Values Added: Keystone Hosts ACAMIS Leadership Conference 2021

By Communications

Keystone Academy hosted this year’s Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS) Leadership Conference, welcoming 300 delegates from different schools across the country. The convention revolved around the theme of “Values Added” and leadership in times of crisis.

In his opening address, Keystone Head of School Malcolm McKenzie prompted participants to look and beyond the “value added”—or what the institution and its teachers add to what students bring with them—and instead think of the “values” they carry on to students and the community.

“The more that our world becomes desperate and dangerous, and our planet degraded, the more I feel that the values we add as educators are the most important educational issue of our times,” Mr. McKenzie continued.

“The values that we should be teaching, and living, in the school communities that we build, as teachers and leaders, are both local and global, and contemporary yet enduring. They are pluralistic and inclusive, and most certainly not fundamental in any way. Education for peace is a mantra to which educators, national and international, can easily subscribe. To make the mantra meaningful, however, values appropriate to its realization, in part or more fully, need to be spelled out.”

In The Spotlight

ACAMIS Leadership Conference 2021 Highlights by Student Media Services

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Over two days, participants engaged in various leadership and management sessions, personal development workshops, and group discussions to identify values to enhance academic curricula and strengthen character and community throughout school settings.

The conference began with a keynote speech from American educator and bestselling author Stedman Graham, who asked his audience, “Do you really know who you are? Can you self-actualize your potential as a human being?”

Mr. Graham referenced his recently published book Identity: Your Passport to Success to emphasize the power of identity and how it could become a driving force for leadership actions.

“Regardless of your circumstances,” he added, “the only thing that matters is how you define yourself. You can never turn your power over to the people that will label and put you in a box.”

Mr. Graham linked his message on identity with his nine-step success process and encouraged the audience to keep going even if “the world [would] tell you to quit or give up.”

Meanwhile, the second keynote speaker, ethical leadership expert Rosalind Wiseman, reminded the delegates of principles—or the “guiding force” of thinking and actions. Ms. Wiseman has explored the concept of dignity in the past decade and founded Cultures of Dignity, an organization that shifts the way communities think about our physical and emotional wellbeing.

“Values are our ‘why we do things’, while principles can be our ‘how’,” Ms. Wiseman said. She also highlighted her utmost principle that “everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.”

“Dignity is a given and it is a resonating concept,” she explained. “In western cultures, respect is, often for young people, a code word for ‘compliance’ and ‘obeyance.’ And when people in authority use their position to not treat others with dignity, young people disengage from the concept of respect. When we acknowledge the complexities of these words, young people get much more interested in having a conversation with adults and figuring out what community means to them.”

Several Keystone teachers and administrators shared insights into the Keystone curricula and community: Drama teachers Michel Ouimet and Joel Godiah looked into Keystone’s Performing Arts (PA) curriculum to build a robust PA program for schools. Music teachers Mark Elshout and Jasmine Yang (pictured below) spoke about how bilingual and cross-cultural education scaffold learning in the arts and give students similar fundamental understanding from different perspectives.

Lily Liu, Keystone’s Assistant Head of School, Business, delivered a session on the opportunity of bringing business education to students so they could think and reflect on real-world issues. Lili Jia, Associate Head of School and Dean of Curriculum (pictured above, first from left), joined the Women in Leadership panel to deconstruct the phenomenon of “imposter syndrome”, or chronic feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Mr. McKenzie and Hongwei Gao, IB MYP Coordinator, led a workshop on formulating thoughts on leading.

Various Keystone community members also participated in the conference on different occasions. Keystone’s Director of Events Daphne Hutagalung and Assistant to Student Life Office Uma Lian, in collaboration with the ACAMIS executive team, facilitated the event production and implementation. The Facilities, Chartwells, IT, Innovation and Digital Learning, and Marketing and Communications teams provided event support. Secondary School student musicians performed at the opening ceremony and guest reception while the 30-member Student Media Services (SMS) club covered the convention.

“Values added deliberately to a school’s total curriculum, in the context of education for peace, lead naturally to a vision that seeks changing and challenging directions, and solutions,” Mr. McKenzie said.

“Peace is elusive, we know that, but should never become illusory. It is the task of national and international education and the work of world educators globally, with a careful choice of the added values that accompany these in individual schools, to protect this purpose.”

Click here to see the list of Student Media Services staff who covered the ACAMIS event.