Ed­u­ca­tion Up­date:

Teach­ers come from all walks of life and back­grounds. GRA­HAM SIL­VER­THORNE went from his­to­rian to banker to leader of a large in­ter­na­tional school in Sin­ga­pore. Here is his story.

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Contents - BY MON­ICA PITRELLI

Meet the new head of UWCSEA’S East Cam­pus

How did you go from a Cam­bridge Univer­sity his­tory grad­u­ate to teacher?

With ev­ery life jour­ney, there were plenty of twists and turns. When I left Cam­bridge, I joined Lloyds Bank. I wore a pin-stripe suit and worked in the West End of Lon­don – it sounded ex­cit­ing but bank­ing re­ally wasn’t for me. I then worked in the pri­vate of­fice of the Sec­re­tary- Gen­eral of the Law So­ci­ety and as the ed­i­tor of a pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tancy mag­a­zine. These were great life lessons for a coun­try boy liv­ing in the big city, but I re­alised I needed a greater sense of pur­pose. To the as­ton­ish­ment of friends and fam­ily, I de­cided to ex­plore teach­ing. From the very first day, I knew this was my path. I loved the learn­ing, the phi­los­o­phy, the hu­man contact – I loved it all! I was Head of His­tory be­fore the end of my first full year of teach­ing and a Vice Prin­ci­pal within seven years.

What has teach­ing taught you?

I am tempted to say ev­ery­thing. It taught me to speak less and to lis­ten more. It taught me that we are lucky if we are paid to do some­thing we truly love. It taught me that ev­ery sin­gle child is gifted with a spe­cial light, and that schools are re­spon­si­ble for grow­ing it into a flame as well as not snuff­ing it out.

How did Asia come about?

I first trav­elled to Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore in the 1980s, and I fell in love with Asian cul­ture and with the ro­mance of Hong Kong. One day by ac­ci­dent I clicked on an ad­vert for a post in Hong Kong. The de­ci­sion to ap­ply changed my life. Af­ter seven won­der­ful years at Hong Kong’s South Is­land School, I moved to Sin­ga­pore sim­ply be­cause I was un­able to re­sist the chal­lenge and op­por­tu­nity to work at one of the world’s great schools. UWCSEA is a hard place to turn down.

What plans do you have as the new Head of UWCSEA East Cam­pus?

Right now I’m learn­ing about the deeper nu­ances of the com­mu­nity, the cam­pus and the Col­lege. Many peo­ple are in­vested in the his­tory of the school and in the guid­ing prin­ci­ples of its mis­sion. I have not worked in a place be­fore where so many peo­ple be­lieve in the goals of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. It re­ally is a tremen­dous ex­pe­ri­ence, so plans can never be “mine”, they must al­ways be “ours”. UWCSEA East Cam­pus is at 1 Tampines Street 73. For more, visit uwcsea.edu.sg.

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