News and Events

Brad Carter Speaks at our Experience IPS Event

At our April 24th Experience Island Pacific School event, Brad Carter addressed our new and prospect families for the first time. Here is a transcript of that talk.

Transition is a big thing, so let me tell you why I am enrolling, so to speak, in Island Pacific School. I think it’s the best middle school in the world, probably, and maybe even one of the best schools in the world. Primary, middle, high school or otherwise.

That’s not a sales pitch. I get to say that. I left the classroom to work with Apple education and then NoTosh, a global education consultancy, because I had a burning need to understand more about education, schooling, teaching and learning. I needed to get up high in order to see more than I could working in a single school or even a whole district…even a whole national school system. How do people in Tangier or Nanking or Dusseldorf teach and learn? And since that move I’ve been fortunate enough to work on or in schools all over the world. In more than 50 countries, I think. East and west, rich and poor. And I’ve spent my whole career trying to understand how we make this thing we call education the best it can be.

I don’t know I have “an” answer but I can say I’ve learned this in my travels: It’s a mistake to think education is all about schooling. Those are related, but different ideas. Education is about how we, as a community, help raise our children to be good people, with all that that means. Schooling is just one of the solutions we came up with.

And Island Pacific School, I believe, reasonably objectively, is a particularly good version of the solution. What makes it so?

I feel confident to say there are just two things that make a great school. People often think programming, IB or inquiry-based learning or graduation rates, that sort of thing. Those are important. But all the schools I’ve worked with have those things. They’re a given. What distinguishes the great from the merely good is:

  • a deep and strong connection to the communities they serve; and that plays out mainly in the way the entire staff, not just the teachers, engage with students, their families and everyone else in the village, town, or borough or city
  • leadership that understands that, and who work towards protecting and strengthening that connection through a strong and lived set of values…such as wisdom, courage, integrity and relationships

That’s it. Great schools understand they are part of and serve something bigger.

I’ve done development work with one of the richest schools in the world, where royalty attend. And at the other end, work for a tiny school in a hamlet Scotland, just making do. Given a choice, I would send my kids – maybe I should say grandkid now?– to the school in Scotland because the people there know how & why they serve community. I did send my children to Island Pacific School, for the same reason, by the way..

This is especially important for kids in middle school. As we say at Island Pacific School, the middle years are when you can set up a kid for life. Those years, from roughly 11 to 14, are a time of profound change and development in a kid’s life. Second only to development in the first two years or so of their life.

It’s a period characterized by rapid growth in all key areas: cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development, each playing a distinct role in shaping a young person’s journey towards adolescence and ultimately into adulthood.


Middle school kids are learning math, languages, history, philosophy and so on. But they are also learning to individuate. They are beginning to see themselves more and more as their own persons and less and less as mommy’s and daddy’s child. And they need their community close around them: first as psychological security and second so that they can come to know the world they are entering on their own terms–for the first time.

This middle years schooling is all Island Pacific School does. All it has done for coming on three decades, now.

So, I feel more like I was on a waiting list and I got a call saying a seat opened up at the best school in the world, probably. Who wouldn’t sign up?

I’m tremendously excited to be enrolled at IPS! and I hope I will get to see more of, well, more of you after I arrive in the summer.

Thank you.

Brad Carter

(image above – Brad at Island Pacific School as Assistant Head in 2008)

Brad Carter – Head of School Announcement

Brad’s story about coming home to Island Pacific School

LinkedIn: @bradfordrcarter

Twitter: @Braddo

Brad’s Website