XpatLoop Interview: Paul Slocombe, Director, American International School of Budapest

  • 30 Mar 2015 12:00 PM
XpatLoop Interview: Paul Slocombe, Director, American International School of Budapest
I grew up in the UK and enjoyed a rewarding career in teaching and school leadership in England. After spending a year in the US as a Fulbright Scholar, I moved there to explore new professional paradigms and give my young family opportunities to pursue a variety of passions, particularly in outdoor life. My career began as a chemistry teacher and although my interests in curriculum development and leadership led me to school administration, I remained passionate about being in the classroom, and continued to teach chemistry throughout most of my administrative career. As I finish my thirty eighth year as an educator, twenty-five of them have been spent leading four schools in three different countries.

During my professional life, I have experienced a rich and varied career, having worked in international schools, large multicultural inner city schools, and small highly selective US independent schools. I have studied how students learn, what motivates them to learn and how to create successful learning environments. I believe strongly that individual teachers hold the key to student success. Students learn in many different ways; therefore teachers need to use a range of approaches and activities, as well as variety and flexibility in adapting to the different needs of their students.

In my experience the academic strength of a school’s curricular program is fundamental to its success. Great schools have a mission that they adhere to, provide a moral and ethical grounding to all aspects of school life, and have rich opportunities in arts, athletics and extra-curricular activities that support the growth and development of each student.

In addition to academic preparation, schools need to help students develop character and resilience, so they can enjoy a life of leadership and service, enriched by the joy of intellectual and personal pursuits that provide for a lifetime of learning. Respect, consideration, the understanding of differences, personal accountability and ethical integrity must underpin all aspects of the work and behavior of the school community.

As the Director of AISB, I see my greatest asset as the ability to analyze the School’s strengths and weaknesses; raising issues, facilitating discussions and being a resource to the Trustees, faculty, students and parents. It’s a privilege to help an already great school fulfill its vision to provide the best international education experience in the World.

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
1st August 2014, to take up the director position at AISB.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
I lived in U.S. for 18 years, in California. I spent six years in Los Angeles, six more in San Diego, and another six in Santa Barbara, after spending many years in the UK.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
The beauty of the country, the sophistication of the city, and the kindness of the people.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
First get on a bus tour to see and learn about the city, it’s a really quick and effective way to find out about any city – what is where, to get an insight into the history and culture of the city. Have a Sunday brunch in Marriott, maybe also go to the Indian restaurant near the Four Season Hotel, and maybe visit Jack Doyles the Irish pub after a walk down Váci utca.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Goulash, by now I’m quite a connoisseur, personally I like it spicy.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
English mustard. I wish I could find Daddy’s Brown Sauce here too.

7.What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Köszönöm, because I use this more than anything else.

8. What do you miss most from home?
I really miss traditional sausages. I have found a local solution, Wilkinson’s Sausages.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I would love to be a professional surfer. I have surfed all around the world, from the Canary Islands to the beaches of California, plus the South-West coast of France, and also Hawaii.

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Working in the world of catering is tough. Difficult hours, always lots of pressure to get everything right, not to mention customers changing tastes, and of course all the competition.

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Croatia, I visited before I came to live here, all the way from California we travelled to visit Dubrovnik and Split, we also went to South Montenegro.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Touring around Hungary, or in the surrounding countries.

13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
A good IPA (Indian Pale Ale)

14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Music: Cream, The Doors, John Mayall, I went to many live concerts.
Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Hobby: Surfing, I’ve surfed since the age of 6.

15. Red wine or white?
Red

16. Book or movie?
These days I read to enjoy myself and escape, so novels by Baldacci and Patterson.

17. Morning person or night person?
Morning.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
I feel strongly about a lot of social issues: one is health care, another is the environment, I’m really concerned about those two. And being a surfer, worldwide pollution.

19. Buda or Pest side?
I like both, I live in Buda, because it is closer to work. I really like Pest – it is so lively, with so much going on.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
Never give up! It’s the way I live my life.

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