January 11, 2017 | KL Community

Growing Pains and Growing Gains

Growing Pains and Growing Gains

Students are in a constant state of change from the day they enter PreK to the day they finish their university studies. Education is tasked with providing the guidance and platform for that change to be positive growth – where students are happy, realize their potential, and go on to thrive as educated citizens of the world, self-sustaining learners and ethical leaders. Students transferring between completely different education systems face an even greater challenge – how to adapt? How to succeed? Who am I going into this program and who will I be coming out of this program? KL has one such student that shared his story from struggling in middle school to excelling in high school.

Shao Sixian, a 12th grade student enrolled at The Barstow School of Ningbo, was recently accepted into Wake Forest University. As a graduate of a unique form of US education offered overseas and a Chinese to western education convert, Carrick – Shao Sixian’s English name – found his footing in the western education system and has reached great heights.

The story of Carrick didn’t start so smoothly. Throughout much of his academic life, he was bored. He was disengaged and discouraged throughout his middle school years floating around the Chinese system. As a “B” student, he was a carbon copy of other students in the class, all mechanically learning from a rigid system of memorization and test-taking. Most of this was done, per Carrick, “to satisfy his parents, and not for the love of learning”. He didn’t need to work collaboratively with classmates or think analytically about course content. There were no public speeches, activities, clubs, or causes. Carrick spent his time preparing for 2 tests – the mid-term and the final, and he performed, in his own words and in a typical assessment of Chinese students, “mediocrely”.

A teacher named Mr. Tuite and The Barstow School of Ningbo changed all of that. After the middling middle school experience, Carrick enrolled in the high school program at the Barstow School of Ningbo and has since transformed into what can be defined as a charitable global citizen. Although the transition proved to be challenging – he, along with all other classmates, initially lacked the proper skills to be successful in a western classroom and held a traditional China-centered worldview – he persevered, adopted strategies to close the skills gap, and, with the help of Mr. Tuite and The Barstow School, grew comfortable with the classroom environment and began to consider historical and modern-day issues from multiple perspectives. The Barstow School set the course out for him from day one, and Carrick took off transforming into a student unidentifiable from the middle school student that entered 3 years ago.

Carrick, top center, and other Barstow Ningbo students on their way to Guizhou

In addition to Carrick’s successes in the classroom – and there are many: he has a 4.118 GPA, a TOEFL over 110, and ACT over 30 – he has taken his new-found worldview to work on charitable projects, and established and leads the charity club at the school. Carrick believes that charity and support is an essential component of a healthy society, so he is responsible not only to act, but to also advocate for and make others aware of social issues around the globe. In action, Carrick currently focuses on helping impoverished students in Guizhou province, where he and 6 other students from Barstow of Ningbo joined a program dedicated to the support of these students. This experience was the first-time Carrick stepped out of a “siloed” life experience and became proximal to those struggling in ways he had never imagined – and it left a marked impression on his life. Soon after, Carrick worked to develop the charity club and when considering university options, Carrick partly chose Wake Forest for the school motto “Pro Humanitate” (For Humanity) which aligned with his goals to learn, further charitable causes and take action for the sake of humanity, for the people of the world.

Carrick, second from right, top row, pictured here in Guizhou with local students.

Through all his achievements, Carrick’s most proud moment is when he received the Leadership Award presented by Shane Foster, the Head of School at The Barstow School. This award signifies to him that all of his efforts over the years, ones he worked so passionately to achieve, were recognized for him and for those that collaborated with him. With such success, Carrick still carries himself humbly, often referencing the great work of others in the Charity Club, and the guidance provided to him by each individual teacher like Mr. Tuite, and Mr. Walsh, the Academic Dean at Ningbo Bashu. He wants to personally thank his teachers for their dedication, consideration, and caring nature.

Carrick will head off to Wake Forest this fall. He will leave behind him a wonderful community of teachers, students, and those who genuinely care for one another. Carrick left a deep impression on the school culture, as others coming after him will, and we know that his positive transformation is achievable for any student that walks through the doors of The Barstow School of Ningbo and all schools in the KL network.