John Nairn was born and raised on a farm in Scotland.His school years were spent at Milesmark Primary School and Queen Anne High School both in Dunfermline,Fife,Scotland.He would be the first to admit that he wasn't an exceptional student,just doing enough to pass his homework assignments and exams,and getting into trouble with his teachers and school administrators for his daredevil antics.Farming wasn't for him so he packed his bags and began his on the job training experiences with a number of short term positions within the industries before becoming a van boy with a tobacco and confectionery distribution company and ultimately holding the position of Assistant Production Manager before a rugby accident forced him to rethink his life long learning journey.To the surprise of many,especially his former teachers he returned to academia as his therapy while recovering from the accident.During this time he managed to chalk up Higher Grades in Modern Studies and English,Higher National Certificates,a diploma in Legal Studies and a Bachelor of Arts(Hons)in Retail Business.After a number of years of classroom teaching and during his fledgling years in the area of Educational Leadership,John realized that there was a need to evaluate and review his educational practices by returning to academic studies with Nottingham University in the United Kingdom.During these studies John achieved his Post Graduate Certificate in Education(International)and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Management with distinction.
John has now amassed nearly twenty five years of International Educational studies and experience in Europe and Asia with the past eleven years being in China where he has participated in four verification/authorization journeys and an evaluation with the IBO,and an accreditation visit by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges(WASC).Until this summer he was the Elementary School Principal/PYPC at the Beanstalk International Bilingual School(BIBS)Shunyi Campus in Beijing,but he is now the Founding Principal at its Weihai Campus in Shandong Province,China.
Ironically,as John noted,while many of his colleagues were pushing him to accept the challenge of founding a new school during the current global pandemic,others were questioning his sanity.John’s response was that this was the right time to plant a new seed of hope for the future,and what better way than to open a new centre of international bilingual learning in the Nanhai New Area in Weihai.John expressed his admiration for the Chinese people in the way they have come together to fight the virus no matter how inconvenient the containment and prevention measures were.His only regret was that other nations have not followed a similar path towards fighting the virus.He noted,that in ten or twenty years from now BIBS could look back on one of the darkest years in recent history and recall how it stood with the Chinese people and continued with its dream of opening its seventh BIBS campus in China despite the many challenges brought about by the virus.John got very emotional when he said that he was so honoured to have been chosen to lead the BIBS Weihai team during these exceptional times.
John mentioned that the new addition to the BIBS family,the Weihai campus,in Nanhai is situated on the Gold Coast in Shandong Province,China.Its location is ideal for a number of significant reasons;it is placed within travelling distance from Wendeng,Shidao,Weihai,Yantai,and Qingdao,it is part of the Agile’s Champion Town project which incorporates a sports town and Olympic stadium,it is next to the coast line and is surrounded by forest parks and scenic walkways.This ideal location provides for an adventurous,authentic and holistic learning environment for our students.
Over the past eleven or so years,John mentioned that the question he is asked over and over again is;Why did you come to China?He noted that the familiar questions of Where are you from?How old are you?and Are you married?have ceased over the years.Jokingly,he suggested that his good looks had faded as well with the years.John’s choice of China as a place to live and work was not actually his alone.John recalled that back in the Summer of 2009 he was looking for a new opportunity to teach and learn about the culture of his next stop in his lifelong educational learning journey.Having spent weeks participating in interviews he had made up his mind to work in the Middle East.That was until his daughter Angela asked him to consider working in Shanghai,China as it was closer to home,that being the Philippines than the Middle East.Both John’s wife Merle and his daughter Angela encouraged him to apply for the teaching position in Shanghai and wait for their response before signing the contract with the school in the Middle East.Thankfully,the Shanghai school responded quickly,and John accepted their offer.Thus,began John’s Chinese journey.He arrived in Shanghai during their Expo.John explained that he felt in familiar surroundings having spent time working and living in Japan and South Korea.Upon the completion of his contract in Shanghai he moved to Chengdu then to Zhuhai,where Merle and Angela joined him.Merle worked with a local University as an English Lecturer and Angela began her International Baccalaureate(IB)Diploma studies.At the completion of John’s Zhuhai contract,he decided to accept an offer as the Elementary School Principal/PYPC at the Beanstalk International Bilingual School(BIBS)Shunyi Campus in Beijing.Whilst,with considerable pride John mentioned that Angela had chosen to remain in China and further her studies with Nottingham University in Ningbo.John expressed the view that his love affair with China had developed into a family love affair as well.
When answering the question,Why did you choose to come to Nanhai New Area,Weihai?John explained that his past assignments had been based on friendships that had been established within China and the IB World since his arrival in Shanghai back in the summer of 2009.Similar to John’s choice to come to China,which was guided by the wishes of his family,his move to Nanhai,Weihai was initiate by Principal Shi the Founder and Chairperson of the Beanstalk Education Group.John explained that he tends to listen and reflect upon the views of those around him before agreeing to issues,making choices or accepting new assignments.Thus,his moved to Nanhai,Weihai was due to the accumulated views of those around him that it was time for John to be shackled with the challenges of founding a new BIBS school.
Even although it has only been three months since Merle and John’s arrival in Nanhai,Weihai they have settled into their new rural lifestyle very quickly.Ironically,John noted that they feel more at home in Nanhai,Weihai than any other place they have lived or worked to date as it reminds them so much of their lovely family home in the Philippines.John also mentioned that they appreciate the beautifully landscaped parks and roads,miles upon miles of running tracks and beaches,and what struck them most at first was less traffic on the roads.As a new town Nanhai New Area is positioned to become a sports hub in China.But even with this in mind John said it was interesting to note the laid-back lifestyle of the locals.Especially with exercise being such a big part of the locals’way of life.With is eyes focused on his waistline John joked that finally he might find some time to reduce his waistline.John noted that having worked in big cities like Shanghai,Chengdu and Beijing,even with the wonderful advances China has made to reduce its cities pollution levels,Nanhai has the freshest air he has experienced outside of his birth hometown in Scotland.Particularly with its fresh seafood,and abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.John recalled that once,one of his students had told him that Chinese provinces and cities are associated with particular foods,and he is sure that Weihai must be the seafood capital of China.As an aging couple John noted that Merle and he could not have chosen a more delightful and friendlier place than Nanhai,Weihai to prepare themselves for their twilight years.
When asked about his educational philosophy,John mentioned that he had been fortunate enough to have experienced a great transition in the global educational sector over his lifetime as both a student and administrator.As a product of the traditional production line educational systems of the past,which definitely did not meet his own out of the box needs,he is proud to have been,and still is an advocate for changing our educational philosophies from their narrow perspectives of being either traditional or international towards becoming more global in their thinking.That is why he feels so at home with the BIBS educational model because it is authentic in its creation,having been created by openminded educational practitioners and leaders over a number of years based on their actual educational experiences within an international bilingual learning environment that is seeking to encourage globally minded citizens of the future.
“Students do not fail;Schools fail to meet the needs of their students”.