Gary is from England and has a BA (Hons) in Primary Education from the University of Cumbria, as well as being a qualified Youth Development worker and manager.
Gary has been teaching at OWIS for over 5 years. Prior to this, he was an educator in Kuwait. Before his stint in Kuwait, Gary was the lead Youth Development worker in a successful youth project in the North West of England. His journey into the world of teaching and working with children of all ages started in 2004.
Gary is OWIS' ever-enthusiastic CCA coordinator and is also in-charge of CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) at OWIS.
Gary's hobbies include playing football, climbing, badminton and go-karting. He is also a keen computer gamer.
Students need a way to bridge the classroom and the community. Otherwise, they spend time studying theories they cannot apply and then engage in real-world practices that do not correlate with the fundamentals taught at school. They can lose interest in their education quickly and become distracted in the classroom. Education needs to be relevant to the modern world and cover subjects that relate to how we live today.
CAS (creativity, activity and service) makes up a large part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). Using CAS, we at OWIS aim to help our students mature into well-rounded and balanced young adults. We teach them more than just academic skills and ensure that they are able to integrate into a range of situations.
Janet Eyler, a professor of education at Vanderbilt University, said, "The challenge for liberal educators is to design learning environments and instruction so that students will be able to use what they learn in appropriate new contexts—that is, to enable the transfer of learning."
OWIS educators meet this challenge through IBDP's CAS programme.
Although the IB DP course is academic in nature, it also provides opportunities for students to serve as leaders in their schools and communities as well as to explore their creative and active nature. It gives students a holistic education and provides them with the opportunity to learn through a range of different techniques. In fact, CAS underpins the entire IB DP course by giving opportunities to be an active and physical learner. It also ensures that all students are given equal opportunities, as those who may find classroom-based learning more difficult may excel in other areas.
• Creativity – Students learn to explore and extend ideas in order to create an original product or performance. They can follow their own ideas and take ownership of their learning through a creative outlet. For example, a talented musician could learn to play a new piece in a different kind of music. A long-distance athlete may join a sports team, or an artistic student may experiment with 3D art rather than drawing.
• Activity – Here, students engage in physical exertion in order to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. They understand the importance of maintaining a healthy body and link this to eating and sleeping well. They are also able to use this time to relax and enjoy doing something different. Projects could include learning rock climbing, taking up fencing or coaching a youth football team.
• Service – In service, students work together to engage with their communities in response to an authentic need. They learn to care for others and to put other people's needs first. They are able to research different community initiatives and take part in them. In this area, students could organise a recycling initiative or host a games night for a senior citizens' centre. This may be something that they do as a one-off event, or it may become a regular occurrence as part of their service project for the IBDP.
At OWIS, we are particularly excited about the service component, which provides an opportunity for students to contribute to an ever-changing world in a meaningful and helpful way. Students can raise awareness about issues, fundraise for charities or work alongside communities to support the needs identified when planning the service project on a local, national or even international scale. It opens our students’ eyes to the hardship that others may face and shows them how they can make a difference in peoples’ lives who are less fortunate than themselves.
The CAS programme begins at the start of the IB diploma course and continues for a total of 18 months. CAS is all about our students obtaining new skills, interests and talents or further developing their existing skills, interests and talents. Students are able to take ownership of their development and learn to work with each other to improve other peoples’ lives.
Seminars help prepare students for CAS, and there will also be opportunities for parents to learn about the programme along with the training sessions for teachers. We encourage parents to get involved with the programme and to support their children, whether that be by dropping them to events, providing them with ideas and support or attending the events that they organise.
At its heart, CAS takes students on a personal journey toward being the best they can be. It makes them caring and empathetic individuals with a passion for helping others. They learn to appreciate their own fortune and that they can make a difference to others’ lives through small yet meaningful acts of kindness.
IBDP provides a rigorous education for students ages 16-19 through six subject groups and a core of knowledge that includes the CAS programme. OWIS is an IB World School and offers the IBDP programme to all students who are eligible and wish to be part of it. Contact us for more information on our IB Diploma Programme.