Keystone Magazine - Page 44

Interview Q: What are some of the similarities and differences between the schools that you have worked for and Keystone Academy? A: I have come from well-established schools, which boast long histories, and a deep-rooted sense of who they are. Each school has its own character, and no matter how many generations of students come through, new teachers, or changes in leadership, there is still an essence to who that school is and what it represents. The identity of the school remains consistent. A hundred years from now, I want people to talk about Keystone the way they talk about other elite schools; that Keystone is one of the best boarding schools, that it is innovative, and that it prepares students not just for university, but for life. We want people to see Keystone as a school that equips its students with the skills they need to be successful people, contributors to society and leaders in their communities. Keystone aspires to be great, and to hold a position and renown in China similar to what elite boarding schools possess in the U.S. Rachael Beare with students at a post-acceptance event at the Orchard Restaurant, Shunyi, Beijing Q: What kind of student does Keystone want to enroll? What is the ideal student profile? A: To be sure, Keystone will not be a “cookie cutter” school, meaning our students will not be one shape, or all cut from the same cloth. Our application process will not create a checklist of things, and say, “Well, if you check everything on the list, then you get to come to Keystone.” This is not a process where decisions are made based on a test score. I believe very strongly that the education we provide our students will be better if we can create an environment that appreciates the different talents students possess, and the ways that they express their talents. Our process will allow individuals to emerge in different ways, and allow us to observe and select candidates for the uniqueness they bring into the community. There are, however, some fundamental attributes that we will look for in our students. Students should be able to demonstrate a curiosity towards and an interest in learning. Students will be exposed to many kinds of different opportunities at Keystone, and we want them to take advantage of these experiences. Students should expect to be challenged and stretched, both inside and outside of the classroom, to become more independent in their learning, and more creative in their approach. It is one thing to sit in a class and be told everything you are supposed to know, to write it all down, and to recite it all back. It is another thing all together for a teacher to say, “Here is some information. I want you to do something with it and bring me back something that I have not seen before.” Keystone will have these expectations of its students, particularly the older students, so they should be ready and willing to be pushed in this way. We also want students who are not afraid to fail or take risks. Many years ago, the Dean of Admission at MIT did some research among professors at MIT to find the qualities that made for the best MIT student. One of the things that she discovered is that test scores did not define the best MIT student. So she began to ask professors, “What are the things that really make the difference?” With unbelievable consistency, the professors said, “The best MIT student is the one who, when an entire project that they have been working hard on for several months literally explodes, is able to collect themselves, figure out what went wrong, and start all over again.” Because that is what life is like, is it not? By contrast, the student who struggles is the one who is so overwhelmed by the time they put in to the project and what went wrong, they do not know what to do next. Our students need to be able to see how failure can be a step on the pathway to success. We do not want them to be so afraid to fail that they never discover the power or possibility of taking a risk. 42 The Keystone Magazine