Goodbye, VSA!

This week, I said an emotional farewell to Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA). This blog post is a reflection on eight wonderful years and an attempt to express my unending gratitude.

Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve told this story before but indulge me one more time.

The seed of this adventure was planted on December 31st 2013. The upcoming new year prompted reflection on the one just finished, and I realised that 2013 had been utterly forgettable. I vowed to make 2014 more enjoyable and exciting. The next morning (January 1st 2014), I applied for overseas teaching jobs all over the world and was later invited to an interview with the VSA Primary Principal, Susan Smith. The rest is history!

Well, that’s the short version of the story. The long version includes an initial rejection and some embarrassing needy emails! I knew that I wanted to work at VSA and I was determined to make it happen. Susan kept me in mind in case a new vacancy opened up and, eventually, it did.

I will be forever grateful to Susan (now retired) for seeing something in me even though my interview wasn’t great! She took a chance on me and that decision completely changed my life. I got the excitement that I wanted in 2014 – more than I ever imagined – and that adventure continues to this day (as does Susan’s mentorship).

I realise that eight years is a long time, but it feels like I’ve been at VSA way longer than that. It has been such a huge part of my adult life and I can barely remember a time before it!

My first idea for this blog post was to share some highlights, but there have been far too many! I’m grateful that I have been so active on here and on social media because all of those happy memories have been captured and documented. Besides, I equally appreciate the challenges and ‘lowlights’ because they have all played a role in the overall experience. It’s not hyperbole to say that VSA has shaped me into the educator – the person even – that I am today.

Over those eight years, I have been repeatedly given leadership responsibilities that I didn’t feel entirely ready for. Specific roles included Innovation Lead, Head of Year and a consultant for our feeder kindergarten. As a result, I’ve been constantly reaching higher and trying to be better. At VSA, I have always felt valued, empowered and pushed to reach my potential. I strive to ensure that teachers at my new school feel the same way.

Speaking of which, I should explain why I’m leaving for those of you who don’t know. I’m moving to Shenzhen (China) to be the Deputy Principal at VSA’s new sister school, Victoria Park Academy. This is another example of a leadership opportunity being offered to me and, again, it feels beyond my current ability! As always, I’m determined to reach it.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, as they say. Ain’t that the truth!

Although I’m leaving VSA, I’ll remain part of the Victoria organisation and the two schools will work closely together. I look forward to many future collaborations and opportunities to see my VSA friends again.

I want to give an extra special thanks to those who I have worked closely with over the years, especially the Year Three and Year Four teams, the Technology and Innovation team and my fabulous teaching partners (not to mention the most amazing students!). For eight years, I’ve been surrounded by inspiring people and have learnt so much from them.

Sincerely, thank you. I’ll miss working with you all.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank Ross Dawson. Throughout his time as Primary Principal, he has believed in me and supported me. I truly hope that this is a coaching relationship that will continue.

I knew that my final week would be sad, but the emotion hit me from an unexpected place!  The first time I really had a lump in my throat was during the school song (believe it or not!) in the final assembly. That’s the power of music, I guess. It’s a song that I’ve been singing (miming to, truth be told) for eight years. But those lyrics suddenly had a whole lot of meaning!

With that, there’s only one thing left to say.

Goodbye, VSA! Thank you for everything.

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