From handling Parent Academies to overseeing the Lost and Found, the Senior School office manages and supports all functions that makes the daily operation in Dulwich College Beijing’s Senior School possible. As standard practice, the College addresses concerns from the community within 24 hours or no longer than 48 hours. However, within the Senior School office, the three ladies’ time is counted by the minute.
“Ad hoc urgent tasks make up almost 70% of our responsibilities. These tasks may be big or small, done within minutes or hours, but they all need to be taken care of instantly. It means that we all need to be extremely flexible and efficient,” shared Carrie, the Office Manager and one of the DCB founding staff.
The Senior School office is one of the first departments families get to know of when they join DCB. Sitting adjacent to the Head of the Senior School, the office functions as the irrigation system that conveys essential support and positive energy to every corner of the Senior School.
“Carrie, Kathy and Esther are a dynamic team and are great to work with,” said Ms Clare Anderson-Au, the Head of the Senior School. “They provide the whole Senior School community with care and support, ensuring that the day-to-day life of the school runs smoothly. If you ever need to know something, just come and ask them. I guarantee you that they will have the answer!”
DCB parent Haifeng and her children joined DCB Senior School in 2019, experiencing one year of full energy that DCB got to offer before it was interrupted by the pandemic. “We participated in all the school activities that we could join. The biggest surprise had to be the Dulwich Olympiad. Community events like this provide a valuable international experience to our children.” By then, Haifeng and her family already learnt how responsive and efficient the Senior School office was when preparing for the trips. Haifeng is now the Year 11 Parent Rep and a volunteer in the DCB parent-run Coffee & Books. “Recently, the school tour arranged for our Year 11 parents happened to be during the Year 11 residential trip, which meant that we wouldn’t have been able to see our children and their full DCB experience at school. Despite the short notice, Carrie and her office helped us and rescheduled the school tour on a different date.”
To encourage student agency and prepare the students for later university life, with the teachers’ guidance, Senior School students work independently on their studies and projects with the necessary freedom and independence.
But not all families were used to this arrangement. “When my child got into Senior School, I felt that parents were disconnected from the school compared with the days in DUCKS and Junior School,” shared DCB parent Lan Wu, mum of a Year 9 student who has been in DCB for 11 years. “I understand that the school encourages students to be more independent. Our transition happened to be during the time of the pandemic, and parents cannot help but feel worried about their children’s life at school. It was a time like this when I truly felt the support from Carrie and her office. They are very nice and professional. They find ways to connect parents and teachers, sometimes even suggesting creative solutions to our concerns. Now that the parent partnership is returning to life, I look forward to more communication opportunities with the school.”
Facilitating workshops, coordinating students’ trips, issuing important school notices, supporting major school events including the graduation, addressing instant requests from students or the community, connecting parents with other departments to answer their inquiries, supplying cookies to staff who need an energy boost, or laying out a chair to whoever needs to sit down for a couple of minutes before going on to the next adventure – their list of responsibilities goes on and on.
“I always feel comfortable when I reach out to them since they are truly warm and welcoming. They are a pleasure to work with,” said Iris S, student leader of the Yearbook Team, “The first time I interacted with them closely was for the yearbook. No matter how busy they were from the beginning of the year till today, they have always tried to assist me. Carrie was very helpful when I had a yearbook cover competition, coming up with ideas and fundraising for prizes. Moreover, I recall Carrie being very generous by providing sweets to weary IB students. Also, Kathy connected me with contacts for a variety of events and projects that I was in charge of, which helped the process run smoothly. Everyone was attentive to even the simplest queries.”
Another member of the Yearbook Team Diana T, who also worked closely with the Senior School Office, agreed. “They are the unsung heroes behind every aspect of school life. Since Year 10, I have worked closely with them on the yearbooks. Whether it’s coordinating yearbook details with the Head of Senior School or confirming orders with the Purchasing Department, they are some of the most efficient, responsive, and approachable staff members at school. Every time I had a concern, Ms Carrie would pick up the telephone in the next second and thoroughly resolve everything for my team and me. I am incredibly grateful for their presence at school.”
Working with these students is also very fulfilling for the Senior School office. Esther, an Education major who just joined as Senior School Office Assistant last year, joined DCB soon after graduating. For someone who was still a student not long ago, Esther is very compassionate toward students and cheers for their achievements. “The students are all adorable. Helping them solve problems makes me feel accomplished.”
Working in this office is also Kathy’s first job after returning from studying and living overseas. After five years of being at DCB, Kathy still finds it exciting and interesting. “School administration sounds like an easy job, but it really isn’t, especially in such a gigantic and multicultural environment. I thought I would have learned everything after two years of working here, but now I disagree with my old self. The work here is a comprehensive book that you can read repeatedly and yet never fail to find a new chapter of excitement.”
DCB Parent and Coordinator of DCB’s parent volunteer-run café Coffee & Books Michelle, mum of a DCB alumni and a Senior School student, also appreciates the Senior School office team. “I worked with the Senior School office on many school activities, including the annual Appreciation Tea. Carrie and her team are very reliable. My elder son graduated from DCB with a complete experience of DCB Senior School culture. Now with my younger son, I have learnt to let him make his own decisions. I can be at ease and let him engage with the school independently.”
“It is great that our community now has the on-campus interactions back in place,” added Haifeng. “We hope our work in Coffee & Books can contribute to the school communications and support the school as well. We look forward to helping in any way possible.”
“We are grateful to be a part of such a diverse community but never without trust,” added Carrie. “In Senior School, we encourage students to find their voice and independence. On the other hand, we understand students are all still kids trying to find their way. We will support them however we can. The community working with us will ensure that the students are well supported. After all the years I’ve been here, I can honestly say that our community is doing a great job.”