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BISP Primary Principal Susan Walter has worked as a teacher and school leader for 19 years, 10 of which have been here in Asia. After a successful 15 years in business management roles, she took a leap of faith and returned to university to retrain as a teacher. Starting a new career in her thirties was daunting, however, as she so often says to the children, sometimes the best things come to us as a result of considered risk taking. As such, she is proud to be able to talk to the students first-hand about her own experience of moving out of her comfort zone and trying something new and about how rewarding that has been for her. Teaching is Susan’s passion. She could not be more delighted about the opportunity to join the BISP Community as Primary Principal and help the school continue to build on its exceptional reputation here in Thailand.
We took some time to ask Susan a few questions and get to know her better.
Could you tell us a bit about your teaching background?
In 2013, after working in two large state schools in West London, I moved as Deputy Head of Primary to Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur. After 3 fantastic years in Malaysia, in 2016 I moved as Head of Primary to Discovery Bay International School in Hong Kong before joining BISP as Primary Principal this August.
What are you looking to achieve in your role as Primary Principal?
I believe that children get one shot at school. They start each new academic year full of hope and excitement, sometimes nervous or a little apprehensive, so it is our job to quickly build strong relationships with them to make them feel secure, safe and ready to learn. Then we need to do everything we can as teachers to ensure that we give all children the very best opportunity in learning during the entire time we have them in our classrooms. They deserve nothing less so I am looking forward to getting to know the children well, understand their unique needs and expectations and support the teaching teams in continuing to provide the best possible learning opportunities for all.
What attracted you to BISP?
BISP has a well-earned reputation for focussing on the importance of holistic, child-centred learning and development. I share the belief that learning is not limited to the classroom, but needs to be actively supported through experiential learning and learning through play. The genuine commitment BISP has to wellbeing ensures that children thrive as happy, engaged learners who then go on to achieve excellence both academically and socially.
What values do you hope to bring to your role at BISP?
The BISP values of respect, compassion and integrity align very closely to my own and this was one of the reasons I was excited to join the school. I believe that leading with integrity and transparency helps build trust and equity for all.
In my role as Principal, I regularly remind myself of the words of a fellow Headteacher, Dave Harris (2013) who said:
“If it isn’t going to benefit the pupil’s learning – DON’T DO IT!”
This keeps me focussed always on the children’s learning and gives clarity and purpose for our continued improvements as we work together and strive for excellence in everything we do.
What do you enjoy most about working in education?
Everything! I genuinely love everything about working in schools. Getting to know the children, their families and building strong, purposeful relationships with my colleagues as I work alongside them every day. Working as a teacher and school leader is a genuine privilege.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I have thoroughly enjoyed starting to explore Phuket island when I am not at school. I have only just scratched the surface here, but am very much looking forward to more exploring over the coming months. I love to play tennis and am currently looking for a good club to join, and I am enjoying getting reacquainted with my guitar which has been left unplayed for too long!
What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
If I have to commit to just one attribute, I would have to say curiosity. I think staying curious, and constantly asking questions in order to understand, has helped me continue to learn and grow as a professional and never lose sight of the importance and enjoyment of learning.
What is the best question you have been asked since joining BISP?
That is easy, the best question so far has been: What has surprised you most about joining BISP?
I had to think about that for a while as moving to a new country and starting at a new school always presents many surprises, but what has genuinely surprised me most is how quickly I feel at home here and part of such a special BISP team of kind, professional colleagues.
I would like to thank everyone who has already welcomed me so warmly to the school community. I am genuinely excited about my role as Primary Principal here at BISP and am looking forward to working in partnership with my new colleagues and all our BISP Families.