Principal Nicki Coombs
Starting from scratch
I came to Malaysia 18 months ago and Beaconhouse Newlands was a very small, start-up school with not even a building for the school. So, I set up the teaching and learning side of it as well as the academics side and the pastoral side. Plus, I did a lot of marketing to bring the numbers in as well as recruiting both local and expat teachers for the school.
I then was instrumental in looking at the building itself, making a few changes in the interior part of the building. I was able to identify which rooms we would assign where and how we would look at putting things together for the space of the building.
Integrating the spirit of sports
I have quite a long background in sport – both participating and in leadership roles and working for government bodies. What that’s done is it’s given me the ability to build teams and lead teams. One of the first things I did, not only within the schools, was to look at building the staff team and making it a cohesive team that was proud of the school that we were going to be.
You need to have a shared vision. I built a school identity within the students, and so the students became very proud of their school. It’s not just in what you do but is how you present yourself. We took the students out for competitions – not just sport competitions, but public speaking competitions, drama competitions and mathematics challenges where it was all team-based.
I was able to establish a sense of belonging and helped people really look at everyone in their group and see how their strengths complemented each other in a team. It’s important to put people together to complement each other so that your skill base becomes very broad and you can identify where people can help each other, making the team the strongest it can be by doing so.
The Beaconhouse Newlands touch
Beaconhouse Newlands International School develops passion within the students. What I want every teacher to do in their class and co-curricular activities – just in their day-to-day dealing with children – is to instil in the child a passion for learning, be it academic learning to gain knowledge, simply learning a new musical instrument, singing or even acting.
Some children don’t necessarily know what their passion is early in their life. They come to school because they have to, but what we want to do is have them running into school happy, really wanting to be here and really determined to pursue their dreams. If you see the children in the mornings, when they come in, they run up those steps and are excited about coming to school. That, to me, is huge.
It’s important that you’re educating them not just for now, but to give them the skills so that they can find out knowledge for themselves when they leave school because they won’t always have teachers there to help them.
Everything we do is not just about giving them knowledge and information, but also teaching them the skills on how to be lifelong learners. They will be responsible for their own education and they’ll have that desire to continue to improve and learn.
I want Newlands to be one of the most successful schools in Malaysia. I really want every child to leave here knowing that they are going out to the world, fully prepared to take on whatever position is there for them.
A lot of people talk about how we’re shaping the leaders of the future. The truth is, we’re not only creating leaders for the future; we’re also creating all sorts of other very important people in our society and for the world.
So I want them to be able to follow their dreams. I want them to be able to go out and really grab the career and the life that they want – and for them to be able to turn around and say, “I went to Newlands, I loved it and this is what set me up to do this.”