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Janecke Aarnaes

Head of School, International School of Bologna

Janecke Aarnaes, is an international educator with thirty years experience building and leading schools nationally and internationally.

She started her career in student-centered education as a foreign language teacher of French and English in her birth country Norway, and quickly advanced into leadership, assuming her first headship at a school specializing in adult education at the age of 29.

Janecke Aarnaes has since worked within the independent educational sector in Norway, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, and is presently the Head of School at the International School of Bologna, an IB World School in Italy.

In her vast leadership portfolio we find three founding head positions of pioneering start-ups in Norway, Belgium, and lastly one in the UAE, where she arrived in 2017 in order to bring the Dwight School, a globally renowned International Baccalaureate World School, to Dubai. From Dwight, she went on to become the Director of Universal American School, before her passion for IB education took her to beautiful Italy.

Adding to her global leadership experience are five years as an Officer to the College of the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) in Belgium, a judicial inter-governmental institution in Brussels tasked with monitoring implementation of EU legislation. Whilst working in the EU system, she retained her commitment to education, serving as a board member and as the Chairperson of the Board for the Scandinavian School of Brussels (SSB). Upon completing her tenure in the EU/EEA system she returned to educational leadership and took up an executive project role as the Business Development Manager at SSB, leading the legal demerger of SSB, with the subsequent founding of the Norwegian School of Brussels. After six years in Belgium she returned to Norway for the prestigious position as Head of School at Oslo International School (OIS), a K-12 IB World School serving the diplomatic core and the capital’s global business community.

In 2019 Janecke Aarnaes was nominated to serve as a select member of the Dubai Future Council on Education, one of 13 councils established under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, to develop Dubai’s future in strategic sectors. Furthermore, she has piloted a female mentorship program for young aspiring Emirati leaders, launched by Dubai Women Establishment in collaboration with the Nordic embassies, she is a content advisor for KHDA What Works X, a steering committee member of Outstanding Schools Middle East, and sits on the advisory board for Murdoch University Dubai. She has served a six year tenure on the Board of the Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS), including holding the role as Vice-Chair. In 2022, she was awarded the WIM Top50 Global Educator Award by Women in Management (WIM) Sri Lanka in collaboration with Global Equality Alliance UK.

Janecke Aarnaes is a workshop leader and conference speaker and has contributed at GESS Dubai several times.

Janecke Aarnaes holds a post-graduate diploma in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John’s University, UK and a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Oslo in Norway. Furthermore, she has studied international relations at Ecole des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Paris and has an undergraduate degree in French from the University of Bergen. She loves languages and is fluent in English, French and Norwegian and can additionally communicate in Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Italian and German.