Rosana Walsh, MS Humanities Teacher:
If I was asked for the one reason as to why I wanted to come work at SIS, I couldn’t do it. I had a list of criteria and each one was as important as the other. Working in a mid-sizes school with a “family” feel to it has been a bonus for me. Finding colleagues who have a clear understanding of what it means to work collaboratively, and live it, was high on my list. I needed a school that would value my work as a teacher - I live and breathe the Writers and Readers Workshop model, and it happens that SIS has taken that approach on as a new initiative this year. Professional Development matters in this school, and that aligns with my own need to learn. I like challenges and moving into any new international setting has lots of those. Finding a school that is linking the careful management of technology (in every aspect) to its literacy initiative, is the best bonus of all. On a personal level, I am half the distance from home in New Zealand, and a half hour from Hong Kong. In traveller’s terms, I am a hub’s jump from some of the most culturally diverse riches that this part of the world has to offer. China itself has that too and nothing feels hidden here. It can take some adjusting to. Not everyone will find China, Shenzhen or SIS a good fit for them. For me though, I know I can live my best life here, and life is too short to do anything else but that.
Gwen Blase, ES EAL Teacher:
Dynamic, tech-oriented, innovative, collaborative, well-resourced, beautiful campuses, professional excellence and great kids – SIS has it all! Working at SIS has more than exceeded my already positive first impressions from my visit in 2013 when I attended their “iPads in Education” EARCOS Weekend Workshop. From the warm welcome of thoughtful colleagues, to the highly organized and supportive on-boarding process, SIS has smoothed my transition from Beijing to Shekou during what is always a hectic time for “newbies.”
There are so many aspects that I love about living in Shekou/Shenzhen, China. Because I have lived in both Germany and China, I appreciate that Shekou embodies the feel of a European town while still retaining its Chinese character. Situated next to the water, Shekou is green, walk-able/bike-able/hike-able and has a bi-lingual metro system that lets you easily access the larger city of Shenzhen. Taxis are cheap and abundant, and can take you directly to Shenzhen airport, or just across town to the OCT Loft Arts District. When you want to get out of town, the ferry to Hong Kong and HK airport is just a short ten-minute walk from school or you can catch a fast train up to beautiful, iconic Yangshuo and beyond. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out—or ordering in, for that matter, since most places deliver to your door, including groceries! In short, Shekou is a young, modern, convenient, international city in a country known for ancient history and culture.
Amanda Blankenship, Grade 2 Teacher:
Coming from another international school, I chose SIS because of it’s highly acclaimed reputation within the city of Shekou and within Asia. When it comes to my professional reputation, I am proud to work at SIS. The name SIS is known throughout Asia but also its reputation for being competitive in how they accommodate their staff with professional development opportunities.
At SIS, they understand the needs and demands of being a teacher in today’s world. They provide professional development funding to continue to improve as a teacher. The teachers work very closely together at SIS and always have an “open door” policy with each other. Being away from our families while living abroad can be trying at times. At SIS they have established the feeling of being a part of a family as well as embracing each other’s differences.
I absolutely love living in China and especially Shenzhen which is one of the most evolving cities in the world. I love the feeling of being safe while living here and raising my family with a peace of mind. China is opening its doors to many different concepts and ideas and it is amazing to watch these wonderful changes happen. SIS is located in such an ideal spot here in China with the mixture of culture as well as travel. You can travel to places nearby and experience China in a difference perspective be it food, culture or sights. I feel very lucky to live here in China.
Matthew and Sophia Johnson, ES Assistant Principal and Grade 1 Teacher:
Professionally and personally, after 12 years of living and working overseas in different international schools, my educational journey has taken me to SIS and I couldn’t be happier! Initially, what drew me and my wife to SIS (she teaches grade 1) were the focus on innovation, the collaborative spirit of the teachers, and the strong reputation that SIS carries among international schools. Upon arrival we were not disappointed as we found the innovation and technology at SIS far above and beyond other schools where we had worked. Furthermore, we found that teachers, students, and administrators made it a top priority that collaboration and teamwork be rooted in the framework and foundation of the school.
Throughout our first year at SIS we have been grateful for so many things: the amount of professional learning opportunities available to strengthen our own teaching, the focus on Reading and Writing Workshop, the positive atmosphere and dedication of colleagues, the welcoming community providing weekend excursions and activities, the overall location of the school, apartments, and restaurants (all within walking distance) in Shekou…
We greatly appreciate the proximity to Hong Kong and make it over there at least once a month. After a quick and easy ferry ride across the bay, we are able to spend the weekend with family and friends and pick up some extra supplies. Flying in and out of Hong Kong makes it really easy for us to explore new places during long weekends and travel ‘home’ for the holidays.
Living in Shekou has been a gem as we are able to explore and experience both comfortable expat living as well as Chinese culture and cuisine. Public transportation is safe and easy and I’ve personally appreciated the opportunity to meet with other expats multiple times throughout the week to play soccer. The best part about living in Shekou is that it is constantly changing and growing, providing more and more opportunities for new experiences and excursions.
As you consider your next move, take a good, hard look at SIS and all of the wonderful things we have to offer. We look forward to welcoming you to our SIS family!
Liz Cho-Young, HS Humanities Teacher:
Working at SIS is like a box of chocolates: you can choose to know what you're biting into every time by looking at the insert of descriptors or choose to be surprised. There are the key people, like my favorite milk chocolate caramel squares, that have become my friends and family far away from home who are here to eat with me, laugh with me, get footrubs with me, or travel with me. The professional community at SIS is collegial, dedicated, and most importantly, caring. Even when the work gets hard, like biting into a coconut shaving square that makes me cringe, I can find the right people to whom I can say, "Help," and the support is always there. People are willing to laugh with you through the hard times and go out of their way to help you cope; if you are new, I recommend you read the insert but also ask those who can recognize the shape for what each chocolate piece holds, because as we know, sometimes the order can be mixed up a bit in the box, depending on who picked from it last.
China is the same way: there are the places that you're a bit afraid to travel to because your language isn't quite up to par or the toilets not as western as you'd like. But then you step out of your comfort zone and bite right into the piece that looks puzzling, only to find that the the raspberry almond nougat is better than anything you've ever tasted. The awe inspiring mountains of Guilin, the fresh crisp air of Chenyang, the metropolis of Shanghai ridden with kind, friendly locals who only wish for you to see the beauties of their country are all easy to get to if you choose. Shenzhen as a new city is that simple milk chocolate bar in the center of the box with the brand logo emblazoned upon it: not quite the China of the history books but a city with just enough expats and special economic zone exceptions that make living in China easy. You get to choose just how much you want to delve in, and that's the beauty that I love about this place.
SIS is great at choosing the gourmet box of chocolates to share with you. Come dig in, and taste it for yourself. Bon appétit!
Carlene Hamley, Director of Curriculum and Learning:
I chose to work at SIS because it had a reputation for being a school where children receive the best possible learning opportunities therefore making teaching and working each day more enjoyable and worthwhile as there is a common goal and theme that occurs throughout the school.
I also chose SIS because I wanted to feel valued as a teacher and be in an environment where professionalism is important and teaching is respected. I came here because I wanted to grow and learn more as a teacher, as well as share my past teaching experiences with staff and an administration team that would listen and appreciate what it means to be an international teacher.
SIS also offer a reputable teaching package that allows for a very good quality of life here.
Working at SIS there a sense of family and professional support all rolled into one. The professional working relationship between colleagues and administration is very positive and supportive in overcoming any problems and when wanting to initiate a new idea or concept. You feel valued as a professional teacher and one who is encouraged to grow even further in the education field. There are many opportunities to advance as a teacher both in and out of the classroom and as a result you feel a sense of pride to be working for such a supportive school. Within each division and grade level there are also opportunities to help make positive changes that enhance student learning and in general make SIS a highly sought after school for students and staff.
SIS also recognizes the need for professional development and gives ample opportunities for this to occur, within each campus, school wide and as an individual. There is also an underlying support system in place and recognition that family is important and speaking as a teacher with a child at SIS there is wonderful communication between teachers and parents. Communication between staff, parents and the administrative team is very open and achieved in many ways, therefore there is a sense of knowing what is happening at all times - transparent!
The overarching thing I like about working at SIS is that you are valued and supported in all areas both professional and personal which makes working here that much more pleasurable.
Shenzhen has such an ‘energy’ about the city. It is constantly evolving and becoming extremely easy to get around, find things you need and live a very comfortable life as a expat. There is an easy to follow public transport system, wonderful restaurants and more and more parks, boardwalks and outdoor living type places to visit. As a person who enjoys sport and outdoor living I feel I have more than enough places to visit or things to do in regards to this aspect. In saying that if I want a change of scenery then Hong Kong and Macau are just a short ferry ride away! Shenzhen and particularly Shekou is becoming a more cosmopolitan city, in terms of the type of places to visit, nightlife, and the people who are living and working here. Being in such close proximity to other large cities and other nearby countries Shenzhen is hard to pass up for accessibility and ease of living.
China in general is so full of history and offers such a vast range of cultures, languages and opportunities all within one country - so much to see and do. Whilst every country has some negatives it can be easy to become focused on this, however, as long as you keep an open mind you will be exposed to some amazing sights and experiences.
Kelly and Robinson Kurth, Middle School and Grade 2 Teachers:
We chose SIS for a number of reasons. Working at an accredited school is professionally important to us. This alone establishes a foundation of continued excellence and stability in a school. We were also drawn to SIS by the impressive, comprehensive, and informative website. We could quickly and easily see into the depth of the learning and coordinating around school projects and activities. The website gives an important quick snap shot often needed for rapid job decisions. Finally, we had a good feeling about the climate and community of SIS from recommendations and personal emails from current staff to help us make a decision at a job fair. And we weren’t disappointed.
Our first year at Shekou International School as a Middle School and a grade 2 teacher has been wonderful. We have felt welcomed by everyone involved in the running of the school from support staff, teaching staff, and administration. It has also been a successful year of technology achievements. In middle school I implemented a variety of science apps, and on-line resources within my science and math classes.
The other milestone for my family is how easily our 6th grade daughter Sierra made the transition into the culture of SIS. She has enjoyed her academic year filled with music, art, and out of class activities. The entire school community aims to create a rigorous education garnished with plenty of varied social events to ease any “third culture” hardships.
Like any good school, SIS has a strong, guiding mission to steer its educational progress. Unlike many international schools, SIS can proudly claim to have a good balance of smaller, more intimate size classes and yet still have a supportive network of administration and educators providing rich, progressive educational opportunities for its students. The entire school community aims to create a rigorous education with plenty of varied social events to ease any “third culture” hardships. SIS is truly a strong, professional, and caring community.
Frank Machinello, Grade 3 Teacher:
There are many reasons why I chose to work here but I will tell you about two of them. The first reason is this was the best place for me to grow as an educator. SIS offers continuous Professional Development opportunities, both inside and outside of the school. The administration promotes and supports these opportunities because they believe that all of us should be life long learners. They help us become the best teachers we can be, which makes SIS be the best it can be.
The second reason I chose to work at SIS has to do with the teaching and learning. This year, SIS has chosen literacy and learning through technology as school wide initiatives. I have worked with the Reader’s and Writer’s workshop model for 3 years prior to coming to SIS and I knew I wanted to work somewhere that used this model. I saw this as an opportunity to give tips about the model, and learn more from teachers who have been to Teacher’s College. SIS has taken huge strides in elearning as well. We live in a constantly changing society when it comes to technology, and to be given iPads and new macbook pros on our arrival date was great. It does not stop there though. Each class has iPads for the students to work on. The best part is that we are given opportunities to learn about the devices and how to use them in the most effective way.
The best part about working at SIS is the collaborative spirit. Everyone is truly invested in the school’s vision. Every member of the staff, from maintenance to administration, is willing to help you with whatever you may need. This is my first year at SIS and I have felt accepted and supported from the minute I arrived. I know I can go to anyone and ask for help, and they will do their best to find a way to help.
The best thing about living in Shekou is that you can get “the best of both worlds”. You can have Chinese food one night and Mexican the next. There are a lot of westerners in this area so you have access to most of your favorites from restaurants and grocery stores. Also, Hong Kong is only a ferry ride away. You can have a quick getaway for a night or weekend. Shekou is a great location for traveling all over Asia.
Mark McElroy, Director of Learning Innovation:
Hey all…I've been working at SIS for over 5 years. I love the community feel that surrounds this school. Students are motivated and parents are extremely supportive. SIS provides not only a location for learning, but a hub for activities that include musicals, band performances, sports, and community events. The size of SIS is what really allows for this as I teach in the u HS and I still regularly interact with both students and teachers from the elementary campus, adding to the family feel of SIS.
The faculty I work with are true professionals, always forward thinking and taking student interest to heart when making decisions. They take pride in their teaching and often take on weekend after weekend with student activities or personal professional development. Although they take their work seriously, all enjoy making the most of the opportunities afforded to us living in this dynamic area of the world. There is never a shortage of social events, ranging from trips to the famed Luohu shopping area to rock-climbing on the island of Lama in Hong Kong.
The school has a very comprehensive professional development budget. The collaboration of staff after visiting conferences in the area allows for your personal growth and better teaching throughout the school. Coupling this teaching with the new technology initiative and pretty nifty tools and you can see some great things going on in a classroom. Just check out #sisrocks …
Shekou provides a great place to live without needing too much Mandarin. It really is a fairly diluted experience, which is nice for newcomers to China. It provides a comfortable base to visit rural China, and have a full-on experience whenever you decide you want to (and a great way to learn Mandarin if you decide you want to). Whether it be the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Guilin, or Guizhou province, China has some pretty amazing places to be seen. And let’s not forget that the entire Southeast Asia is within a 6 hour flight.
Susan Kim and Charles Tetreault, Grade 4 and HS Humanities Teachers:
Our original decision to try to look for jobs in Asia stemmed from our previous experiences working in South Korea. My mother and extended family live in Korea and living there for five years means that we are both familiar and comfortable with Asian culture. When we began our interviews, we liked the warmth and straightforward manner of the SIS representatives we met. We also found the financial package and benefits SIS offered to be very competitive. The curriculum being taught was what we were looking for as well. I would be able to teach literacy using the Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop model and my husband was gratified to discover that he would be able to continue teaching the IB Programme. The students are one of the biggest reasons why we love SIS. The student population here is truly international. The community includes people from all different races, creeds, and backgrounds and it is great to see everyone come together!
What we like best about working at SIS is the professional community that has been built here. Our colleagues are highly experienced and well-trained, but above all they are engaged, positive, and committed to the students and to their teaching practice. Collaboration is key here and the atmosphere between teachers makes it natural. The amazing Learning Innovation Team supports that collaboration and professionalism with cutting-edge ideas, structures, and platforms that make our work easier and our teaching more effective. We don’t do new things just to do them; the SIS LI Team helps us be better without getting in the way.
Living in Shekou is really the best of both worlds- we get to live in a vibrant seaside community in China while just under an hour away by ferry is Central Hong Kong. Hong Kong has everything any expat could ever dream of: world-class food, arts, shopping, and services all delivered in near flawless english. Shekou itself is the ideal place to live with spacious apartments, parks, restaurants, and excellent affordable childcare! The immediate area of central Shekou is easily walkable and a bike will get you practically anywhere in our flat part of town. Going further afield is easy on modern and clean public transportation or with taxis and private drivers. Our city is incredibly safe and the expat community is very diverse. There are lots of other families with small children who can be playmates for our daughter. We really are spoiled here!