Marjorie Barnes

What drew you and Greg to Keystone?

To be honest, my first reaction was, “no way!”It is far away from home, the language is hard to learn, and all the pollution comments you hear in the news were all points against coming here.My friend Diana (who had just been hired as the High School Principal) asked us not to be so negative and to at least participate in an interview over Skype.After agreeing and completing the interview, we took a serious look at the possibilities it might bring for us both.We started to do the research, and we got hooked on the idea of travelling to this part of the world.The potential to be a part of creating a unique school in its beginning years and the opportunities for professional growth were ultimately the biggest selling points.Once we got here, we met some of the most qualified and helpful staff either of us has ever worked with.When we saw all the resources the school has and how supportive and respectful our school leadership team is, we knew we had made the right decision.

What areas of Math do you enjoy teaching most and why?

I am passionate about the subject still today with 26 years of experience.This is a hard question to answer, but if forced I would choose Trigonometry and/or Calculus.Students can finally make infinite serious connections with all the math material they have learned in previous courses and start solving real life problems and applications.Solving problems at this level is so much fun, it is like solving a puzzle or playing a game.

How do teaching Math and our three keystones link in class?

We have 3 keystones that define the character of the school: bilingual immersion, US-style residential program and the promotion of Chinese culture. To me, it is fascinating to explore the influence of Chinese culture in mathematics, which is profound and far-reaching.I have always enjoyed learning how students and staff from different parts of the world learn and teach Mathematics.We approach the content in many different ways around the world, and the similarities and differences have always been of interest to me.The residential component provides many opportunities to have math discussions with students at all hours, and to be a support to them outside of the classroom.As an English language learner myself, Mathematics has always been a kind of universal language that helps me connect with others.Keystone’s emphasis on bilingual education helps me reinforce this and live it in a new context.

Can you describe your role as an advisor in mentoring and motivating your students towards personal, ethical and intellectual growth?

It is part of our mission to provide thoughtful and holistic support to our students, not just academic support.We help students to make appropriate decisions and the opportunity for regular personal contact is a great help in this regard.As parents of two teenagers in college, this program has helped my husband and I cope with the “empty nest” feeling all parents of older children inevitably deal with.As an advisor to an amazing group of 11th graders, I have been able to get to know them well, advocate for them in their personal and academic development with other staff, and sometimes even with their own parents.My advice has been well received and the students have really listened to what I have tried to share.They have become my family away from home and my involvement with them has only gotten stronger and more genuine since the school year started.Students constantly ask me all kinds of questions and it has been a terrific opportunity to share what I have learned in my own experience.

What has been your most rewarding experience working and living at Keystone so far? Have you had the opportunity to build new friendships and explore Beijing?

Working with a great group of teachers, collaborating with them, and learning about the Chinese culture and their completely different perspectives on many issues has made this a wonderful time in our lives.Exploring Beijing and having the opportunity to travel to Thailand for a holiday so far have been the most exhilarating experiences.The staff has been very welcoming and the teachers already living here start contacting you even before you get here.Friendships have been quick to form and genuine, as nearly all of us are new to the area and collaboration is part of our work.

Marjorie Barnes
Secondary School, Math Teacher