BCIS would like to extend a friendly welcome to our new Elementary School principal, Fred Schafer. Hailing from Ohio, USA, Fred brings many years of teaching and leadership experience, and he will spice up our school with his unique perspectives on culture and education. He has spent the last 8 years here in China, leading international schools and diving into the rich traditions of the nation, including cooking. His wife and her family taught him recipes, and now he can often be found in the kitchen whipping up a Chinese meal, even at 4:30 am! He appreciates the unique position BCIS enjoys as an international school that values Chinese cultural heritage in its approach, and he will bring all the ingredients here together to concoct a future-focused learning environment with a distinct Chinese flavor for all our students in the ES.
After completing his bachelor's degree in education, Fred began his teaching career in the United States. However, after hearing about the possibilities to learn about other societies, see new sights, and gain professional development, Fred decided to turn to international education. He has always been curious about other cultures, and especially keen to learn about his favorite subject: ancient civilizations. "I was very interested in ancient civilization growing up, and even as a teacher," Fred describes. This interest made working in China a perfect fit. Fred is excited to begin his new role here at BCIS, as it allows him to utilize his leadership and communication skills, while still being close to the young learners he is so passionate about instructing.
China was not the initial stop in Fred's lengthy education career. He initially accepted a teaching position in Saudi Arabia, where he gained valuable insight into working with children in an international environment, as well as solid advice from his surrounding colleagues. While there, he was able to complete his master's degree in curriculum and leadership and move into a role as the Director of Learning at a school in the United Arab Emirates. Here, he was able to translate his strong background in teaching into helpful work on the school's curriculum, as well as gain new experience working and communicating with other school staff. Eventually, Fred was chosen for a vice-principal job here in China. His interest in the country itself: its history, its people, and its culture, made it clear that he wanted to be here as soon as he made his first visit.
BCIS is dedicated to providing students with a strong international education while still keeping them linked closely to traditional Chinese culture. Fred appreciates the mission of BCIS, and how the school remains connected to its Chinese roots. In addition to integrating culture into the school curriculum, one of the most important actions he takes in this regard is simply conversing with others. "When I'm out on the playground talking to kids I'm learning about their culture and they're learning about mine. It's a natural and interesting way for kids to stay connected to their culture but also broaden their experiences," he elaborates. Fred himself exemplifies the importance of such cultural sharing, and his experience makes him an excellent fit at BCIS.
The integration of Chinese culture across the curriculum isn't the only thing that stands out to Fred about BCIS. He believes that the school enjoys a unique situation as both a top-notch international school and a community-based Beijing school, explaining, "It's rare in an international school setting that you have a place that feels like a neighborhood school where everybody knows everybody." The feeling of community and connectedness at BCIS were major reasons why Fred chose to bring his talents to our school, and he is excited and humbled to accept the position of ES principal. He will bring his own knowledge to add to the experience of our whole BCIS community.
The "neighborhood international school" will benefit greatly from Fred's ability to guide our students. He joins us at a critical time, where the most pressing question asked by educators everywhere is what learning will look like in a post-pandemic world. Fred's rich experience will help our ES provide top-quality future-oriented instruction to our students. He embraces the recent challenges to schools, stating, "Unfortunately education is like a cruise ship turning; to turn a cruise ship you turn it, but it takes many kilometers to turn. Education is really slow to change. The hope is that the pandemic has forced us to rethink education, we had to turn fast and meet the needs of our students." One way he plans to meet students' needs is by further leveraging technology to help personalize learning for students, as well as providing new ways for them to contribute. With Fred at the helm of our BCIS ship, our ES will sail in the right direction!