For my penultimate newsletter of the year I would like to write a gratitude message to Simon Mann for his outstanding contributions to BSM over the past seven years. I spoke this morning in the assembly that was set up to honour these and I will use this as the basis of my text today.
I wanted to thank Simon for what he has done at BSM, and there is a key word I want to focus on and that is impact, defined as a powerful effect that someone has on an organisation.
Simon arrived BSM in 2012 and his previous experiences had given him strong leadership principles and he quite quickly had a clear vision for the start of the journey he wanted to take BSM on. Simon had BSM moving, moving with its foot down in the right direction from day one.
Our vision and mission says “thrive with challenge” and he has challenged all of us, challenged us to be better. The BSM Learning Twitter account banner is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” We have changed. We have thrived with challenge, as a school, and a community. The change has been transformative.
Learning was the driver on that journey, and there were a number of key areas illuminated on destination signposts as we did the fast miles. Simon kept our headlights pointing forward, his goals becoming clearer and he has inspired so many to join, in shining that light.
His influence has been keeping our team focused on those goals and motivated to do their best to achieve them. When the stakes are a child’s education, the stakes are never higher, the journey really mattered. He laid strong foundations and sparked thinking for others to run with his ideas, always ensuring we kept our foot down.
A foot to the floor journey can be a whirlwind, but wonderful and when we reflect as we should, it can be measured by the impact that Simon has had on destinations at BSM. We will visit a few, there is simply not enough time to elaborate on all the areas that have been lit. Let’s start with learning – as I have said this was a key driver. Kennedy said “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”. Simon is a testament to this. We have had a focus on Professional Development, my desk is proof of his impact, if you have ever been in my room I have a table covered in books, read and shared and referenced. This story is replicated in different forms across our community, a desire to learn and be better. A collective, a buzz that is contagious, once bitten a learner for life. This is a strong foundation.
I reference our Vision and Mission for another destination where the lights have shined bright: “Develop global citizens.” It was a pleasure to share a platform with Simon at a Council of International Schools Symposium on global citizenship in Hong Kong where we shared our journey towards this destination with schools from around the world. Our aim here was: “to instill in our students the desire to make their world inclusive, sustainable, peaceful and fair.” The impact here has been significant, our students are empowered advocates, they care and they want to make a difference.
This rings true with service learning across the school as well. Simon has been a champion for Service Learning at BSM, with a passion for developing young people who not only care about their world, but who want to have a positive impact on it. We have seen a move from traditional fund-raising, donations and teacher-led community service to dynamic student-focussed learning opportunities across a range of different situations. This has enabled our students to embody the ‘Think – Feel – Act’, mantra and set the forum and challenge for them to have a significant impact on many service partners across the Philippines, and change many lives. Our Learning Power skills of empathy, reflection, collaboration, resilience all embedded changing perspectives and lives.
Our Residentials programme has had a shake up too. Destinations further, more challenging, taking children beyond their comfort zone. Stirring, shaping and prompting growth.
The Visual and Performing Arts was on the map as well. As a parent, he has seen the benefits of Art, Drama and Music in his children who both pursued the arts at BSM alongside their academic and sporting interests. He was a driving force behind the new Creative Arts Centre and recognised the need for purpose-built spaces so that the VPA department could grow further and inspire many more on that journey.
He has trodden the boards himself as well and who can ever forget his varied roles in the annual Staff Panto – King Triton in The Little Mermaid, Dumblesnore in Sally Potter, Mufasa in the BSM Lion King, King Uther in Camelot, The Mann in Beauty & The Beast and most recently Widow Twankey in Aladdin.
The Arts have been a vital part of Simon’s time at BSM, driving change and recognising the huge benefits. When we talk of legacies there will be many, but the Creative Arts Centre will undoubtedly be the biggest physically and financially!
As a former PE teacher and qualified rugby coach Simon flew in to tackle Physical Education at BSM. Tactics changed radically, his aim to prompt a complete transformation of the programme. The end goal was clear and he put the pieces in place to begin the change.
His biggest legacy will be making sure BSM offers a fully inclusive programme where children can access sport at a level of their choice in a wide range of activities. Since his arrival, the number of students participating in physical activity has doubled.
A leader has to also be a role model and he is far more comfortable in sports gear than a tie and shirt. He coaches with passion and BSM rugby now stands tall. He is a supporter too and at weekends he can be found cheering on BSM locally and abroad inspiring togetherness as a team.
His impact here is again powerful, not just in the huge numbers of students now participating and loving sport, this ground level provides a greater depth and skill pool for elite competition. We are highly regarded in FOBISIA and have won the overall ISAC trophy for three years running.
Other schools PE departments often comment that they wish they had a head like Simon! Destination Goals achieved, significant impact and a legacy that is in safe hands.
Simon has changed the climate at BSM. A school is built on relationships and he spends considerable time around campus building capacity through nurturing conversations. He has modelled this for us all and promoted a school built on strong supportive relationships. I value his support over the past seven years and I know I speak for many others when I say this, he has empowered and entrusted and this has been transformative.
A huge thank you Simon from the BSM community and good luck with life in New Zealand and the next steps on your career. Your work at BSM has been transformative and your impact, immense.
Mr. Cosgrove and the Summer Scheme team are currently preparing for this year’s programme. This has been very successful and popular since we first started running the programme in 2003. The scheme will start on Monday, 1 July and run until Friday, 12 July. Please be aware that there are limited places and it is run on a first come, first serve basis. The team have been very pleased with the response of the BSM community to the programme so far and there are currently places left on the scheme. More details about the scheme are available towards the end of the Lion’s Roar.