How CAIS Student Services help us embrace differences in a year like no other

December 23, 2020

With 2020 having just days left to run, many of us are looking forward to celebrating the new year.

2020 was a different and untraditional year for everyone. But that didn’t stop our students from showing resilience and practicing kindness, and the connection of our learning community has gone from strength to strength.

As we head into a new year, we thought we’d introduce our Student Services Department and the exciting new initiatives it offers. Student Services is more than a department at CAIS. It is also the glue that binds all students and teachers – supporting their growth, both personally and professionally.

We spoke to Mr Charles Grayson, Senior Student Services Manager, to learn more about his work and how is it relevant to CAIS students and teachers.

What does your role involve?

My role at CAIS is multiple-faceted. However, specifically as it pertains to our special education program, I work to ensure that students here at CAIS are getting the support that they need in order to function to the best of their abilities in the classroom.

My role is not just limited to academic concerns, but to students in need of support behaviorally and emotionally. The beauty of my role is that it works with all levels of the school in creating a unified culture with an appreciation of learning and support systems. This role provides access for the school to become a renowned institution not just known for strong academics and strong Christian faith, but as a premier international school in Hong Kong and globally for the inclusion model.

How do you work with teachers and students?

I like to consider what I do is as a partner and advocate for our primary and high school teachers and students. Our teachers are strong at developing diverse teaching programs to meet the multiple learning needs within the classroom. However, when our teachers have done all that they possibly can do and they still notice that a student(s) is struggling to keep up in class, that is when our department becomes involved. My team of specialized educators quickly assesses and determines the best strategies and learning supports needed for developing students so they can better engage in the classroom. The goal of our department is the same as the general education teachers, to work for the betterment and benefit of all students in providing for them a quality education. Therefore, we take a very Christ-centered and student-centric approach to student learning.

And while we support the teachers, we equally support the students and their parents. Scripture instructs us in Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

The Student Services Department advocates for our students and parents. We support the learning needs of children and provide interventions when needed. Our biggest motivation is seeing students thrive academically, emotionally, and behaviorally in ways that they once thought as impossible.

Could you provide more specific details about your program and how does it resonate with CAIS’s inclusive and diverse learning environment?

Our view in learning support is that every student has the right to a fair, balanced, and quality education that is Christ-centered despite their identity, socio-economic status, religion, beliefs, or gender. These rights extend without boundaries of the physical school campus and reach into the very communities that our students are a part of.

At CAIS we strive to ensure that teachers feel developed and prepared for working with all students that have been placed into our care. The CAIS inclusive classroom model promotes the differences among our diverse learners and welcomes the students into the classroom needing support academically, socially, emotionally, or through communication. Thereby, we provide consistent professional development and mentoring among our teachers and staff to ensure that they have the best practices and protocols in place to meet the varying needs of our students today.

Any external tools to be introduced as part of the special education program?

There has been continued work done to ensure that our students have tools to succeed in and outside of the classroom. I am pleased to say that our team have created a space in the school known as the Sensory Corner in room 645. a calming space for all students that addresses their sensory needs for touch, smell, sound, and sight. Other projects are also in the works so check back with me soon…