Jana Stölting – Heading for new horizons
Music and reading have been Jana Stölting’s great passions for as long as she can remember. Which is why she chose to start a degree in music in the 1980s – but then everything changed.
‘I grew up in East Germany, and after the Wall came down, I suddenly had to completely rethink my future and my goals,’ says Stölting. As a way of giving herself unlimited access to literature, she began studying German and history with a teacher training component at the Freie Universität Berlin. ‘I used to have so many books in mind that I wanted to read but couldn’t,’ recalls Stölting.
When she took her first job at a private school in Berlin, she discovered ‘how much fun you can have as a teacher, how much joy and, above all, how much potential for innovation there is.’ She valued working for a school that gave her room for freedom and creativity rather than prescribing ‘tradition, conformity, and bureaucracy’.
After four years, during which Stölting studied drama alongside working, she and her husband decided to move abroad. There was a vacancy at the Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg that exactly matched Stölting’s academic profile. She originally intended to stay for just two years – but ended up staying for 14. While in South Africa, Stölting completed a part-time distance-learning master’s in school management.
Just as Stölting was looking for a new leadership challenge, the Phorms Campus Berlin Mitte was advertising for a new head of school. ‘I knew immediately that it was a school I could identify with, where I could be a trustworthy head and introduce new ideas,’ says Stölting. She has been in charge of strategic and operational management at the Berlin campus since the beginning of 2019. She also runs the secondary school. ‘As a bilingual, multi-cultural school, it is a reflection of Berlin Mitte for me,’ says Stölting. ‘Children from different cultures can become extremely well-integrated under the guiding principles of tolerance, respect and openness. The school is home to lots of passionate colleagues who hold precisely those values.’
Together with other department heads and school management, Stölting recently developed a programme to advance the dependable high quality of the school’s infrastructure and results and increase the number of students on campus. It sets out new cross-departmental concepts for language development and digitalisation and a new plan for staff development.
With the big move to another continent and setting forward-looking projects in motion at Phorms, Stölting hasn’t had much time left over for her hobbies. ‘I’m a very creative person,’ she says. ‘I look forward to exploring Berlin’s cultural scene – next year.’