As Alice Smith School celebrates its 75th anniversary in the upcoming school year, Education Destination Malaysia catches up with educationist Roger Schultz, Head of School at the Alice Smith School. From career highlights to challenges of being head of school, Roger shares candidly about his passion for education and his life’s work.
Roger Schultz is no stranger to international education, having spent more than half his career in leadership roles in three not-for-profit international schools in Asia. Prior to being appointed Head of School at the Alice Smith School, Roger was Head of Secondary at the Alice Smith School for four years. Before that, he was Head of Secondary at Taipei European School in Taiwan for 11 years. He started his career in Asia at the International School of Brunei when he was 37 years old. Prior to that, he worked in State education in Queensland.
In his long career in international education, Roger shares that one of several notable career highlights is when his two children graduated from the Taipei European School. Being very involved in the successful growth and development of the Taipei European School, which included initiating and building a secondary programme through to university, Roger says that seeing his own children reap the benefits of the work he has put into the school is something he is very proud of. The other highlight for Roger is building upon Alice Smith’s reputation and leading the school through its 70th anniversary celebrations in 2016 and its 75th anniversary celebration in the next school year.
Changes at Alice Smith School over the Years
Before elaborating on the changes at Alice Smith during his tenure at the school, Roger says that there are some areas that have not changed through the years. These include the love of learning where children are guided to be independent, confident, happy and successful learners when they are at the school and beyond; the school has excellent levels of behaviour – the students are polite, courteous and respectful; and the school has maintained high levels of performance across all phases and subjects, because both students and teachers have ambitious expectations of each other.
Throughout the last eight years, Roger shares that there has been considerable investment in the school’s facilities to develop the environments of the two campuses that was guided by a long-term strategic masterplan. In addition, the implementation of learning technologies to enhance learning and teaching is another feature of the school’s development. Besides that, the school has reviewed, developed and improved its curriculum in order for it to be relevant inside and outside of the classroom. Roger credits the team of teachers and stakeholders for their effort in achieving key milestones year after year and contributing towards making the school a professional organisation at many levels.
Achievements at Alice Smith School
While there were many, three stood out for Roger. The first was when Alice Smith was shortlisted for the International School of the Year in 2019 among approximately 10,000 English-medium international schools globally. Roger believes that the nomination was testament to the high quality of teaching and the standards of excellence that the school is recognised for.
Another achievement was when the school received an outstanding Council of British International Schools’ Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance Report in 2019. This achievement, according to Roger, shows that their student-centred vision to nurture, inspire and enrich the lives and character of young people has successfully enabled the development of a culture of respect and trust that underpins learning across all phases and subjects on which students thrive. He adds that ‘the quality of relationships is a significant strength of Alice Smith, with students learning in an environment that is both nurturing and supportive, but also offers rigour and challenge.’
The establishment of The Alice Smith School Foundation in 2018 is another achievement that Roger is very proud of because it has touched the lives of many in the community despite only being in its third year. The Foundation was able to award their first Tertiary Study Grant to a graduating Alice Smith scholar to fund his Chemical Engineering studies at the University of Cambridge recently.
People as Motivators
When asked about what motivates Roger as the Head of School in Alice Smith, he shares that he is motivated by the dedication and passion of the people he works with and is energised by the ‘curiosity, creativity and personal endeavours and achievements of the students at the school’. He highlights that the team at Alice Smith School is passionate about the difference they make and are proud of the rich history as the first British international school in the country. Roger shares that he also enjoys being around the campus and seeing his students challenge themselves to be the best that they can be. There are many opportunities for students to ‘perform, participate, achieve and excel’ in school events such as displays, performances, shows, sport competitions, and presentations among others.
Challenges as Head of School
Being Head of School comes with its own set of responsibilities and expectations to fulfil. Roger points out that challenges arise when people feel their interests are not being considered or the issues that are concerning them are not being addressed. Therefore, he says that as communication is such an important aspect of what schools do, getting this right is the most challenging part of being a school leader. However, Roger is thankful to have the support of good people around him and he aspires to continue to nurture these relationships in order to encourage and sustain teamwork. He adds that ‘a successful school has excellent leadership with high calibre leaders at many levels and builds upon this at every opportunity.’
Roger believes that a head of school needs to have a ‘can-do attitude and a selfless approach’ to their role. Roger also shares the two principles that he lives by: ‘be an example that others should follow’ and ‘the harder I practise the better I become.’ He believes that having principles that help to guide our actions and that act as a moral compass is important because they give us a reference point for who we are and how we should act.
Roger has many reasons to be proud of the school he has helmed for the past eight years. The school’s reputation as a provider of the highest quality in international education continues to be recognised in communications, partnerships and connections regionally and globally.
Roger will conclude his role as the Head of School at Alice Smith School in the summer of 2022 after its 75th anniversary celebrations. When asked what the future holds for Alice Smith School, Roger quips, ‘I often wonder what our school will be like in its centenary year in 2046. Of course, I intend to come and see it at the sprightly age of 88!’
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