HEAD OF SCHOOL
Interim Head Ellen Stern delivers the welcome address at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new
Early Childhood Center , November 3, 2013
ELLEN STERN | HEAD OF SCHOOL
It’s been little more than ten years since Jim Collins wrote Good to Great, his book about how some companies achieved great success over long periods of time. His “Hedgehog Principle” derived from the ancient Greek fable of the fox and the hedgehog. The fox keeps coming up with new ideas to eat the hedgehog, but the hedgehog keeps defeating him by one tried and true strategy: rolling into a thorny ball. Have we in the U.S. tried to provide a world- class education by building shopping mall schools
where students can browse or sample all the goods? Have
we neglected the Hedgehog Principle, the ability to do one
thing very, very well?
Coming to French American and International has been
an eye-opening experience. Here is a wonderful school in
a terrific city with an amazing number of excellent inde-
pendent schools vying for a limited number of qualified
students. While there are a few other cities with such an
abundance of riches, I asked myself, “What is it that is so
special about French American?”
Here is what I found:
A unique bilingual program that truly prepared students by grade 8 who could compete academically
with the best students in the city in not one, but two
An international high school that offered two demanding programs, the French Baccalaureate and the International Baccalaureate, that are highly regarded by the
best universities all around the world.
A high school big enough and diverse enough for students to find and develop a passion, to be themselves
and to feel welcomed and included.
A more international faculty than in any international
school I have led in eight countries.
Here’s where the Hedgehog Principle comes in. What
is this school truly passionate about? What can we be
(what are we) best at? What can sustain us in a highly
Our Truly International Faculty