Farewell to 2018-19

Farewell to 2018-19

We have come to the end of another year of learning together at ISF, the sixteenth since our founding in 2003. As our students make their way home for the start of a more relaxed experiential period of learning over the summer, it is appropriate to pause and reflect on what we have achieved together this year.

Academic achievements are on the minds of many at this time of the year, particularly our graduates. While the Class of 2019 will need to wait until 6 July to receive their formal IB Diploma results, we are immensely proud of their achievements: collectively, they have received more than 270 offers from over 100 universities and colleges around the world, many of which are among the most selective in the world. As they prepare to commence the next phase of their education, we offer our hearty congratulations for their efforts. The advancement ceremonies held this week also mark the formal conclusion to another year of learning for those students who have yet to complete the journey into tertiary education. Congratulations and encouragement are extended to each of them for the progress achieved over the past year.

One of the more obvious ‘achievements’ for the year just ending is that we have enjoyed a full 12 months without the disturbance of construction equipment: a year without concrete pumps, hammer drills, welders, and power saws. For this alone, I am sure that many members of our community are thankful! I mentioned at this time last year that all of us have had to relearn the geography of our school. As our students have now discovered, there are many more spaces in which to learn, many more passageways to navigate.

One outstanding addition to the physical environment of our school this year has been the transformation of Charles Kao Square. Taking an open space that was primarily used by pedestrians moving from place to place, or occasionally serving as a marshalling space for students departing on excursions, the newly designed and renovated square has become a vibrant hub of social interaction and learning. I think it is beyond argument that this space has had a huge impact on students, teachers, and parents. The growing number of public events that have occupied this amazing space grows by the month and now includes concerts, dance performances, debates, public receptions, TEDtalks, and project briefings, to name just a few of the events that have been held in this space. For me, one of the more interesting additions is the placement of a concert grand piano in the Square, which is often used for impromptu recitals by students.

Another milestone this year for ISF was the publication of a new, five-year strategic plan. As I wrote recently, this plan provides a roadmap to help us navigate the immediate future and make decisions that will shape the learning experience of every ISF student. It is of necessity a forward-looking document, particularly when you consider the fact that we have students currently enrolled at ISF who will not graduate until well into the 2030s! Our governors, many of whom have overseen the foundation of ISF, now must plan for our school decades into the future.

At year’s end, we say farewell to some long-serving ISF veterans. With remarkable professional longevity, Ms. Cui Jindi has served the ISF community for every one of its sixteen years. Ms. Cui, a favourite with many of our younger students, has served as a teacher, assistant principal, and has more recently been associated with the Xiao Qilin project. Ms. Rondie Howard has served the ISF community for 11 years, leading our music programs, initially in the Secondary School, and more recently in the Primary School. We wish Ms. Cui and Ms. Howard well as they begin new ventures beyond ISF in August.  Ms. Farrah Ching, who is currently completing her doctoral dissertation, has served as our Dean of Curriculum for more than a decade. Farrah will take up a position in the University sector. Other long-serving colleagues in our Primary School who have decided to explore new career opportunities include Ms. Lu Lei, Ms. Liu Yana, and Ms. Wang Liyun. Along with the small number of others, we thank all of these departees for their contribution to ISF and wish each one every success in their future work.

Finally, as summer beckons, many members of our community are planning travel to different corners of the globe – some for rest, others for discovery through new experiences. I wish each and every traveller a pleasant journey, a restorative break away from school, and a safe return in August! 

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