Grade 10 founding pupil Abby sometimes jokingly calls Mr Curd a ‘robot’:
He hassuch a good memory! It is like a computer hard drive. He sometimes will ask meabout something I mentioned in passing days ago and even remembers details ofclasses I was in years ago. But don’t get me wrong with the term ‘robot.’ Hedoesn’t teach like one. He has a very engaging teaching style and is so passionateand animated in lessons.
Mr Curd has mentored Abby for the past two years and they often talk about her career aspirations. Abby reflected on advice Mr Curd had given her: “He said I shouldn’t simply consider the subjects and discipline that I enjoy and am good at, but instead, should reflect on what I value.” Mr Curd speaks from experience.
▲Mr. Curd and Abby in a mentoring session
“For me, I valued making a difference when I was at university. I aimed to find a career in which I could make a positive impact on the world. Although I did not quite have the skills to say, solve the world’s climate crisis, through teaching I can support and motivate others. Perhaps I can inspire a Huili pupil that does possess those skills.”
Mr Curd has been a teacher at Huili for five years, serving as a social studies teacher, Housemaster, Head of Wellbeing, and now Assistant Head of Secondary. Although he has taken on more leadership responsibilities, he always comes back to his values — having a positive impact on others.
“I believe my experience as a housemaster has made me a better overall leader. I was in charge of the wellbeing and growth of the pupils in my House. However, the skills I gained through this role were transferrable and enabled me to lead staff more effectively. I developed mentoring and coaching skills while supporting my pupils and have used similar strategies when helping to develop our teachers."
▲Mr Curd believes his experience as a housemaster has made him a better overall leader
He continues, "In the end, regardless of age, we are all human beings and we all want to improve ourselves. In order to do so, we need an environment in which we feel secure, have positive, trusting relationships and feel supported. This is the type of culture I aspire to build for both pupils and teachers.”
Abby commented on Mr Curd’s supportive nature: Mr Curd has a profound empathy and compassion for others, He is very perceptive and sensitive to the way others' feel. I think this is what enables him to support others so well."
Mr Curd has developed a course in global perspectives. In it, pupils explore current global and local issues and try to find ways that they can make a positive impact on the world around them.
Theclass inspired Abby to make an impact on her school community.
Abby has aninterest in the issue of gender equality, a topic covered in Mr Curd’s class.She had read an article about a recent uniform change for women flightattendants working for Ukraine’s Sky Up Airlines. They could now wear morecomfortable trousers.
It inspired her to research a variety of topics, likefamous women in world politics, school uniform culture in England, India andChina and how gender equality is reported by different media.
This led her, aspart of a group project in Mr Curd’s class, to propose a change to the girls’uniforms at Huili: the right to wear trousers instead of skirts.
The project resulted in the school taking action and making a change to the uniform policy. Mr Curd described Abby’s and her groups’ project as ‘inspiring.’
"This one project affects every girl that will ever go to Huili School, who now has a choice; that is the definition of having an impact."
▲Girls wearing pantsuits on campus
Bythe time a Huili pupil graduates, he/she should embody the Huili Identities andbe Independent, Individual, Intellectual Inspired, and Inclusive.
I specifically want to highlight the word ‘inclusive’ as one of themain aims of education at Huili.
The hope is that as pupils graduate, they arenot only taking away a world-class education and the skills ready to tackle theirnext challenges, but they are motivated to make the world a better place, notjust for themselves, but for their local, national, and global communities.
What pupils learn in Mr Curd’s global perspectives course has positive downstream effects elsewhere in school life.
Abby and her fellow pupil Nini are also actively engaged in Huili charity initiatives, working with organisations like From the Mountain and the Jiading Loutang Migrant Children School. Through their leadership roles, they have the opportunity to teach younger Huili pupils how to put the Huili Value of Kindness into action.
▲Abby and her fellow pupil Nini are actively engaged in Huili charity initiatives
“Our pupils are given opportunities that a lot of people do not receive and ideally, they aspire to give back. It is the hope that as pupils graduate, they continue to lead in spreading kindness and giving back to their communities. This is a core value of school and one of the reasons I joined Huili,” Mr Curd reflects.
Mr Curd is quick to note that his approach to teaching changed dramatically once he started incorporating wellbeing into his lessons.
When subject teachers focus on student wellbeing, their pupils are more engaged and motivated and ultimately learn more.
In other words, happy pupils are successful pupils.
He is also not above putting this idea into practice for himself. When our distance learning mandates were in place, for instance, Mr Curd set up an online ‘habit tracker’ for pupils. Pupils determined what habits they wanted to focus on, such as getting regular exercise, reading, and doing mindfulness meditation. Pupils logged their progress on an online document and held each other accountable.
He used it to track his own positive habits along with the pupils and commented on how the pupils would encourage him as well.
"In lessons, I try to find time for students to build relationships with one another. I build in opportunities for them to discuss their interests and challenges they are facing. I feel this can help to create a culture of empathy and support in the class, which in turn, can increase student engagement and collaboration and ultimately leads to more learning."
A Community of like-minded
Whenasked why he loves Huili, Mr Curd offers two reasons: “My colleagues and mypupils.”
Ihave taught at several schools before coming to Huili but I have never workedat a school with a more driven and supportive staff. We have really built anamazing community in a short amount of time. Our teachers are eager to supportand learn from one another. This extends to our non-academic staff as well.
Mostof our departments have a mix of expat and local staff and our pastoral systemis specifically designed to create diverse teams. I feel this has resulted in astaff in which expats are localised and local staff are globalised.
Mr Curd is just one part of Huili’s team of passionate and dedicated educators. This team is a source of immense pride for us.
In our High School building, we even display a world map pinpointing the diverse places our teachers come from and the prestigious institutions where they have studied — from Cambridge and Oxford in England to Fudan, Jiaotong and Tsinghua in China.
▲A map of where Huili teachers had their higher education
From this map, we not only see how Huili bonded in the past and present, but also how it will write its future. As we always say: