Helen Kelly has been an educator and school leader in international schools across the world since 1999. Over the last 13 years, she has led the elementary sections of international schools in Bangkok, Berlin and Hong Kong. Prior to this Helen was member of the legal profession, working as a solicitor in the UK.
As both a lawyer, teacher and school principal, Helen has seen the need for an increased focus on wellbeing in the workplace. She tries hard to attend to her own wellbeing and act as a role model for others.
While working as a Primary Principal in Berlin in 2012, Helen began to take an interest in the emotional challenges that school leaders face in the course of their role. This became a focus for her doctoral studies which began around the same time. In February 2017, Helen was awarded her Ed.D from the University of Birmingham, UK with a thesis entitled “International Schools as Emotional Arenas: Facing the Leadership Challenges in a German Context”.
In recent years, Helen has been developing and delivering presentations and workshops on school leader and educator wellbeing (as well as on future-ready learning, her other passion) around the Asia region. She is keen to work more closely with schools, boards and organisations representing the interests of international school leaders and educators to raise the profile of this important subject.
While Helen takes a great interest in student wellbeing and is an advocate of the Positive Education movement, she believes that leaders and educators should flourish first, as only when leaders and educators attend to their own wellbeing are they able to serve their communities to their maximum potential. Helen uses the PERMA model of human flourishing and transformational leadership theory to help individuals and teams build a positive culture built around exceptional relationships, shared values and positive emotions.
Helen is currently the Lower School Principal at Canadian International School of Hong Kong where she leads of team of 90 staff. She is also the leader of Project Innovate a PreK-12 initiative to bring future-ready learning to the school. Helen is aware of the additional pressures that ongoing change in schools brings to educators and leaders. As we push towards developing new pedagogies and environments and work to bring others along on the journey, it becomes increasingly important that we focus upon adult wellbeing in our schools to ensure we avoid burnout in the face of rapid change.
In her personal life, Helen is a keen yoga practitioner and yoga teacher. She teaches the Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics section of a 200 hour yoga teaching training course, looking at how we might draw upon the principles of yoga philosophy to enhance our wellbeing and happiness in modern day life.
Helen is currently studying for a part-time Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology with the University of East London. She enjoys using positive psychology tools to support her own wellbeing and that of her colleagues. Helen is working towards full coaching accreditation with the International Coaching Federation.