Principal to depart

Principal to depart


Principal Paul Richards will move to Saudi Arabia at the end of this school year after accepting a job as the Superintendent of the International Schools Group – Saudi Arabia. A letter was sent to all ASL parents on December 10 to inform them of Richards’ decision to move on after four years at the school.

In his new position, Richards will lead a district of seven schools. These schools vary between the American, International and British curriculums.

“I will be overseeing all seven schools and working closely with the principals of each of them to ensure that they are the best that they can be,” he said. “There are almost 4,000 students in the schools, some being American and some being truly international.”

The seven schools are not all within close proximity of one another. For example, Richards will have to travel by airplane to visit one of his schools that is approximately 900 miles from where he and his family will be living in Yanbu. Due to the cumbersome travel requirements and the fact that his new job involves working at seven different schools, Richards said that his contact with his new, larger student body will be different from how it is now at ASL. “It will be more administrative work, although I do hope to teach a class. However, I do not believe I will be able to coach like I do here,” he said.

“I will be living on campus and my children will be attending one of the schools so in that way I will be getting a lot of contact with students, but it will just look different.”
Richards decided to make this move not out of dissatisfaction with life at ASL but rather because he feels that he and his family are at a point in their lives where it feels right to take the next step. “We are very happy here, but there are opportunities out there and you have to decide when it is the right time to take one of these opportunities,” he said.

Head of School Coreen Hester said that this move is common for administrators like Richards. “If you are a smart professional, you are always looking for the next step up. It doesn’t happen much in international schools [when] a high level administrator stays for more than three years,” she said. “I did the same thing when I was the principal of a high school.” Hester also stressed how grateful she is for all that Richards has done for the school, and will be very sorry to see him leave in the coming year.

The setting of a diverse and non-western environment appeals to Richards. “I have always been looking to become the head of a K-12 school and I also wanted to do that in a non-western setting. We looked at a few different schools that ticked those boxes but settled on Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The desire to work in a non-western environment will, however, lead to several undesirable consequences for Richards and his family. “We will be living on a compound and within that compound there will be no restrictions on my wife and daughter. However, when we leave the compound, my wife will not be allowed to drive and both she and my daughter will have to wear an Abiya, which is a lightweight black robe that covers the women. They will not have to wear any head coverings, however,” Richards said.

That said, Richards hopes that the proximity of the relatively more liberal countries Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will prove to be convenient. “We are very close to Bahrain and Dubai where a lot of westerners visit and live so there will definitely be a chance to get a break from it all,” he said.

Hester said that Richards has done much to benefit ASL. “We are so appreciative of the fine work of Paul Richards and all he has given to the ASL community,” she said.

Hester is currently in the process of searching for an interim principal for the coming school year. “I have been talking to both internal and external candidates. In the best of all worlds, an internal candidate would make for the smoothest transition,” she said. The position will be open for all faculty members. However, the position will only be held for one year while Hester and her administrative team conduct a search for a long-term principal.

Hester hopes to conclude her search for an interim principal by the end of February.

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