Christian Alliance International School’s new Head of School, Richard Vanderpyl, on whole-person student development and cultivating a servant-like attitude to benefit society.
In March, 2019, CAIS welcomed Richard Vanderpyl as their new Head of School. With over 30 years of experience teaching – his last position was Principal at a Christian school in New Zealand, where he worked for 17 years – Vanderpyl comes to Hong Kong with the hopes of leading CAIS students to become the next generation of Hong Kong’s leaders who are in service to the people.
This stems from his own style of management, which he describes as “servant-type leadership.”
“My role is to serve the school community,” says Vanderpyl. “Leadership, to me, means approaching my role with a heart of humility, that I’m not here for my benefit, but rather for the benefit of the teachers and the students.
“It is to make sure that the teachers are able to do their job as easily as possible,” he said, adding, “I also see part of my role as ensuring that school is a fun place to be for our students.”
As Head of School, he is also in charge of overseeing efforts for students to have an inspiring and authentic Christian education, where they are able to fulfil their own personal goals while learning how to serve the community at large.
Coinciding with this vision is the school’s Phase II development, which Vanderpyl says will further enhance the learning experience of students at CAIS. With new facilities for music, drama and sports, the new school block is the perfect champion for the school’s commitment to widening students’ scope of learning.
“We’re very excited for the Phase II development as we believe it will be able to touch the creative hearts of students,” enthused Vanderpyl. The new block will consist of a Performance Hall that seats 600, a Design Studio, a Gymnasium with a FIBA standard basketball line marking, Music Practice Rooms that include an Orchestra Rehearsal Room, as well as a 7-A-Side Soccer Pitch on the roof.
“Phase II is really going to create opportunities to further students’ whole-person development,” Vanderpyl said, “With everything from participating in sports, creating art and making music to learning about new technology like robotics, this new block will just absolutely let students fly and make them shine.”
With reference to Hong Kong’s high-pressure academic life and the stress that puts on both students and teachers, Vanderpyl says that the school strives for balance. In fact, he says that by having a creative and open environment, both sides are able to teach, learn and absorb more than in a traditional classroom setting.
“We don’t aim to be the best school in Hong Kong, but rather the best school for Hong Kong,” he said.
Vanderpyl said that the school’s main focus will be kept on whole-person development – on how students can be a blessing for Hong Kong, using their wisdom learnt from the classroom as well as their creativity cultivated in non-academic pursuits – instead of focusing on the narrow scope of their assessment grades.
This is not to say that the school will be lax in their academia, though. “I aim to build a high trust, high expectations atmosphere here at CAIS,” Vanderpyl said, assuring that while he will always be encouraging of staff and students to take a more dynamic approach to teaching and learning, he will also maintain high levels of expectation when it comes to academic performance.
“The type of education that we build here at CAIS is the type that best prepares our students to be the future influencers of society – the kind of student who leaves CAIS will be the type of person who improves the community.”
As for his vision for the future, Vanderpyl says it simply: “We hope to teach students to cultivate a strong sense of character, a desire for excellence and a desire to serve other people.”
CAIS is in the process of becoming an accredited IB school, and currently offers both the Alberta Curriculum of Canada as well as the Advanced Placements program.
Christian Alliance International School
Address: 33 King Lam Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon
Tel: 3699 3899