Moving forward together
Ten years is a significant stretch of time in a person’s life, yet for a new school, it is just a fledgling stage. And indeed, for a new school, a strong start means that success has already been partially achieved. Looking back on my daughter’s four years with Pao School, there is so much to say, so many emotions to express.
I still vividly remember the situation four years ago. My daughter had been admitted to several secondary schools, and by chance, we heard about Pao School’s Secondary Division. Our interest was piqued and we decided to attend an informational session. We were impressed by the school’s first-rate facilities, yet it was the school’s focus on whole-person education that was the decisive factor in our decision to send my daughter to Pao School. During our visit, we observed the polite students in uniform and their behaviour sent a subtle message: At Pao School, children grow into courteous young adults.
Naturally, back then we had only scratched the surface of the great things Pao School has to offer. We went home and discussed our experience with our daughter. She was excited because Pao School is quite different from traditional schools in China, yet we had a concern: The campus was far away from our home, so she would need to board at the school. Still, my daughter insisted on taking the admission test and sitting for a few trial classes. She did well on the test and liked the classes very much. She told us she wanted to attend Pao School; she had made up her mind. As her parents, we gave our full support. While we could have chosen other prestigious schools in Shanghai, we went with Pao School because of our faith in the founder’s vision and confidence in the school’s future.
My daughter graduated from a school in the traditional Chinese education system and entered a boarding school outside the system. Without a doubt, this is a challenge for her. But Pao School firmly upholds its mission of whole-person education. Learning occurs inside and outside the classroom; there is an emphasis on maintaining physical fitness, and there are many extracurricular activities in which students can participate. My child is learning many new things every day at Pao School. Her confidence is growing, and she is curious to try as many new things as she can. A Pao teacher told me that the school encourages children to try many different kinds of activities. The school does so because a child’s interests or talents may not be immediately evident. By engaging in different activities, children discover for themselves what they like and in what areas they excel, and they learn how to make their own decisions. This experience is part of the journey of discovery at Pao School.
Students at Pao School also learn how to become team players. They learn how to use their own strengths for the benefit of the entire team. My daughter’s success on the OAK team has left a profound impression on me. Their team finished first in the sports competition. She was exalted at the success of the team, and as I listened to her wax lyrical about her experience playing on the team, I realized she had never seemed so joyful in the past, even when she achieved outstanding test scores. I could see she understood the essence of team spirit. I felt that Pao School does not overemphasise the individual successes and failures of its students, but instead focuses on their overall development as people, and their ability to work together to make the campus environment better for everyone. This helps the children see beyond their individual situations; it allows them to develop a broader worldview.
Students’ primary responsibility is to learn, and all parents at Pao School cares deeply about the academic performance of their child. Over the past four years, Pao School dedicated many resources – financial and otherwise – to selecting the right teachers. All of the teachers at Pao School are exemplary. They are attentive to students’ needs, whether in the classroom, after class, in email exchanges with parents, or when we meet with them face-to-face at the Parent-Teacher Conference. They not only explain my child’s current academic situation; they also can discuss how she will progress in the future and advise us on how we as parents can facilitate her learning. In the past, I thought my daughter was shy compared to her more outgoing classmates, both in class and in extracurricular activities. Finally, one day an experienced teacher from the UK told me children like this are wonderful too. They are just more introspective than their peers, the teacher said.
When I think about this, I realize I have no way to compare my daughter with others, as she is my only child. Yet this teacher has seen so many different types of children and gotten to know the various personality types. Time really flies; my child is not only learning in the classroom; communication with teachers enriches both of our knowledge.
Looking back over the past four years, my child has gone from being an immature primary student to a mature secondary student. She has embraced the spirit of whole-person education, and is healthy and happy. Repeat the simple things, and do the complicated things with heart. I always remember the words of founder Anna Pao Sohmen: ‘We did not found the school to make money; it is a charity business’. I am deeply moved by what the founder did. I am looking forward to the future accomplishments of Pao students and wish Pao School all the best.
Tongwei, Parent of Year 10 student Jishen