Interview with the Head of KL Intl. School of Chongqing Bashu

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DINO GISIANO

For the last 15 years, Mr. Gisiano has worked in the US public education system. He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Arizona State University and Masters in Education Leadership from Winthrop University.


We are glad to interview Mr. Gisiano from KL International School of Chongqing Bashu. Have a read.

How long have you been in Chongqing? What brings you to Chongqing?


I have been in Chongqing for all of 6 months. So KLIS brought me to China in Chongqing. I have been looking to work abroad as a school leader. I have a young son who is 8 and I wanted him to experience international education, and I wanted to sort of test myself, and my background, and my skillset. So after a number of different offers around the world, KLIS offered me an opportunity to take an already great school and lift it up to an even higher level. So I’ve landed in July and been at work ever since.

How do you like it here?


Oh I love it! We love the city! Chongqing is really a jewel that a lot of people don't know about in the States. When we think of China, we think of the big cities. But this is an amazing city with such a rich heritage, and it has so many different great areas. Once you can be in a very traditional Chinese neighborhood and then the next moment you are in a modern hip thriving street, and you are only a couple metro stops away, that really appeals to us. We really really enjoy that!

Is this your first experience abroad?


This is my first experience in China. I traveled for pleasure to Europe, Central America, and South America, but I have never been to China. So this is everything all at once. It's been great! It's been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Actually, I was a little concerned. I arrived about months before with my wife and son, and I speak no Chinese, and so I just had a translator on my phone and a backpack and some luggage. It is been surprisingly easy. Everyone has been so friendly, so supportive. The people of Chongqing have embraced me at every turn, and the staff at the school have been wonderful!

How do your wife and child adapt here?


They're doing really well. I think it's probably hardest for my son cause he used to his classmates, and this is a very different academic environment. They are smaller classrooms with much more personalized attention and instruction, so he had to learn how to be an international student, not just an American in an American classroom. So he's really embraced it. His Chinese is ten times better than mine, he is really taken to all of the things that the school and the city have to offer. And my wife loves it, we both loved to cook, so we love to eat, and the food here is amazing! It really has been a magical time for the three of us!

That's amazing to hear that.And about the school in general,how do you like your work here?

I love it! I love it! We have an amazing school here. It was a great school before I arrived. It gave me an opportunity to take work that I am very passionate about, that I have spent in the last ten years around personalized learning-how we create a classroom environment where we target what the individual child needs. We are a different international school than any other school in Chongqing in that we are using personalized learning techniques, a combination of traditional school resources like text books and work books, but then some planning and design strategies as well as some cutting edge technology that allow my teachers to target the individual needs, so no student in the 5th grade or in the 9th grade has exactly the same class every day. All of the teachers work very hard to design an instruction that is truly personalized. We follow the Common Core, so we understand the overarching goals and the curriculum is very set and well established. But the real difference is how we support each child's progress and ultimate achievement of those schools, and that's really a special opportunity for our kids, and it's a work that I've been doing that for about 10 years, so this was a great opportunity to bring what I've been doing into a school that was really ready for that next sort of evolution in teaching and learning.

So this is what you consider makes you special compared to others?


Absolutely. Yeah there are great international schools in Chongqing, but we are really the only true American curriculum system based around personalized learning. We are the only ones that are using some very specific sort of instructional tools, and an environment to target the individual child. Beyond that, we are also very unique in that our class sizes are small, so we have a much more personalized approach, and so we have a very very strong sense of community. My high school teachers know the 3rd grade students. We created an envelope of support around all of the kids here, and I would say that any parents that are looking for an international school in Chongqing, start with us! Because I think you will be very very pleased and very surprised that the level of care and commitment to the child that we provide.

Do you think it's due also to the collaboration of the foreign teachers and Chinese teachers?


Yes, that's been a really special opportunity because we obviously have 90% of our teachers are from United States and Canada. But then we also work with Chinese teachers in our specials, and in support roles, and Chinese instruction, and everyone is really collaborated around that environment to create a great learning experience. The Chinese staff have really embraced these new strategies and new techniques. I spent a lot of time ensuring that everyone is supportive, everyone is learning. I think that's the most exciting part, which is that our students are doing well, but when your teachers are also learning, they are energized, and that energy just is infectious in the building…So it's a really special time, and really rewarding work for myself and the staff. And the kids are thriving. I think that's the most important part.

What do you think about the future of the school?


So the future is very bright. I will tell you this, just last week I have released a strategic plan, that is a 3-year plan for this school - I called it the "Path forward" - starting January 2nd. We will have that plan on our website, so any parent whether they are enrolled here or thinking about enrolling here can see exactly what my vision for this school is over the next 3 years. And so I want to be transparent. There's a lot we could talk about, but I would invite any prospective or current parent to take a look at what my plan is and that I'm happy to sit with them, and I'm happy to talk in detail. I will say this: it's a commitment to growing the individual child; it's a commitment to building creativity and entrepreneurship, college and career readiness; it's a commitment to customer service at every level, internally and externally; and then it's a commitment to leverage the world around us. We are an international school, that needs to be part of who we are. So the community, the parents, the businesses of Chongqing, the world around us is also a big commitment moving forward.

ABOUT KLIS

As a not-for-profit school serving students in Preschool-Year 13, the mission of the KLIS is to develop well-educated and internationally-minded citizens who can adapt to a changing world.


LIS was selected in the "13th Five-Year Plan" as a key international project, playing a vital role in the opening-up of Chongqing's education development.

www.klisedu.com
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