- Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Chulalongkorn University
- Certificate of leadership courses at Harvard University
Career and Key Positions
- 2004-present : ISAT president
- 1999-present : ISB headmistress
- 1995-1999 : teacher and head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Thai Culture at ISB
Lessons from headmistress
Being taught by her mother about the importance of education and how it can change people’s lives inspired Usa Somboon, the headmistress of International School Bangkok (ISB), to become a teacher and pursue a career within the field of education.
After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Chulalongkorn University, Ms Usa started working as a teacher at ISB. Five years later, she was promoted to be the school’s headmistress and has been working in this role for 27 years.
“My mother always said that education is the foundation of success and it’s the only thing that can solve all kinds of problems in the world. That’s why I’m so passionate about providing quality education and lifting the standard of education for children,” Ms Usa said.
Under her leadership, ISB is now one of the top international schools in Thailand and Asia. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) as well as the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IB) for effective and quality educational programmes.
The school is also accredited by Keeping Children Safe in the UK for student safety and safeguarding.
In terms of school performance, 25% of ISB’s graduating class of 2020 received 40 points or higher in their IB Diploma Programme results, with five students receiving 44 points (45 points is the maximum). The overall pass rate was 100% and the average score was 36.5, both well above the world average.
Many of ISB’s graduates have been accepted by top universities across the world such as Oxford University, Berklee College of Music, Brown University, University of California Berkeley, University College London, Columbia University, University of Hong Kong, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, London School of Economics, University of Melbourne, Yonsei University, and Waseda University.
“At ISB, we aim to provide a well-rounded education for our students,” Ms Usa said. "Children will not only reach their academic potential, but also develop as people, as artists, as athletes and as caring, contributing members of society. Although learning is the primary focus, we also support student development through a vast range of extracurricular activities including the arts, athletics, community service, clubs, cultural exchanges and outdoor education."
ISB, she said, recognises learning as a lifelong adventure and values transferable learning where students construct understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Each year, the ISB Leadership Team spends a considerable amount of time deciding upon where they can improve learning the most.
“We assess where we are in our various goals, reformulate our action plans and select priorities for the year," she said. "We also spend time analysing student learning data and annual survey responses from parents, faculty members and students.
“At ISB, we have a strategic learning plan, not a strategic plan. The latter could steer us away from what is most important, while the former allows us to concentrate on where we can improve learning the most.”
ISB is also the first international school in Thailand that launched the Intensive Learning Needs programme for children with special needs. Under this programme, children who have been diagnosed with developmental or intellectual disabilities are being offered the opportunity to receive an inclusive education within an international school setting.
“Everyone is different. We try to instruct our students to understand the differences and diversity of others. They have to learn to give respect and care, and be compassionate towards each other,” Ms Usa said. “Also, they have to realise that among their dissimilarities, they all have humanity.”
Apart from her role at ISB, Ms Usa is now also president of the International Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT), a non-profit association of international schools in Thailand which is a link between its 169 member schools and government agencies.
Ms Usa has been ISAT president for 18 years or nine terms. She has worked closely with member schools to ensure high standards of education through encouragement of best practices, ethical behaviour and professional development.
“Working in the education field is both a challenging and rewarding experience and I enjoy it immensely. I have had opportunities to work with students and help them improve academically as well as emotionally. I always feel a sense of pride when I am notified of the accomplishments and achievements of my students,” she said.
I always feel a sense of pride when I am notified of the accomplishments and achievements of my students. Usa Somboon headmistress of International School Bangkok (ISB)