In Fall 2021, BASIS Independent Manhattan’s growing future becomes a reality with an expansion to two campuses. The Upper West Side location will be home to PreK-5 students, while the new, upper campus in Chelsea is set to serve grades 6-12. Although our community will span across two buildings, we remain one school united by the collaborative leadership of our Heads of School.
We are eager and excited to welcome Mr. Han Lee as the incoming Head of School for our main campus (PreK-5). He joins us from the West Coast where he was an all-rounder at BASIS Independent Fremont and Silicon Valley. In an effort to get to know him, we are sharing this Q&A session that highlights his experience, vision, and passion.
Having worked at BASIS Independent Schools for seven years, what aspects of our program generate your renewed enthusiasm year after year?
In choosing this career path, I wanted to be a part of a child’s educational journey to help them learn to the best of their abilities and propel them in achieving all of their goals. I continue to be impressed and motivated by the community at BASIS Independent Manhattan: passionate and knowledgeable teachers, curious and driven students, and engaged and committed parents. When you put these pieces together, how can you not get energized and excited?!
Before stepping into this role as Head of School at BASIS Independent Manhattan, you actually walked in the shoes of both teachers and administrators in a variety of roles. How do those experiences shape your leadership style?
I greatly value the experiences I had as a teacher and administrator over the past 14 years. In teaching different age groups across various disciplines, I learned first-hand the importance of treating each child as an individual, appreciating their unique differences, and supporting their strengths.
Connecting with families in our community is key, and I have come to understand the driving commitment parents have to ensure the success of their children. I learned this through my years of parent meetings as a teacher and administrator. Also, as a parent myself, I share the same joys, struggles, and concerns as many of our parents! These experiences drive me to lead with empathy, focused on strong communication, flexibility, understanding, and building community.
Why is it important to you to work at a school focused on the Early Learning and Primary School years?
The Early Learning and Primary School years lay the educational foundation for our children, and I’m privileged to be a part of this formative time in a child’s development. The BASIS Curriculum coupled with a focus on social-emotional learning is a formula that makes a long-lasting impact on our youngest students. Seeing the energy and enthusiasm each child brings to school every day fills me with pure joy.
How do you build relationships with your community during a time when you can’t meet face-to-face with families due to the pandemic?
It truly has been a different and challenging year due to the pandemic. We’ve had to rely on technology, but I can say it was to my advantage. Our school provides many channels for open communication between parents and the school and vice versa, even if they are all virtual right now. I have been able to meet many of our families during meetings such as Coffee with Admin and grade-by-grade Wildcat Chats. The latter are smaller sessions where parents can provide feedback or voice concerns in a way to seek improvement and find solutions through open dialogue. This has proven a great way to find the pulse of our community.
Since our campus has been open for in-person school, too, it has been nice to greet parents during drop-off and pickup. I also am looking forward to hosting individual family meetings (virtual, of course) beginning in the new year.
Lastly, how do you plan to instill a unified culture at BASIS Independent Manhattan across two campuses and work in collaboration with Mark Allen, Head of School at the Upper Campus?
Communication and collaboration are key in ensuring a cohesive culture across our two campuses. Even before I made the move out to the East Coast, I was in regular contact with Mr. Allen discussing our transition. I am fortunate to have more than half of the school year to work together in our current building. We meet regularly and I know that this time is invaluable in building our partnership that will foster a successful, synergistic future for BASIS Independent Manhattan.
If you would like to learn more about our program, you are invited to attend one of our upcoming information sessions.