Thursday, November 17, 2016

"How to Cultivate an Excellent Student" A Talk Given at Yinzhou High School, Ningbo, China

On my recent trip to China, I was invited to give an address to Chinese educators at a high school in Ningbo on how independent schools "cultivate excellent students." I think my remarks are relevant for the Gaston Day School community and anyone interested in sending their children here. So here is a summary of my remarks.

1. Great teachers are the starting point for a great education for an excellent student. Great teachers are masters of the content of their subjects, but they are also more than that. They know how to challenge, inspire, and convey meaning tot heir students. Independent schools hire and develop great teachers. If a teacher is poor at an independent school, they are not allowed to remain. So an excellent student learns from excellent teachers.

2. Independent schools provide excellent students with the core subjects they need for college--English, math, science, social studies, foreign language, technology, and fine arts--and with the most challenging course available within those subjects. These include Advance Placement Courses. An excellent student takes the most challenging course available in an independent school and performs well in them.

MS class in Ningbo
3. Independent schools offer a rich variety of extra-curricular offerings and service opportunities. These include sports, clubs, and projects. An excellent student is well-rounded and participates fully in school life outside the classroom.

4. Independent schools encourage their students to enter local, regional, and national competitions in various subjects and fields. An excellent student receives recognition for a high level of performance in competitions open to students from other schools.

5. Independent schools offer strong advice and counsel in the college admissions process. This process begins in the 9th grade and becomes most active in the 11th and 12th grades. Students are prepared for the SAT or ACT tests. Students are advised on the right colleges to which they should apply. An excellent student scores well on college entrance exams and selects a college that best suits his or her educational needs. 

I believe that Gaston Day does all these things well. The success of our graduates in college is the best proof. Gaston Day graduates attend great colleges and universities and they succeed at higher levels of education and in life. 

American independent schools are some of the best in the world. That is why Chinese parents, who can afford to send their children to school anywhere in the world, choose us. They are willing to sacrifice so that their children can benefit from the best education available. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

China Trip Journal, October 25-30

Tuesday, October 25, 2016. Newark, New Jersey. I flew from Charlotte to Newark and arrived around noon. We flew on the west side of the Hudson as we landed and saw the whole New York City skyline. Caught a van to the motel and rode with Carolyn McCarthy, Charlotte Catholic high school counselor, who was on the same flight. Kathy Freeman and Reid Smith, both with New Oasis (our recruiting agency partner in China), who came from Raleigh, were also in the same van. 

At 3 pm, our group of seven educators met for an orientation which included an introduction to New Oasis and a discussion of the interviewing process. We went to dinner at Nico's in the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016. Sixteen hour flight to Hong Kong yesterday. Slept fitfully for probably half of it. Watched movies and read a book of Gary Snyder essays. 
Friday, October 28, 2016. Eaton Hotel, Kowloon (Hong Kong). Full touring day. I have a much better appreciation for Hong Kong's geography. Hong Kong includes 260 islands, many uninhabited. The population is 7.5 million. Since 1997, Hong Kong is no longer a British dependency, but the Chinese agreed to not change the capitalist system there for 50 years. Hong Kong is a financial and tourist center and depends on imports for all basic commodities. 

We took a bus to the waterfront. Walked past the Peninsula Hotel, one of the finest in the world, took pictures on the waterfront, and the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island, the commercial center. Walked to the old market district. The collection of skyscrapers on Hong Kong island is staggering. We hand lunch and shopped early afternoon. Drove up to Victoria Peak at dusk. The view is spectacular in every direction. Out to the South China Sea you see many islands and a long line of ships streaming into harbor. The view of Hong Kong Island below and Kowloon is spectacular at night. We took the tram down the mountain and a bus to dinner. Good food. Back to the hotel. We travel to Shenzhen and Shanghai tomorrow. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016. Shanghai Marriott. We drove from Hong Kong yesterday morning into the mainland at Shenzhen. Shenzhen has a population of nearly 20 million people, is China's high tech center, and had begun to rival Shanghai as a world financial center. Over the last 30 years, the city sprang from nearly nothing. We interviewed students yesterday afternoon in Shenzhen and flew to Shanghai. Here for three days. We interview students all day here.