IST Alumnus Working to Expand Inclusion in International Schools

Sean Powell smiling while standing on a beach

In the words of the IST alumnus, Mr. Sean Powell, his love of social and civic responsibility was born during his time at the school.

Currently, Mr. Sean works full-time for the NYC Department of Education as an English and ESL teacher. He is also Co-Director at The Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI), Education Across Frontiers and Learning Across Frontiers, an organization founded by Mr. Sean’s father, Bill Powell, and mother, Ochan Kusuma-Powell, which seeks to expand inclusion in international schools around the world. 

According to its website, NFI does this by supporting schools in all aspects of their journey towards the inclusion of children who learn in different ways or at different rates. 

“The people and the children are what makes the work so satisfying,” Mr. Sean said. “When we begin to see a school community open up to the philosophical idea that international schools do not only have to cater exclusively to the elite and top students, the feeling is very gratifying. When we see schools embrace inclusion and the reality that being inclusive actually benefits all parties and that we all emerge as more compassionate individuals and organizations is a massive intrinsic reward in and of itself.”

Education Across Frontiers is an organization dedicated to the professional learning of teachers and school leaders around the world. The organization provides professional development opportunities to educators

“[It’s] important because it unites many years of experience in international schools around the world with current educational research and practice; which we leverage to provide outstanding professional development experiences to various constituencies in international schools,” Mr. Sean said adding that they repeatedly get feedback speaking to the practical impact of their work. 

IST Alumni say the School Paves Way to a Bright Future

Mr. Sean attended our school after accompanying his parents to Tanzania from the U.S. in the early ‘80s. 

“IST was brilliant,” Mr. Sean said. “I went to IST before the computer age began and there was a real sense of camaraderie. People spent time talking and listening to each other.”

A group of people standing beside a tree

Mr. Sean also spoke of how close to nature the school was, outlining his field trips to Kinwitwi, Mikumi and Zanzibar which promoted “a real sense of community and bonding”. 

Adding to this sense of community was our CAS Programme, an initiative Mr. Sean says inspired in him a love of helping others.

“The CAS program was/is very rich,” Mr. Sean said. “I think that these service opportunities went a long way in shaping our sense of social justice and civic responsibility.”

A Broader Look at Tanzania in the ‘80s

At this time the school had been around for close to 20 years, slowly adding more classrooms, faculty and students growing that sense of community Mr. Sean described with fondness. 

His father, who was the Head of School in the ‘90s, organized a teachers’ cooperative called GRAB as food was often in short supply. 

“[We] would locate and procure food and then sell them to teachers once a week,” Mr. Sean said. “I remember manning the counter and selling items such as flour, butter, sausage, sugar, etc.”

Mr. Sean Returns to the United States 

Mr. Sean left IST in 1989 when he was in the 10th grade after his family moved to Indonesia.

He acknowledged how his time at the school truly helped him hone his skill for understanding complex subject matter.

“The education that I received at IST was superior to what I would have received elsewhere. The school prepared me academically as well as socially and gave me the skills to succeed.”

Mr. Sean’s pride is mirrored in the IST alumni association. Want to re-connect with fellow IST alumni? Click here. 

After two years of working in the human rights field, he completed an MA in International Relations at Essex University in Colchester, U.K. Though he was passionate about this line of work, he found the field of human rights wasn’t conducive to having a family. This led him to shift gears and complete an M.Ed. at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. 

Several years later, he completed an MS in Educational Administration at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J.

With many degrees under his belt and a wealth of knowledge in his mind, Mr. Sean is someone our students can look up to. When asked what advice he would give to the current student body he thought for a moment and gave an answer people should take note of.

“I would counsel them to be patient, good listeners and observers.”

Click here to discover other stories from IST alumni.