Ngô Thành Nam, Principal and Academic Director of the Elementary MOET Program at Inspire Schools, Vietnam

Ngô Thành Nam is the Principal and Academic Director of the Elementary MOET Program at Inspire Schools, Vietnam. With an impressive career spanning various educational roles, he has made significant contributions to the academic landscape. Formerly the Head of Educational Technology Department and Deputy Head of Primary Department at Nguyen Hoang Education Group, Nam has been instrumental in integrating technology into education, enhancing learning experiences for students.

As a Microsoft Education Expert and the founder of the Global Learning Project, Nam specializes in STEM projects aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His commitment to innovative education is evident in his efforts to foster global learning communities.

Nam holds a Master of Education Management and has received numerous accolades, including the prestigious HoneyWell scholarship in the US (2017), participation in the Space Academy, CERN Science Teacher Training Program in Switzerland, YSEALI Young Leaders Program in Malaysia, and the School Mentoring Program in India. His extensive experience and dedication make him a pivotal figure in advancing education in Vietnam and beyond.

In a recent interview with K12 Digest, Ngô Thành Nam discusses his career as an education leader, the challenges he has faced, and his vision for the Inspire Schools. Here are the excerpts.

Could you please introduce yourself and share what inspired you to pursue a career in education leadership?

Certainly. I’m currently serving as the Principal and Academic Director of the MOET Program at Inspire Schools, Vietnam. My journey in education began as a passionate teacher, driven by a desire to make a positive impact on students’ lives. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching at prestigious institutions in Vietnam. What truly inspired me to pursue educational leadership was witnessing the transformative power of innovative teaching methods and global collaboration. Having the opportunity to participate in many educational programs around the world, I realized I could amplify my impact by shaping educational policies and practices on a broader scale.

My vision is to create an educational environment that nurtures not just academic excellence, but also critical thinking, creativity, and global citizenship. I believe in blending traditional values with modern pedagogies, and I’m committed to preparing our students for the challenges of the 21st century. Through my role at Inspire Schools, I strive to implement this vision, fostering a learning community that empowers both students and teachers to reach their full potential.

Can you share the moment when you decided you wanted to become an educational leader rather than a teacher?

My decision to become an educational leader wasn’t a sudden moment, but a natural progression from my passion for teaching. Through years of working at many schools, I realized I could create a bigger impact by expanding my influence beyond the classroom. As a teacher, I was able to influence and inspire the students in my classes, which was incredibly rewarding. However, I began to see that as an educational leader, I could potentially impact not just a classroom, but an entire school community, including students, teachers, and even parents.

Particularly, when participating in global education projects and being recognized by international programs, I saw the enormous potential in connecting Vietnamese education with the world. I believed that by becoming an educational leader, I could create systemic changes, helping more students and teachers access advanced educational methods and global learning opportunities. This realization was pivotal – I understood that while teachers make a profound difference in their students’ lives, as a leader, I could shape the educational environment that would benefit thousands of students and empower hundreds of teachers to excel in their roles.

This broader perspective motivated me to take the step from being an excellent teacher to becoming an educational leader who could drive change on a larger scale, ultimately benefiting more students and contributing more significantly to the advancement of education in Vietnam.

In the process of transitioning from teacher to principal, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge in transitioning from teacher to principal was shifting my mindset from classroom management to school-wide management. This required me to develop leadership skills, personnel management, and long-term strategic planning. I overcame this challenge by continuously learning and developing myself. First, I completed a master’s program in educational management, which provided me with a solid theoretical foundation in leadership and management in educational settings. Currently, I am continuing my educational journey by pursuing a PhD program, which will allow me to delve deeper into the complex issues of educational administration and research innovative solutions to the challenges of education management. knowledge in this field. Additionally, I actively participated in international education communities such as the Microsoft Innovative Educator Community and Global Educator Task Force to learn from outstanding educational leaders worldwide.

Importantly, throughout this process, I always highly valued the role of teachers and felt grateful for my experience as a teacher. My previous teaching experience helped me deeply understand the challenges teachers face daily, allowing me to make appropriate and effective management decisions. I believe that having been a teacher helps me be a better principal, always listening to and supporting my teaching staff. Continuously updating my knowledge and skills, combined with a profound understanding of teaching work, has helped me gain confidence in my leadership role and make the right decisions for Inspire School’s development.

How has your previous teaching experience helped you in your role as principal of Inspire School?

My previous teaching experience has been immensely helpful in my role as principal of Inspire School. Firstly, it gives me a deep understanding of the realities of teaching, the challenges teachers face daily, and the needs and desires of students. This helps me make appropriate and practical management decisions while building trusting relationships with the teaching staff. Moreover, my experience in applying technology and creative teaching methods in the classroom helps me have a clear vision of how to integrate these elements into the school-wide curriculum. Finally, the extensive network I’ve built through international educational activities allows me to create many global collaboration and learning opportunities for both teachers and students at Inspire School.

You have participated in many international educational activities. How have these experiences influenced your vision for the Inspire school system?

My international educational experiences have profoundly influenced my vision for the Inspire school system. Through participation in organizations like the Microsoft Innovative Educator Community, Global Math Project, and Varkey Foundation, I’ve been exposed to the most advanced educational ideas in the world. This has helped me form a vision of an education system that combines traditional Vietnamese values with modern, creative international teaching methods. I want to build Inspire into a learning environment that not only provides knowledge but also develops 21st-century skills for students, helping them become global citizens. My vision also includes creating many international collaboration opportunities for both teachers and students, helping them broaden their perspectives and learn from different cultures around the world.

As someone who has received many international awards in education, what do you think has helped you stand out in this field?

I believe the factors that have helped me stand out in the field of education are a combination of passion, creativity, and continuous learning. My passion for education has driven me to always seek new, more effective teaching methods. Creativity helps me apply technology to teaching in unique ways, such as using Skype to connect students with international friends, or creating game-based learning projects. The spirit of continuous learning is reflected in my constant participation in international courses and conferences, helping me stay updated with the latest educational trends. Additionally, I also focus on sharing my knowledge and experiences through articles, seminars, and global education projects. All of these have helped me create a positive impact and gain recognition in the international education community.

How do you balance maintaining traditional educational standards and applying innovative teaching methods at Inspire School?

At Inspire School, we always strive to find a harmonious balance between maintaining traditional educational standards and applying creative teaching methods. We believe that a solid foundation of knowledge is necessary, but the way that knowledge is conveyed can be flexible and creative. We encourage teachers to use technology and project-based learning methods to make learning engaging and relevant to real life. We also regularly evaluate and adjust our teaching methods based on feedback from students, parents, and teachers to ensure that we are meeting both academic standards and the need to develop 21st-century skills for our students.

What advice do you have for teachers who wish to develop their careers towards educational management and leadership?

For teachers aspiring to develop their careers towards educational management and leadership, I have several pieces of advice. First, always maintain a learning mindset and expand your knowledge not only in your specialized field but also in management, leadership, and global education trends. Participating in educational management courses will be very beneficial. Second, actively engage in projects and initiatives beyond your classroom. This will help you develop leadership skills and a broader vision of the education system. Third, build a wide network of relationships in the education industry, both domestically and internationally. Joining education and leadership communities can open up many opportunities. Finally, always maintain your passion for education and be ready to face challenges. The path to becoming an educational leader requires perseverance, but the positive impacts you can create will be a worthy reward for your efforts.

Looking to the future, what is your vision for the development of the Inspire school system and its role in Vietnamese education?

My vision for the development of the Inspire – Khai Nguyen school system is to become a leading comprehensive school system in Vietnam, where students are trained and developed comprehensively in terms of personality, intellect, and physical health. We aim to create a liberating, inspiring, and creative learning environment that helps each student maximize their potential and become the best version of themselves.

To achieve this vision, we will continue to develop and refine our unique educational model, harmoniously combining advanced training programs and teaching methods from around the world. We are proud that Inspire – Khai Nguyen’s curriculum meets global STEM standards certified by, and we will continue to invest in improving the quality of STEM/STEAM education.

In the future, we will focus on equipping students not only with knowledge but also with the skills, mindset, and qualities necessary for the 21st century. We will particularly emphasize developing the core values of Inspirers, including responsibility and integrity, collaboration, love, creativity, and servant leadership. These values will help our students not only succeed in their studies but also become responsible citizens who contribute positively to society.

Regarding our role in Vietnamese education, I believe Inspire – Khai Nguyen can play a pioneering role in educational innovation. We will be a model for other schools to learn about integrating STEM/STEAM education, developing 21st-century skills, and nurturing humanistic values in education. We will actively share our experiences and teaching methods through seminars, training programs, and collaborations with other schools nationwide.

Moreover, as an internationally standardized school system, we will continue to act as a bridge between Vietnamese education and the international education community. We will create opportunities for our students and teachers to participate in international projects and exchange programs, while also inviting leading education experts from around the world to share their experiences in Vietnam.

Finally, we believe that with our comprehensive and advanced educational model, Inspire – Khai Nguyen will make a significant contribution to improving the quality of Vietnamese education, producing generations of global citizens ready to face challenges and seize opportunities in the 21st century. We are committed to continuing innovation and development to always be at the forefront of providing high-quality education that meets the increasing needs of society and the country.

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