In many top international schools, the Principal goes away on the same school holidays as their academic staff. It is accepted in these schools that foreigners need to return to their home nations during the school holidays. HWA is probably a school that bucks the trend, because the Principal is a local (albeit one who has plenty of international experience) and thus follows a different leave scheme.
From the principal's desk
This is the text of the speech delivered at the Teacher’s Appreciation Day, before the school assembly of teachers and students.
I normally deliver my speech in English first. As this speech has to do with my journey of learning Chinese, I shall break with tradition and deliver the Chinese speech first.
It was yet another busy Tuesday lunch-break when a bunch of students knocked on my doors and came in (for my candy, obviously – it is not like the Principal is the reason for them to come!). I smiled and reminded myself of the students whom I observed barging into their classrooms when their teacher was teaching – I shall have to remind my teachers to reinforce this habit in school. Proper manners is very much a part of society’s expectations, and as educators, it is our job to teach manners as well.
A Principal should be present to greet his students every morning, and all the more so after an extended school holiday and vacation. It was thus quite distressing to me that I had to deal with a terrible tummy on the Monday after the CNY holidays. It was no big deal – I am a fighter – a couple of carbon tablets and I can still continue the fight, but it was frustrating for me to be late for school on such an important day.
I realise I have readers who read this column who are neither students nor their parents. I thought I would reproduce the contents of my speech at the Chinese New Year celebrations (on 20 January 2017) for this post.
Before I begin, let me introduce to you a new member of the HWA family, Ms Katty Zhao, VP of Admissions, Marketing and Communications. She has lots of exciting ideas to contribute to the school, and I welcome this new addition.
There was a quiet knock at my door. My students are starting to understand and adopt proper school etiquette! I suppose my weeks after weeks of reminding the students to knock before they enter have borne fruit.
Three of my junior school girls came in, and they were not the usual ones who would come in to complain about one of their classmates. They came in, smiled, and asked if there were any more candies. I promised them that I would get Mrs Chan to get more candies. For some reason, my wife has become my Quartermaster of Candy, to my students.
It was great to see the smiling faces of the children, after the Christmas holidays. They returned to see a brand new playground area, with reconfigured playground equipment, swings and a trampoline to play on. Playground equipment are an important part of childhood, and they remain in the memories of children long after they become too old to play on them.
Most school administrators talk about their educational philosophies, their wonderful school facilities, or even their achievements and accolades. We can go on and on about those.
My posts have been absent for more than two weeks! It has really been a busy two weeks, with many matters taking me away from people who should really matter to me – the teachers, the parents and the students.
A lot has happened the past weeks, including hosting visits by the Shangrao city Education Bureau, a media interview with a Shenzhen channel “YaYa”, visits from a Chinese educational consortium and discussions with local expat media as we continue to make our presence felt both here and overseas.
I had a great tea session with my Grade 4 to 6 parents this week. All of these parents are not new to me, for I have interacted with them informally all these months I have been here at HWA.