Meet Roger Schultz, Head of School, Alice Smith School in Malaysia
Updated: Jul 10, 2021
We are delighted to have spent some time talking with Roger Schultz, Head of School at Alice Smith School, the first British international school in Malaysia, and to hear what he thinks makes Alice Smith an outstanding school in this, its 75th anniversary year.
What or who inspired you to become an educator?
I enjoyed learning when I was a student in school as well as taking advantage of all of the other opportunities that school life made available to me. Perhaps like many other educators, I have fond memories of several of my teachers, particularly from secondary school. Initially I wanted to be a research scientist but after completing a postgraduate teaching qualification, I went into education and have never looked back. I've enjoyed my career immensely and am continually inspired by the dedication and passion of the people I work with and energised by the curiosity, creativity, personal endeavours and achievements of our students.
You were with the Taipei European School for many years prior to this role, what drew you to Alice Smith School?
Yes, I was Head of the Secondary Campus at Taipei European School for 10 years. Having been in the region working in international education since 1996, I knew about Alice Smith School. What drew me to it was its rich heritage as a leading not-for-profit British international school and its excellent reputation in the region and worldwide. Alice Smith is a forward thinking school committed to academic excellence, achieved through a rich and challenging curriculum and nurturing the personal growth and development of every child in all aspects of their learning journey. The school has a strong sense of community and the students are at the heart of everything we do.
How has the school changed in your 8 years there?
I would like to start by saying what has not changed.
At the very heart of what we do is share a love of learning where children are guided to be independent, confident, happy and successful learners for all of their time with us and beyond.
Our school has excellent levels of behaviour and students are polite, courteous and respectful, fostering an excellent rapport with their teachers and other staff. This culture of learning together and high performance is embedded across the school, with ambitious expectations for all students and students holding high expectations of each other.
Our vision is very student centred and that is something which keeps us very strong as a community; nurturing, inspiring and enriching the lives and characters of young people has been the foundation for building a culture of respect and trust that underpins learning. This quality of relationships is a significant strength of Alice Smith, with students learning in an environment that is both nurturing and supportive, but also offers rigour and challenge.
How has the overall education landscape changed since you first started and what makes a good educator today?
In my view, the expectations that society places on teachers is much greater than in the past. Parents are much better informed and want their child's education to be as personalised as it can be. At the heart of being a good educator today is to share a love of learning where students, no matter what their age, are guided to be independent, confident, happy and successful learners for all of their time with us and beyond.
The best teachers hone their craft and use their expertise to bring out the best in children no matter their starting points or interests. They use approaches aimed to ensure each student is extended, supported, engaged and enthused. They understand the importance of developing the whole child and ensure that students develop positive attitudes towards themselves as learners. Learning and teaching is a much more interactive and collaborative process and students, certainly older students, rely less on the teacher as a source of knowledge but more as a coach, guide and mentor to motivate and facilitate their learning.
A good educator is also committed to their professional growth as a teacher. Sharing knowledge and learning together as a community is a thriving aspect of the Alice Smith School culture. Attitude and emotional intelligence are as important as knowledge and pedagogical skill.
What, in your view, makes Alice Smith a stand-out school?
We are passionate about the difference we make in the lives of children and proud of our rich history as the first British international school in Malaysia. The educational experience for students at Alice Smith is exceptional. The outstanding quality of learning and teaching, the breadth of learning opportunities, the high levels of excellent student behaviour and agency, the depth of staff professionalism and the outstanding levels of governance practice and community engagement all contribute to make our school a wonderful place to be and are the foundation for our success.
School life is such a rich place. Our students have a genuine love of learning and are taught by exceptional teachers who go the extra mile. There are boundless opportunities that enable each child to thrive academically, socially, physically and emotionally. Year on year, our students attain the very highest levels in external examinations and are successful at gaining places at the very best universities in the world. Whilst academic excellence is the hallmark of an Alice Smith education, the school offers a wide variety of sporting, artistic and cultural extra-curricular activities and a broad range of residential expeditions and trips for all students. The enriched extra-curricular, expedition and wider learning programme is extensive.
The quality of education at Alice Smith has continued to be recognised internationally and Alice Smith was recently shortlisted for International School of the Year. We are delighted to be acknowledged in these ways on the world stage when there are currently almost 10,000 English-medium international schools worldwide. These awards are a credit to the quality of our staff and the standards of excellence that we constantly strive to achieve.
Alice Smith celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and leading the school through its 70th anniversary in 2016 was very special. I often wonder what our school will be like in its centenary year in 2046. Of course I intend to come and see it at the sprightly age of 88!
What is your personal motto in life?
Next school year will be my 42nd in education. It has been an amazing journey and I have been fortunate to have met and worked with many exceptional people. I don’t really have a personal motto as such but I have always tried to live by these two principles:
Be an example that others should follow
The harder I practice the better I become
A key principle for our Alice Smith community has been adopted as our belief statement:
“We believe that through generosity of time and our care and attention to every individual, we find a way to bring out the best in all people and create a sense of belonging to something very special”
I strive to live up to this belief every day.
What, or where, is your favourite place to be in the school?
There are many special places to be. I love nothing more than being around the campus or in the wider community and seeing our students challenge themselves to be the best they can be. I attend as many school events as I can - displays, performances, shows, sport competitions, presentations, graduations and so on. I enjoy walking around the school campuses and chatting to the students whenever I can. For a moment of solitude and reflection, I will often take a walk through the Balinese garden at our primary campus or stroll through the gum trees in the quadrangle at our secondary campus.
And what has been your favourite school moment to-date?
There are perhaps two school moments that stand out for me. The first would be when I was appointed as Head of School in 2014 after serving as Secondary Principal for four years. To be appointed as an internal candidate and be given the opportunity to lead Alice Smith by the governing board was a very humbling experience. I can only hope that I have lived up to expectations of the school community.
The second would be the establishment of our Foundation in 2018. Now in its third year, the Foundation continues to grow and support our mission and belief as a community. Recently we were able to award our first Tertiary Study Grant to a graduating KLASS scholar to support their study at Cambridge University, a real milestone for our Foundation.
Finally, any moment spent in the presence of our students is special.
Alice Smith School is one of the leading international schools in Kuala Lumpur with a reputation for providing an outstanding and thriving all-round education based on the British curriculum for 3 to 18 year olds. Find out more or make an enquiry here.