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    Dr. Karen Hall: 'Success for All'

    Published:2010-04-01

    Dr. Karen Hall, who obtained her doctorate degree of Education Administration and Policy at the University of Minnesota, USA, has contributed her professional life to education.

     

    Dr. Hall once taught English & Science in America before she joined Quality Schools International (QSI) the international school for expatriate community living in foreign countries. She has spent 15 years in QSI as an employee, 8 years in Kazakhstan and 7 years in China. She worked for one year as a teacher and the rest of the time has been spent in administration. QSI Dongguan School has been opened for five years. Dr. Karen Hall has been the Director and shared with the foreign community in Dongguan for the past four years.

    Dr. Karen Hall (R1), the Director of QSI Dongguan School [Photo Credit: QSI Dongguan School]


    Q: According to what kind of educational philosophy do you/QSI assess students?


    Dr. Karen Hall: Our school follows a logical model of education that measures success by the accomplishments and attitudes of our students. We believe that all of our students can succeed, and that their success encourages them to continue in a successful pattern. QSI also believes that it is the school’s responsibility to provide the conditions for success. In this mastery learning environment, students are required to achieve understanding at a high level.


    In addition to all courses required for secondary graduation, we teach Success Orientations in QSI. Success Orientations are seven keys to being a successful citizen in school and life. These seven qualities include trustworthiness, responsibility, concern for others, kindness/politeness, group interaction, aesthetic appreciation, and independent endeavor.

     

    Q: In your opinion, what is education and what is education for?


    Dr. Karen Hall: For me, education means helping children have a good opportunity to gain knowledge and achieve a high level of understanding which will help prepare them to be successful citizens of the world. Education is not just about academic achievement but also includes social and emotional intelligence as well.


    For children, success is both being happy and developing to their highest potential. When students are happy and academically reaching their potential, then QSI is being successful.


    Q: Many parents ask their children to take other lessons to stay busy. Is it proper?


    Dr. Karen Hall: It will be good if the children are interested in these lessons. We know that art and music are beneficial for the development of one’s mind. It is however, not wrong for children to be quiet or experience boredom. In these quiet times children have the opportunity to think about and create fun activities. Giving children time to think and create is important for self improvement. Parents should not feel obligated or pressured to fill each day with extra lessons. Children need time to be quiet, explore and create.


    Q: Some people blame the Chinese education system for the suicide incidents in schools. What’s your opinion?


    Dr. Karen Hall: Actually it happens not just in China but in other countries, too. Financial security for the future has become a global problem that young people have to face. In China, young people not only face job hunting, but also have the extra responsibility to care for their parents. Considering that they are only child in the family, the pressure is more intense.


    A Guidance Counselor will join the school in August 2010 which will add more support for students who have questions about living successfully.


    As for the comparison between Chinese education system and that of the USA, they are different styles with their own advantages. Along with attaining knowledge, Chinese education emphasizes memorization, and US education emphasizes creativity and problem –solution which is more flexible.

     

    Q: What do you think is the advantage of women school directors over men school directors? How can a woman achieve success?


    Dr. Karen Hall: I’m happy to find that many school administrators in China are women. Typically, women are endowed with a special quality that allows them to extend a more sensitive and nurturing outlook when dealing with students, staff, and families. When this caring nature is combined with organizational and visionary skills, women become excellent leaders for schools. Men are also good leaders but can lack the mother-like empathy needed when working with students. Women in leadership is still not too common, and we often find ourselves working in a men’s world. Education means to care for one another. As a woman director, I try to take care of our teachers, to value and respect staff.


    It’s very important for me to build a team of professionals which are made up of teachers. If the success of the school depends on one person, then the school is in a precarious position. A school is a multi-faceted place where many diverse decisions need to be made. A group of professionals working together can bring a more stable and fertile environment in which our many students can grow and flourish. As a team, each one shares ideas and solutions; works well together, and supports the overall school plan.


    Q: What are QSI’s plans for 2010?


    Dr. Karen Hall: QSI is building a new campus in Nancheng and we’ll begin classes there in August 2010. It will include 32 classrooms, 2 computer labs, 2 science labs, library, music and drama, cafeteria, full size gymnasium, outdoor playing areas, track/soccer field, outdoor basketball and tennis courts.


    We have five students going for a spring trip to France. It will be an effective way to practice their French and to learn about French culture through travel.


    The greatest plan is to continue offering a great educational program for all of our students.