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Meet Trevor Laboski, Head of Mont'Kiara International School, Kuala Lumpur

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

We caught up with Trevor Laboski, the enthusiastic and dedicated Head of Mont’Kiara International School (M’KIS) in Kuala Lumpur with over 20 years’ experience in education, to learn more about his route into education, how he ended up in Malaysia and his desire to continue his career pathway in international education now that he has been opened up to it.


Tell us about the pathway that led you to M’KIS

I am from the United States but have an English mother. Back in the US I originally started off as a science teacher before moving across into the administration side of education becoming Principal of two separate High Schools in Montana, one of which had 450 pupils, before moving to another larger school with 1,200 pupils. Leading on from this, I took up the role as an Executive Regional Director for Missoula Country Public Schools with 10,000 students across 17 schools.

After six years in this role, I felt I had achieved all that I could within the Public School system in the States and knew I needed a new challenge. The role at M’KIS seemed like the perfect opportunity and it was my first overseas post in an international school. I am now in my fifth year at the school and my son is a student at the school too, heading into Grade 8.

I love learning about the history of places, especially digging down into the history of Malaysia now that I live there, to learn how it has developed into the country it is today. I love a bit of dirt to a country, Singapore is too clean! I have travelled around Malaysia on a road trip taking in the Highlands in Malaysia as well as travelling to other Asian territories such as Thailand, Nepal and Singapore.

Who inspired you to go into teaching?

I had a few teachers who inspired me to get into teaching. One teacher whom I used to go to the gym with and another one whom was the Assistant Principal who took me bird watching on Saturday mornings. In fact bird watching has stayed with me throughout my life and I continue to watch the birds and wildlife from a point in the grounds of M’KIS, as there is a bridge which allows a distinct advantage.

How has the education landscape changed since you first started and what makes a good educator today?

There is no doubt that the education landscape has changed. I have worked with Senators re-designing High Schools, looking at change, re-designing schools to adapt, particularly looking at time and how best to use that. It is important to look at what has changed, the old system no longer works; we need a hybrid of both old and new and to embrace new opportunities.

One aspect which has undoubtedly changed is the teaching staff. The level of collaboration from teachers is far greater than it was and is under-estimated, as such when hiring teachers you have to look at their collaborating skills. Teachers’ work habits have changed and developed. You now hire grade level teams and not just individual teachers, hiring them for computer skills and a range of abilities particularly for assessments that need to be done. You used to say to ‘kids make note, this will be in the exam’ but now it’s done on assessments, preparing the kids, the guides etc a lot of work goes into this. However, as a result, all of this produces creative thinkers and challengers.

There are so many questions regarding the future of schooling; what will need to change? Will it be the end of Bricks and Mortar schools? Decisions need to be made such as should we be leasing the land or buying charging ports for computers? There is so much change however and with Covid this year, it solidifies the need for schools to continue. Academically the industry is needed and children have a need to mix socially.

What has your time abroad taught you about International Schools?

I love the international school system and the challenge that it brings. I am keen for my son to continue within an international school and for myself to continue this pathway now that I have been opened up to it.

International schools have a world focus, when you reflect on American schools, yes there is diversity but of a different kind, there are socio economic bands i.e. poverty, disability etc. This is a component which is missing in international schools but they have the amazing diversity of culture. International schools are truly diverse and students are exposed to different cultures within the school. At M’KIS we follow the North American curriculum from Kindergarten through to Grade 12 and one kid may feel American at school but Chinese at home. I know that it may easier for my own son as he’s American however he is still exposed to different cultures in school life.

What makes M’KIS stand out as a school?

Families walk to school which is unique as they reside close to the school, there is a strong community here. I make sure I meet and greet families at the cross walk each day and welcome new parents, teachers and kids into the community. There is diversity across the school but it is very much a community where families are made to feel they belong and have a connection. Not only are students new but families are also making the transition and there are plenty of opportunities for parents to be included in our community through wine nights, hiking clubs, language clubs etc. Parents are often seen in the corridors during the day or meeting in the coffee shop.

What is your favourite place in the school?

I have three places I love to be: ECE (Early Childhood Education which encompasses Pre K3 and Pre K4) for the energy, the theatre where lots of events take place and memories are made as well as the bridge in the grounds – the jungle is just there and it’s a great opportunity to bird watch!

What items do you have on your desk?

A guitar pick, my guitar is just behind my desk, a snakeskin (I have yet to identify the snake), a plumb bob (a weight used by builders for a vertical reference line), a card holder which has been upcycled from a chain ring from a bicycle. My wife is an artist and upcycles items from musical instruments but didn’t make this!


Mont’Kiara International School in Kuala Lumpur is a North American School which follows the IB Curriculum from Pre K3 through to Grade 12. To learn more about M’KIS or to get in contact please contact us here.


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