Jessica Loots has been a part of BASIS International Schools for seven years. She currently serves as the Vice Head of Early Childhood at BASIS International & Bilingual Schools Chengdu, where she also teaches visual arts in the early childhood department. Hailing from South Africa, Jessica began her career at BASIS International Schools with seven years of prior experience as an early childhood teacher. She was drawn to the network of schools due to the sense of agency that the teachers enjoy in their classrooms.
I first became interested in BASIS International Schools after learning from friends that the educators practice their own teaching beliefs within the curriculum framework. In 2017, I joined BASIS International School Shenzhen as a preschool teacher. I enjoyed the co-teaching classroom structure that included a local and expat teacher with a class monitor. I was fascinated by the parents’ high ambitions for their young children and their expressed need for social and academic development. Working collaboratively within the school, the preschool team implemented a more play-based learning approach and excelled in language development. It was then that I realized my passion for curriculum development and leadership.
Chair of Early Childhood
In 2020, I transitioned to a Kindergarten homeroom position and assumed the role of Chair of Early Childhood. This period coincided with the peak of the epidemic, necessitating many new learning solutions. I introduced Seesaw, a digital portfolio system, to facilitate developmentally appropriate activities for parents and students to use at home during remote learning. This experience furthered my passion for providing quality early childhood education. I enjoyed working with teachers in my school to promote developmentally appropriate practices for in-person and online learning. As Chair, I developed my leadership skills through observations, coaching, and constructive feedback. Guidance from mentors, including my head of school, head of department, and other chairs in the network, broadened my perspectives on curriculum alignment and development.
Vice Head of Early Childhood
In 2022, I embraced a new challenge as the Vice Head of Early Childhood at the newly opened BASIS International & Bilingual Schools Chengdu. As part of the founding faculty team, I had the opportunity to shape designs for various aspects of the early childhood standalone building, including the playground, furniture, and materials. Through collaboration with my current administration team, I have had access to excellent resources and experienced growth in my leadership skills. Meaningful conversations, overcoming obstacles, and learning from my team have all been key parts of my incredible journey as a leader.
Another valuable resource has been the coaching from the Chief Instructional Officers and the Head of the School’s open-door policy to advance our cognitive coaching skills. This generative leadership style across the network provides leaders with hands-on learning experiences—the most valuable form of leadership development. As a leader, I know that at each step of the way, I will be supported by other leaders who are committed to helping me grow. Reflective practices are at the core of our work, ensuring that both teachers and leadership tune into themselves to create a positive community of learners.
My journey from Classroom Teacher to Department Chair and now Vice Head of Division has been marked by supportive coaching and reflective meetings. My Head of School and Head of Department took note of my desire to grow and coached me in areas requiring development for promotion. This positive and thoughtful process ensured I always knew where I was headed. Employees are more likely to stay in organizations where they are heard and provided opportunities to grow and explore their career paths—qualities I have experienced at BASIS International & Bilingual Schools. I admire the network’s dedication and adherence to its mission statement. When teachers, community members, and leadership work toward the same goal, success is apparent. My role is always clear, as it is outlined in the mission statement and reiterated in all our work from teacher to administrator.
My advice for those considering joining BASIS International Schools is that if you are dedicated to helping students reach their potential, this is the right place for you. Teaching and learning are at the core of what we do. Whether your interest is in teaching or leading, you will be part of a team committed to upholding the highest educational standards, offering you the potential to achieve your goals.
Vice Head of Early Childhood
BASIS International & Bilingual Schools Chengdu
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