Published 24 August 2018

A letter from Principal Carina Nilsson

The new academic year is almost upon us and with it comes a new set of challenges and opportunities.

My name is Carina Nilsson and I am the new Principal and CEO at SSHL. Prior to this, in my previous role, I was the executive director of education for Härjedalen Municipality and have also worked for seven years as a teacher and principal of the Swedish School in Lisbon.

A student once asked me what a principal’s job is? This is a difficult question to answer in simple terms because it highlights the complexity of school leadership. A principal’s day-to-day tasks comprises multiple moving components, each equally important and dependant on each other. I like to compare my job to that of a captain of a ship with the school as my vessel, requiring a steady hand to navigate towards the destination of providing each of our students with a first-class education and a foundation for lifelong learning.

This vessel does not propel itself, however. Without a skilled and competent crew the ship will drift aimlessly. Every day, the staff at SSHL work side by side to provide our students with a fulfilling school day, clean and well-maintained facilities, beautiful surroundings, functioning computers, great food, a well-stocked library, safe boarding houses, sports and extracurricular activities, student health and pastoral care, a welcoming cafeteria, dedicated teachers, academic guidance and a functioning administration. I feel honored and proud to navigate this ship. Our students are our most valuable asset; everything we do is for them.

SSHL is one of Sweden’s premier schools and maintaining that position requires a serious commitment from the entire SSHL community.

Under my leadership I will strive to navigate SSHL towards a united, digital future. I will ensure that SSHL continues to grow and educate students to be prepared for a globalized dynamic world. We will stay committed to spreading our core humanistic values both within our community and beyond.

While leading staff is important, the most important aspect of school leadership is leading our students. A few years ago, while working as executive director of education for Härjedalen Municipality, I came to a point where I felt I had lost touch with the students. Every day I made decisions that impacted my students’ lives, but did I really know in exactly what way? In order to get in touch with the reality of my decisions, I decided to enrol in 8th grade for a week. The plan was to join a class like any other student, sit through their lessons, follow their curriculum, do all the same homework, eat the same meals at the same times, use the common areas during recess and so on. I will admit that I was quite nervous on the night before my first day in school.

My week as a student in year 8 became one of the most insightful experiences of my career. I gained a whole new perspective of the realities of student life. I realized that lessons do not end simply because the bell rings. Discussions continue well beyond the end of class, despite the teacher leaving. How do we take advantage of this insight? This was one of multiple insights I received during my school week. This week also helped me better understand how to navigate better. I am not worried about navigating off course sometimes, especially if it means discovering something new. With the help of the staff here at SSHL, I am ready to set sail and chart a course towards the new academic year.

Welcome on board!

Carina Nilsson