Ms. Julie Lawton: Transforming Learning in China Through Innovation and Compassion
Ms. Julie Lawton | The Knowledge Review
A zealous leader who is working compassionately to bring in empowerment and inspiration to the educational society of China is Ms. Julie Lawton.

A zealous leader who is working compassionately to bring in empowerment and inspiration to the educational society of China is Ms. Julie Lawton. Today, she is the Head of the School at Beijing City International School (BCIS).

BCIS admits students from China as it is a Chinese founded school with deep Chinese roots, and that reflects the best of the western and Chinese philosophies in the school. “It is important that all of our students, wherever they are from, learn about the world and importantly, learn about China – the history, the culture, the language, and the values. We believe that in this way, our students are truly able to live and learn without boundaries. They are truly ‘citizens of the world’, says Julie.

 About an Intriguing Journey

 Julie’s career started in the UK when she qualified as a teacher and taught first in a local primary school, teaching 36 Grade 2 students. This was a challenging start to her career which she always recollects. She always knew that she wanted to live overseas having studied German and Spanish at university and experienced some short periods abroad. Julie first traveled to Kuwait and taught Grade 3 for two years. She has worked at only two schools during the 23 years she has been in Beijing.

At the first school, Julie taught Grades 3, 4, and 5 Homeroom, G1-5 ELL, was the PYP Coordinator, and the ES Principal. She then joined an exciting upcoming school in Beijing which was the BCIS. She joined as the founding ES Principal and held the role for the next thirteen years, along with being the interim Head of School on two occasions and the Deputy Head of School for several years. Starting from the school year, Julie proudly became the Head of School at BCIS and felt privileged to work at a school with such a strong community and academic reputation.

In March 2014, Julie was honoured to receive the ‘Great Wall Friendship Award’ which is awarded to foreigners who have made a significant contribution to China. “This was not an award simply for me as an individual, but an award for the outstanding contribution to Beijing and China that BCIS has made”, asserts Julie proudly.

Made her Way through Challenges

Julie believes that the major challenge in her career had also bought a major opportunity for her. Being a part of building a school community from the very beginning felt like a huge, and sometimes a daunting task. “However, when I look back 14 years later, I can see how it has been a fabulous journey of hard work, sharing, learning, reflecting, setting high standards, and reaching our goals.” Today, the challenge for her is to continue to improve by reflecting and listening to advice particularly from outside, such as with the regular accreditation cycles as it is extremely important to continue this process of reflection and improvement forever.

Staying Motivated

Julie considers herself very fortunate to be a part of a nurturing, compassionate, and ambitious community such as BCIS which helps her to stay driven.

At BCIS, the core values include inspiration, challenge, empowerment, and compassion where she deeply experiences this on a daily basis within the community that includes students, staff, faculty, parents, and partners. She has a “can-do” attitude and believes that the students will take this attitude with them as they continue their contribution to their world. “ The key for our students is that they know they can be anything they want to be. If they live our BCIS mission, then we believe this is a true definition of success, and they will be excellent contributors to the world,” Julie says.

 About BCIS

The BCIS mission is to challenge and empower students to be compassionate and inspired people, who act for the good of all and for the sustainable development of the world.

BCIS is a non-profit private school. With the approval of the Education Committee of Chaoyang District, Beijing, BCIS acts as a pilot school offering educational reform and innovation through international educational practices that incorporate 15 grades of schooling, from pre-school to Grade 12. Learning is based on implementing the Chinese national curriculum by adapting both progressive Chinese and foreign educational philosophies, teaching pedagogies, management, and modern educational strategies. The school curriculum consists of Early Childhood, Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, and Diploma Programme, all accredited and authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization. BCIS is also accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

The program is implemented by the experienced faculty consisting of teachers from 20 different countries. BCIS is licensed to offer a rigorous and respected international curriculum to both foreign and Chinese students. Until now, BCIS alumni have been accepted into more than 260 universities around the world.

Words of Wisdom

 Julie says, “I would encourage students to follow their hearts and heads. It is necessary for them to feel inspired by their learning and to understand themselves well. They want to make their parents proud, of course, and can do this in so many ways. However, they must also follow their own path to be a happy, contributing citizen of the world.”

She further adds, “Looking at BCIS’s mission, I would encourage anyone, whether at BCIS or elsewhere, to consider the importance of caring, compassion, empowerment, and inspiration, as well as think about how each and every one of us has a responsibility towards our world and its sustainability. If we can all do this and take the necessary action along with saying the words, then the present and the future will both be in safe hands.

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