• Red Dot Consulting

Meet Judy Cooper, Principal of Nexus International School (Singapore)

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

In this edition of our Education Matters series, we meet Judy Cooper, Principal of Nexus International School (Singapore) to hear what drew her to the school and how Nexus is developing an empowering and learning community.


When did you join Nexus International School (Singapore) and what drew you here?

Hello! My name is Judy Cooper and I’ve been with the Nexus family since 2017. My life before Nexus saw my family and I living in Hong Kong for 13 years, where I was the Head of King George V School. While I love the city and the school, when I heard about Nexus and its ethos, which is largely built on trust and respect, I decided to make the move to Singapore since these are two values that I highly regard.


I also love the fact that Nexus is an all-through school, which was new for me. Having the opportunity to get out there in the mornings to greet our learners in person has been wonderful; the little ones are always so chatty and happy to see you. It’s a real privilege to see our children grow up through the different years.


What led you into education?

I think it goes back to when I was younger. I was always teaching English to overseas students in the summer. Our house was also often filled with people speaking French and Spanish and so it seemed like a natural progression for me to go into teaching languages.


Since joining Nexus, you have seen the school through an amazing transition onto its new campus. Can you tell us more about that?

The past couple of years since joining Nexus has been really exciting for me! While I'd been involved in previous school building projects, I’d never overseen a whole school being built and relocated across the country before. When I joined the school, its new campus design was already in place, but I was fortunate enough to work with the architects on refining these plans. Right up until moving in, we were constantly looking at the characteristics of our space and thinking, what will best support learning? What works across the globe? Most importantly, it’s about putting the learners and their education journey first, based on research and best practices.


What did you feel the school was most going to gain with the new campus?

We always say; 'It’s not about the buildings, it’s about the people,' and I firmly believe that, but the buildings give us the bells and whistles. It’s the added bonus of what you can do with the extra facilities.

There is one area which I’m especially excited about us opening as soon as we can; our parent lounge and parent workspace. Something I am really passionate about is building the school community. Our mission is to be an empowering and learning community and that means our parents are a part of Nexus as well. We are working on creating this wonderful space where you come in, drop your kids off and grab a coffee at our Eco-Café. You can then head to the parent lounge and get your laptop out. It’s a space where parents might just want to come and work for the day, pick their children up at the end of the day and go home. The doors are also typically open to parents on a Saturday, where they can watch the kids play football or use the parent space. I am really excited about being the first school in Singapore to really offer a proper workspace for our parent community.


What is next on your agenda?

A big curriculum change! We are in the process of adding the IB MYP* (Middle Years Programme) as the final piece of the IB World School programme. While the change won’t change or affect our IGCSE offering at this stage, we have just introduced it into our Year 7 curriculum this academic year and will roll it out over the next 3 years. This is something very big and very exciting for us.


What do you think makes Nexus stand out from the other international schools in Singapore?

Another aspect that drew me to Nexus is our Nexus Way, which is central to everything we do. It adopts the key elements of mindsets, relationships, inclusion and innovation into our learning process. For us, the move into our new campus has placed us on the map as a school of innovation. It’s not just about using technology in our teaching and learning, but integrating it so that it sparks off innovative ways of thinking, entrepreneurship and supporting our learners to do amazing things. Our IB Diploma learners have just won the Junior Achievement Singapore’s Company of the Year for the second year running with their "Scrap Cap" business, upcycling old Nexus uniform into caps. We are so proud of them and it’s a great example of innovative learning in action.


What do you think you have brought to Nexus in terms of your leadership style and way of operating?

One of my areas of passion is coaching in education. Since joining Nexus, we have really grown as a coaching school and it has transformed the way we work together. This has created a ripple effect of how we have conversations with learners and parents, based around listening skills, asking good questions - all of which are key to learning. Coaching also helps us build up positive mindsets and beliefs; as an educator if you truly believe that every child can achieve whatever they want to, then they actually can.

It is also important that we instil agency in our learners to support their learning and drive academic excellence. As time goes on, people are realising that we can be more creative, more innovative in what we do, but still achieve the results needed for university entry. It’s simply a different approach to learning.


Most importantly, providing learners with agency in their academic journey gives them confidence as well. If you allow children to make more decisions about what they do, and how they learn, which our spaces support, you are much more likely to have confident young adults leaving the school with transferable skills. Here at Nexus, we set them up for the unknown.


If you could invite three people to dinner, who would it be and why?

As mentioned earlier, our Nexus Way, which was developed based on research and academic evidence, was one of the reasons why I joined Nexus. So my dinner guests would be those people who have helped inform our practice, allowing us to be the community we want to be.


Firstly, I would invite Greg Jansen, who worked with us on our restorative practices. He is fabulous and when we run his workshops for staff, learners and parents they come in their droves to find out more. His restorative work is around learners taking ownership, especially in conflict and challenges. I would also have Carol Dwek, who does a lot of work on growth mindsets, Carol Wilson, whom I’ve worked with on coaching, and Christian Van Nieuwerburgh, who has written amazing books on coaching and education. With such fabulous guests, I’d just sit and listen!


A lot of what we do comes back to the Nexus Way and our school culture. If you get the culture right, it enables people to work effectively in teams together. I think that’s why families come here; they walk into the school and feel welcome. They feel our school has that sense of belonging and partnership that ultimately benefits our learners.

 

For more information about Nexus International School (Singapore), please visit www.nexus.edu.sg or email us at enquiry@nexus.edu.sg.


Book a tour with us by emailing our Admissions Team at admissions@nexus.edu.sg or by calling us at +65 6536 6566. Our Admissions team will be in touch with you to confirm a convenient time for you to visit.


*Nexus International School (Singapore) is a candidate school to offer the MYP Curriculum.

IB MYP Year 7 has been introduced in Academic Year 2021-22 and Year 8 & 9 in subsequent years (IB MYP Year 8 in Academic Year 2022-23 and IB MYP Year 9 in Academic Year 2023-24). Until the transition, learners will continue to follow the English National Curriculum.

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