new headmaster at the American Pacific International School and
Kindergarten (APIS) is an affable Australian, Keith Wecker. He
is a man who was introduced to the life of an expat overseas,
and realised just where he felt most at home. He is also a man
who has continually developed his career, taking his own
education much past that of being just a pedagogue.
Keith was born in Melbourne, Australia. He
went through the government schooling system, but with his
academic prowess won government scholarships to allow him to
continue through to tertiary education. He went to Monash
University where he studied chemistry, before embarking on his
government bonded service.
By this stage he was interested in making
teaching his main career, but before knuckling down, he and his
wife took a year off to see the world, as so many young Aussies
did in those days. A backpack and a VW Kombi were all that were
required, and a wife that was in agreement. Keith’s wife was
more than agreeable to this, in fact could have been the
On their return, Keith began working in
schools in Victoria, and might have stayed there if it were not
for the offer of a fellowship to an International Baccalaureate
(IB) school in Lesotho, South Africa. Again Keith admits that it
was at his wife’s instigation that they took off for South
He was there for four years, rising to become
Acting Head of School in a country under military rule in Black
Africa. It was an interesting time. In his school of 500
students were the children of ANC guerrillas. “Interesting but
dangerous,” was how Keith described it!
They returned to Australia and Keith
described the next few months as ‘reverse culture shock’.
Having had a taste of international life, he found parochial
Melbourne far to stultifying. He needed to get out. Quickly.
They had come to Thailand some years before
on holiday, so when a position was advertised in Bangkok with
the New International School of Thailand (NIST), he took it.
When he arrived there were 500 students enrolled. By the time he
resigned this year, there were 1,350.
During the eleven years he was with NIST, his
own focus began to change too. He had achieved the academic
results that he wanted for the school, but realised that the
campus itself was physically poor. The need was to build - and
fund - a new campus. To make this happen, the school needed a
CEO style Head of School. As Keith puts it, “To look after the
business of international education.”
He went on to say, “I needed a challenge. I
had reached 45 years of age and I was looking at the next career
move.” He listened to people who knew about business, and
since his own interest was now far greater than just running a
successful academic program, began to apply his own talents in
I suggested to Keith that perhaps he had been
‘winging it’ and was taking a huge risk in this venture, but
he denied it. “I’m not a ‘gung ho’ personality. I have
learned to slow down my ways, though I still talk very fast (he
does), but I’ve learned a lot from Thai business people.”
He certainly did learn, and quickly, because
the CEO Head of School found funds and built the new campus that
was required. He had risen to that challenge very successfully.
However, he felt that he did want to learn even more about this
new aspect of education - business administration.
“I wanted a year off,” said Keith. “I
was supposed to be a kept man this year, while I did my
doctorate in business administration.” His wife was well
settled in her career and was in agreement, but when the
education industry in Thailand heard that Keith Wecker was
‘unemployed’ the offers came rolling in.
After all, this was a man who had a very
heavy involvement in the IB program, and who had led IB
accreditation teams for Thailand. He had gone overseas on
recruitment tours, and was well known for his promotion of the
education business in Thailand, and even Thailand itself.
“I’m almost like an ambassador for Thailand. I get so tired
of the biased foreign press. I support Thailand in what it is
trying to do in education. Did you know there are 87
international schools in Thailand?” he announced with
conviction. A man with these credentials was educational hot
He finally acquiesced to the offer from APIS
who in return agreed to his taking three days off every week to
further his own studies, to complete his doctorate.
Keith is a very deep philosopher too, when it
comes to looking at how expats can fit in to the life in foreign
countries, and Thailand in particular. He has much personal
experience in this matter, now being the longest serving expat
Head of School in this country. From this you can see that Keith
Wecker does believe in Thailand, and is not just using the
country as a springboard to some where else. “We have to
understand Thai ways,” he says, and firmly believes that the
future will be in bringing in the products of the international
schools to be administrators. These people have the education,
the understanding of the world outside Thailand, and are of
course, very acceptable within Thailand.
For the academic, turned business
administrator, there is not much time left for hobbies, although
he was once a first grade footballer who had played in
competition at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). He also used
to play squash, but that has gone too, but he still has a great
interest in sport.
His interest now is much more family minded, and he finished
the interview saying, “I wouldn’t be where I am now if it
weren’t for my wife. She has pushed me all the way!”
Hopefully he will not have to use that as his epitaph!