NAME: Dan Hovde
JOB TITLE: Director
COMPANY: The International School of Aberdeen
Where do you come from originally?
I am originally from the state of Washington in the USA town called Port Orchard, not too far from Seattle.
What made you decide to become a teacher?
I think it was because, when I was about 13 years old, I had several teachers that really made school fun. My classmates and I knew they cared about us students but also cared about us as people. They put in hours of time with us, not just during school but with after-school activities and field trips. I loved school. I knew at 13 I wanted to be a teacher, and never changed my mind.
When did you graduate as a teacher?
I qualified as a teacher in 1979, and after about 10 years teaching decided to do a Masters Degree in educational administration. I met my wife, Karol, in 1981 when we both worked in the same high school. We decided to give international teaching a try for two years back in 1990. That was 25 years ago, and we have loved every minute of it and never looked back.
What other countries have you worked in?
Our first overseas posting was to Kobe, Japan. The school was the Canadian Academy. We taught and lived in Japan for seven years. Next, we moved to the Caltex American School in Indonesia. It was a Chevron/Texaco joint venture at the time, and we lived there for four years.
When did you move to Aberdeen?
We moved to Aberdeen in 2002 when our daughter, Ellen, was 7 years old, thinking we would be here for a few years. I was looking forward to the challenge of being director at ISA and also, as a family, excited at the prospect of our daughter benefiting from all the good instruction at ISA from some excellent teachers.
What do you love most about Scotland?
We are passionate about the outdoors, especially hillwalking, mountaineering, cycling and golf. Aberdeen has to be one of the best places on the planet to live with these interests. It is amazing that after a busy week at work you can escape to the hills, which are almost on our doorstep and can be reached in about an hour. The people of Scotland are so welcoming. Aberdeen is a great size with good restaurants, and more than enough to keep us busy.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
At our maximum we have had almost 550 pupils at ISA, so I think our biggest challenge is ensuring we meet the needs of all of these young people as individuals. With 100 staff members too, life at ISA is busy. As in all management positions your brain never stops: you worry about the weather on a frosty morning; if school trips will go to plan; the curriculum fitting together; it’s never-ending. The facilities at ISA are used not only by our students but by several outside groups every week; health and safety is always a top concern.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Being around our students. Our students are always the most enjoyable part of my job. We have 44 different nationalities at ISA. One of the highlights of our school year is in October, when we have an international week dedicated to the celebration of everyone’s home country. It is a fun-filled week of food, learning, festivals with national costumes on display, culminating in a huge flag parade on the final day at our international evening.
What would you say is your greatest achievement?
It isn't really an achievement but getting to be a part of ISA has been the highlight of my working career. I'm surrounded by both outstanding teachers and support staff daily. It is a real treat to see what they do to make school a better place for our students. If I had to pick out one my favourite memories it would be the visit of Her Majesty The Queen to the International School in October 2013. This was such a special day for the whole community. The students worked hard to showcase our school, and the memory of our drive full of children excitedly welcoming this important visitor will remain with me always.
Do you have any secret ambitions?
I would love to climb Denali in Alaska – but Karol and my knees may have different ideas. Perhaps the dream of playing Augusta National, Pine Valley or Cypress Point golf courses is a better ambition.