Hosting a PeerSphere community: observations and inspiration from a master host

Henry Wong is a professional peer learning community host, a crucial ingredient in the success of a peer learning community. 

by LeeAnne Lavender, PeerSphere storyteller

Henry Wong is one of those people who radiates energy, even when you meet him across a laptop screen on a Zoom call. 

Henry has been involved with education for 17 years and knows all sides of the business. He’s a certified teacher and is currently serving as a substitute teacher in California, and he has also spent two decades working on the operations and business administration side of international education. He’s kind of seen it all. 

Last year, Henry hosted two ACAMIS professional learning communities, one for business managers and one for facilities and operations staff. He also co-hosted two additional communities, one for admissions and marketing professionals and another for lab technicians. These were four of 8 peer learning communities created by Michael Iannini and Ewen Bailey as a dynamic space for professional learning and networking. 

“Ideally, a peer learning community has to be interactive and open,” comments Henry. “Everyone learns from each other because there is so much collective wisdom in the group. I always start by asking how many years of experience people have in their current position and when you multiply this across the group, it means hundreds of years of experience! As the host, I get to facilitate and guide conversations and experiences where that wisdom can be shared.” 

Henry was born in Singapore and moved to the US for his university years. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and two master’s degrees (one in Education and another in Intercultural Studies) in the States. With that combination of academic themes, working in an international school seemed like a perfect fit, and before long he found himself working in an admissions office and then as the Director of Business Administration at Suzhou Singapore International School in China where he met Peer Sphere founders Ewen Bailey and Michael Iannini. 

When Henry obtained a US green card, he returned to the States for a time and had just started working again in China when the Covid pandemic disrupted his contract. 

“I had returned to the US for a break when everything with Covid began, and I couldn’t return to China,” he says. “I decided to stay here in Palm Springs and, even though I’m semi-retired, I am working at three different jobs right now.”

Henry smiles as he makes that last comment, and you can tell he is a passionate educator who finds the pull of schools hard to resist. 

“Because of my extensive experience with operations and non-teaching staff, most of the consulting I do now is with those communities,” continues Henry. “For 2023/24, I am hosting one peer learning community with PeerSphere for business administrators, and we’re trying a new meeting time at the start of the school day. People who work in operations and business administration have unpredictable schedules, and I think this will be a good way to get charged up in the morning and fueled for the day. It’s good to try different things and see what works.” 

Henry has written or edited four books (all available on Amazon) including: 

  • Preparing Host Country Support Staff for their Roles in International Schools
  • Understanding China: An Insight into the History, Civilization, and On-going Transformation (editor and book manager)
  • Effective Techniques for Part-Time Forex Traders
  • Happily Married to a Chinese National: Practical Tips on Chinese-Foreign Relationships (Henry wrote the introduction, and was the editor and book manager)

Having experienced and high-profile hosts like Henry is an important part of the PeerSphere recipe for successful peer learning communities, and Henry is already making some exciting plans for his 2023/24 group. 

If you’re interested in participating in a PeerSphere peer learning community in 2023/24, or in having a group of staff from your school join the PeerSphere space, please email Michael Iannini ([email protected]) or Ewen Bailey ([email protected]). There’s still time to take advantage of early bird pricing for the year. You can also check out the PeerSphere website here: https://www.peer-sphere.com/.

Henry shares some thoughts about the value of peer learning communities: 

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