Hello, dear students of KIS, we have our new secondary principal Mr. Keegan in school now. Just like all of you, I am also curious and excited about having a new principal. Therefore, on October 7th, I hosted an interview with Mr. Keegan around with different questions regarding his personal life and school policies.
I believe you are very experienced in the education field to become the new secondary school principal. Would you mind talking about some of your previous experiences of being a principal?
Sure, before coming to KIS I worked at this school called Canggu Community School in Balai, Indonesia. It is an IB school similar to KIS, a little bit smaller about 500 students. I was the secondary principal there for 7 years, and head of the school for 4 years. Last 4 years, I was both the principal and the head of the school. That was all during COVID, and all the challenges that all schools faced during COVID with supporting kids, getting kids on campus, learning, and finding ways to adapt a lot. And our school, we had our first graduating class while I was there up to seven, and now they have a really good foundation of learning and success. So it’s nice to join KIS, where we have that foundation already and can just help the school grow.
What makes you come to KIS, or Bangkok and Thailand in general, and some of your thoughts on the school so far?
KIS really stood out to me in my interview process and my research because of the community feel, and being in Bangkok, where we kind of still have all the activities and options and the excitement of a big city and opportunities, but still being a small enough school where most people kind of know each other, COVID made that challenging, I know. I feel like I haven’t gotten to know too many people yet, but that sense of community and family is a big draw. And then KIS is known for being a really good IB school, being an example of MYP and DP, and really living out the IB mission statements and living out the school mission statement. And that came through in all my conversations with the parents, the teachers, and students in the process. And then when I got to visit last year, that really was clear as well, just by the way everyone interacts at school. So it’s a nice community and relationships and a good place to be.
What are some plans you are currently working on to improve the school?
Good question. I am looking a lot at our time and how we are able to use our time best. I know there are a lot of different programs and different things, and kids take a lot of classes and also have study halls and lots of extra things. So I’m looking at how we can best use our time. Really wanting to work on trying to increase the options that we have. So any arts would be one area. So for example, we would love to be able to add things like music arts programs in the diploma program and just give more options to the students and a bit more well-rounded experience. Also, looking at support, I think that there are some things that I think we can all work on doing a little bit better in terms of time dedicated to supporting kids, and family time is really, really fun, but I’m wondering how we can use that to really build community but also build our support systems to help kids be successful.
Speaking of time, a fair amount of students reported that the lunchtime shortage being a problem. Based on my calculation, all the students from MYP and DP have only around 35 minutes in total for lunch and break, and they need to split into two sections with the lower grade and upper grade. Leaving each section with only about 10 minutes or so to eat. What are some of your thoughts on that?
It is a short amount of time. We’d love to have more time. Where that time comes from is a challenge because you can’t really reduce the amount of time in classes. So looking at I think we’ve made some improvements. With the amount of time you have, it’s gotten a little bit more efficient. The staggering part, I know that’s not perfect, but we’re looking at lots of timetable ideas for next year and some possibly open to big changes. I’m getting input on that and that can maybe create some more lunchtime or staggering, a little bit more. And that’s something I’m aware of, but I think it’s improved from early in the year with longer lines. It seems like some days there are long lines and some days there are not. Maybe it’s dependent on the food for that day and which options people prefer. But yeah, it’s not a lot of time.
Are there any more chances for secondary school students to develop interests and skills? As I know, some schools offer summer camp activities on a variety of topics. Will you bring and organize something similar to KIS as well?
I don’t know. That’s something we can explore as the year progresses, but at the moment we haven’t planned anything, More focusing on during the school year and trying to get more activities going, and more opportunities during the day. I don’t know, but I’m open to exploring that.
There are also some recent issues in Bangkok, such as the legalization of cannabis products and the previous harassment issue with middle school students in another international school. What are some of your comments on that?
I think as a school; We want to work on having a really good system to help students know what the dangers are out in the community, know how to protect themselves, and know how to act as growing adults. So we’re really lucky to have a really strong counseling team now and grow up in grades nine through twelve of the three comprehensive counselors and Ms. Amanda in middle school. And trying to make those PSHE lessons and support focused on real-world issues to help kids know what they need to be focusing on in a way. Because our job is to prepare you not just for learning at school. But how to be an ethical citizen and how to keep yourself safe overall. So that’s something that I think is growing, that we want to continue improving there.
What are your policies regarding bullying and harassment within KIS? Do you have a system of dealing with this? And if so, how seriously do you regard this issue?)
We have a very strong child protection policy and anti-bullying policy, and those are things that we’re reviewing and I’m learning about. They’re in place. I’m learning about it as we go. In a way, I think that we have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying. It’s always complicated because we want to protect everybody. And we know that sometimes people feel uncomfortable if adults get involved. So it’s finding the right balance to support kids. It is something we take really seriously. We want everyone to feel safe, welcomed, and connected at school.