The International

The International

The International



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Sister Wachter

Head of School

How are the culture and values of the International School of the Sacred Heart similar to or different from those of the other Sacred Heart schools you have served in?  

One of the things that’s so unique about this school, as a Sacred Heart school, is that it’s the only international Sacred Heart school. All the other Sacred Heart schools are rooted in the culture where they are located; for example, the school in Halifax had students from over 30 different countries, but it was still a Canadian school, and it was rooted in that culture, and the student body would have been much more consistent over the years. Here, we have alumni from all over the world in a way that other Sacred Heart schools don’t. And, even though we were the first of all the Sacred Heart schools in Japan, we are a little bit of an outlier within all the Sacred Heart schools in Japan. We’re in a culture where the language we use in our daily life, and in our business, is not the dominant language. We’re part of a Western culture in the midst of Japanese culture; that places this school in a very different reality, and I love the challenge of it. 

What do you see is similar between all the schools?    

In all of our schools, we have the same mission: to discover God’s love and to make it known. If we don’t engage the heart as well as the minds of our students, then we have failed them. Just this morning, I got an email from an alumni of our schools in San Francisco. She was asking herself the questions:  What more can I do for our world? What else can I do to make a positive difference in our world? She herself was already 75 years old, but she got up in the morning and asked herself those questions. In all of our schools, that’s the essence; that’s what this school and all Sacred Heart schools need to continue to focus on: Where’s your heart? And are you kind to people? And do we accept people for who they are? Or accept ourselves for who we are, and still desire to grow, to give, to love, to take initiative, to be generous with our gifts. 

What drew you to staying in the Sacred Heart community for so many years?  

I stay in this community because I believe in the power of transformative education that focuses on wisdom, education that’s about being significant in our world, and education that has love at the heart of it. There are plenty of smart people in our world who are making really bad choices—they’re smart and clever enough to wreak havoc. At Sacred Heart, we put together the mind, the heart, and the soul, because that is a whole person, and what our world needs, urgently.  

There’s this wonderful Sacred Heart quote: “The gift you have received, give us as a gift.”

That is what I hope our graduates will do. I hope they put into practice their gifts and what they gained at this school, and let it shape their life. Let their education be formative for the decisions they make, the directions they choose, the children they raise. It is important to reflect on the people you influence, and the people you allow to influence you. I trust and believe that within all of our graduates, there is an important point of growth from ISSH for them to stay in touch with. 

What are some aspects of the International School of the Sacred Heart that you look forward to further developing? 

Developing unity in the school among students and also among the faculty and staff and parents and really bringing the whole community forward together. So this theme of ‘harmony’ is an aspect to further develop. We are also focusing on continuous improvement. Perfection is not something I seek. But, continuous improvement, being our best and celebrating along the way—these are important for us. Sometimes, we don’t do a decent enough job of celebrating the successes that we have had and celebrating the significant developments that have happened. 

What aspects of the International School of the Sacred Heart do you look forward to keeping and maintaining most during your time here? 

The mission and traditions are only as meaningful as the substance behind them, so finding good ways to exemplify what our mission is all about is important to me. I was thinking about the importance of every child, of every faculty member, of each human being. So, in August, I had a meeting with all faculty and staff, and I called each by name. They stood up as a symbol of belonging, and we lit a candle for each of the Sacred Heart Goals. We recognized the commitment of every individual as a bearer of our Goals and Criteria, our mission in whatever it is that they do in their employment here at the school.

I want to make sure that whatever changes we do are rooted in the Goals and Criteria and focus on international-mindedness, high-quality learning, and well-being. Those are the things that will drive any changes. So those values don’t change, but the ways that we live them will change.  And that’s something that’s hard sometimes for people to understand. In order to truly live our mission and purpose as a Sacred Heart School, we have to change and evolve. If we don’t, we won’t be putting our Goals into practice. 

We base our decisions on the Goals and Criteria so that we keep focused on our Sacred Heart mission and purpose. We need to ask: Why should we be doing this? And why are we choosing this? It’s especially helpful in the most difficult situations to remind colleagues and other people what our Goals call us to do.  

What advice do you have for the Sacred Heart community?

I would have to say: be kind, loving, compassionate, and to listen and be generous. Look for the ways we are more alike than different, and focus on what we can do for one another and for our world. Be consistent with our five Goals.

And, trust that at the heart of all that exists, there’s a God who is in love with us—however you name your God.

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