Editor’s note: The Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast conducts monthly interviews with select members and sends out the resulting Member Spotlight to its email list. The below Q&A with Reid Mizell, director of admissions at the Atlanta International School, is reprinted with permission.
Ms. Mizell discusses the school’s new primary offerings, including a Mandarin Chinese language immersion program that starts in 3-year-old preschool and goes up to grade 5. The school is also offering what it’s calling Heritage language programs — after-school instruction that helps solidify a student’s mother tongue — in Arabic, Hindi, Farsi, Italian, Greek and Dutch.
Read the full interview below:
What is your business industry category or specialty?
The Atlanta International School is a private elementary, middle and high school in Atlanta. It’s an International Baccalaureate School, formed in 1984.
How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
I work to build relationships across our school community, but I especially focus on helping prospective families, from Atlanta and around the world, get to know who we are as a school — our values and our mission.
Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you unique?
There are many excellent private schools in Atlanta. We believe the combination of our rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum, world-class language acquisition program with immersion programs in four languages (French, German, Mandarin and Spanish) and 10 additional Primary Heritage and Secondary Self-Study classes (including Dutch, where we work with de Molenwiek to deliver our after-school Dutch classes), and our multicultural community, helps us create internationally-minded and critical-thinking innovators who successfully collaborate in our increasingly global, interconnected world. With more than 90 nationalities and over 60 languages spoken, diversity and inclusion are a foundational core value.
How was the school started?
AIS was started 33 years ago by a small group of families and business leaders interested in offering an international education to families in Atlanta. It opened its doors with 52 students and has grown to become a leader in multilingual international education in the U.S. It’s considered one of the top International Schools in the world.
How many students does the school have?
AIS currently has 1,200 students.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
I came to Atlanta to attend Emory University and then did part of my graduate work in Paris. In my previous marketing career I was lucky to have the opportunity to work on every Olympic Games from Albertville to Beijing. Coca-Cola was an important client, so living in Atlanta made sense, and I did spend a few years in other Olympic cities such as Sydney. When I made the decision to move into the nonprofit sector, Atlanta International School, where my children had attended, was a great match.
What is your number one business goal over the next year?
We are very excited about our new Primary Learning Center opening in the Fall of 2018 which will give us new flexible learning spaces for our Primary students. Along with our new facilities, we are also opening a new Mandarin language program that offers entry with no previous language experience from 3K to Grade 5. And as I mentioned earlier, we offer Dutch classes after school in partnership with de Molenwiek. These after-school language classes are also open to students who attend schools other than AIS. An important goal for us is making sure families in Atlanta know about our new Primary facilities and programs.
What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with the Dutch/Americans?
We have had many Dutch families at AIS over the years and of course would like to have many more. The Dutch have thought of themselves as global citizens since the 17th century and you can see that attitude in the importance they place on speaking multiple languages — a priority we share. From our experience with our Dutch families in the school we know they are very open to new learnings and opportunities and are always eager to share their traditions and learn from other cultures.
Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc…
I am married to Bernard van der Lande, together we have seven children and three grandchildren. I enjoy travel and hiking and hope to participate in the Nijmegen Marches one day.
Learn more about the chamber here.