We begin our three part Principally Speaking series (sponsored by Etonkids Educational Group) with Christine Jensen, Principal of Etonkids Palm Spring Campus. Below, the French-Canadian educator tells us more about how her war hero grandfather has been an inspiration throughout her life, how she works to change people’s misconceptions about school principals, and more.
What is your educational background?
MBA in International Business, Masters in English and Doctoral studies in Canadian studies.
How long have you been in Beijing?
Six months, and three years in China.
What brought you to China?
My first visit to China was 25 years ago. I have visited the country many times. After living in nine countries – moving around with my husband for his career before he retired – I decided to spend more time in China, as I enjoy learning about the culture and am fascinated by all the changes.
Who was your childhood hero?
My French grandfather. During WWII he was a leader in the underground movement. He told me many amazing true stories about hiding pilots in a special hiding place in our house.
What was your image of school principals when you were a student? How do you describe your image now?
My principals were old, and looked so boring. They were there for discipline. We stopped talking when they were walking down the hallway. I hope this is not the image I project. I am an active principal, and spend little time in my office. I enjoy speaking with my students, the parents, and of course my team of teachers.
How do most people respond when they find out you are a school principal?
I am not sure. I do not speak Chinese, but I have a great team with bilingual staff who help translate. I hope parents find me friendly, reliable and professional.
In your opinion, what are some of the major differences between primary education in your country and that of a Beijing international school?
I was educated in the French school system. In many ways it is similar to the Chinese system – quite strict in its approach to teaching students. Accumulation of facts was deemed more important than the ability to think and use the facts.
If I was a parent, how would you persuade me to enroll my child at your school?
Our aim at Etonkids is to help you raise your child as a confident individual, curious about the world and equipped to deal with all the changes he or she will see in their lives. Pre-school is the most important time for a child’s development. Our school helps prepare children for success in all aspects of their lives.
This is the first in a series of posts brought to you by The Etonkids Educational Group, a collaboration of experts in the fields of education, research, and school management established by alumni of Harvard and Northwestern universities, with representatives of international Montessori organizations. Since its founding, Etonkids has utilized educational philosophies and models of successful school management from around the world to improve China’s early education sector. Etonkids Educational Group currently operates 50 bilingual Montessori kindergartens throughout China.