When he’s not directing the TASIS Summer Program (TSP) in Lugano each summer, Dr. Jim Haley is the Science Department Chair and teaches chemistry at a private school in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Amelia Panella ’18 sat down with him to learn more about his background and the excellent program he runs.
How long have you been the director of TSP, and can you briefly describe what you do in this role?
This is my 14th summer as director of TSP, but I started as a co-director in 2005. My co-director retired in 2011, and since then I’ve been the director. I’m responsible for hiring the staff before the summer begins, and it’s also my responsibility to plan the staff orientation week. I supervise the administrative team and am also in charge of the budget—making sure that we set budgets appropriately and spend within those budgets.
During the summer I work especially closely with the activities part of the program—with the Head Counselor, the Evening Activities Director, the Sports Director, and the Coordinator of Weekend Trips. On the team we also have an Academic Dean who oversees the academic program and an Assistant Director who oversees more of the logistics, such as student housing. I also get to to spend some time with the students, taking trips with them and attending events on campus.
What do you like most about working at TASIS?
The best part about working at TASIS is the people I get to work with. We have an amazing team and an amazing staff. I really say it’s like a family because some of my best friends come from the Summer Program. Every time we get back together in June it feels as though we’ve just picked up right where we left off. There’s an incredible feeling of camaraderie, and everyone works really well together. It is a special environment because we are living together and working together. So it’s important that we like each other—everybody always puts 110% into the program, allowing us to create a truly special experience for the kids.
|At the beginning of the summer I tell the students that after these four weeks you’re not going to be the same person that you were when you started—you will have learned something more about yourself, you will have made connections that you didn’t have before, and you will have tried something you haven’t tried before.|
What do you think makes the TASIS Summer Programs unique?
I think it is a combination of the things that we offer: a strong academic program, a great sports program, cultural activities in the evening, and travel. Each one of those elements is really strong, and when you combine that with the international community we have here in this beautiful location of Montagnola, what you have is a program that is truly unique. I don’t think there is any other program in the world that combines all of those elements as effectively as we do here.
How do the different academic classes, activity tracks, and travel opportunities offered at TSP help develop students’ skills and shape their future goals?
Mrs. Fleming always used to tell her students that she wanted them to stretch themselves. I always say to the students at the beginning of every summer that they have an incredible opportunity that most kids don’t have—to be in a place like this with people from all over the world and to make friends from all over the world. I think the opportunity to really stretch themselves in their classes, in sports, on the weekends by trying something they’ve never done like caving or climbing on a glacier, or by developing a new skill like being in the musical—to push themselves in all of the different areas is one of the best aspects of the program and what we try to accomplish with the kids every summer.
At the beginning of the summer I tell the students that after these four weeks you’re not going to be the same person that you were when you started—you will have learned something more about yourself, you will have made connections that you didn’t have before, and you will have tried something you haven’t tried before.