Kristen Dimatteo – Committed to Excellence

Location – Via Cassia, 811, 00189 Roma RM, Italy


Contact +39 06 3343 8300

1. Kindly brief us in short about you and your journey since the beginning of your career.

International education is my passion and I am so fortunate to have spent the past 22 years overseas.  Along with being an educator, I value my own education. I hold a doctoral degree in pedagogical leadership from Texas A&M University and a Master’s Degree in School Administration, Public Administration, and School Counseling. My fields of specialization include change leadership, innovation, and wellness.

Starting in 1998 at the American School of Warsaw, I have held leadership positions for over 20 years in five international schools, all of which have had a strong IB program. The IB offers students such a well-rounded education, and the program fits my belief that education can be inclusive whilst also high achieving, particularly in international schools. I am currently Head of the American Overseas School of Rome, which offers the rigor of the International Baccalaureate and the Advanced Placement (AP) for high school.

Perhaps what has influenced me most as a school leader is being the mother of four children. Motherhood is humbling and always gives me insight into the emotional journey parents experience when moving to a new school.  I understand the struggles and the joys of parenting and this has given me a level of empathy that allows me to connect with new families.

2. How do you use technology in the classroom?

I am a bit of a traditionalist in the classroom.  By this, I mean that I believe that nothing can replace an amazing teacher.  The best teachers use technology but do not rely on it.  Our technology philosophy is focused on student content production and collaboration.  Students at AOSR learn coding and programming, sound production, and digital design.  Still, when it comes to reading, writing, and mathematics, the teachers are the most important, and human interaction comes first.

3. What has been one of your greatest contributions to the institution you have worked in for their development?

Everyone contributes in a school, and as a leader, my goal is to ensure that everyone has the capability to give their best.  My main goals at the American Overseas School of Rome have been to provide a clear vision of excellence: excellence in teaching and learning, excellence in parent engagement, and excellence in our beautiful campus. 

4. Please tell us about your organization in brief.

The American Overseas School of Rome (AOSR) is a truly international school.  The founding members, over 75 years ago, were British and American parents who sought an English medium school for their children.  To this day, we serve British and American families, but also all international families.  Our graduates attend the Russell Group unis, along with US institutions like MIT, Stanford, and the US Naval Academy.

Our enrollment is 600 students from over 50 nationalities. It’s inspiring to see how people from such diverse backgrounds and cultures become such close friends at AOSR.  We see the cohesion every day in the classrooms, where our faculty create communities of learning, on the playground, where students interact in such a caring way, and in our parent community, where the mission of our PTO is ‘Build community, bring joy.’ Parents come together often to support the school, and they all bring unique perspectives. Finally, our school holds the core values of Integrity, respect, responsibility, and trust as pillars of our community.  These are universal and they keep us all on common ground.

5. How have you dealt with challenges, and what are some ways you have resolved them?

The Covid pandemic was the most challenging era of my career, and we managed each situation with clarity, decisiveness, and a degree of flexibility.  We kept student health and safety at the forefront, while always believing that in-person learning was best. This meant thinking creatively to ensure safety, working with parents, and being thoughtful in decision-making.

6. What motivates you?

My students! Every day I come to school thinking about how to give the best to them.  I am a highly competitive person and I am motivated to bring my best so that students can be their best every day.

7. Being in the industry for a long time, enlighten us with the educational scenario of your country and the ever-changing education sector.

I have not lived in the United States for over twenty years, so my perspective is purely international. What I see is the growing importance of parent partnership in education, and the need for schools to care for the emotional well-being of students.

Teaching leadership is critical. At AOSR our Seminar in Leadership Studies is an excellent course for potential young leaders.  It’s important to build leadership skills early and to help all students to hold the belief that they can be leaders.  For me, the three Rs of the past – reading, writing, and arithmetic are important, but the skills of the 21st century are the three Ls- Literacy, Logic, and Leadership.  Students must have each of these skills to become citizens of the future.

We also see the need for a strong curriculum, with opportunities for specialization.  The IB is a rigorous, two-year program that requires students to take university-level courses in six subject areas.  The IB provides students with a breadth of knowledge for this reason.  The AP or advanced Placement courses that are common in the United States are one-year courses with a high-stakes exam at the end of the year.  Students can take AP courses starting in 10th grade, and these courses are open to all high-achieving students.  Students can specialize in sciences, languages, humanities, or mathematics.

8. Who has most influenced you to become an educator/administrator, and how did they influence you?

I have worked with so many excellent school leaders, and I have learned so much from each of them. I have learned to be open to learning in all environments and I hope to teach our students to do the same.

9. What are your professional goals for the next 5-10 years?

I will lead the American Overseas School of Rome to be a leader in education, both within Italy and internationally.  It’s inspiring to work in such a professional environment, and I plan to implement the programs and courses that allow our students to achieve at the highest level.

10. What message would you like to portray to the student universally?

The message I would send to all students is to take advantage of all that life has to offer.  We are so fortunate to have the opportunities given, and we should all strive to give back in some form.  I believe that all students have the ability to make a difference and I hope that my message of empowerment and the responsibility we have to serve to inspire future generations of young leaders.

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