It is incredible to think that I am wrapping up my fifth year at BASIS International School Guangzhou. As the Head of High School, I have had the privilege of leading a team of educators who have become like family, bonded together through the trials and triumphs we have faced. 

My professional journey at this campus has been a fulfilling one. After three years in Kazakhstan and two years as an English Literacy Instructional Coach in Brunei, I embraced the role of Director of English Language Learning in 2019. The vision of the BASIS International & Bilingual Schools China network in the Asian international school market was dynamic and captivating. Being part of realizing this vision, from idea to policy to practice, has been incredibly gratifying. 

From ELL Director to Head of High School 

Through the unpredictable twists and turns brought about by the past several years, my professional journey at BASIS International School Guangzhou has been nothing short of transformative. As I navigated the transition from Director of ELL amid staff changes and evolving roles within the team, I found myself donning multiple hats to address the emergent needs, akin to a plumber tackling leaks head-on. The experience of overseeing ELL support, managing MAP testing, and handling AAD responsibilities single-handedly was both daunting and rewarding, made possible by the unwavering support and collaboration of my exceptional colleagues.

Charlene Van Schalkwyk in English class as English Chair

In 2021, my role expanded to include serving as the Chair of English, a role that provided me with immense fulfillment as I became part of the team of experts who spearheaded the network’s focus on creating Teacher Guidebooks and the Teaching and Learning Domains. This opportunity not only facilitated my professional growth but also underscored the value of teamwork and collective efforts in achieving shared goals.  

Charlene Van Schalkwyk speaking at event

Stepping into the Vice Head of Middle School position in 2022 marked a significant milestone, allowing me to glean valuable insights into effective management practices while benefiting from the mentorship of Dr. Aaron Willette, whose expertise and optimistic approach left a lasting impression. As I embraced the Head of High School role at the onset of 2023, I embarked on a new chapter filled with exciting prospects for growth, leadership, and continued collaboration within the BASIS International School Guangzhou community. 

A Culture of Growth 

Charlene Van Schalkwyk clapping

The growth mindset culture within the organization has been a defining aspect of my time here. Contributing to the professional development of every educator, regardless of their role, has been a highlight that I will cherish. The introduction of the Chief Instructional Officer (CIO) position and the department chair role in shaping and cultivating future leaders is exceptional and guarantees the organization’s evolution. Ongoing training, guided by top education specialists and clear teaching and learning domains, is a testament to our culture of growth. 

BASIS International Schools Leadership

Being a part of this process brings me deep satisfaction. As a member of the close leadership team on our campus, I feel a strong sense of belonging. Under the wise guidance of Dr. Erica Smeltzer and the collective wisdom of network colleagues, I have thrived. To all involved in any school within this network, I leave this message: the opportunity for accelerated professional growth is ever-present and available to those who want it. It is both a privilege and a joy to contribute to such a collaborative effort. Reflecting on my career at BASIS International School Guangzhou, I see it as part of a legacy, something to be proud of. 

Charlene Van Schalkwyk  at International Women's Day Banquet

Charlene Van Schalkwyk 
Head of High School
BASIS International School Guangzhou  

For more information on teaching with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.

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