny, and engaging! Like Karen Palko – the heartbeat of ISKL. This lady gives her life and soul to ISKL. She sees every child as an individual and brings out the best in them.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Tell us about your hobbies and interests.
My passions are traveling, meeting people, and learning about different cultures – food, music, and art! I love supporting the arts by attending the theatre, musicals, ballets, and concerts. I like to spend time with my family and friends and walk my dog in my free time.
What does ISKL’s Vision, “Know yourself, care for all, and create a better world,” mean to you?
ISKL’s Vision is a thoughtful insight into success and happiness in life and helps encompass the mindset and behaviors that will take you there.
Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always has an anecdote to tell, loves to share some insights into their passions and interests, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.