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A Principled Principal

October, 2005
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Wayne Wayne Demnar, the new lower school principal at Beijing BISS International School, celebrated his 50th birthday on the Great Wall of China just one month after he arrived in Beijing. His daughter also celebrated her birthday a few days earlier in Tiananmen Square.

  “It’s something I will always remember. It truly is exciting!”

  Wayne has been involved in international education since 1997. He has taught in Australia, Indonesia and Singapore. He went to Shanghai for a conference in 2001, but this is his first time to Beijing.

  “The level of development really surprised me, even though I knew from the television that everything was changing rapidly here. This makes me both happy and sad. I can get whatever I want here in Beijing, but I am also very interested in exploring traditional China.”

  Wayne’s wife teaches music at BISS, and their two daughters are studying on campus, too. The move to Beijing was a family decision.

  “My wife and I are both very interested in the PYP program, as far as the teaching is concerned. We want our daughters to get their high school diplomas in an IB school, because it will help them prepare for university. We talked to our daughters about how this would affect their future opportunities.”

  Wayne’s career started after his Grade 12 exams. He went to teacher’s college on a scholarship, and found that he really enjoyed it. He started as a classroom teacher, but later moved to physical education and learning support. He eventually became a deputy principal and a principal. His teaching career spans three decades, and he has been a principal in international schools for 19 years.

  “I think that 30 years of teaching has kept me young. I love seeing children engaged in everything they are doing. The real rewards come later, however, when students return and tell you that they remember things you said and did. Then you know that you really made a lasting impact.”

  Wayne was recently invited to the wedding of one of his former students. He taught her when she was 9 years old.

  “She said that I made a big difference in her life.”

  Wayne says his first task as he adjusts to his new position is to learn as much as possible about the school before he can integrate his own ideas into daily operations. He favors school events that develop a sense of community by involving both students and parents.

  “Our role as educators is not just about teaching the children. We also educate the parents about our different approaches and programs, and we encourage them to come up with ideas. I tell parents I treat their children as I treat my own: fairly and firmly. The message we must always send to the students is that we care about them. We want them to learn and we want them to be happy.”

  Wayne recently started taking Chinese lessons. His goal is to become functionally proficient in the language by the end of his first year.

  “In Australia, we all went to the Sydney Olympics, so we’d like to somehow be involved in the Beijing Olympics, too. It would be great if we could volunteer at the 2008 Olympics.”

By Xing Yangjian

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