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.
We live in challenging times. Climate change is negatively affecting agriculture and food production. Communities are increasingly concerned about how they can conserve natural resources while sustaining growing populations. People are realising that this planet only has finite resources and at the speed that they are being used they will be gone before we know it.
Fluctuations in the economy, inequitable distribution of resources and an unpredictable job market are making it nearly impossible for disadvantaged people to climb out of poverty. With the recent pandemic the world as we knew it has changed enormously. This pandemic has had global impact, and has shown that protecting the planet is crucial. Now more than ever, students need more than textbook knowledge to conquer today's complex problems. They need to be strong leaders with a range of skills in all areas, who are adaptable and driven to make a change. At OWIS, that's where creativity, activity, and service (CAS) comes in.
Creativity is imperative in an ever-changing society. The challenges our society faces aren't the same as those we've encountered in the past, traditional solutions won't go far enough to address them. Our world needs innovators and people who will continue asking questions and want to better the world around us. We need people who can be creative when problems present and think outside the box. Creativity encourages students to come up with unique ways to solve problems.
CAS also equips children with the skills to consider their ideas from different angles and test them in the real world. It teaches them that there isn’t just one answer and it helps them understand that usually the first idea to sort out a problem will not be the last.
At OWIS, we encourage our students to apply their creativity in a variety of areas - not just social change - so that "outside-the-box" thinking becomes second nature to them. Students may, for instance, take up a new musical instrument or a student who is an excellent player in one instrument could learn to play a familiar piece of music in another instrument. A theatre novice with some amount of practice could make their on-stage debut in an after-school drama class. A student who has a passion for athletics may take part in a team tournament where their speed and endurance helps to support their team members. These are all skills that are so important throughout life and show that our students are adaptable and always striving to better themselves.
The activity component of our CAS programme encourages students to be involved in individual and team sports, setting the stage for lifelong physical activity. In our highly digital world, people - children and teens included - are spending more time than ever engaged with smartphones and tablets. Sedentary lifestyles are contributing to health concerns not seen in previous generations, such as neck and back problems.
Learning new sports (or improving their skills in a sport they're already familiar with) enables students to enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. These include higher energy levels, better academic outcomes and less risk of obesity and certain chronic illnesses. It also allows them the chance to take a break from their usual academic studies and expel energy. It helps to improve their teamwork, communication and technical skills. Often students may feel that they are out of their depth, for instance when they start a new sport, but this teaches them to be resilient and learn by doing. It also promotes the feel good feeling that sport gives to us all due to the release of endorphins.
At OWIS, our students come from a variety of backgrounds, and service projects provide a means for them to find common ground whilst meeting authentic needs in the community and around the world. Many of our students have consistently enjoyed the privileges of adequate food, housing and quality international education. They may never have had much exposure to the economic and other obstacles that less-privileged people face.
For these students, serving disadvantaged groups and communities gives them valuable insight into how many people around the world actually live, and what they can do to make a difference. It nurtures their caring side and teaches them to treat everyone equally. It also shows them that there are so many walks of life, many of which follow hardship and do not serve up the same opportunities that they may have had. It teaches them to demonstrate compassion to all.
Some of our students, on the other hand, have already witnessed how adversity can devastate communities. They may have experienced it first hand, had family or friends in these situations, or lived in an area that has gone through adversity. For these students, service projects help them to see that people caught in cycles of hardship and poverty haven't been forgotten. It also allows them to be first in line to help those who are going through difficult times, share their experiences with them and see the world from different perspectives. Our students can be the change agent that helps underprivileged individuals and families improve their quality of life and find hope for the future.
At OWIS, CAS is the backbone of our IB Diploma Programme. It supports the academic aspect of their study and gives our students key skills that they will take with them throughout their lives. We believe that, as a key part of our rigorous framework, CAS sets students on track to become the best global citizens and leaders they can be. To learn more about how CAS empowers our students, contact us to book a tour. We look forward to meeting with you.