Mr. Markus Addresses Student Questions

Mr. Markus’ background, plans for the year, and Sudoku prowess revealed

During the first week of school many students asked me questions about my background  such as: “Do you really speak Russian? How about other languages?”, “Are you as good at Sudoku as your bio says”, and most importantly “Why did you choose to come to ZIS at this point in your career and what are your plans for the upcoming year?” I will address all those and more below.

As mentioned in my opening presentation, from as far back as high school I have been motivated by three things:  social justice, learning and the global competency. These passions have led me to have tea with Northern Irish paramilitaries, meet secretly with samizdat (self-published) activists in the Soviet Union and take my first principal job in the lowest performing middle school in Washington DC. Due to my thirst for continuous learning, I have often taught new courses every few years to expand my understanding of the world.  For example I have taught Russian, History (AP US, World, European, People’s Movements), English as a Second Language, Theory of Knowledge and even some tech courses. Besides what I have taught, I have studied at different times Spanish, Greek, Italian, German, Norwegian and even a bit of Georgian to facilitate travel around the world. 

Yet, last year when I was looking for the next step in my career, I was mostly looking for an opportunity in the US but was open to a move overseas.  Considering that one of my daughters was graduating high school, I felt that it was time to make a big move. Suddenly, I got a call from a colleague in the UK who told me about this amazing school in Zurich that embraces all the things I hold dear.  I knew that they were already deep in their process, but I put in the application and hoped for the best. This school that had a truly international student body, well-thought out learning and ethical standards, and was in a place where I could learn new languages seemed like a perfect fit.  During the interviews, I was impressed by the students and faculty and their love of the school, but also their openness to take part in making changes in certain areas of school life. 

As I am writing this article, you know the outcome of the process.  After the first week with students and faculty, I could not be more excited. The next three months will be spent learning about our school and getting to know all the students, faculty and staff.   My team and I will be looking for ways to bring out student and faculty voice in this process. We will work together to build on the areas that make our school so special and find joint approaches to solve puzzles that are raised in these conversations.  

Speaking of puzzles –  To answer the Sudoku question, I had an experience on Friday that might help.  Three students came into my office and asked if I would play a game. One of them pulled out two phones and  invited me to a Sudoku challenge. It is not important who won, but what that moment represented for me was that my message that my door is open and I am excited to get to know everyone as soon as possible was heard and embraced by these students.  I look forward to a great year in the ZIS Upper School.  

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