Mike ImperiOur Head of School believes that culture and climate in an organization trump everything, and that all decisions should always be made in service of students. He prides himself on his approachability, and even keeps a jar of candy in his office to encourage kids to come in and share jokes. As a leader, he believes that an administration's job is to clear the way for faculty and that transparent communication with parents is the key to a productive learning partnership.
Mike will tell you that he’s wanted to be a teacher since he was 12 years old and prides himself on being a veteran of the classroom. As Head of School, he still teaches an Intraterm course in 21st Century business practices. Like his management style, he believes that learning requires rapport, the opposite of the old-school methodology that he describes as “A teacher standing at the front of the classroom playing I’ve got a secret.” For 25 years, from Singapore to Boulder to Las Vegas, he’s taught U.S. history, psychology, world culture, and government. In 2002 was a semi-finalist for Disney USA Teacher of the Year. By then, he’d headed the history department of the Singapore American School, worked as the business manager of the largest high school in Florida, and built and managed a Montessori school in Boulder.
After serving as the principal of the middle school at the Alexander Dawson School in Boulder, he was asked to be the headmaster of its sibling school outside Las Vegas, which was struggling. He turned it around and maintained student enrollment, boosted staff morale (cutting attrition by 75%), and balanced the budget at the height of the recession without cutting a single educational program.
Beyond the classroom, Mike has led hundreds of students and adults on international expeditions on five continents, including three-week camel safaris in India, Himalayan treks, and barge trips up Thai rivers. He also has the distinction of having climbed Mount Kilimanjaro--twice. Born in Michigan, he grew up an Eagle Scout, and spent a lot of time canoeing in the Boundary Waters. His sense of adventure runs deep, as do Midwestern values of commitment and loyalty.
He has raised funds for a medical clinic in India, a school in Nepal, and an orphanage in Indonesia, and built desks for rural schools in East Africa. He has served on the boards of the Boys And Girls Club, Zappos Educational Initiatives, and Summerlin Hospital, and is currently on boards of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and Roundup River Ranch. He has three daughters with his wife, Kathimarie, who is, of course, a teacher.