Bob Dunseth’s Legacy
Last week staff, students, parents, and the wider community of Shekou International School had the opportunity to recognize the contributions of Bob Dunseth at his memorial. To prepare a slide-show presentation for the memorial I explored the vast archive of photos that Bob had taken during his six years as director of SIS. This photographic exploration provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the type of school that Bob had envisioned and then created.
The collection of photos documented how school had grown and primarily featured very happy SIS kids. The photos were of students, at all levels, actively involved in learning and participating in school events. These events included numerous classroom activities; sports days; student-led-conferences; humanities nights; fun runs; Halloween parades; Chinese New Year festivities; concerts, assemblies, and the list went on. It is the pictorial history of an amazing school – a school that provides students with a vast array of opportunities and experiences.
My son gave a speech at the memorial on behalf of the students. In his speech he spoke of the sense of belonging that SIS gives students. He commented that it was one of the great things about the school that struck him when we arrived. He noticed that ‘Mr D’ was always there, in the front row of each concert, at all the events. He never missed anything that students were a part of, and his encouraging nature made each student feel like they mattered.
This sense of belonging is none more evident than in the number of former students who love to return to Shekou to visit and catch up with friends and teachers. A passion for bringing out the best in each student is a common characteristic in the teachers that Bob employed, and an expectation that he passed on through example. During his time as director, Bob also oversaw numerous building projects. His tenacious attitude, educational vision, and attention to detail enabled him to create beautiful teaching and learning spaces.
Bob was always focused on what was best for students. His focus did not always translate into what was easiest to do, but it was what had to be done. He created a school where sound educational practices and procedures were, and continue to be, implemented. Bob strove to select the best teachers and mentored other members of the administration in the recruiting process. He believed in shared leadership which also helped to develop the SIS ‘sense of belonging’, as well as ownership over and pride in what was accomplished. It is part of Bob’s legacy that SIS has become an educational leader in the Asian region.
In 2009 Bob moved into the position of Vice President of International School Services (ISS) for the Asia Pacific Region. In this role, Bob was responsible to overseeing and developing new schools. As a lasting legacy to Bob, these schools will be using SIS as a model and are adopting many of the procedures and educational practices that have made us so successful.
This is my sixth year at SIS and I continue to be impressed by how friendly and happy our students are. I believe that our children’s happiness can be attributed to Bob’s educational vision, the teachers he employed, the teaching spaces he created, and the sense of belonging he instilled.
I am truly thankful that Bob was a part of my life, as both a friend and colleague, for the past 18 years.
To read more stories about Shekou International School visit their website: www.sis.org.cn/why-choose-sis