Home Away: Karen Jones, British Early Year School Principal
Karen Jones calls herself a passionate early year educator. She is now a principal at one of the most progressive early year schools in Thailand. She has over thirty years of experience in early year education but, when she was first trained, it was more traditional.
Karen has been working at The Raintree International School since it opened, but this is not the first time she’s been in Thailand. She was here in the 80s, and she fell in love with the culture, specifically, the “bright and open” Buddhist temples. For her, it represents the inner being and spirit of the people.
She said the most challenging thing for her, working as a principle at a progressive school, is how she can enable teachers to find the gift in every child. She said, if the teacher can recognize that, then the teacher will form strong bonds with the children, and be able to guide them gently to their next step.
The most challenging thing in Thailand, however, is how to understand the different cultures and different expectations of parents from country to country, be it Thailand, the U.K., New Zealand or Australia.
More than four years after the school opened, Karen believes Raintree is going in the direction of growing a “Raintree community” but, being a progressive school, sometimes things differ from parents’ expectations, of something more tangible or scientific and numeric based results. Karen is, however, sure that a progressive school can definitely deliver what is necessary for the children to grow, and the parents will get to see that for themselves.
So how does she evaluate herself, whether what she is doing is actually going in the right direction? Karen said it’s the feedback she gets from the teachers. Many of them were working in a more traditional environment, much “closer,” and they need to learn something different at Raintree, and Karen said, these teachers would never want to go back to the traditional way of teaching again.