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.