By Nanjing International School
Nanjing International School (NIS) is a leading non-profit international Pre-K to 12 IB World school. NIS is the oldest international school in Nanjing and the first IB Continuum School in the country. We pride ourselves on our world-class facilities, highly-qualified teachers, and global curriculum that puts our 630 students at the centre of their education, developing lifelong learners.
NIS VoicesNov 22, 2023
Joyful Learning in Primary School
In the ever-evolving landscape of international education, the concept of 'joyful learning' is gaining increasing prominence. For example, UNESCO's "Happy Schools" initiative emphasises the importance of happiness in learning, viewing it not as a trade-off with academic achievement but as a vital component for broader and more effective learning experiences and outcomes. But what exactly does this mean in the context of primary education, and how does it reshape the way we think about our children's educational journeys here at Nanjing International School?
In this episode of NIS Voices, Primary Principal Ms. Jacqui Patrick sheds light on the concept of joyful learning. NIS creates an environment where happiness is integral to academic achievement, not a trade-off. Ms. Patrick explains that joyful learning starts with a school culture that provides a sense of safety and belonging, essential for students to feel comfortable and ready to learn. Engagement, curiosity, and intrinsic motivation drive this educational approach, enabling children to delve deeply into their passions and interests.
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) at NIS further nurtures this joy through inquiry-based learning, where students grapple with their own ideas and questions that hold personal significance. Jacqui emphasises the distinction between joy and fun in learning, explaining that joy is a deeper, more personal experience connected to meaningful engagement that fosters lifelong learning, while fun is spontaneous and not planned for as part of school lessons. She also discusses how parents can support joyful learning at home by engaging with their children's interests, providing space for unstructured activity, and modeling a process of learning together.
Our New School Website
Join us for our first student takeover of the NIS Voices podcast! Cindy from Grade 11 hosts Kyle Bueschlen, Head of Communications & Marketing at NIS to get an inside look at the launch of our new school website.
Why Accreditation Matters
With our re-accreditation visit just around the corner, join us with Kasson Bratton, NIS Director of Learning as we discuss the importance of accreditation at international schools.
“So when we're thinking about ‘are we living up to our mission?’ ‘Are we making decisions that are aligned with our guiding statements?’ accreditation gives us a very concrete and internationally recognised way to do that.”
Welcoming Our New Aquatics Director
Join us with Niels Loos, our new NIS Aquatics Director! Learn more about him and what’s next for our inclusive swimming programme.
“Students, my athletes become co-pilots in their own learning process and have a say and a choice in what they do.”
Looking Back and Looking Forward
Join Laurie McLellan, our School Director, for a very special end-of-year podcast where we recap milestones and memories of 2022-23 and our 30th anniversary. Looking ahead to next year, we discuss leadership, the HUB project construction, sustainability, and much more!
“It's hard to believe that we're coming towards the end of what has just been a momentous 30th year for the school. The achievements are around those moments in time when you reinforce the values within your organisation. For us as a school, the number one value that always comes to the top is community.”
Primary Student Leadership
The Primary Student Council truly has voice in what happens in our Primary School over the course of the year. Join representatives Jihwan and Rina as they discuss this year’s accomplishments as well as student voice and leadership at NIS.
“And it feels like we have a voice and we can tell the school what we want. And we can also, like, bring the voice of others students into the student council and make the school a better place.”
What’s in a Test?
NIS is anything but a teach-to-the-test school. We’re an inclusive school. But learning evaluations and diagnostics are still important tools for our educators. Learn how we approach testing differently from Kasson Bratton, Director of Learning at NIS.
“It’s more of a guide to help us ask the right questions about learning than it is some sort of definitive answer about how a student is growing or doing in the school."
Inside the 2023 PYP Exhibition
Learn more about the preparation and process behind this year’s NIS PYP Exhibition, a capstone event in Primary School where our 5th Grade students explore, research, and share their understanding of a real-life issue or topic related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“It's just a fabulous opportunity for people to really see the PYP is a beautiful programme, and this is the end result of it. The learning that has gone on is a huge celebration on this day."
Perspectives on Allyship
Join Kalei, G10 and co-founder of the Non-Straight/Straight Alliance, and Ken Brady, Tech Coach and Design Teacher, as we take a look at allyship from another perspective: how to be a male ally at school and support inclusion.
“This is my privilege. And I think as men we need to recognise this and use the privilege that you have in a positive way to help stand up for women. And that's really important to become an ally.”
“For me, allyship has involved rekindling particular programmes where I can encourage girls particularly to participate. So, the rekindling of the robotics programme and the coding classes have been two areas where I can help girls who are generally underrepresented in those areas.”
As a school with a holistic, student-centred approach to learning and life, we strive to promote wellness and help our learners and community find balance. Join Ruben Joyner, Secondary Counsellor, as we discuss mental wellness for students and how to manage stress.
“That continual process – talking with them, showing them that you care, showing that you see them, is huge for the student.”
Celebrating International Women’s Day
This International Women’s Day, join Kelly Holmes and Trina Ryan, NIS Secondary Teachers and members of our JEDI Taskforce to learn how we celebrate women today and every day in our inclusive learning community.
“International Women's Day is about inclusion, and that includes our boys and our men and our girls and our women and everybody in between and outside and around and that it's for everybody.”
“We shine a light on women's empowerment and achievements, both in our school and in our community and beyond. But we also need to do this for our boys to show them the ways of being that also empower women and themselves at the same time.”
The Promise of a School Strategy
NIS worked with NoTosh years ago to create our transformative and innovative school strategy of “Student Voice and Student Choice and Burst the Bubble.” Today, it’s the award-winning approach to everything that we do.
Join us as we discuss school strategy with very special guest Ewan McIntosh, founder and CEO of global consultancy NoTosh. Ewan is a highly regarded keynote speaker at events around the world, as well as an author with extensive experience in education. Joining us as well is our school director, Laurie McLellan.
"At its heart, it's a promise that the school is going to keep for learners. That's all you want is, "what's the promise?" The wording of it might change, the methodology for achieving it might change – it will – as new staff come in. But that promise is what we're going to try and realise for people."
"The outcome is it's had such a profound impact on our culture. That it is our culture. If it's done properly, it's everything. It's absolutely everything that happens here."
AI-Generated Art in Education
No conversation about artificial intelligence in education would be complete without discussing AI-generated art through platforms like Midjourney. Join Dr. Shannon Doak, NIS IT Director as we look into the implications and opportunities of these tools in and beyond the classroom.
Bridging Barriers with Learning Support
Join us with Ms. Ginna Daza, Learning Support Teacher in our NIS Primary School. In this episode, we discuss our unique and collaborative approach to supporting each individual learner, why learning support is a pillar of inclusion at NIS, and how our community is involved.
“We're here to be that bridge between the barrier and the learning. We're here to make that connection happen. We're here to understand better. We're here to see through everything that's sometimes really hard to see.”
Meet Ms. Debs Tellis, PYP Coordinator
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new PYP Coordinator, Ms. Debs Tellis. Ms. Tellis has an expansive career which includes working at Shanghai American School, Dulwich Shanghai, Utahloy International School Guangzhou, and SSIS Suzhou, as well as Stonehill School in India. Ms. Tellis comes to NIS after teaching in her native Australia. She has extensive experience in PYP and MYP.
“I actually now have an opportunity to share this with students, and to help build their courage, and help them be risk-takers, and help them to be more open-minded, and see perspectives and be that IB Learner."
The Magic of Learning in Early Years
Join us with Ms. Jacqui Patrick, NIS Primary Principal, for the final part of our miniseries “Inside NIS”. This episode is all about the magic and importance of learning in Early Years, and what makes our Reggio-inspired approach so special.
“Our Job is to provide a context that maximizes their learning in ways that are engaging and developmentally appropriate – and in ways that are respectful of the amazing thinkers that they are.”
Join us with Kelly Holmes, Secondary ELL Teacher and member of our JEDI taskforce as we discuss fostering allyship at school and in our community on our journey of inclusion.
“What we are seeking to do when we are cultivating allyship is that we’re looking to disrupt that marginalisation. We’re looking to seeing it, owning it, changing that, and then also living it so that everyone can be their best selves.
The Impact of AI in Education
Join Mr. Kasson Bratton, Director of Learning, and Dr. Shannon Doak, IT Director, for a very special discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence in education – specifically ChatGPT. Learn why we’re embracing disruption and looking forward to harnessing the power of AI as a learning tool at NIS.
“For us it’s exciting,” Mr. Bratton said. “It’s something we want to bring to light, it’s what we want to educate our parents about, educate our students about, you know, work with our staff to really figure out creative ways to harness AI.”
“We need to go higher,” explained Dr. Doak. “We need to change the way we’re using technology. And this is going to force that. That’s, I think, how it could be the future of education.”
Inside NIS: Learning with the IB PYP
Join us for the second installment of Inside NIS with our new Primary Principal, Ms. Jacqui Patrick. In this episode, we learn more about the IB Primary Years Programme at our school.
“Good inquiry takes children on a journey where they’re really personally invested in finding out. On that journey, they learn the skills they need to be inquirers. It builds in children a sense of them as learners.”
University Counseling at an Inclusive School
Join us as we explore the holistic NIS approach to supporting student futures with University Counsellor Dr. Iryna Shuvalova. From student voice and choice to care from the entire community, learn how our inclusive school is helping NIS seniors prepare for life after graduation – including joining top universities around the world.
“The goal is to guide and support every student in figuring out what their unique path should look like. We support and we guide and we are experts, but it’s their lives and they have to make those decisions. We make sure they retain that agency.”
Inside NIS: A Day in Primary School
Join us for our first mini-series of our podcast, Inside NIS! Our first installment is all about Primary School, where we are joined by our new Primary Principal, Ms. Jacqui Patrick. Discover more about life and learning for our youngest students at NIS.
“Our days are really grounded in the needs of our kids, but with really purposeful and deliberate routines that we build in to build community and make kids feel safe and engaged in our Primary School.”
Striving for Inclusion
Join us with Ms. Tanya Farrol, Secondary Learning Support Teacher at Nanjing International School and Founding Board Member of SENIA – the Special Education Network and Inclusion Association. Learn more about Learning Support at NIS, as well as the recent finalisation of our membership with SENIA and what it means for our ongoing commitment to inclusion.
"Inclusion means that all students are provided with opportunities, that we don't limit those opportunities, that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in something, making sure that we're providing equitable opportunities for all. Everyone can be part of something and that everyone has the capacity to be part of it."
Student Voice: My Life with Cerebral Palsy
Join us for a very special episode of NIS Voices with Mike from Grade 12 with his inspirational speech about life with cerebral palsy to an audience of over 40 Secondary teachers. A student at NIS since Grade 6, Mike looks forward to studying Microbiology at university after he graduates this year.
Join us with Dr. Shannon Doak, IT Director at NIS for an important discussion about cybersecurity in schools. Learn more about how we are keeping our students, faculty, and community safe. "All schools have certain things in place like filters and firewalls. But 91% of all successful data breaches have been due to spear phishing and phishing attacks. It's super important for schools to have a training programme."
Global Citizen Diploma at NIS
Join us with Ms. Ruth Clarke, Secondary Principal at Nanjing International School as we discuss our bespoke, holistic Global Citizen Diploma programme and how it complements the academic rigour of the IBDP by recognizing a student's whole education – learning inside the classroom, within the larger context of school, and in the world beyond.
“Students are such rounded individuals that it’s not just about the grades they achieve or the IB scores that they get, but that our students are incredible, complex, phenomenal people that can do such a multitude of different things.”
Diving into Our Swimming Programme
Join us with Ms. Kathrin Lammers, Aquatics Director at Nanjing International School as we discuss our inclusive, year-round Pre-K to 12 swimming programme.
“It’s about your personal best. If you put in the effort and the commitment, you are on your way to succeed.”
Join us with Dr. Shannon Doak, IT Director at Nanjing International School as we discuss digital citizenship in the hyper-connected world we live in. "Respect. Protect. Connect. It’s the ability to safely and responsibly use digital technologies and be a respectful user of these tools in that online community and environment."
What Makes an NIS Teacher?
Our diverse faculty are a force for positivity, inclusivity, and innovation. Join us with Mr. Kasson Bratton, Director of Learning, as we discuss teaching at NIS.
“Teachers perform at their best when they feel seen, they feel valued, and they are connected with other people that they like to work with. All the systems we put in place spring from that base level of dignity and humanity.”
NIS School Directors Look Back on 30 Years
The longevity of NIS leadership is very rare among international schools worldwide as we have only ever had 2 directors in our 30-year history. Join us for a very special look at the past and present of NIS with both Mr. Laurie McLellan and Mr. Gez Hayden, our present and past school directors.
“My wish for NIS is that it continues to thrive, it continues to be inclusive, and it continues to improve the experience the children attending the school receive.”
“I’m very optimistic about the future. I think 30 years is just another foundational part of our journey forward.”
– Laurie McLellan
Mental Health and Wellness in Young Children
We often read about the social and emotional needs of adolescents, but at Nanjing International School, mental health and wellness starts with our youngest Primary students and extends all the way to Grade 12. Join us with Primary Counsellor, Ms. Q Joyner, and learn more about mental health and wellness in our Primary school.
“Mental health is not just for them at this moment, but also preparing them for when they move on to the next stages of life.”
Looking into Visual Arts
What sparks inspiration and creativity in our older student artists? How do they express themselves? Join us with Secondary MYP/DP Visual Arts Teacher, Ms. Sandy Kuan, and learn more about our vibrant Visual Arts programme.
“When they have more freedom, then they have more choices. It’s very important as a teacher to be more fluid and be able to adjust to the students’ needs.”
Student Voices for Inclusion
Join NIS Secondary students Kirsten and Kalei as we discuss their Non-Straight/Straight Alliance project and inclusion at our school. "Inclusion in general is a big thing for not just our school but for the world that we live in. It’s very important that you’re supporting others with their choices and just who they are as a person and embracing them."
For the Love of Activities
Join us for a chat with NIS Activities Director, Mr. Danny Clarke, about the incredible activities programme we offer at our school. From athletics to the arts, to student activities, co-curriculars are integral to our student-centred, inclusive approach to education.
"We’ve got a massive commitment to activities at NIS. It’s in the DNA of our school. It’s not just an add-on. It’s a central part of what we do."
Back to School: Looking Ahead to a Special Year at NIS
Join us as we discuss what’s new for Nanjing International School in 2022-23 with Mr. Kasson Bratton, our Director of Learning. From exciting summer projects and campus improvements, to new faculty and the preparation for the first day of school and the year ahead, we take a look behind the scenes at all the wonderful work that goes into making NIS such a wonderful place to learn and teach.
"One of the cool things about NIS is that we’re always changing, updating, and of course we have our new teachers coming in. Everyone’s just so excited to see our students back on campus – there’s a lot of positive energy."
Meet New Secondary Teachers, Tanya and Phil Farrol
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new Secondary Learning Support Teacher, Ms. Tanya Farrol, and MYP PE Teacher, Mr. Phil Farrol.
"We as teachers need to provide them with those skills: How we work on developing lifelong learning skills, and how do we advocate for help or support with some type of learning?" – Ms. Farrol
"I want you to try. Because you’re always going to be successful somewhere. That’s the goal – it’s risk-taking all the time." – Mr. Farrol
Meet New MYP English & Humanities Teacher, Ms. Anita Claasz
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new MYP English and Humanities Teacher, Ms. Anita Claasz. "Teachers want students to be excited to come to school. It’s really our job to make sure that they’re happy and enjoying the lessons – we have to find new and interesting ways to deliver that curriculum."
Meet Mr. Shane Wu, MYP/DP Biology Teacher
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new MYP/DP Biology Teacher, Mr. Shane Wu. "That’s what I want to help students to appreciate: That biology is all around us, that it’s essential – not just for our life but also affects how we think of ourselves."
Meet Ms. Alexia Lastchenko, Primary ELL Teacher
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new Primary ELL Teacher, Ms. Alexia Lastchenko. "It’s very important as a teacher to allow the students to create personal meaning for the language that they are using or learning."
Meet Mr. Andrew Friedle, IBDP Economics, Business, & MYP Humanities Teacher
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new IBDP Economics, Business, & MYP Humanities Teacher, Mr. Andrew Friedle.
"I am here for the students, their education, and empowering them to really believe that they are in charge of their own education journey."
Meet Mr. Santiago Gonzalez, PYP Homeroom Teacher
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new PYP Homeroom Teacher, Mr. Santiago Gonzalez.
“I try to promote a culture of high expectation for every learner while always taking into consideration individual learning abilities and understanding the uniqueness of every student’s learning journey.”
Meet Ms. Ginna Daza, Primary Learning Support Teacher
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new Primary Learning Support Teacher, Ms. Ginna Daza.
“For me, the most important thing is to have fun. You have to make mistakes and work hard. No matter what happens, you are always going to learn something.”
Meet Mr. Shaqeel Baksh, New Secondary Physics Teacher
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new MYP and DP Physics Teacher, Mr. Shaqeel Baksh.
“There is no such thing as a stupid question in learning. I aim to create a safe space where the moment students walk into my classroom, they feel comfort. They feel comfortable raising their hand to ask what in their mind might not be a smart question.”
Meet Ms. Sue Chun, New Primary School Counsellor
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new lower Primary School Counsellor, Ms. Sue Chun.
“I believe one of the most essential skills in counselling is active listening. It’s all about listening to understand, not listening to respond. I’m not just tuning into the message that was shared – I try to read and catch those nonverbal cues and acknowledge the child to help them feel understood and connected.”
Meet Ms. Q Joyner, New Primary School Counsellor
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new Primary School Counsellor, Ms. Q Joyner.
“Our roles are very intricate in making sure that students feel safe, supported, and have a friend. The students make you feel like you’re a hero, and I want to give that back.”
Meet Ms. Jade Bennett, New IB MYP Coordinator
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new IB MYP Coordinator and English Language and Literature Teacher, Ms. Jade Bennett.
“My favorite thing about the MYP is the emphasis on all different aspects of learning. It’s not just completely about being knowledgeable and knowing every fact – it’s more about the whole child, and I think that’s really important.”
Alumni Voices: A Love of NIS
Join Ms. Maxine Carrick, Class of 2013, as we discuss her high school memories of NIS, an inspiring and fun place that she called home. Now Maxine is an art teacher in Texas and looks back at her time at NIS fondly.
"NIS was my home – that’s what I called my home for a very long time after I left. Anywhere you truly are just happy and comfortable and where you grow up and you’re figuring out who you are and who you want to be in that first stage of life is where you end up calling home. It just ending up being that feeling of home. It was just a great place to be. I loved it."
Meet Ms. Jacqui Patrick, New Primary School Principal
Join us as we get to know Nanjing International School's new Primary Principal, Ms. Jacqui Patrick, including her background and teaching and leadership philosophy.
“Children are amazing. Their capacity to learn, and think, and create, and grow and experiment – it’s there. And we have to protect it, and we have to spark it, and we have to grow it.”
NIS Special Charity Spotlight: The Pfrang Association
Our major school charity, the Pfrang Association, is a non-profit charity organization with the intention of providing funds aimed at helping underprivileged children in Jiangsu and Anhui Province to attain an education. Join NIS Secondary Teacher and Pfrang Association President, Mr. Andy Romero, as we discuss Pfrang's history, mission, and their amazing upcoming annual charity event, the Pfrang Gala.
Transitions in Primary School
From Early Years to Grade 1 and Grade 5 to 6, this is a time of year where many transitions are taking place in our Primary School. Join Primary Principal Mr. Adam Dodge as we explore how our IB Continuum school supports and facilitates student growth throughout the PYP and during the transition into Secondary School and the MYP.
A Look Inside PYPX 2022
It’s more than a just an exhibition – it’s a major milestone on the IB learning journey of our Grade 5 students and the culmination of the Primary Years Programme at NIS. Join Mr. Gareth Jacobson, our Deputy Primary School Principal, as we explore this year’s upcoming PYP Exhibition and what makes the NIS approach to PYPX memorable, fulfilling, and unique.