I take great interest in following the progress of our senior students after they have left our school. Where have they gone to study, what careers are they following and how have they defined and made their successes? They will always be our children and their accomplishments give us great pride. That’s what makes teaching without doubt the most rewarding career. As a school we keep a record of the universities at which our students have enrolled. I have attached a copy of the class of 2016’s universities for your interest.
Looking back over the last three years of the International Baccalaureate Diploma and Career results here at Greenfield an interesting pattern has emerged. Our top Diploma students all arrived at the school not speaking a word of English. In a few years they not only mastered learning in a new language but achieved the highest results, often outperforming many mother tongue English speaking students in their home language! It speaks of their determination and self-discipline and is a reflection of the dedication of both our subject and English Additional Language support team. All three arrived in Grade 8 or 9 and in a few short years had adjusted to their new school and country, made friends and set high goals for themselves.
Each realised their success was in their hands and took real ownership of their learning. I remember Guiseppe Modica walking around the school soon after he arrived, looking confused and lost, relying on his Italian classmates for help. One day he arrived in Dolores Allison’s class with his Extended Essay instructions in his hand, and asked her, ‘Ma’am, what is a hypothesis?’ She explained the term, and helped him to understand what the essay required and he went on to produce an outstanding piece of research. What impressed me is that he did not sit back and feel sorry for himself: he got up, got out and went out to find the help he needed. No-one told him to go Mrs. Allison: he took the first step.
There is a lesson and a word of encouragement in their story for all of us. A determined attitude, coupled with self-discipline and resilience, makes all the difference. Of course, a nurturing school and home environment play an important part, as do inspirational teachers and a school dedicated to supporting all its students. Agreed, we do need to have a base level of talent or ability, but a positive attitude and good old fashioned hard work are fundamental to success.
Guiseppe Modica, our 2016 Valedictorian, is now studying Economics at one of Europe’s top Economics schools, Bocconi, In Milan, Italy. Mae Otsubo, our 2015 Valedictorian, is studying Law at Waseda University in Japan while Abdelbari Lakhim, 2014 Valedictorian, is studying Economics at the University of Nottingham in England. He is from Morocco.
There is a lighter side to this, too. A few years ago I realised that I had reached a milestone in life when one of my past students arrived at my school with his son on the first day of the year, about to start Kindergarten, and said, ‘There’s my old teacher, Mr. Wood.’ I realised, with some shock at the reality of getting older, that I now have academic grandchildren! I must say with pride that the student had won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and gone on to choose a career in environmental management in the US.
Principal Greenfield Community School