Last weekend, Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) parents, alumni, former faculty, current staff and faculty, and the extended WAB community were invited to join WAB’s 20th anniversary celebration. During the event, guests were taken on a journey across the WAB campus, where people shared stories of their best WAB memories and celebrated the accomplishments of the school over the years. Recently, we spoke to two 20-year WAB veterans to find out what the school was like back in the day. See the interviews here. This time around, 18-year WAB veteran Lynne McCone shares her own Tiger tale. McCone currently teaches Grade 2 through Grade 5 beginner English and is the elementary school English as an additional language (EAL) head of department.
How has WAB changed over the years?
The change from the "factory" site behind Ikea to the Shunyi campus has been a massive one for those of us who have been here almost since the beginning, almost like a fairy tale. To have been part of that physical change; to have been asked, alongside other members of the WAB staff, to put forward ideas about a new teaching environment was an interesting task. I am proud to have been part of those changes at WAB. The numbers of students and staff has changed as well. Once we were a small community, where we all knew each other and worked and played together! Now, we are four campuses and it is hard to know everyone. That is one of the biggest changes and challenges we face.
What has stayed the same?
WAB is still home to a whole community, with activities and events to keep us on our toes, involved, and entertained. WAB has always been about creativity and reaching your full potential. It was founded with the dream of creating a special and different school. From the beginning WAB gained a reputation as a school with a "heart"- a warm happy school where everyone is welcome and everyone is special. I think that the dedication, professionalism and commitment of the staff at WAB has continued over the years as well, where students can continue the traditions of inquiry, and not only develop knowledge of the world but to support the development of thinkers and risk takers. The WAB "family" is my family and this never changes.
What specifically made you stay all this time?
I have stayed this long because I love this school and what it strives to achieve. No institution is perfect. WAB struggles with many issues that plague schools around the world, international or national institutions alike. But the people who started WAB had a vision about providing the students with an environment that allows for life long learning and provides the educators with an amazing environment and resources with which to work.
Highlight the moment you fell in love with the school.
I loved WAB from those first moments at the old factory site! This is where the WAB spirit and WAB, "the school with a heart" was created. It had the soul that is still prevalent today and it is still very easy to get the feeling that students, parents, support staff, and teachers are important.
What are the advantages to staying at WAB?
This is the longest I have ever stayed in one place in my life. I often ask myself why I am still here and it is because I want to be part of a school that nurtures students for the future and allows them to become thinkers and dreamers, explorers, artists, writers and anything else they want to be. I am here because WAB offers me the opportunity to teach in a supported, collaborative environment and where we are clearly living the philosophy and mission established in 1994 by the WAB Founders. I am here because I love living in Beijing.
Anything else you want to share?
My life has been incredibly enriched by simply being part of WAB and living in China. I am proud to be a teacher here and have had the opportunities to work and travel in China, to make friends from China and so many countries around the world and acquire first hand knowledge of other cultures.
Photos: Courtesy of WAB