Connie Buford enjoyed a forty-year illustrious career in education that took her all over the world. She was motivated throughout her career by the positive impact she might have on young people and, in turn, the meaningful role they would have in helping others. “Parents and educators have the awesome responsibility for shaping the values that our children and students will carry with them forever,” Connie wrote in a 1997 Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) “Distinguished Overseas Lecture.” Schools, she wrote further, should help “successful people of the future become more than masters of academics, also teaching them to be tolerant, adaptable, problem-solvers who feel responsible for the world and for their fellow citizens.”
Connie’s early career focus was teaching and then, as an administrator, she worked on local school improvement and school desegregation in her home state of South Carolina. Her attention turned global when exposed to international schools through university-school partnerships and teacher professional development. In 1988, Connie assumed the role of middle school principal at the International School of Kenya (ISK), which she held for two years, and the executive director of the Association of International Schools of Africa (AISA), which she held for nine years. She sought to change the lives of her own children – and scores of other students and fellow educators – by introducing them to a bigger world and exposing them to the amazing things happening in international schools.
Working for AISA was, in her words, “one of the best jobs in the world.” Through this work, she fostered connections and strengthened networks that resulted in individual success and improved learning and teaching for entire schools. She promoted cross-cultural learning, student community service and teacher exchange, and advanced educational opportunities for a wide range of families and educators globally.
After ASIA, Connie worked for Pearson Education and then was honoured to help grow Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Program, a global organisation promoting a mission to empower young people to affect positive change in their communities. Later in her career she joined the United States Department of State as a regional education officer for the Office of Overseas Schools, a role that brought her back to Africa numerous times to support AISA schools, until her retirement in 2015. In addition to service on the board of AAIE, she was closely affiliated with the Principal Training Center (PTC), East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS), and The International Educator (TIE). In 1995, the Association for the Advancement of International Education honoured Connie with induction into its Hall of Fame.
She passed away in January 2022. Connie received AISA’s Outstanding Contributor Award posthumously in October 2022; the nomination read: “Throughout her career, Connie gave of herself fully and without expectation. Connie was passionate about international education and she embodied the idea of leading by serving.”
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