About the Host School
Shishi High School was founded in about 141 B.C. by Wen Weng, the magistrate of Shu Prefecture. It is the oldest known school in the world having operated continuously on the same site for 2,150 years. Ever since 1949, the school has been a reputed key school. In 2000, the school was conferred with the title of 'National Demonstrative Normal High School', and enjoys a highly-regarded reputation throughout China. The school has made great achievements in the university entrance examinations, sustaining 100% university or college enrollment for decades. Our students have participated in scientific contests and won 36 awards since 2000. In 2008, two of our students were ranked 1st and 2nd in Sichuan Province for their college entrance examination results. The school is highly academic and students are selected on examination results. The students cherish their place at this prestigious school and there is a well disciplined and hard working atmosphere. We currently have just over 3,000 students (from 16 to 18 years old) and about 300 teachers.
Recently, our students have participated in the national Olympic Contests for Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Information Technology, winning 916 prizes, including 112 national first prizes, and 128 students were exempted from college entrance requirements and given immediate admission to top Universities. Our students have participated in all kinds of national, provincial and municipal scientific invention contests and won 36 awards since 2000.
The school campus is situated within walking distance of the city centre and is relatively large for such a central school. The campus has its own clinic, canteens and library and there are multimedia facilities in every classroom. The school is well resourced by Chinese standards. The school has recently built a large extension containing classrooms, science laboratories and teachers' offices.
The school holds an Arts Festival and Sports Meet once every year. The Shishi Orchestra and the Women's Basketball Team were highly praised when visiting the USA last year. The Women's Basketball Team of our school have reached the finals of the national middle school basketball games several times and won the championship twice.
About the A Level Centre
The Centre opened in 2005 and we have 146 students on roll. We have 10 foreign teaching staff and 5 Chinese teaching staff. The Biology, Chemistry and Physics laboratories are fully equipped for both teaching and Cambridge examinations. There is an IT centre with 3 rooms each having 60 computers. There are two lecture theatres and all A-level classes have their own self-study room. Teacher's rooms are equipped with desktop and laptop computers and basic office equipment.
Students are polite, helpful, keen to learn and determined to succeed. Results are excellent. One of our students achieved the highest grade for Biology across China in the 2009 exams. All of our students go on to university and most go to the UK, America, Canada or Australia. In recent years, a number of our students have attended Cambridge University, Imperial College, Warwick University, Bristol University, Emory University and New York University.
There is a Business Club, Computer Programming Club, Model United Nations and a Badminton Club run by foreign teachers. Within the Host School there is huge range of activities and clubs which cater for almost every interest and hobby. In the 10thgrade, students take six IGCSEs and have additional classes in Chinese, Computer Studies and PE. 3 or 4 subjects are taken at AS and A2 level, in addition to their studies in English.
There is no accommodation available on campus. Teachers live in private rented flats which are available at reasonable rents. The school pays a monthly rent allowance to cover living expenses.
The teaching can be hard work, but it is also enjoyable. The combination of working in a Chinese public school and living in private rented accommodation means that the teacher has a genuine experience of living in China. The lifestyle is more suitable for someone who wants to live in China, rather than someone who wants to live a westernised lifestyle.
There are many tourist attractions in Chengdu. It is most famous for being the home of the Panda.
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Teacher Case Study
Ryan Strugnell, Teacher of Maths and Physics
My path to teaching here in Chengdu is a rather unique one. Arriving in Chendgu and not finding an appropriate Engineering employment was the tipping point for me to turn back to teaching as a career change.
I will explain my background a little more. In terms of qualification I was, most recently, a Civil Engineer, working in New Zealand. In terms of personal passion, I really enjoy interacting and "journeying’ with youth. In my 6 years of working as an Engineer I have spent much of my spare time either assisting in youth-based organizations or involved in career exposés, both at corporate events and in the classrooms.
Over the years prior to moving to China I had been debating a career change. I faced the choice between a career in Engineering versus a career in Teaching. There are many variables to consider in changing vocation, and in retrospect the lack of Engineering opportunities in Chengdu was the much needed catalyst to push me towards teaching. I am grateful. This is my second year as a Secondary School teacher in Chengdu. I taught at an International School in the 2010-2011 school year and transferred to Shishi High School this year to work alongside my wife, Elizabeth.
“Juggler” may be the most appropriate title to describe my role here at Chengdu Shishi School. We are an A-level centre andI teach IGCSE Physics and A-Level Mathematics. One subject is highly theory-based and the other I try to make as application-based as possible.Apart from teaching responsibilities, my role includes making a pot of coffee for the staff on Friday mornings.
Chengdu has its unique attractions, but there is more satisfaction for me in living in a new place and getting to know the people, getting to know things a tourist on a two week schedule can’t tangibly appreciate. We’ve been in Chengdu for a year now. Our roadside grocer greets us and gives us discounts, the family who run a Uy restaurant know us by name and know our usual / favourite dishes. Likewise, working at Shishi high school has its own character and we (Elizabeth and I) look forward to at least two more years here, getting to understand better how this unique city in the west of China ticks.
We travel around mostly on our electric scooter (e-bike). I consider riding an e-bike as a daring activity at any time of day. We are daredevils. Though we are relatively adventurous with trying new food, we haven’t tried Sichuan Hotpot yet. That may be a challenge for another day.
There is so much to take in and experience in China. We make the most of the weekends and National Holidays to get out and explore. We’ve been counting the number of blue sky days (we counted 51 last academic year and we’re up to 8 so far for this year).
Student Case Study
Joy Hou, Chengdu Shishi A-Level Centre
I joined the A-Level Centre in 2012. I was glad to meet a lot of foreign teachers, while making some new friends.
In this programme, I gain a lot of benefits, especially from the perspective of language and academic experience. By committing to an English-only policy in the classroom and talking to the native-speaker teachers, I feel completely immersed in the language, which effectively improves my English skills. At the academic level, I am allowed to choose a variety of subjects. I also have more opportunities to do experiments in the labs, which inspires my interest and curiosity in the subjects.
I am still facing an important challenge at the A-level Centre: An English-only policy. It requires students to build vocabulary quickly and practice English out loud.I plan to go to a university located in the USA. I will study in the university at least four years majoring in Statistics or Economics.