We caught up with Caroline Taylor, Head of College at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong (DCSPD), to get her reflections on the tough school year behind her, and discuss the new school year ahead.
How are you feeling going into the new school year?
There is a Chinese proverb that captures many of my thoughts going into the 2020/21 school year: 獨木不成林 Dú mù bù chéng lín – “A single tree does not make a forest.” The meaning of this proverb is grounded in strength. We are stronger when we work together than alone as individuals. I truly believe that the foundational strength of DCSPD lies within our community, deeply rooted in our shared values. Relationships are nurtured as we intentionally make connections through shared experiences, personal conversations and numerous types of communication.
How did you as a school community deal with the challenges faced in 2020?
I am so proud of how the DCSPD staff collaborated with each other and with families in response to the crisis that engulfed us in Terms 2 and 3. I am grateful for each Dulwich family, and I care about the challenges they face as a result of the pandemic. It was the strength of the whole DCSPD community – leadership, teachers, students, parents – working together, that enabled us to persevere through the unfolding viral outbreak.
What positives came out of the challenging times?
During online learning, Dulwich students lived out their values and compassionately responded to the needs of others. They advocated for local needs through the Walk for Wuhan, the Shoebox Appeal and the DUCKS Walkathon. Through Walk for Wuhan, global citizenship teams from Junior School and Senior School united the community in solidarity and support for Wuhan, and it was referred to as “a simple, yet powerful way to find positivity and strength in remembering that we are one big Shanghai family.”
Any more examples of resilience in the face of adversity?
One of our Year 12 students, Larrissa, had composed an original orchestra composition that was bestowed the Jenkins Award at the start of the school year. However, the full orchestra performance and award ceremony at the International Schools Choral Music Society Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Instead of being crushed with disappointment at the news, Larrissa spent the next 48 hours composing ‘High in the Sky,’ a new song of encouragement, positivity and resilience. The Chinese and English lyrics showcase love and compassion to those in China and abroad as the outbreak spread globally. This is just one example of many that I could share where great initiative and leadership was shown by our students.
Are there any coronavirus enforced practices that you will keep in place post epidemic?
In the digital space, Dulwich parents gained access to aspects of school life which they did not previously have, like Zoom attendance to assemblies and award ceremonies. Additionally, we received feedback that virtual parent-teacher meetings were both efficient and effective. Digital solutions for student assessments were also unlocked by our Educational Technology team, allowing our teachers to offer highly personalized feedback and individual care for our students.
What are the benefits of a Dulwich education?
The benefits and outcomes of a Dulwich Worldwise education are many. We strive to create a culture where every child achieves his or her very best and where all students reach beyond what they thought was possible. It is my hope that DCSPD will always be a place of strength in community and growth in unity.
Success grows from intention. We work with humility and vulnerability to always hold a mindset of improvement that drives us forward. Together, we strive for excellence through being open to all types of feedback. We can achieve even more in the coming year as we face the future with courage and generosity.
What takeaways from 2020 were there for the school community?
No one has escaped loss or challenge during the COVID-19 crisis. The challenges faced by teachers and families in China were different from families and teachers who experienced the pandemic abroad. Each individual has a story that includes challenge, grief and also resilience.
By recognizing the commonality of our journeys in 2020, we share in the many successes that resulted from persistence and overcoming challenges. It has never been more important for every one of us to show empathy and encouragement to others. As we work and grow together, we will find profound and lasting success.
For the last 10 years, I have been inspired by the Dulwich community. In 2003, two caring parents founded Dulwich College Shanghai to create a school of excellence for their own children. Since then, the College has grown in numbers and achievements and has built a strong reputation as a leading school in the city.
I am confident that the DCSPD community will continue to collaborate to achieve more than we ever dreamt possible. I am looking forward to working together for the success of all Dulwich students in the coming school year and beyond!
[All photos courtesy of DCSPD]