The Maple Leaf School has long become an inseparable part of Dalian. Offering exceptionally high-quality, Canadian standard education, it caters for the needs of students ranging from the pre-school age of three up to the teenage years of high school students.
Located in over half a dozen different places around Dalian, it enjoys a strong presence in the city. We visited the recently opened school for foreign nationals on Shengli Road number 104 to meet the new principal Mark Wilkins. He had just arrived in Dalian a few days earlier together with his wife Cindy who will also be working at the school.
With 30 years of experience in working in education he left his last position as a principal of a high school in the Rocky Mountains to take on a new challenge in Dalian. Moving to China, he says with a smile, looked both like hard work, fun and an adventure - a true learning experience.
We sat down to ask Mark some questions:
FD: How have you been settling in so far?
MW: It’s been going well. We’re getting to know Dalian. In the first days I discovered the Brooklyn Bar and also a nice Korean restaurant. I’m still learning to find my way around. I visited Dalian briefly in June, but this time I’ve only been here for two days.
FD: What can you tell us about the students in your school?
MW: We have 175 students; some three to five year olds and students from grades 1 to 9. For the early childhood education we have a new teacher coming from Canada. Our students come from different countries. We have about 40% Koreans, Japanese, Russians and also Europeans and other Westerners.
FD: In terms of schooling what do you regards as important for the students?
MW: I would say offering a global education, bringing all these kids together, recognizing and celebrating the diversity of each individual culture. Looking at globalization and the way the world is going, they will be so much better off if they are able to interact when they become adults.
FD: What are your plans for the next days and weeks?
MW: When school starts, the first week will be a week of activities, all about meeting and greeting; So the kids meet all the staff and vice versa; and we’ll go over all the safety procedures. In the second week we go straight into classes.
FD: What sort of activities and events are you going to have at the school?
MW: We do the Terry Fox Run with our students. That’s a famous charity event in commemoration of the Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox. We’ll have dress-up days, sports days, student assemblies and talent shows, in October we’ll celebrate Halloween; We are putting together a school band and are looking forward to performances. The school also ran an interesting photo contest this year. We’ll be doing activities like that again, too.