WEEKLY MESSAGE FROM HEAD OF SCHOOL 2021/09/01-2021/​09/​03

Dear Parents, Students, Colleagues,

It really does feel wonderful to have everyone back on campus, at last, and busily engaged in what we all do best: learning.  I should say ‘almost everyone’.  We still have a few ‘stuck’ outside China: one or two administrators, a half a dozen teachers, and about the same number of students.  All of them wish desperately to be here.  I do hope that these colleagues and students will be with us soon.

In the summer mailing package that you received during the break, I always write a welcome letter to new and returning families.  In that letter, I used to say that Keystone is a new school.  A few years ago, I changed that to ‘still a new school’.  This summer, in my welcoming letter to all, I changed my reference to the age of Keystone as follows:

Although we are now well established, and entering our eighth year, there remains a freshness to this place that is delightful.  We have sent only four graduating classes off to college, but we know that we have already created something special at Keystone.  We are growing a school culture and community founded on our five shared, Confucian values: compassion, justice, respect, wisdom and honesty. Everyone is a part of this uplifting and inspiring process.

Keystone is indeed well established, in two ways: we have been set up thoughtfully, or well; and we project a sense of having been around for some time.  One outcome of this is a growing sureness of the value of what we offer.  One, and only one, recent indicator of that value was reflected in the IB Diploma results of the Class of 2021.  In the opening full faculty meeting of this year, I said this to my colleagues:

We know, and are rightly proud but I hope humble in this knowledge, that the IBDP grades of the Class of 2021 were excellent, and that the jump in the class average was clearly and demonstrably higher than the increase in the global average.  I am not surprised by this.  As Keystone matures on many levels, performances like this will become routine.  All this is indeed pleasing, but what is much more pleasing to me is to be working right now with about a dozen or so of our recent graduates who are here to assist with the summer program.  As mentors of the younger participants, some from Keystone and some from other schools, and as leaders of the residential and activities programs for a few weeks, they have been exceptional: committed, responsible, inventive, engaged, amusing, and more. These young colleagues, and they are that for now, show me through who they are and what they do, much more than their recent grades, that we are doing very well as a school.  Growing character like this, and graduating characters like these, are our most essential responsibilities.

Now that we are no longer a new school, but well established, it seems to be appropriate to ask this question, especially as we start out on another school year: What have we achieved in addition to those IB Diploma results which are continuing to ‘bring a freshness to this place that is delightful’?  A beginning to an answer to that question should most certainly focus on the many individual characters of fine character that we are already graduating. They are outstanding examples of the early success of our educational philosophy and practice, of our rightness in focusing on ‘character and community throughout our residential setting’.  Let’s keep on reminding ourselves that ‘growing character like this, and graduating characters like these, are our most essential responsibilities’.

But now, in order to take the beginning of my answer a little further, I want you to think with me of the gemstones that were buried in the soil of Keystone and that we have dug out and polished in our first few years.  Some of our most precious virtues, that invigorating freshness, are reflected in their glow. The short list below is merely a start, and I invite you to add to it:

·      Our three keystones;

·      Our five values;

·      The Chinese Thread in our curriculum;

·      Our understanding of what it means to be a world school;

·      A genuine and regularly reviewed reflection on leadership and leading skills, for adults and for students;

·      Our residential and advisory curricula;

·      The Keystone Activities Program (KAP);

·      Expertise in and commitment to experiential learning;

·      A serious and substantial intellectual and research foundation to what we do;

·      Humility and self-effacement.

Please send me a note of the Keystone gemstones that shine most brightly for you, and I’ll add them to this list.  That is a serious, open invitation.  And, as we continue to grow in excellence, and become even better established, may we continue to preserve that freshness which will carry on delighting us all.



With warm regards, 

Malcolm McKenzie

Head of School