Ms Danielle Owen is Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, Riverside’s newest Early Years teacher – joining a team of consummate professionals dedicated to their craft. With eight years of international school experience in the Middle East, Ms Owen decided it was time for something new. Her research eventually brought her to the school’s website, and from the very beginning, she knew that Shrewsbury was the opportunity she was looking for.
“I am passionate about creating a child-led environment, and I didn’t want to move for something less than the outstanding Early Years experience that Shrewsbury was offering. In the end, I didn’t even apply anywhere else. I put my heart and soul into my application and was overwhelmed and thrilled once I found out I was successful,” she remembers.
Upon her arrival in August 2020, her expectations were high. Yet, they were exceeded in the first week.
“I remember arriving and seeing the Early Years Garden up close and thinking this was a fabulous place to harness the potential of each and every child. My previous schools were great, but the space to explore at Shrewsbury and the magic moments waiting to happen were evident to me – even on my first day.”
Becoming familiar with the school’s move towards integrating the Forest School Curriculum into its overall framework, which is highly popular in the UK and across Europe, was challenging at first but fit perfectly with her teaching and learning ethos. Forest School encourages children to learn through nature across the curriculum. The environment and guided-learning approach asks students to be leaders in their own learning, raises questions and captures their attention.
“Everyone in the Early Years department has a dedication and passion that is unrivalled – I was blown away! The Teaching Assistants are more than ‘just a helping hand’ – they are another teacher in the room, and the leadership team are supportive and encourage me to express new ideas – despite the fact it is my first year here.”
Ms Owen has started to grow into her role more as the year has progressed. Despite being a tough year with online learning replacing in-person lessons, Shrewsbury’s Early Years teachers are doing their utmost to ensure the provision still has a growth mindset and activities are fresh and engaging.
“There are many schools that still have a method of ‘box-ticking’ that narrows their options and creates scenarios where they feel pressure to force ideas or activities on children. Shrewsbury rejects this methodology, and I couldn’t be happier. Data and meeting goals are important, but at Shrewsbury, we can naturally attain the milestones required with the Forest School and other open-ended resources available to us. We ensure that every child learns and develops to their fullest potential and importantly develops a love of learning with positive attitudes towards school.”
The planning that goes on behind the scenes is a day-to-day activity for Shrewsbury’s Early Years teachers. Adapting to specific scenarios allows them the flexibility to facilitate new opportunities for students, so the environment stays fresh and exciting.
“No two days are ever the same! I love being amazed by my students’ achievements as they are always different. Considering many of our students are not native speakers, their development is phenomenal. My experiences so far lead me to believe that the combination of excellent teachers, an environment that is conducive to learning naturally, and children encouraged to be imaginative and explorative is what makes the school so special.”
The school constantly makes sure that parents are involved in their child’s learning journey and that they understand the direction of the school and maximise learning and development potential. ‘Parents in Partnership’ is a Shrewsbury initiative that encourages families to ask questions and learn more about the curriculum, so they understand the value of a Shrewsbury education. It is a partnership that works both ways – sharing children’s unique experiences from home and celebrating them with everyone. Speaking with parents allows us to get to know the unique child.
“If a parent does have concerns, our doors are always open before and after the school day. We are all patient listeners, and we encourage parents to speak to us if they are unsure. The communication with parents is fantastic, and when their child starts to exhibit and recreate what they learn at school – they let us know immediately. It is very gratifying.”
On a personal level, Ms Owen is delighted with her decision to move continents and try something new. Her experience personally and professionally has been hugely positive.
“I wish that no matter where I teach after this, I could pick Shrewsbury up and take it around the world with me. I do not, in any way, consider this to be a ‘job’ – it is a passion. My colleagues, who are pure professionals and my students, make every day special.”
To learn more about Early Years at Shrewsbury; you can book a meeting with the Admissions Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.