Meet Tom Cummins, a Vice Head of Upper School at BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen in Futian. Tom began his journey as Dean of Students in 2021, during the school’s second year of operation, before transitioning into his current role in 2022. He attributes the school’s encouragement and support in helping him move to the leadership team and highlights the many opportunities he’s had at the school as reasons for extending his contract. 

My Journey at BASIS 

My initial decision to work at BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen was twofold. First, through former colleagues, I had learned of the network’s approach to producing successful, driven learners, which interested me greatly. Secondly, the BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen campus had opened just a year before, and as a start-up school, the opportunity to help build that school from the foundation up was an exciting prospect. 

I began working as the Dean of Students in 2021. The Dean of Students position interested me because my previous experience as a grade lead involved working with students from both academic and non-academic aspects. This role allowed me to build upon that experience.  

At BASIS International & Bilingual Schools, you are encouraged to challenge yourself, and I am lucky to be part of a supportive team. With the team’s support, guidance, and trust, I moved into the Vice Head of Division position in July 2022. The new role has been challenging yet immensely rewarding. Working with teachers as they explore, set, and meet targets is very fulfilling.     

Taking on a New Role 

Having been in education for 20 years, I felt that talking with teachers about their craft, helping to guide them where possible, and sharing some of my own experiences and strategies was important. The prospect of being part of a dedicated leadership team also appealed to me. It was a challenge that I felt I needed. Sometimes, we become too comfortable in our daily routine, but this role as Vice Head of Division requires me to view every day through different lenses.    

My colleagues made the biggest difference for me in learning how to function and succeed in this position. As the saying goes, every day is a school day, and a good manager listens to their colleagues and learns from them. Discussing options, sharing ideas, and learning from others is key to functioning within this role. I have the good fortune to work with collaborative and supportive people, which has helped me in my approach and in the execution of my duties. 

Of all the schools where I have worked, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen stands out for providing teachers with many avenues for professional growth and my experience here is a testament to this. Management’s coaching and willingness to give teachers opportunities to explore other roles within the school fosters professional growth. The desire by BASIS International & Bilingual Schools to promote from within is evident, and I say to any teacher who has plans to move into administration that there are opportunities to build towards this within BASIS International & Bilingual Schools.  

The opportunities I have had here informed my decision to extend my stay — we have accomplished a lot, but there is still more to do. 

My Advice 

My advice to anyone who seeks professional growth here at BASIS International & Bilingual Schools is to share your ideas. Our doors are always open to innovation; just as we drive our students to think critically about their studies, we encourage our teachers to think about new approaches to push our network forward, whether in professional development for teachers, within our pastoral program, or helping to streamline systems within the division. Collaboration is essential at any school, and when you collaborate, you have innovation. This is what drives education and pushes educational institutions to develop further.    

Tom Cummins 
Vice Head of Upper School
Basis Bilingual School Shenzhen  

Visit our careers website for more information about teaching with BASIS International Schools.

There are currently no comments.