Release time:2015-11-12 11:32:09

Opening remark: An educator Mr. Tao Xingzhi ever said, "The principal is the soul of a school. The quality of a school is most related with the principal. A good principal is a good school." As the "soul" of the school, the ideas of the principal not only will influence the advancing routine of the school, but also even influence the life of students. Today the education in Shenzhen is pursuing "Shenzhen quality". We will make an interview with the principals of several famous schools to listen to their school-running concepts and education ideals, and record the high-end voice from the front-line educators of Shenzhen.

A principal, has ever experienced the impact from the reform of school-running system, the chaos during the initial period of construction of a new school, is now experiencing innovation pressure from the "golden signature board"...what has enabled him to stay calm and take the lead in each challenge? Why do the schools under his "governance" take on a new look? Facing the question of the reporter, Zhong Jinggao, the "head" of Shenzhen Experimental School, gave his "secret"--"culture" after thinking for a while. In his opinion, culture is the soul of a school. Only when culture is well-built can the school be well developed.

Leading Mingzhu School out of Trouble with a Reform Spirit

In January 1998, on the first morning after Zhong Jinggao worked as the principal of Mingzhu School. The cold reality had dealt him a heavy blow. "At that time, Mingzhu School had just been restructured for half a year. It is the first state-owned private-run school in Shenzhen. It was the end of a semester when I arrived. Hundreds of parents encircled me, asking for transferring their kids to another school in the next semester." A tougher pressure for Zhong Jinggao was that the heart of the teachers was also broken. Facing the dilemma, he had convened 13 meetings in 4.5 days. In the meetings, he found that the largest problem was that the cultural flag had not been held, the teachers had lost direction and morale, and the parents had lost their confidence.

After getting to the bottom of the story, he decided to convene a parents' meeting. On the meeting, he earnestly opened his heart to the parents and infused them with confidence. The next day, no parents came to him to ask for transfer to another school. Though they had overcome the difficult situation for the time being, he was clear that it was just temporary. In the winter vacation that year, he was just like a "storm trooper" who kept trying to capture the fortress in the heart of the teachers. "I told the teachers, Mingzhu School is a vanguard in the national reform of school-running system. You and me are all a witness to the reform and a creator. We must create first-class school style, management, quality, condition and performance to live up to our historical responsibility and deserve the title of 'Mingzhu' (pearl)". The leading culture of reform spirit, just like a magical wind, had blown away the haze that has enveloped the heart of teachers. The school had taken on a new look.

During the period when Zhong Jinggao worked as the principal, the ranking of Mingzhu School had leapt from 13th to top three. The leap of the school proves that if culture can "hit the point", it will play a big role.

Return to Cuiyuan Middle School, Encouraging Second Undertaking with Struggling Spirit

Before he worked as the principal of Mingzhu School, Zhong Jinggao had worked with Cuiyuan Middle School for years. After he led Mingzhu School to "overcome difficulties", he returned to the familiar place.

In the campus of Cuiyuan Middle School is hung a conspicuous school's motto--Strive for the best with unity and struggle. "It is the theme of Cuiyuan Middle School, the backbone of its campus culture. We need such a slogan to inspire us." Zhong Jinggao said. At that time, Cuiyuan Middle School finished its first development from municipal Level 1 school to provincial Level 1 school. He believed that to successfully "achieve its second development", the school needed to be inspired by the spirit of "striving for the best".

So, he drew the next strategic highland in the "blueprint of Cuiyuan" for the teachers, namely, to create a national demonstrative senior high school. He focused his efforts on the quality of education and teaching, while building the brand of quality education. Thenceforth, each year Cuiyuan had sent his students into Tsinghua University and Peking University with a high score. Each year, students were recommended to first-class key universities of China; and some students entered the national winter camp of Olympic math; the Green Garden literary club cultivated a batch of juvenile literature stars with quality, cultivation and sense of responsibility...In 2007, Cuiyuan Middle School passed the senior high school teaching level evaluation of Guangdong and the acceptance inspection of national demonstrative senior high school of Guangdong with a high score and became one of the first batch of "national demonstrative senior high schools" of Shenzhen.

Zhong Jinggao led the teachers and students of Cuiyuan to fight a good "tough battle". The struggling spirit, just like a "battle flag", pointed the advancing direction for the school.

Taking the Lead to Establish Shenzhen Second Foreign Language School, Inspiring the First Batch of Students with Entrepreneurial Culture

In 2007, Zhong Jinggao was elected as the deputy director of the education bureau of Luohu district and took charge of education business. However, his "principal complex" urged him to hit the road again. In 2010, he was appointed to establish the Second Foreign Language School and returned to the position of a principal. This time, he had not expected that a bigger challenge was waiting for him.

"Due to delay of the project, when the new semester came, the school was still a dusty construction site, which was not ready for opening at all." How to resolve the complaints of the students, parents and teachers? Zhong Jinggao took out his "treasure" again--holding high the cultural banner. "At that time it was the 30th anniversary of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. I suggested "creating another times of starting up business with burning passion'. I told the new teachers how Shenzhen Special Economic Zone started business to ignite their passion. I told them, let's compose the first page of history." Such words were no doubt a "cardiac stimulant" to the teachers. During the military training, Zhong Jinggao lost no time to do ideological work with the students. He told them, "You are the first batch of students of the Second Foreign Language School, and are pioneers like the teachers. You have encountered a great time. The Second Foreign Language School has given you the best platform. Hardships will be your fortune."

In the post bar of the school at that time, many people had named the shortages of the school, but some student replied with a sentence which was unforgettable to Zhong Jinggao, "Even if the school is not good, we must support it until it becomes good." Another inspiring remark was spread among the teachers, "It's not enough to do our best, we must try all out." This remark had become the best stimulant for teachers and students of the school. For a year from then on, the students led a hard life between their dorm, classroom and canteen, encircled by scaffolds. However, no one had complained.

Before establishing the Second Foreign Language School, Zhong Jinggao ever said, "The first batch of students will become the largest benefited group." The fact proved that he had fulfilled his promise. Other than creating a miracle in the College Entrance Exam, the spiritual toughening experience had also benefited the first batch of students for their lifetime.

Leading Shenzhen Experimental School to Carry forward Its Historical and Cultural Deposits

Taking the "leadership" of Shenzhen Experimental School was another "unexpected task" for Zhong Jinggao. He originally intended to work with the Second Foreign Language School until he retired, but he took this heavy task in 2014.

As the first public-run school opened after the establishment of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, the school occupies a very important status in the education realm of Shenzhen and even the whole country. "After I took the position, the first thing I did was to lay down a policy of "steady transition and seamless connection". I told the teachers to follow the original tempo and way", Zhong said, this way was a respect to the historical deposits of the school.

"The thirty-year-old" Shenzhen Experimental School has profound cultural deposits, which has made the teachers and students display unique qualities. "Our teachers are careful and dedicated, full of ideal and pursuit in the education career; they are calm and indifferent to fame and wealth; they are enjoying professional esteem and feel proud of it." Zhong said, Shenzhen Experimental School is just like a "talented" person who need not showcase itself to the public. Zhong even settled an account carefully--how many teachers to introduce into the school each year and how many teachers will retire...In such "metabolism", if the culture could not be carried forward, will the school retain its current spirit years later?

Therefore, after taking the position, on the first faculty conference at the beginning of a new semester, Zhong Jinggao put forward his first opinion, "A mature organization should be free of any unexpected story." "The principal will retire, teachers will become old, students will graduate, but the spirit of the school will not get old, and the culture of the school will go on. As the new principal, my responsibility is carrying forward and guarding the outstanding culture of the school." The remarks of Zhong Jinggao had been highly agreed with by everyone in the school.

Looking into Future, the Everest is above the Plateau

However, guarding is not equal to conservatism. On that faculty conference, Zhong shared his own thinking with the teachers, "Years ago, I read a book, Winter of Huawei, authored by Ren Zhengfei. Some words inside keep enchanting my brain, 'The winter of Huawei has arrived'." Zhong used the words of Ren Zhengfei to arouse a crisis awareness among the faculty. "Even if the winter has not come, we must get cotton clothes ready". In the course of progress and development, the school must "inherit what should be inherited, and guard what should be guarded". Meanwhile, it should also "reform what should be reformed and innovate what should be innovated".

The junior high school department of Shenzhen Experimental School insists on recruiting students based on the region, never setting "key classes". Under this condition, it has ranked top in the performance of senior high school entrance exam. However, he asked himself, can the "uniform-step" teaching mode really get adapted to the cultivation of innovative and top-notch talents. In fact, he had led the teachers to take action. He disclosed, the school would provide individualistic education to those students with prominent potential in areas such as logic, language, literature, sports, performance and leadership innovation, so that their potential could be fully explored and developed. Meanwhile, the school would also provide a fertile land for the cultivation of innovative and top-notch talents through an attempt of reform in scoring mechanism and curriculum setting.

From 2014, the primary school department of Shenzhen Experimental School has begun to make an innovative attempt in all-course teaching. Zhong said, "For one year, the work effectiveness has surpassed our anticipation. The brand new testing mode has been highly recognized by the society and parents, which has been evaluated as an authoritative and revolutionary progress." What is the next step after all-course teaching? "It's initially confirmed that the next step is to embrace the Internet, connect the knowledge and life, and make learning more concrete, vivid and interesting", Zhong Jinggao was full of expectation.

"Only by making the teachers and students feel conscious and confident in culture can we become a strong school", Zhong said, "Shenzhen Experimental School has reached a plateau, but we won't suffer an 'altitude stress'. Our vision will always aim at each peak of the plateau, the Himalaya on the plateau and the Everest on the Himalaya."

Shenzhen Economic Daily November 10, 2015