Trevor Shubert an Australian and Principal since January 2011 of the Nexus International School, met with me recently to discuss the school’s continuing expansion and specifically the new Boarding School facility set to open in September. He has three decades of experience as a teacher, boarding schools, education and he comes to Malaysia from Perth.
Nexus has a beautiful campus set on sprawling grounds in lovely surroundings in Putrajaya. From its opening in 2008, its reputation for rigorous academics, devoted and caring professional teachers and new infrastructure has resulted in the enrollment of enthusiastic students from all over the region.
He tells me that a lot of his inspiration comes from his own years starting as a young seven year old boarder. He believes that having this experience allows him to choose from the best practises while eliminating or changing the worst ones.
For example, Nexus’s Boarding will be highly unusual in that it is not a ‘horizontal’ facility but rather a vertical one. In most boarding schools, the students are housed and organised by their age and grade. All the Year 4’s will be with other year 4’s. Perhaps a joining of Year 3 and 5’s in the mix too. But vertical boarding is when each house or section is comprised of the youngest to oldest students together.
The benefits of such an innovative system are many. For example any potential bullying problems are quickly nipped in the bud by the older students watching out for the younger ones. They have already been through various scenarios themselves and can quickly identify growing cliques and inappropriate groupings. The various houses are like a micro family structure with the older ones also feeling a positive sense of responsibility towards others as well as a sense of giving. They are willing to help out with homework or mentor children who need it.
ICT too now plays a crucial rote in today’s new boarding schools. Nexus is a fully integrated campus and each boarder will have their own computer and be able to interact with their parents at will. Mr Shubert’s goal is for the boarding school to become paperless utilizing the cutting edge of technology. He has set up programmes where students will be blogging daily with parents, teachers and other students. All of the House Staff are also teachers who remain accessible to assist with homework and even remedial work.
Mr Shubert has a firm vision of the type of child he wants to emerge from Nexus and he takes the holistic view of the whole child in every aspect. This translates into providing nutritious, healthy foods and teaching students the importance of eating a healthy diet. The students are taught real life skills, how to communicate properly, how to live as part of a community and to become aware of their own unique gifts and talents. He wants the children to become confident, aware of self and to have a positive view of their future. “It’s important that a child feels secure within themselves when they are around people and it is that self assurance we will attempt to foster,” Mr Shubert explains.
“We also believe in the philosophy of ‘restorative relationships’ with regards to discipline. Instead of identifying a culprit and then punishing them, instead we will approach each situation individually.
We’ll ask the student why the act was committed and explain other options. We will instil a proper moral code into each student which will result in them wanting to do the right thing and for the right reasons. We respect each child as the individual they are. When they come to us to begin living here, we emphasize that they are not losing their parents but are actually gaining a third one with the school representative of a loving, caring and compassionate figure.”
Students at Nexus are not taught using a didactic style but rather one of interaction and participation. Mr Shubert wants to stoke their natural curiosities and to tap into their existing, innate sense of the excitement of learning new things. “We groom our children to be students for life,” he states.
“Their learning experience will take place inside and outside the classroom and ideally this will incorporate into them self discipline, confidence in themselves and a keen awareness of others and how to interact optimally in society.”
This article was written by Marybeth Ramey ([email protected])
Source: The Expat August 2011
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