We continue the Little Steps Talking Heads series, where parents can meet, greet, and get tips from Hong Kong’s Heads of Schools! Get personal with these fabulous personalities and find out what makes them tick, their advice for parents navigating the schooling scene, and their favorite things about life in the city. In this edition, we say hello to Brian Cooklin, Headmaster at Nord Anglia International School!
1. Do you have a nickname? I’ve been a Principal for 18 years and I don’t think that I’ve ever had a nickname. Given the creativity of the children here in Hong Kong, maybe they will come up with my first – and hopefully respectful – nickname.
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Glasgow and held my first teaching and Principal positions at Stonelaw High School in the city. I was also proud to be the President of the Head Teachers’ Association of Scotland. But I don’t think you ever stop “growing up” and learning new things. I’m delighted now to be continuing my life and learning here in Hong Kong.
3. Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? I live at Providence Bay, near the Hong Kong Science Park on the beautiful Tolo Harbour. I wanted to be close to the community of our school in East Kowloon and also enjoy the peace and quiet of the water and the natural environment.
4. What's in your lunchbox? We always encourage our students to eat healthily, so I try to lead by example. I usually have some fruit, a ham and cheese sandwich and lots of water.
1. What or who inspired you to become a headmaster? My desire to be a school Principal was formed by both positive and negative influences. As I developed as a teacher, I realized the incredible influence we have as educators in encouraging and supporting our students’ success. I have been fortunate to work with some great teachers and Head Teachers who were excellent role models to me. Equally, however, early in my career I worked for a divisive and dictatorial Head Teacher who taught me a lot about what not to do when building a team of exceptional teachers and motivating students.
2. Describe your school in 5 words or fewer! Welcoming, high performance, global family.
1. What's your favorite thing on your desk and why? I have a calendar of Glasgow where all the photos are taken on blue sky days. It reminds me of what the city looks like for a few weeks a year! I also have a mousepad, now a little frayed around the edges, given to me by my former students. Lovely memories.
2. What are your 3 favorite children's books? My favorite children’s books are the Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. We encourage all our students to read a variety of books, both by themselves and with their parents.
1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their children’s education? We strongly encourage parents to read to, and with, their children. We want parents to take an interest in what their children do, say and make and to be positive role models. It is essential to remember that parents are their children’s primary educators and we, as teachers, are secondary. But if we work together – parents and teachers – we provide the best foundation for nurturing happy, positive, confident and successful children.
2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? We understand that selecting a school for your child is a very personal decision. We encourage parents to learn as much as possible about our school to ensure it provides the right environment for their child. We hold regular Parent Information Sessions, we update our Facebook and website regularly, and our Admissions team is ready to answer any questions you have.
3. What's the best advice a teacher or headmistress ever gave you? The advice that has stuck with me over the years, and that I pass on to the teachers who work for me, is to love learning, to take pride in your work and to strive to be the best you can be – every day.