Student Focus: Anna Xie with YCIS All the Way!

Written by: Andrea Griego, Student Support Coordinator  

Anna Xie is in her very last year at YCIS. She began her YCIS journey in Beijing as a Year 1 student and moved to Shanghai for Year 2. She finished her primary years at the Regency Park Campus and moved to the Century Park Campus where she will say farewell to YCIS in May of 2018. Anna’s years at YCIS have been fruitful. Tim Gartz, the Century Park University Guidance Counselor, says, “Anna Xie just today won a Commendable Award for her performance on the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test last October and entered the National Merit Scholarship Program. She was in the top 96% of all test takers internationally (one of the top 50,000 out of 1.6million test takers). Anna will receive a Congratulatory letter and a certificate at our next school assembly on November 2nd.”

I was able to catch up with Anna and she was very thoughtful, honest and delightful in her answers to my questions:

What are some of your accomplishments over the years at YCIS?
I’ve been awarded the school’s Theater Arts and IGCSE Art and Design awards, as well as the Wellesley College Book Award and distinctions for Top in China marks in IGCSE Language and World Literature courses.

What are some of your favorite memories at YCIS?
Being part of our school’s drama productions in IGCSE was really fun and meaningful to me, and the connections I made in those casts helped form some of my most meaningful friendships. I’ve also loved participating in World Scholar’s Cup for our school, and this year I had the opportunity to represent YCIS in the debate showcase at the Shanghai event, which was a big honor and really exciting.

What are your secrets for success that you would like to pass on to other students?
Read a lot. It sounds obvious and overused as advice because it is: there’s just no way to get better at using language, which you need no matter what or where you study, without observing how others do so. It doesn’t have to be classic novels or even literature – paying attention to how people communicate in any context can be helpful.

Doing something badly is almost always better than doing nothing at all. You can’t fix, hand in, or get better at something that doesn’t exist.  Stay curious.

What do you enjoy outside of school?
I love watching cartoons, films, and TV shows. I like talking about cartoons, films, and TV shows. I also like to read, draw, and eat.

What would you like the rest of your last year to be like?
It would be awesome, primarily, if I could pass my classes and get accepted to university.

YCIS wishes Anna all the best and we are sure she will see much success in her future.

Staff Focus: Mr David Van Wyk, Secondary Math and D&T Teacher

In this edition, we turn our attention to Secondary at Century Park Campus, and interview David van Wyk. Let’s meet him!

David van Wyk (pronounced ‘fun vake’), I’ve heard you are one of teachers at Century Park  with so many talents. I have been told you are both a Mathematics teacher, a Design & Technology (D&T) teacher, and that you used to be a professional golfer! Please tell me first how a professional golfer can also become a Secondary school teacher at YCIS?

Actually, unlike my friend Louis Oosthuizen, who you may know as the winner of the British Open in 2010, I am not a professional golf player but rather a PGA (Professional Golfers Association) qualified golf coach. Here in China, golfers are usually amazed when I show them my PGA Membership card because it is rare to find a coach with PGA status. When I first arrived I was actually offered a coaching position at the Silport Driving Range. However, I decided against it as the hours were not suitable for our family (my wife and our two little boys) at the time. To get back to your question, I would say that I was at the right place at the right time. CP Campus was looking for a short-term D&T teacher, and I was ready to join the educational sector once again.

What classes are you teaching at YCIS Century Park Campus?
I teach Lower Secondary and the IGCSE programme for both Math and D&T.  I even taught D&T to K2’s and K3’s the last couple of years as they came over from RP on a field trip – what a different experience that was!

How long have you been teaching at YCIS?
We moved to Shanghai in 2013. I was the trailing spouse as my wife (Ms Maggie) was teaching ECE at YCIS. As mentioned earlier, I started off as a supply teacher for Design Technology. As a full-time teacher, I also taught Math as well as Tennis, Table Tennis and Golf for Co-Curricular Activities. This is now my fourth year as a full-time time teacher at CP Campus.

Ok, let’s start from the beginning and tell me about your story!

First, let’s start with golf and your international reputation! When did you start playing?
When I was ten years old, I watched some golf on TV and thought it was quite interesting, so I took two pieces of timber to build my own ‘golf club’ and made a couple of holes in my parents’ backyard. The next day, my father surprised me with a couple of real golf clubs. I remember they were cut-down adult clubs, but they were just perfect; those were the days long before junior clubs became available. Then, you know I come from a small town in South Africa, George, also known as the Mecca of Golf. Since golf is such a popular game in the area, I got to compete a lot as a junior and won many junior tournaments and also represented my Province on numerous occasions. As a student, I represented my university in an International Tournament on The Old Course St. Andrews, Scotland, 2000. I was one of 72 players and managed to shoot the lowest score on the first day in my first attempt on the most famous golf course where the game originated.

And what is this PGA you mentioned about earlier?
This an international qualification that offers many career opportunities. In my case, to become a professional golf coach. I was fortunate because I was able to do my apprenticeship while I was working as a golf coach. I competed in many Pro-Am’s (Professional with Amateur partners) in the region, and I was proud to win a few of those. As a PGA member, I was also given the opportunity to compete in South Africa’s premium golf tour, the Sunshine Tour.

So, what do you teach the students at YCIS as part of the Golf CCA?
We have a golf practice cage on the school grounds where students get the opportunity to hone their skills. I do a video analysis of their swings to allow them to see themselves while swinging. We also do some short-game drills, i.e. chipping, pitching and putting. We even ‘create’ our own mini-course and play a couple of holes on the premises. Our penultimate session is a trip to the Nanpu Bridge Driving Range, and then we finish off our CCA with nine holes on the actual golf course.

Ok, what about tennis? I did not know you were also a Tennis coach.
Oh! Tennis, I played since I was five years old. Tennis was always part of my upbringing and being one of 4 children, we played tennis all the time. One of my highlights as coach was when we reigned supreme during a SISAC tournament, winning all five trophies and bringing them home to YCIS CP Campus.

Alright, now let’s talk about your life curriculum. Your life sounds so interesting!
I completed a degree in Sports Science and a HDE (High Diploma in Education) in Physical Education and Business Studies as well as Mathematics. I also obtained a Post Graduate Honours Degree in Sport and Recreation Management, before working as a College lecturer, teaching Entrepreneurship, Sales Management and Sport Management for one year. Following this, my wife and I decided to move to England, where we worked as supply teachers in London for two years. On our return, I then decided to pursue a career in the Golf Industry and found a position as a golf coach and was able to do my PGA Diploma at the same time.

And where does the Design and Technology skill come from then?
I learnt by watching my dad from a young age. My father is a doctor, but he used to do carpentry as a hobby in his workshop at home. I also took Woodwork as a school subject; I still have my Yellow-wood coffee table I made during my final year. I’ve also learnt a lot from my D&T colleague and Head of Department, Mr Terence Moran. Even though I taught Technology back home in South Africa, it is quite different over here. We are fortunate to work in such well-equipped workshops, and because of the rate technology develops, we get the opportunity to purchase some new, modern and fun machinery. Our latest addition is the CNC Router.

You have two young boys at the school.  What does YCIS mean for you and Maggie as parents?
We are privileged and grateful to have our two boys in YCIS where they have ample opportunities to participate in such a rich curriculum. The boys have developed strong language abilities and can speak three languages fluently. They are excited as they apply mathematical skills to everyday life situations and eagerly share new information learnt in class. Oliver (Y2) and PD (K4) are actively involved in Co-Curricular activities including tennis, gymnastics, chess and running club. As a family, we don’t just wear our YCIS-hoodies to keep us warm, but because we are proud to be part of our school.


Building a Stronger YCIS Community

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

This is my second year at YCIS and I  am continually amazed by the incredible things happening in this school community. Both teachers and parents have blown me away by their involvement in the school, making it not only a stronger community but also, contributing greatly to the development of our children.

Please read about some testimonials about the latest engagements in our school for the education of our students.

  • Shaping Who We Are during Year 3’s Heritage and Community Day

 “Growing up in my family meant Christmas dinners of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It also meant eating parmigiana and learning how to twist my spaghetti into the perfectparcelon the fork. These were not just fun traditions, they were lessons in my familys cultural heritage. My mother is English, my father is Italian. I grew up in England. For many of our students at YCIS, their experiences of the world are similar, if not more diverse. The food they eat, the languages they speak, the festivals they attend, the mannerisms they are taught all help shape who they are and who they will become. Therefore, learning about other countries and cultures is an essential part of our studentseducation at YCIS.

During Year 3’s Heritage and Community Day, we were fortunate enough to have parents from all around the world come in and share the games, food, books and art that they grew up with and that continue to form their familys customs and culture. From eating enchiladas to playing the traditional Korean arrow game, there was not a dull moment on this exciting and special day. These experiences will help develop an openmindedness in our students and encourage respect and appreciation for cultural diversity and the beliefs and values of others.” – Elena Granato, Year 3 Year Level Leader

“Y3D was in charge of all the games. We had games from different cultures:

Chinese moms brought in lantern riddle game and sticks, while Korean moms brought in Tuho, which is an arrow game. Mira and I did the Traditional American Game called Jacks, which is basically a game where you try to pick up the jacks with one hand – one by one – while throwing another ball with another hand until you pick all of them up.

I think that the kids had fun dressing up and getting more familiar with their heritage. I believe that when parents are involved in these learning activities, it helps students to bring learning into life and make it more concrete for them. It was a great effort from all the parents from all over the globe and I am very proud to be part of this community.”  Chai-Kee (Adison Y5, Brayden Y3D)

  • Year 5 Waste Free Buffet Day

In the recent Y5 Waste Free Buffet Day, it was an amazing experience collaborating with the supportive parents and teachers to cultivate a healthy and waste free lifestyle among the children. Each of us contributed in a small way and complemented each other with our gifts and talents. Together, we left a positive imprint for the children to enjoy tasty snacks and learned the benefits of waste free, healthy lifestyle”Anne Teh (Emmanuel – Y6C; Antonio Y5B)

    • POP Picnic & Bazaar

Parent Feedback from the POP Picnic and Bazaar:

Thank you so much for bringing such precious experience to all the students and their families!  Susan Mou

Fantastic event! Everything was perfect! Thank you for organizing! Well done!  Vicky Juaristi

Thanks again so much for helping to make this a fun event !!! The Dunk Tank is a highlight each year, especially for the kids and it’s a great way to make yourself even more memorable ☺.  Nadine Runkel writing to the teachers volunteering for the Dunk Tank

Girls good job! For those who were in charge of the event and the rest of us that helped today. I felt was super good, lots of people and kids having fun!!! Thank you Catalina as well who did not have her baby today–  Maca writing to the POP Picnic & Bazaar Committee

Lovely event everyone! I especially liked the picnic blankets on the lawn and the live feed of the dunk tank on the POP WeChat. I think we should have POP corn at all our events!   Karen Shih writing to the POP Core Committee members 

Thank you Kathy and everyone for a job well done! I love it when you can just feel the love and support of a great crew! Debbie Shih writing to the POP Core Committee members 

Dear Parents, I talk a lot about a student’s education being like a three legged stool, with input by teachers, the student and the parents. It is only with those three legs all committed, will the stool stand.  Hence it is also with us here at YCIS.

Your efforts and the result of an excellent picnic and bazaar was shown that the commitment of our parents here at YCIS is in full support of our mission, and of supporting the program of the school.  Thank you for all of the work which you put in to connect with vendors, to provide an entertainment program, and lastly and most importantly, to provide a venue for our school community to get together and enjoy each other’s company.  It was truly and excellent event. As there is no rest for the weary – onwards to Christmas tree lighting where it will be CP’s pleasure to host.Secondary Co-Principals Fred Runkel and Jane Xie writing to POP Core Committee Members

Student Gardeners at Regency Park Campus

Written by: Melissa Shaw, Primary Curriculum Coordinator & Mira Edmonds, Garden CCA Leader and YCIS Parent.

Last year, our Primary students were introduced to the 17 Global Goals developed by the United Nations. This year, we have continued to explore ways to expand their understanding of the various challenges that we face as a global community, and most importantly, what they can do within their school community to start making a difference.

A new initiative that we have been excited to begin is our Learning Garden Project. The impetus for this project is the need to educate our children about the importance of living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Mira Edmonds, a member of our school’s Parents of Pudong (POP), and environmental enthusiast, initiated the idea and has been working alongside campus leaders to lay the foundations for this project.

Our Primary Science Curriculum already provides opportunities for children to learn about topics such as healthy living and the natural environment. The Learning Garden builds on this focus and “…is not only a rich environment for learning in and of itself, but […] also serves as an introduction to a much broader understanding of the natural world.” (Bucklin-Sporer & Pringle, 2010). Our students live in ultra-urban Shanghai and rarely get a chance to see, much less participate in, the process of how food reaches their plates. In the Learning Garden, our students have the opportunity to engage in the whole cycle, from planting seeds, to watering and nurturing the young plants, to harvesting the mature plants and preparing them to eat. Our hope is that this experience will foster a better appreciation of and interest in caring for the environment and of living a healthy life.

This semester, Mira has led the Gardening Co-Curricular Activity (CCA), with a group of students from Years 3-5. They have already planted a variety of vegetables, which the students have been excited to watch sprout and grow. They have learned about the plant lifecycle and the different parts of plants that we eat, as well as comparing different types of seeds. They are working on literacy skills through keeping a journal, and enjoyed the tactile experience of making vegetable prints. As the semester progresses, they will also learn how compost from our own kitchen scraps can help their plants to grow (with a little help from some red wriggler worms!); about the role of bees as pollinators and the threats that environmental degradation poses to the bees and thus to global food production; and the impact that our urban activities have on water quality. It has been great to see the students excited to learn about these important concepts in both the indoor classroom and the outdoor classroom of the garden. Having already enthusiastically munched on some stems (celery), fruits (sweet peppers), and roots (carrots), the students are looking forward to feasting at the end of semester on the vegetables that they grew with their very own hands.

Year levels are excited to explore opportunities to integrate the school garden into all areas of the curriculum, not only in Science but also Mathematics and English. It is an opportunity to provide rich hands-on learning experiences that cannot always be captured in the classroom, and provides a better context for what the children are learning. We look forward to giving everyone the opportunity to work within and explore the garden. We hope that it becomes a successful project that we can build upon and that will generate connections with organisations around our community.

Introducing the CP Campus Student Council

Written by: Julie Greenall, Secondary English Teacher

This year’s newly formed Century Park (CP) Student Council meets every Tuesday at lunchtime to discuss student concerns, as well as plan social and charity events, with the aim of being the voice of the students across the school.

Elected representatives from Year 6 – Year 13 bring their lunches and spend their meeting time considering various initiatives that affect students’ school lives. Last year, for example, reps were asked for their opinions on the new uniform proposals, as well as ideas for the new playground equipment.

Fun ways to bring the student body together are also planned and we’ve already got a Comfy Day (like a Pajama Day, but different…) designated for November, as well as a Fall Festival, during which autumnal activities involving pumpkins and apples should bring a little light relief before the commencement of the Secondary Examinations in December.

We are justifiably proud of the familial nature of our school, which promotes emotional as well as intellectual growth. The Student Council plays a big part in this, as each student representative becomes a crucial link in helping to build the strong community that exists at CP campus.

This year’s CP Student Council Co-Presidents, Shu Min Tan (Year 11) and Alexandra Saw (Year 10) are already developing excellent leadership skills. Over the course of the year, they will be encouraging the representatives to build their own communication and collaboration skills.

We are very happy to have Year 6 representatives on the CP Student Council for the first time, and they are quickly establishing themselves as strong members.

Final words from our Co-President Shu Min Tan: “Together, we plan to organise a fruitful year of events and activities that we hope everyone will enjoy. Do not hesitate to approach any one of the students from the council, as we welcome all ideas.”

Introducing the Primary Student Council

Written by: Jennifer Stains and Renae Livermore, Primary Student Council Leaders

It is our pleasure to welcome the new Student Council for this school year!

3A Emma Jin, Alex Dong                     3B Cherry Liu, Dexter Tay, Akshay Kini
3C Yeonwoo Cho, Matthew Chow       3D Jessica Hehir, Jules Edmonds

4A Kayleigh Cui, Zack Yang                 4B Timothy Lee, Caroline Lu
4C Abbie Pan, Luiza Chiang                4D Laura Dalla, Candy Zhu

5A Wendi Wu, Kaan Sudak                  5B Antonio Teh, Seongbin Lee
5C Sharlene Yap, Jun Kai Loh

6A Julie Lui, Amelie Petznick               6B Elizabeth Lim, Leo Wang
6C Emmanuel Teh, Karim Daki

Student Council is a wonderful opportunity for students to become involved in the wider school community. They represent their peers and implement initiatives around the school including: encouraging environmentally friendly practices such as waste free snacks and recycling; and encouraging healthy habits such as keeping physically active and making healthy choices in the cafeteria.

As well as continuing their work in the above mentioned areas, this year the Primary Student Council members will focus particularly on public speaking and how to demonstrate effective leadership. Students will also be involved in a variety of charity events and represent YCIS outside of school, as ambassadors and role models.

Primary Student Council members are elected by their classmates. Every student is offered the opportunity to compose and deliver a campaign speech. Following this, an election takes place where the students vote and ultimately two representatives are chosen from each class.

When asked why it was important to them to be a part of the Primary Student Council this year this is what some of the students had to say:

“I want to help make our school a better place. I want everyone to be excited about coming to school everyday to learn” – Sharlene Yap, 5C

“I like everyone to be happy and I don’t like to see anyone having problems. I want to be on student council this year so that I can help people” – Laura Iacone, 4D

“My brother said that it would be fun to be in Student Council and I thought that maybe I could get in so I prepared a speech. I think it will be good to go to the meetings and I think that I can be a good role model to my friends” – Matthew Chow 3C

Matthew Chow 3C
Laura Iacone, 4D
Sharlene Yap, 5C

Beijing Art Excursion for IGCSE & IB Students

Written by: Annie Ieong Y13 IB Visual Art HL student

This September, I participated in an overnight Art Excursion to Beijing with fellow IGCSE and IB Visual Arts students. Although the trip was only three days long, the experience that I acquired during this trip was fascinating, and inspired me in various ways.

We stayed in the center of the Beijing art scene called the ‘798 Art District’. Different from the art zone in Shanghai, ‘798 Art District’ was filled with works of art. By that, I mean graffiti work done by street artists that you could find on almost every single wall, the ‘random’ sculptures that hide in the street corners, and the painted red bus that turned into an art classroom.

Our task as IB Visual Arts students was to study the ways different artists present their works. The way those artworks were shown to the public in this area was especially thrilling for us because they challenge the traditional ways of what is an ‘exhibition’, which is to be placed in a formal gallery space; these works of art are placed outdoors in relatively public areas. This could be a trend that implies that art is no longer for the ‘privileged’ class in the contemporary world. Instead, it is for everyone to experience.


I also did an artistic experiment with my peers in IB Visual Art. We started working on our sketchbook ideas sitting on the ground inside of a sculpture work. Within the thirty minutes that we were there, people who came to the gallery kept on trying to step inside and were more curious about what we were doing rather than the sculpture itself. At that moment, it was almost as if we had become part of the artwork, or we had changed the meaning and context of it.

After we returned from Beijing, I made an interview/vlog for the trip, mainly focusing on what we learned and how the process of learning is effective as a way of art education. We learned through our observations while exploring the district, self-reflecting and understanding the responses that we give to the works. In the end, we gathered together in a café to share our thoughts with peers while listening to others’ ideas.

Being in an open space with a casual and relaxing environment helped to provoke thoughts and allow us to make more linkage between the works with our daily life – that could be something we rarely think of when we are in the classroom. This rare opportunity also allowed the IB students to step out from our heavy academic workload, and become closer to the students from other year levels who brought unique perspectives to our discussions that we would not have thought of while staying in our own community.

A Window on Your Child’s Learning

Written by: John McEnhill, Primary Curriculum Coordinator and Veronica Martin, ECE Coordinator

At YCIS, we are committed to working in partnership with parents. As such we are looking forward to opening an exciting new app for parents, called Seesaw, which enables you to share in what your children are doing in class, right on your phone or tablet. Seesaw will allow parents and families to participate in their child’s learning. You can connect on a regular basis with your child’s individual work as well as see what their group has been working on.

All levels of the ECE and Primary are using the iPad to access Seesaw. The students from K2 to Year 6 and their teachers have been uploading photos of their work, and videos of what they have been doing, as well as reflecting on their work in an age appropriate way. This has allowed the children to revisit their learning. By empowering the students to access and think about their learning using Seesaw, we hope to empower them to think about their work, reflect, and also share with families.

Seesaw is also a powerful tool for teachers to offer feedback, and for students to feedback on their own and others’ work.  Seesaw is also a powerful tool for teachers to offer feedback, and for students to feed back on their own and others’ work.  It is being used across the curriculum: you will be able to see what your children have been working on in class, as well as in specialist lessons. We are very excited to roll this out across the school.  You will be receiving information about how to access Seesaw at the Parent Teacher Interviews.  We will also have a Seesaw HelpDesk in the Courtyard (RP) and Library (CP) on Parent Teacher Interview Day, to assist parents.

Accompanying this article you can see some examples of great work our students and teachers have been doing on Seesaw!