The good Governance project

Good Governance Project


An Initiative of the Office of Overseas School

The United States Department of State



Governance continues to be the most discussed leadership topic across international school regions, as confirmed by ongoing AAIE surveys of school heads across five continents.  Board trustees and head of school form the single most important team within a school. If the school head and board team are not in harmony and productive, then all other functions across a school are compromised.

If it could be measured across overseas schools around the world, it would surely be found that boards and school heads in “high-achieving schools” come together to create a strong working relationship, where shared vision and action over time promotes continuous improvement– guided by high-quality board policies, procedures and strategic intent.

The Most Successful Schools

The A/OS Good Governance Project seeks to ensure best practices in board governance and to teach key leadership behaviors that ensure school heads can best “lead-together” with her/his board chair and trustees, supporting a high-performing school. The hallmark of good overseas school governance is a solid relationship, strong operational agreements and productive expectations between the head of school, board chairperson and all trustees. Establishing high-performing governance practices builds from leadership capacity of the school head and board trustees.


The Good Governance Project came about through support from the US State Department Office of Overseas Schools to assist international schools’ Boards of Trustees in meeting the challenge of governing their schools during these volatile times. The core of the Project is the A/OS International School Board Development Curriculum, a succinct compendium of the critical performance standards characterizing effective governance. 

This curriculum was developed based on extensive review of proven practice, established guidelines of the leading international school and non-profit governance consulting organizations, accreditation standards, and the wise input of scores of Board Chairs and Heads of Schools. The curriculum then led directly to the production of a Board Evaluation Instrument, serving as a self-assessment tool for Boards interested in assessing and strengthening their governance capacity.

The Curriculum, comprised of seven modules, is designed to serve as a guide for Boards in forging their own learning journey.  Using the Evaluation Instrument, Boards can bring focus to strengths and needs, and make the changes they need to optimize their work.

Supporting these anchor documents are a number of related resources, prime among them is the Leading Together initiative.  Given that the prime responsibility for effective governance and leadership in a school belongs to the Chair-Head of School team, that partnership and how it serves the Board is the focus of the Leading Together Curriculum, a research-based roadmap for the work of that team.

Other resource materials within the scope of the Project include model foundational documents (Articles of Association and Bylaws), a guideline and exemplar of a sound International School Policy Manual, a practical Board Handbook template, complete with links to over thirty supporting documents, and guide-sheets/instruments for Head of School evaluation and the Head search process.

Finally, the Good Governance Project offers a host of training opportunities and consulting services to Boards and their Heads, primarily orchestrated through the regional associations.

We welcome your exploration of the resources and services provided by this Project.  Further inquiries can be made through your regional association or directly to AAIE.


A concise yet comprehensive guide to the responsibilities of an International School Board of Trustees

View Curriculum


Leading Together Curriculum

A practical, hands-on governance development curriculum for Head of School/Board Chair teams

View Curriculum





Key Exemplary Governance Resources


Model Policy Manual

The Exemplary International School Governance Project provides for a research-based set of model international school policies. These policies offer an update on boilerplate guidance and also the most updated policies on contemporary issues. Seminars on researching, development/revision and implementation of the model policies are offered using a virtual meeting platform as needed. As requested, consultants will also support policy manual development with any individual school.  

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Board of Trustees Handbook

The Exemplary International School Governance Project offers a practical handbook for international school trustees, specific to roles, responsibilities, scope of influence and key criteria for effectiveness and procedures that promote productivity. Specific to the international school context, the handbook supports board trustee development and ensures a common language about blue-ribbon governance between the board and senior leadership.  

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Best Practices in Evaluating Performance of Board Trustees and Head of School 

The Exemplary International School Governance Project has developed guidelines and instruments for evaluating the effectiveness of both the Board and the Head of School.  The School Board Evaluation Instrument is based on the AAIE Board Development Curriculum, designed to be used as a self-assessment of the Board’s performance.  The Head of School Evaluation Instrument, supported by guidelines for conducting that performance assessment aligns with established standards of practice for Heads of International Schools.  Both processes, Board self-evaluation and Head of School evaluation are focused on growth and development as a vital component of the Set Goals-Implement-Assess cycle.  A consultant-led seminar can be provided as part of the policy manual development process or as a separate area of focus for board and senior leadership development.

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Best Practices for a Head of School Search Process 

The Exemplary International School Governance Project has developed a GUIDE of model international head of school search process steps (research-based) with rationale and guiding practices that recognize the unique nature of an overseas search. A consultant-led seminar can be provided as part of the policy manual development process or as a separate area of focus for board and senior leadership development. 

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Consulting SUPPORT and seminars

David Chojnacki

David has had a lifetime of engagement in leadership of and networking with independent schools around the world. He has held headships at the International School of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso, West Africa), the Karachi American School (Pakistan), the American Embassy School in New Delhi, and Cairo American College. For 20 years, he served as the Executive Director of the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools, and he has served on numerous boards including the Association of International Schools in Africa, the Association for the Advancement of International Education, NAIS, and the U.S. Fulbright Commission in Greece.

Rick Detwiler

Rick has worked with school boards as head of five international schools over the past 25 years. He is a consultant on governance and boardsmanship; consultant to NESA on its Board Development Project. Before joining the international school community in 1988, he was a US Navy officer, a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, and for ten years, a teacher and principal in Vermont. 



how to participate

The Office of Overseas Schools through an AAIE grant provides financial support for excellence in governance to each region as listed below. The funding is provided when either a Regional Director organizes a seminar or when two or more schools combine to organize governance development. Two schools may also organize seminars on model policy development, writing of a trustee handbook, performance review processes for trustees and Head of School, and on best practices for Head of School and senior leadership talent searches.  

To participate or organize a shared seminar within your region or between schools requires that you first contact your Regional Director. Please don't hesitate to contact the AAIE office with additional questions (

Please keep in mind that all of the Good Governance Project materials have been developed within the last six months, are current to research and best practices as this project seeks to be responsive to an ever changing school community and the needs of students across international schools.


Contact your Regional Director below to apply for the program. 


Please contact

Laura Light
AAIE Executive Director


Gerri-Ann Friedman
AAIE Programs and Marketing Manager

The AAIE International School Board Development Curriculum is a component of the AAIE Governance Suite by David Chojnacki and Rick Detwiler, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Under this Creative Commons license, you are free to share this material — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, under the following terms:

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