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3e New Principal: Love by Accident, Passion for Education

October, 2018
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“Accidentally in Love” is not merely a melody from the comic animation movie Shrek 2 but also a vivid reflection of how Gary Bradshaw, the new Head of 3e International School, discovered his passion for childcare and education about 30 years ago.

3e-principal-gary-3536-2sOriginally from England, Bradshaw spent his childhood in Zambia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea as his family travelled from one place to another for his father’s job in mining. Bradshaw finished his schooling in New Zealand, where he got his first job in a psychiatric hospital. He was so fascinated by the job that it sparked an interest in nursing. But it was during his nursing training where he spent a week at a pre-school and kindergarten studying child development, that he discovered what he really wanted to do in life. “That was amazing,” recalled Bradshaw. “I forgot about nursing and decided I wanted to work with kids. That is where my passion lies.”

Not long after, Bradshaw quit his nursing training, even though he hadn’t fully thought how to follow through with his interest in teaching. Feeling bored, lost and unemployed, he decided to volunteer at a kindergarten near his home, a role that eventually lasted an entire year. He attended staff meetings and was involved in everything that an early-years teacher would do. That one year of volunteer experience helped shape his future and land him his first job in childcare. “That’s how it started, like accident really,” he said.

After moving back and forth between nursing and childcare in his early career, Bradshaw was convinced more than ever that teaching was his passion. He also found that growing up in a number of countries made him opt for life abroad as he felt particularly comfortable in Asian cultures. After a number of years of working in childcare and kindergarten in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and after four years teaching English in South Korea and completing his teaching degree, he headed for Chengdu in China. That was 12 years ago.

His education career in China started at an international school in Wuxi, Jiangsu and later followed with the setup of a new international school in Chengdu, where he worked for four years as a teacher and primary principal. Filled with confidence and excitement, Bradshaw left the school to join the preparatory work for Keystone Academy in Beijing a year before its opening. “It is amazing to come into an empty space and leave knowing it is filled with great things. It’s like being an artist completing a picture on a canvas,” said Bradshaw.

This time, now head of School at 3e the canvas that has unfolded in front of him is different, already filled with colors and shapes. But Bradshaw is confident to leave his mark as he sees it is as an art work in progress. "You can add colors and shapes to change the picture," he said.

With profound experiences and acute observation of trends in international education, the new head of school believes that changes are needed in some things that have been in place since the very start. “We need to make sure that we are changing with the community, the times, the educational framework and demography which is different from what it was 13 years ago at 3e,” he said. “Education is about change and keeping up with the changing world. As an education provider, we need to change no matter if it is an easy or a difficult process”.

His ultimate goal is to develop the school, the program and the curriculum and bring the school forward in their mission of developing bilingual children who are “…creative thinkers, and collaborative learners, who are able to move respectfully and appreciatively across cultures”. This deep-rooted mission of 3e will remain stable, while some new vision is needed to ensure the school and the program is in a position to offer the knowledge, skills and understanding today’s children will need for the future.

“Part of my task is to look back at the history of 3e and the evolving education landscape,” said Bradshaw. “But more importantly, it is to look forward to see what the school wants to be in 5, 10, 15 and even 100 years of time.” 


By Tan Rui



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