Written by: John McEnhill, Primary Coordinator
Welcome to YCIS, Anthony! I hope you have enjoyed your first Semester here. Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you have come to be at YCIS Shanghai?
I was born in King William’s Town in South Africa. We later moved to Cape Town where I spent most of my childhood. Life there was very simple: rugby, braais (BBQs) and books. After completing my first degree at the University of Cape Town, I wanted to travel. I began touring several countries and landed in Shanghai. An expat friend who worked at a language school called in sick one day and asked me to help. That’s where my passion for teaching began: in a classroom full of screaming kids. From there I progressed my teaching at universities around Shanghai. I then decided to return to school and went to Edinburgh University where I received my PGCE. I returned to Shanghai again and taught a few more years at universities. After settling down with a family, I decided to move into high school teaching and taught at a bilingual school for several years before joining YCIS this year.
As an English teacher, you must be passionate about all things language and literature? Why do you think the study of these is still relevant and important in the 21st Century?
I believe that reading is the greatest form of luxury in the 21stcentury. At least that’s what I keep telling my students. I’m truly blessed that I’m working at a school where students are given time and encouraged to read, and more importantly this is cherished by the students and faculty alike. There is immeasurable power in reading literature. An enthused reader develops a keener sense of the world. A strong grasp of language allows readers to develop a sensitivity for interpreting ideas into knowledge by means of communication. So yes, it’s rather important for our kids to see value in language and literature.
You have made quite an impact coaching the senior basketball team, who are top seeds for the upcoming cross-river tournament, and recently beat local rivals Concordia. What is the secret to your success?
We are the number 1 seed from Pudong and based on scouting reports the German School DSS is the strongest contender from Puxi. The secret to our team’s overall success is that we are not complacent over our wins. We treat every school as a contender, and that’s what makes our team hustle and play hard.
I take little credit for my role as the coach. The team members all stepped up and worked hard to make it happen. We established that we wanted to go for number 1 and knew the price of admission. The players all had to reaffirm their priorities with time management and studies to make time for basketball. Some were willing to give extra playing time to others in order to secure wins. Some arrived early to school to practice on their fundamentals. We all contributed. No one was complacent.
Of course, none of this would happen without the support of the school and parents. The nameless MVPs who set up our venues, transport and organized referees. The teachers who gave up extra time to work with our student-athletes, or words of encouragement the day after a match – regardless of win/loss. The ayis who stayed late to clean the gym after late practice sessions. Not forgetting the parents who came out to games to support our players. The team and I are grateful for all the support, and that drives us to work harder.
I joined YCIS at a very interesting time in my career. Jonathan and I were both joining a brand new environment. Iris (my wife) was out of the country ready to give birth to our new baby, Bryan. The transition to Pudong in her absence was pressurizing to say the least. However we have been supported by very enthusiastic and caring colleagues. In particular Jonathan’s teachers at RP were all aware of the situation and they helped make the transition for him as painless as possible. There were times where both his teachers took a motherly role in Iris’ absence which made him feel welcomed and cared for in his class. The communication was always clear and as a parent I felt that I could let go but at the same time feel involved as part of his growth. The POP moms also were supportive all the way. I feel blessed that Jonathan is studying in this nurturing environment. He is still waking at 6:00 in the morning eager to go to school.
As we come to the end of the first semester, can you share with us your first impressions of the school and especially the students?
I think this is the safest and most professional school I’ve worked at. My first impression is the high standard to which I am held accountable. I am very pleased to be working under supported pressure to constantly improve myself professionally to ensure that the students are supported and learning. The facilities here are phenomenal, the new football pitch and IB learning community are amazing. Not to mention the unbelievable library we have.
The students are very well-behaved and polite. Even the ones I don’t teach know my name and greet me when we meet in the hallways. I’m very glad the school is at a size that allows me to build strong rapports with almost all the students.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like working out and exercising whenever time permits. But it’s always family first so it’s about prioritizing them with my hobbies. Traveling is something we do every year.