In the autumn of 2019, Whittle School & Studios’ first two campuses will open in Shenzhen, China and Washington, D.C. Located in Shenzhen, China’s innovation hub, Whittle School & Studio’s inaugural campus in Asia brings to life Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s prototypical design for a Whittle campus. The clean-lined, eight-story building designed by Piano’s renowned architectural firm is seated in the heart of the vibrant, rapidly growing Qianhai District. Among the building’s distinctive features is an active glass façade, which is animated by screens that move throughout the day in response to the position of the sun. This maximizes the natural light in the classrooms while also regulating glare. At night, the school will glow like a lantern for its community!
A global leadership team and staff have already been recruited from leading independent schools and top-tier universities, the school reform movement, and businesses and organizations with a global reach. Forty members of the global team operate out of New York City, London, and Shanghai, with additional launch teams of over 30 educators and staff already in place in both Washington, D.C. and Shenzhen. A global advisory board, co-chaired by Benno Schmidt, former president of Yale University; and Jean Liu, president of Didi Chuxing (the Chinese equivalent of Uber), includes members from eight countries and from fields as diverse as architecture, education, technology, medicine, and athletics.
The design of Whittle School & Studios - Shenzhen is a square whose center is inspired by an Italian piazza. The school is designed to function like a village, where people mix with each other and where differences are truly valued. Inspired by the small hilltop towns of Italy, Piano and his team in Genoa and Paris have worked to create an educational village: a square structure roughly 100 meters on each side with a bi-level courtyard in the center, the lower floor open to the public and the upper floor for the school community only.
The campus is also home to an expansive Workshop Floor—over 50,000 square feet of space devoted to creativity! Whether a project is 2- or 3-D, physical or digital, the Workshop Floor’s state-of-the-art facilities set the stage for students to see an idea through from concept to reality.
Shenzhen, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, has a population larger than those of Los Angeles and London. Because of its high GDP per capita in China, the city is a designated Special Economic Zone and is nicknamed China’s “Silicon Valley.” Shenzhen is a leading global technology hub and home to the headquarters of Tencent, Huawei, ZTE, and BYD.
Shenzhen is a wonderful place to live. Residents enjoy a gentle tropical climate year-round, with plenty of sunshine, light rainfall, a long, mild summer, and a relatively warm winter. Voted a UNESCO Creative City and in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2019, Shenzhen boasts everything from the sandy white beaches of Dameisha to historical sites dating from the 14th century. Shenzhen has also become a center of art and design in China, for example, serving as the outpost of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, which is a founding partner of Design Society, a much larger arts and culture district emerging in the Shekou Peninsula in western Shenzhen. Shenzhen is also home to the famous Dafen Oil Painting Village, said to have produced 60% of the world’s replica oil paintings at its peak in the 2000s. For music lovers, the Shenzhen Concert Hall offers one of the most acoustically and architecturally sophisticated concert halls in China. Sports fanatics may enjoy everything from a rugby union to the Mission Hill Golf Club. Finally, Shenzhen is a shopping mecca, with the world’s greatest electronics market, Huaqiangbei, as well as many malls catering to every taste.
For those wishing to venture outside the city, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen High Speed Train allows travelers to hop between Hong Kong West Kowloon and the Futian District of Shenzhen in as little as 20 minutes. Hourly ferries and buses also shuttle regularly between the two cities. Easily accessible within three hours or less of flying are other major destinations within Asia: Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and so on.
At this time, a significant number of pre-K–12 students are pre-enrolled, the majority of whom are Chinese, with 10% from North America and the U.K. This day school offers boarding to Grades 9–12. The teaching staff of over 100 is divided approximately 60%-40% between Chinese teachers and expat faculty hailing globally from the U.K., North America, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, India and Europe. The school delivers the Reggio Emilia approach in the younger grades along with inquiry-based learning. The school believes that personalized, project-based, experiential education leads to true mastery. They say,
“By placing learning in a meaningful context, students drive their education and develop their passions and interests. This constellation of progressive approaches permits students to find meaning in a world where information is overwhelmingly available but where deep understanding and purposeful application of that knowledge is harder to achieve.”
Whittle School & Studios – Shenzhen is interested in hiring single teachers and teaching couples, including those with a non-teaching spouse. They will also consider interns, exceptional newly-certified candidates, and those certified in non-English speaking countries. Teachers must possess their academic degree in the subject they will be teaching.
The benefits package includes a monthly housing stipend and an airfare allowance at the start of employment. Detailed employee benefit information is available from the school; however, highlights include faculty dependent-child tuition waivers, eligibility to participate in an employee retirement plan, and free dining in the school cafeteria. Worldwide health insurance is provided, with the employee paying a percentage of the premium. Continuous professional development is at the core of the school's mission.
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