Thank You ILAE

By Max

It is with both a sense of sadness and excitement we are leaving Ethiopia for adventures ahead in Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Spain, and countries yet to be determined. For the past five weeks we have had the pleasure of living, working, and learning with the staff and students of the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE). It is hard for us to imagine a better place and group of people with whom to spend our time.

ILAE is in its second year of operation and currently serves 50 students in 9th and 10th grade. ILAE’s mission is ambitious; to offer an education that inspires, nurtures, and develops young women and men to be leaders in their communities, Ethiopia, and beyond. After our time here we are convinced that if anybody can pull this off, it is this dedicated group of staff and students.

From the day we stepped on campus, we felt not only welcome, but immediately part of the ILAE community. Noah and Caleb took classes including Civics, PE, Information Technology, and Physics. Our family joined staff and students in their daily communal lunch and I had the pleasure of working side by side with the ILAE teachers everyday.

From this experience I have learned much about what it takes to create and run a school that is truly mission-driven. What is incredible here is that even though the school operates without sufficient materials and extremely limited access to technology, learning at a very high level occurs each and everyday. As I think about returning to the US and my work at the Center for Educational Leadership, I am truly inspired by what I have learned at ILAE. My time here has taught me that:

  1. Teachers who are focused on the school’s mission and who know their content and students well can greatly influence student learning without much more than a white board and a basic textbook.
  2. Allowing your students to own the mission as much, if not more than the adults, creates a school culture that is positive and infectious.
  3. Adults and students can work hard together and have lots of fun together as well.
  4. Accepting, respecting, and leveraging the culture and assets of the students creates a positive foundation from which all can achieve.
  5. When students support rather than compete with each other leadership grows exponentially, rather than individually.

It is with great gratitude that we all thank the ILAE community for all you have done for us. We will miss you all!

Our send off with the whole ILAE crew!

Our send off with the whole ILAE crew!

The incredible ILAE staff

The incredible ILAE staff


  1. Max, what a treat to read about your experience and learning at ILAE. It’s exciting to think that you will bring some of what you learned back to the states to share with other educators.
    I can’t believe your time in Ethiopia is over and now you’re off on another adventure! Your trip to the North sounded like fun – so cool that you took a little vacation while you’re on this giant vacation. Caleb, I liked your story about the angels best…and certainly got a kick out of thinking about all of you with the monkeys!

  2. Very inspiring Max! So many key essentials we can forget … I especially love your reminder about supportive instead of competitive leadership. I’d love to share this post with my staff and on LinkedIn, with your permission? Please let me know. Or maybe you can post it on LinkedIn and I’ll forward it?

  3. The entries are fabulous. Romi what incredible work you have been doing. Those lucky kids to have such a caring person looking after them. Gondar looked amazing! I loved Caleb’s comment about the “angels carving at night”! Noah, I hope you are gathering cooking tips along the way, so you can make us a huge feast when you return for us all. Sue and Max, miss you both. I love your comments on all the beautiful sights and the experience at ILAE! Insightful!
    Miss you all! Lots of love to you all!

  4. Brenda Matter and Bruce Crowley

    March 25, 2015 at 5:41 am

    How wonderful to see pictures of you all within your adventures….we can imagine it is very hard to leave one place for another……but everywhere you go good things are happening. These are very real and wonderful places – thank you for sharing them with all of us!


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