Dear Parents, Pupils and Future Colleagues of Stoke College,
It is such an honour to write a brief word of welcome to you, as your future Principal. I learnt the wonderful news a few weeks ago, since when I am having to balance excitement for my new responsibilities with my current work.
Back in the cold of January, I left China to return to the UK for Chinese New Year Holiday, when the terrible virus that is ravaging the world was only just beginning to impact upon China. I visited Stoke College to meet Mr Francis for a brief tour, not imagining that I would then be forced to remain in the UK for an unexpected length of time, and four flight cancellations. Yet, thus it was that I was able to attend the final interview in person, towards the end of February. Fate has so many dimensions….
I frequently tell colleagues and students that all experiences are good if we learn from them. The world does face an unprecedented challenge, and yes, we have seen both the worst and best in humanity, with some using the virus to justify racism, yet others at the front line of medical services prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save others; or simply good neighbours showing love and concern for those less fortunate than ourselves. It was this latter characteristic that I saw in abundant evidence at Stoke College, and so I thank you for welcoming me into such a compassionate community. You are a beautiful school in every aspect.
I shall never forget the delightful little faces of the preparatory school children as we talked about kindness, nor the fun we had with senior students discussing life choices. Staff and parents were, without exception, so proud of Stoke College, and invariably warm in welcoming me. Since returning to China, I have had the privilege of spending two days with Mr Mark Wang and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the future is immensely exciting for our school community.
Mr Francis and his team have prepared pupils and staff alike quite brilliantly to manage the forthcoming months of online teaching and learning as effectively as possible. There will inevitably be unexpected challenges, but together and through good communication, we can and shall overcome these, placing each child’s learning at the centre of all our thinking. I am very much looking forward to joining the community in May, when I hope that virtual meetings and coffee mornings will quickly become part of the daily routine!
There are so many activities to do in addition to daily online teaching and learning: physical exercise, listening to previously unexplored music, reading, writing, poetry, painting, to name but a few. Imagination knows no boundaries, so use the opportunity to let your imagination soar.
In these tumultuous times, I take comfort from an inspirational quotation that I read last week: “You become a good sailor in storms, not calm seas.” Let us commit to help others in these difficult times, keeping safe and well ourselves, and looking forward to meeting one another on a calm sea in the not too distant future.
May you and your families be blessed with good health and happiness,
Gareth P. Lloyd.