We are now five weeks into the 2021-22 academic year and our newly-arrived teachers have done a fantastic job of getting to grips with teaching in a new school and, for some, living in a new country. Teaching so far this year has had the added challenge of being online and I salute the way our recently-arrived teachers have successfully established relationships for learning with their students through the medium of distance learning. It seems like a good time to tell you a little more about them and their experience thus far. So, for this week, let me introduce to you the newest members of our English, Media and EAL Faculty.
Ruth Radwan (Head of Department for English as an Additional Language)
I am delighted to be joining the KLASS family after three years running an EAL Department at an international school in Penang. Although I will miss island life, the opportunity to work at one of the most vibrant, welcoming and outstanding schools in Southeast Asia is a real privilege and my family and I are already enjoying the more dynamic environment of Kuala Lumpur. We moved to Malaysia in 2018 after many years in North Africa and the Middle East and have really enjoyed the experience of living and working in a very different and culturally diverse country, despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented to all of us.
I arrived in KL with my husband and two teenage children, who are starting school in Years 10 and 12 and are feeling very positive about their experience at KLASS so far. Everyone in the school community has been extremely supportive and welcoming, making our joining the school amidst ongoing SOPs and restrictions a practically seamless and very positive experience. We are very appreciative of all of the support we have received and are really looking forward to joining the school physically when the campus reopens so that we can enjoy the full Alice Smith experience. In the meantime, it has been lovely to meet a number of very enthusiastic, communicative and friendly students online this week and I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better over the coming weeks.
Caitlin Gray (Assistant Head of English)
After living and teaching in Malaysia for the past two years, I am so happy to be joining the Alice Smith school this term. I have felt so warmly welcomed by the school and students over the last few weeks and feel excited by this new opportunity in my teaching career.
I grew up in Leicester, England with a passion for country music and dreams of travelling the world. I went to the University of East Anglia to study American and English Literature, during which time I spent a year studying abroad at the University of Oregon, USA and a summer working as a camp counsellor at a Girl Scouts camp just outside Seattle. Both solidified my love of travelling and meeting new people, whilst the latter also confirmed my ambition to work with young people.
After graduating, I completed my PGCE and then worked for two years at a secondary school in Leicestershire, before setting off for the international teaching life! I spent three years working as Assistant Head of English at an international school in Mexico City, a place that captured my heart with its bright colours, welcoming people and delicious food! Ready for a new adventure, my partner and I moved to Malaysia in 2019. After spending most of our first two years in Malaysia in lockdown, we are hoping to have more opportunities to explore this beautiful country and the rest of Southeast Asia over the coming years.
Charlotte Withrington (Teacher of English)
When I arrived in KL on New Year’s Eve, almost 4 years ago, I knew that I was somewhere special. The people, the food, and the sights have kept me here since! Of course, I’ve tried to learn sikit sikit Bahasa Malayu tapi I am tak bagus! Although, I do like to practice by using literal translations, for example, telling people my favourite dish is fat rice (nasi lemak) and I enjoy jumping on the fire car (kereta api) to get to the city.
I completed my PGCE with Durham University, then taught English in Carmel College in the UK, before moving to Australia and teaching in Melbourne. After one year there, I decided it was time for a change, and took a Head of Department position at Eaton International School in Malaysia. Now, I truly feel a part of the KLASS community, teaching both English and Drama. One of my favourite aspects of teaching in Malaysia so far has been attending MUN conferences in other schools and universities. The diverse opportunities available here for students never fails to impress me!
Unsurprisingly, I have had a wonderful first couple of weeks at KLASS, and I’m really enjoying getting to know the students. Even though it has been online, they have been very friendly and extremely polite! I’m looking forward to all of the exciting new challenges that working here will present me with, and I can’t wait to start teaching on campus.
Ginny Stockings (Teacher of English)
Moving countries and schools mid pandemic has been a surreal experience that has led us to truly appreciate the kindness of our new colleagues and the hospitality of Malaysia. Watching life in KL for two weeks from a hotel window in quarantine just made us all the more excited to be able to explore ourselves! Meeting the staff and students at Alice Smith has been a real pleasure albeit for the most part 'virtually'!
I am excited to join a thriving English team and to share with new learners my own passion for the subject. After many years of school leadership positions, a return to the classroom full time is invigorating. In both the UK and Phuket, Thailand, I was fortunate to lead pastoral teams and develop learning and teaching and school development in Deputy Head roles. However, it is being in the classroom and working with our young people which excites and energises me!
We had intended to relocate this year as our daughter begins her GCSE journey and we had enjoyed our Asian experiences over the last 8 years. Our family and friends were delighted to learn we would be moving closer to home. Then we saw a role to consider... It was only the draw of 'Alice Smith' and the opportunities afforded us here that have seen us remain in Asia and we now very much look forward to being a part of your community and being able to explore and enjoy both KL and wider Malaysia!
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,
Principal - Secondary Campus