I have spent a great deal of time thinking about education. Over the years the concept of school has shifted in my mind. As a student, I was surely not aware of what was going on around me. Digging into my memory I recall facts, knowledge, tests, awkward social interactions, and a lot of downtime. I know that I struggled as a student with the non-academic aspects of school life. I didn’t know at that time that the institution could be part of the solution to these challenges.
I had a hard time as a young person. My environment and experience were really challenging. Due to the efforts and contributions of a few caring individuals, I was able to get through and eventually grow into something more. I am not sure if I was unlucky to face challenges in my life or lucky that these supportive individuals happened to appear when needed. Regardless, the challenges faced have helped form me into the person I am and have shaped my approach to life.
One of the aspects of OYIS that I have worked hard to develop revolves around inclusion and support. It was my hope when developing this school that we would be able to create relationships with our students based on care, respect, and understanding. The goal was that each student would have at least one connection of value and trust with a teacher. Beyond this, it was my hope that we could strive to offer each student an experience that supported them broadly to develop into happier humans. Creating systems to implement these ideas proved a bit more difficult.
At the start of the process, we thought a lot about what we were teaching and why we were teaching it. One of the goals revolved around working effectively with concepts. It was our idea that basing our learning around these big ideas would make them more relevant and engaging for our students. From here we look at context and culture. It was my hope that students would see a broadly diverse staff with a wide range of perspectives working well together. By modelling a diverse inclusive workspace, I hoped to show authentic international-mindedness in practice.
The final aspect of this was to connect our school community to the wider IB ecosystem. Though at times I may find fault in the IB system, I authentically believe it is the best system out there for educating young people. My goal was to support teachers’ growth and development within this curricular ecosystem.
The story of OYIS will continue to grow and evolve over time. At this point, I am proud of all that we have accomplished together. It is my belief that my involvement in this project has helped support my personal growth and development. It brings me a lot of joy to see our students grow into the DP and eventually graduate, go to university, and reach towards adult lives.
As you might be aware I have recently announced to the community that this will be my last year at OYIS. It was a difficult decision but one that I felt was best for both the school and my family. Having spent the last five years building this institution up I believe that it is time for someone else to take on the direction and leadership. Despite this, it is my belief that the core values of the school will remain true and that OYIS will always be a place where young people can feel connected, cared for, and supported to grow.
Remember that your support, engagement, and care are needed. OYIS is still a growing community and the hope is that you will be involved in the process.