Little Steps is oh-so-excited to introduce our new series, Talking Heads, 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.
Up first, say hello to Ellie O’ Ready, the Head of Woodland Montessori Academy at their snazzy new campus on Caine Road.
1. Do you have a nickname? Too many nicknames to mention, but none I’m sharing with you!
2. Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born in the West Midlands in the UK (fortunately I ditched the accent) – grew up there, then Hertfordshire and then London.
3. Where do you live in the city and why do you love it there? I live in Happy Valley and love the community feeling, no MTR station and (relative) open space provided by the race course. My school is in Mid Levels, so I enjoy having a bit of breathing space in my neighborhood, away from the work environment.
4. What's in your lunchbox? If only I had time for lunch!
1. What or who inspired you to become a headmaster? I’m sure it sounds cliché but in my role I get to have a direct impact on the environment in which our children form their relationship with education. A Pre School must feel warm and supportive and be full of stimulating learning opportunities and smiling faces; to be able to set that scene and guide families through it, is a privilege. I had a great Primary school Head Teacher back home – he was so passionate about what he did; as a child I felt like I could do anything and I think it was he who created that environment.
2. Describe your school in 5 words or less! Somewhere children love to be.
1. What's your favourite thing on your desk and why? My oversized wooden pencil sharpener pen pot - a gift from my Dad when we moved into our gorgeous new school building to ‘snazz-up’ (his words) my office. Whenever I look at it, it reminds me of simpler, non-digital times and that my family are never too far away.
2. What are your 3 favourite children's books? Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (makes me so happy to see our little ones reading it); ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl (“snozzcumbers” and “whizzpopping” = genius); Richard Scarry’s ‘What Do People Do All Day?” – I was obsessed with this book!
1. What is the best way for parents to be involved in their childrens education? At Pre School age, where things are more relaxed than at Primary level, try to come in to visit the class when you can – read a story or bring a special snack. This makes the children SO happy and so proud and makes sure they connect home school and family life. Also, for a parent to get a sense of the class first-hand, and to feel comfortable with the teachers makes for open communication and, as with most things, that is key.
2. Any tips for parents when applying for schools? In terms of Primary schools a) apply to at least three b) try not to panic – your child WILL get into a good school! Don’t be shy to ask for advice; we are here to help you.
3. What's the best advice a teacher or headmistress ever gave you? ‘Do your best and enjoy yourself; angels can do no more’.