Getting to Know Head of School Mr. Shorbe


Photo credit: Mary Cunningham

This month Mr. Jason Shorbe joins BASIS Independent McLean as the new Head of School. By way of an introduction, the BIM Bulletin has prepared a brief interview with Mr. Shorbe. 

BIM Bulletin: How have your experiences in an international BASIS school compared to a BASIS school in the U.S.? Most of our readers are students, and they might be interested in the differences between international and American-based schools.

Mr. Shorbe: The funny thing here is that a BASIS school feels like a BASIS school! The vast majority of the curriculum is the same and the excellent student-teacher relationships are the same. 

Here are a couple noted differences:

  • Many BISC schools are boarding schools. BASIS International School Guangzhou (BIGZ) is one of them. Having students on campus 24 hours a day certainly changes things! The community has a different feel when kids live together.
  • All students in BASIS International Schools, China (BISC) take Mandarin instead of another foreign language. This Mandarin course is not the same as the one students in BINS schools take. It is designed for native Mandarin speakers who will eventually live and work in China necessitating literacy and competency at much higher levels. Those wishing to take on a third or fourth language can do so with an elective.

BIM Bulletin: Given your experience, I am sure you have a vision of an involved school community. What does this look like? 

Mr. Shorbe: This is a great question. It must start with the students. Students need to take ownership of the community to build it into a place they want to spend their time. The adults on campus can certainly try to guide the student community into what they want it to be. However, my experience is that students tend to be happier with their community when they are the ones that built it. This is something that I am looking forward to very much. I will be reaching out to students soon after I arrive in Virginia to get a feel for how the community currently feels to them.

BIM Bulletin:  What were some ways the school spirit was enhanced at your previous schools?

Mr. Shorbe: BIGZ has come a long way in terms of school spirit through the house system. This has been very important in our boarding program but was expanded to include all students, borders and non-borders, from all grades. Attaching a fun and light-hearted competition to things like spirit weeks or student driven events makes things fun. Students came up with some great ideas for such events like BIGZ Idol and BIGZ Master Chef. Additionally, there are intramural sports and academic competitions that go on throughout the year. Each of these mini competitions come with awards for the event as a “stand alone” event as well as house points that accumulate over the school year leading up to the BIGZ Cup (the house with the most house points at the end of the year). As with the question above, this is best accomplished when students take control!

Editor’s note: The House System at BIM is in place! (Go House Fire!)

Photo by Mary Cunningham

BIM Bulletin: Can you tell us more about your interests or passions outside of school? 

Mr. Shorbe

  • I love movies. I love books. I love history. I guess you could say I love stories! I love traveling with my family and creating stories. I love listening to people from all walks of life telling me about their stories. 
  • I love kids. Kids are just a lot more fun to speak with than adults! Their stories are usually more interesting. I especially love hearing younger kids let their imaginations go wild! I love to count how many times ninjas, monkeys, or unicorns come up in stories from much younger kids. But I also love hearing stories from older kids that have been a little more researched and thought out, including plot twists and intrigue. 
  • I love poetry…. Well, most poetry…. Okay, I love a lot of poetry.
  • I love music. I am no musician, and I can’t sing. But I love music.
  • I love little moments of beauty that surround us that we can easily miss if we don’t pay attention. Obvious moments like sunsets and sunrises, lightning strikes, and rainfall. But also, less obvious ones, like hummingbirds flitting around, frogs hopping across the road, or flowers breaking through the cracks in concrete. There are stories in each of those moments, too. 
  • I’m a big nerd.
  • I’m a big teddy bear. 
  • I love Star Wars.

We are so excited to finally meet Mr. Shorbe. On behalf of the BIM Bulletin, welcome to BASIS Independent McLean, Mr. Shorbe!